Chinese Philosophy


Confucius Quotes

2:19 "Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, and the people will submit. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, and the people will not submit."

13:25 "The superior person is easy to work for and difficult to please. He uses each individual according to his particular capacity, and he is not pleased by non Way efforts to please him. The inferior person is difficult to work for and easy to please. He expects an individual to be fit for everything, and he can be pleased by non Way efforts to please him."

13:26 "The superior person is dignified without vain arrogance. The inferior person is vainly arrogant but not dignified."

4:11 "The superior person values virtue; the inferior person values land [wealth, positions, biases, and/or petty patriotism]. The superior person values fairness; the inferior person values [unfair] exemptions."

4:16 "The superior person says yes to righteosness; the inferior person says yes to gain."

4:14 "Rather than caring about whether or not you have a position, care about being fit to occupy a position. Rather than caring about whether or not you are known, strive to be worth knowing."

4:17 "When you see worthiness, think of emulating it. When you see unworthiness, inwardly examine yourself."

13:23 "The superior person is in harmony, but does not merely conform. The inferior person merely conforms, but is not in harmony."

4:1 "Neighboring in jen is finest. If a person chooses to not abide in jen, is he being wise?"

12:16 "The superior person furthers others’ good points/aims, and does not further others’ bad points. The inferior person does the opposite."

5:16 "Yen P’ing Chung dealt with people in a skilled and proper manner. No matter how long the acquaintance, there would be respectfulness."

5:9 "I used to listen to what others said, and expect them to act accordingly. Nowadays, I listen to what they say, and then observe what they do."

14:33 "Not presupposing deceit or assuming falsehood, yet being readily aware of them—isn’t this worthy?"

6:19 "You may speak of higher subjects to the above average parts of people, but you may not speak of higher subjects to the below average parts of people."

7:8 "I do not instruct those who lack eagerness, and I do not guide those whose who lack a feeling of urgency. If I present a corner and the person does not come back with the other three, I will not continue."

7:28 The Hu District villagers were known to be unreceptive. So when one of its young men was admitted [to Confucius’s circle for a session], the disciples were doubtful. Confucius said, “I can be involved with someone’s approach without being involved in his leaving. We don't need to be that fastidious. If someone uncorrupts himself in his approach, I can accept his uncorruptness without being a sponsor of his past.”

12:23 Tzu Kung asked about associating with friends. Confucius said, “Be chung in urging your friend and skillful in leading him to the Way. But if this does not work, stop, and do not make yourself vulnerable to indignity.”

14:4 "When the Way prevails in your surrounding, speak audaciously high and act audaciously high. When the Way does not prevail in your surrounding, act audaciously high, but speak with reserve."

2:17 "Recognizing that you know what you know, and recognizing that you do not know what you do not know—this is knowledge."

2:15 "Learning without thinking is misleading. Thinking without learning is confusing."

4:10 "When the superior person deals with the world, he is not [biased] for or against anything—he [just] follows what is right."

9:4 Confucius was entirely free of four things. He had no foregone conclusions, no arbitrariness, no obstinacy/inflexibility/set/insist/certainly/bigotry, and no egoism.

13:3 "The superior person leaves a blank space where he does not know something. … The superior person avoids careless speech."

2:14 "The superior person is multi-perspectived and not one-sided. The inferior person is one-sided and not multi-perspectived."

6:27 "Though the chung yung is best, the people seldom follow it for long."

6:16 "Only a proper blend of native substance and training/culture can result in a superior person."

7:37 Confucius was gracious yet grave, imposing yet un-abusive, and respectful yet composedly calm.

8:2 "Without li, respectfulness becomes petty, pudence becomes timid, intrepidity becomes rash, and uprightness becomes intolerant."

15:36 The superior person is tough, but not indiscriminately inflexible.

9:25 "Though [even] the Combined Army can have its commander taken away, there is not a single individual at all who can have his free will taken away."


Confucius (K’ung Fu Tzu [Kongfuzi], K’ung Tzu, K’ung Ch’iu, Ch’iu, Chung Ni) was born and spent much of his life in the Lu province of China. His father K’ung Shu Liang He (624 BC-549 BC), a soldier and military leader renowned for his extraordinary physical strength, had ten children—nine girls and one boy—with his first wife, and then had Confucius with another woman, and died a few years later.

During his life, Confucius worked a variety of jobs, including livestock herder, accountant, teacher, and government official. As a teacher, he taught moral cultivation as well as a number of other subjects (possibly archery, military affairs, music, government, history, art, speech, ritual, charioteering, mathematics, history, and calligraphy), and had a few thousand total students and a few dozen close, devoted disciples.

During the latter part of his life, Confucius and several disciples traveled throughout China for a span of over a decade, as he learned, taught, and also sought but failed to obtain employment by a ruler who would implement his Way. (Keep in mind that in ancient China, it wasn't uncommon for people, for various reasons, to wander from region to region in search of in search of certain opportunities and employment.) He then spent the last five years of his life in his native province of Lu, until his death in 479 BC.

Confucius is noted for his high character, authenticity, strong individuality, personal drive, broad-mindedness, and love of hsueh.

During his lifetime, Confucius selectively collected ancient Chinese teachings into a life philosophy. Early on, his teaching was likely grouped as a one of China’s “hundred schools” of Philosophy. But the Confucian School of thought continued to increase in popularity following his death—so much so that by the 200s BC, Confucius became widely regarded THE philosopher of Chinese philosophy, and during the following century, his teaching won out its rivals and became dominant in China and Chinese government. (Keep in mind, however, that there were differing sects within the Confucian school not long after Confucius’s death, and perhaps even during his life.)

Confucianism was originally a broad, practical philosophical system (and to some extent, a deistic religion), but as it became more and more popular, it became a narrow, dogmatic school fo thought, and to some extent, a mere symbol for mainstream Chinese culture and society. The "practice" of Confucianism was reduced to textual memorizations and recitations, with an ultimate aim of earning credentials, a job, and a salary.

For most of the time from the 200s BC to the 1900s, Confucianism has had a major presence in China, but been challenged by, and to some extent combined with, other philosophies such as Taoism and Buddhism. Over history, Confucianism has also spread to other regions of East Asia. It has also reached levels of modest popularity at times in the rest of the world--but all in all, nowadays, Buddhism is far more commonly studied internationally.

Disciples of Confucius

Tzu Lu / Yu
Yen Hui / Hui / Yen Yuan / Tzu Yen / Yen Tzu
Tzu Kung

Jan Ch’iu was known for being of varied abilities, including adeptness as speaking, carrying out official duties, and leadership. His is also noted for a lack of enthusiasm and initiative, as well as an incident where Confucius was furious with him for collecting excessive tax revenue for an already wealthy prince.

Tzu Chang, one of the later disciples, is noted for being extremely energetic and ambitious. He also founded his own Confucian school after Confucius’s death.

Tzu Hsia seems to have been rather pedantic, as well as the promoter of a very authoritarian teaching. He had his own school, and was most likely the disciple who had the most influence on the Confucian teaching and its transmission after Confucius’s death.

Tseng Tzu is not portrayed with many distinguishing characteristics. He had his own school.