Confucius Says

Excerpts from the Analects

Statue of Confucius in Yueyang, China. (Steve Webel/flickr)

Wealth and rank are what men desire, but unless they be obtained in the right way they may not be possessed. Poverty and obscurity are what men detest; but unless prosperity be brought about in the right way, they are not to be abandoned. If a man of honor forsakes virtue how is he to fulfill the obligations of his name? A man of honor never disregards virtue, even for the space of a single meal. In moments of haste he cleaves to it; in seasons of peril he cleaves to it.

What I do not wish others to do to me, that also I wish not to do to them.

The noble man seeks what he wants in himself; the inferior man seeks it from others.

While still unable to do your duty to the living, how can you do your duty to the dead? Not yet understanding life, how can you understand death?

Learning without thinking is useless. Thinking without learning is dangerous.

Shall I teach you the meaning of knowledge? When you know a thing to recognize that you know it; and when you do not, to know that you do not know—that is knowledge.

In teaching there should be no class distinctions.

Confucius. The Analects. Translated by William Edward Soothill. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1995.

Additional Background Reading on Asia

Related Content