Rodney Ohebsion

The Analects

The Analects (Lun Yu)—arguably the most widely read and influential literary work in human history—is an Ancient Chinese text that contains selected sayings and conversations of various people, and primarily features teachings attributed to K’ung Tzu / Confucius (c551 BC-c479 BC).

According to most traditional accounts, Confucius never wrote down his teachings. They were passed down verbally and later put in writing, and not necessarily in a very systematic way. The Analects is widely regarded as the most dependable record of his various sayings and conversations. However, it seems to have different parts that are from different sources, many out of place or seemingly irrelevant passages, and a frequent lack of internal consistency.

Most evidence supports the Analects as being a very early text. For one thing, the language, terminology, and concepts used are consistent with material that predates content from similar texts dating around the 300s BC to 100s BC. Plus, the Analects portrays Confucius as a simple and understandable human being who never held major office and even had some shameful moments, whereas most later texts make him out to be a superhuman Sage who at one time held high position.

The very history of the Analects is for the most part entirely unknown. By the 100s BC, there were three versions of the text, and around the 1st century AD, a scholar named Chang Yu used two of them to make a new version that became the standard, and caused the others to disappear. Most of our early texts are from around the 100s and 200s AD, and are nearly identical to the one currently used.

The general view is that books 4 through 7 of the Analects are oldest and have the most authentic material, books 8 and 9 are next, books 1 through 3 and 11 through 15 are next, books 16 and 17 are next, book 18 is next, book 19 is a somewhat later book that contains mainly sayings and conversations of a few of Confucius’s disciples, and books 10 and 20 really seem out of place.)

Selections From The Analects (Confucius Quotes)

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

4:11 The superior person values virtue; the inferior person values land. The superior person values fairness; the inferior person values [unfair] exemptions.

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

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

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.

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

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.

15:29 Making a mistake and not correcting it—that indeed is a mistake.

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.

15:11 Someone who cares not about what is distant will soon encounter worries at hand.

English Lun Yu Translations

Joshua Marshman The Works of Confucius 1809

C - David Collie The Chinese Classical Work Commonly Called the Four Books 1828

HD Robinson The Moral Sayings of Confucius 1835

L - James Legge The Chinese Classics 1858, 1861, or 1863

J - William Jennings The Confucian Analects 1895

K - Ku Hung-Ming The Discourses and Sayings of Confucius 1898

G - Lionel Giles The Sayings of Confucius 1907

H - Harvard Classics The Sayings of Confucius 1909-14

S - William Edward Soothill The Analects: Or, The Conversations of Confucius with his Disciples and Certain Others 1910

Tehyi Hsieh Confucius Said it First 1936

Lin Yutang The Wisdom of Confucius 1938

Arthur Waley The Analects of Confucius 1938

Ezra Pound The Analects 1950

James R. Ware The Sayings of Confucius 1955

Ch’u Chai, Winberg Chai The Sacred Books of Confucius, and Other Confucian Classics 1965

DC Lau The Analects 1979

Council of Chinese Cultural Renaissance English Translation of the Analects (Revision of the Ku Hung-Ming translation)

Confucius Publishing Co. Editorial Board The Wisdom of Confucius 1985

Thomas Cleary The Essential Confucius: The Heart of Confucius’s Teachings in Authentic I Ching Order 1992

Raymond Dawson The Analects 1993

Cai Xiqin, Xin Guanjie, and others Analects of Confucius

Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckman) The Analects of Confucius 1997

Chichung Huang The Analects: (Lun Yu) A Literal Translation 1997 Oxford University Press

E. Bruce Brooks, A. Taeko Brooks The Original Analects: Sayings of Confucius and His Successors

David Hinton The Analects 1998

Roger T. Ames, Henry Rosemont Jr. The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation 1998

Jack C. Cai, Emma Yu The Analects of Confucius (Unabridged) 1998

David H. Li The Analects of Confucius: A New-Millennium Translation 1999

Tom Te-Wu Ma Confucius Said 2001

J.L. Lu Confucius Said 2001

Edward Slingerland: Analects: With Selections From Traditional Commentaries 2003

Burton Watson The Analects of Confucius 2007

Leonard Lyall The Sayings of Confucius 2012

Annping Chin The Analects 2014

Michael Puett, Christine Gross-Loh Confucius, Mencius, Laozi, Zhuangzi, Xunzi: Selected Passages from the Chinese Philosophers in The Path 2016

Charles Muller The Analects of Confucius 1990 (Latest Revision 2016)