Analects 13:3

Confucius said

The chun tzu leaves a blank space where he does not know something. …

The chun tzu avoids careless speech.

[leaves a blank space: shows a cautious reserve]

Tsze-lu said, “The ruler of Wei has been waiting for you, in order with you to administer the government. What will you consider the first thing to be done?”

The Master replied, “What is necessary is to rectify names.”

“So! indeed!” said Tsze-lu. “You are wide of the mark! Why must there be such rectification?”

The Master said, “How uncultivated you are, Yu! A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music will not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect.” L*

In matters which he does not understand, the wise man will always reserve his judgment. G

… The superior man is not rash and heedless in those things which he understands not… C


The chun tzu does not speak carelessly and without proper regard for what he says, does not make absolute assertions regarding what he is not certain about, and does not let what he says simply appear as his own view.