Tag Archives: goodness

Analects Book 1: Confucius on goodness


Confucius never provides a single unified definition of what he means by goodness (仁/rén) – the supreme value that he believed everyone should aspire to reach – in The Analects. Instead, he explores its many different facets throughout the text, either with simple statements or in response to questions from his disciples and contemporaries. Continue reading Analects Book 1: Confucius on goodness

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: smooth talk and an affected manner

Confucius said: “Smooth talk and an affected manner are seldom signs of goodness.” (1)

How do you deal with the sycophants that inevitably gravitate towards you like bees to a honeypot when you reach a leadership position? It’s easy enough to dismiss them for their “smooth talk” and “affected manner” as Confucius does in Chapter 3 of Book 1 of the Analects, but much more challenging to create a culture around you that doesn’t stand for such behavior in the first place.

Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: smooth talk and an affected manner

Analects Book 4: Overview

Book 4 of the Analects begins with an exploration of the meaning of goodness. Only people who practice it constantly in their daily lives without a desire for personal profit are able to enjoy true satisfaction and contentment. “Small-minded men” who only pursue it for personal gain will never be truly fulfilled and happy. Continue reading Analects Book 4: Overview

Analects Book 4 presentation

As with Book 2 and Book 3, Confucius dominates Book 4 of the Analects with the curious exceptions of Chapter XV and Chapter XXVI. The only plausible explanation for these two anomalies is that they were slipped in by an unscrupulous or careless editor.  Continue reading Analects Book 4 presentation

Zizhang gets a kicking

Ziyou said: “My friend Zizhang is a man of great ability, but he has not yet achieved goodness.”

Zengzi said: “Zizhang is so full of himself that it is difficult to cultivate goodness by his side.”

I presume that it wasn’t an editorial accident that these two put-downs of Zizhang are paired together. Continue reading Zizhang gets a kicking