Confucius


Easton Press Confucius books

The Analects of Confucius - 1976

Franklin Library Confucius books

The Analects of Confucius - 100 Greatest Books of All Time - 1980

 

Who was Confucius?

Confucius, whose Chinese name is Kong Fuzi or Kongzi, was born in 551 BCE in the state of Lu, part of modern-day Qufu in Shandong Province, China. He is one of the most influential figures in Chinese history and philosophy. His teachings have profoundly shaped the cultural and moral values of Chinese civilization, and his impact extends beyond China to other East Asian countries. Confucius' early life was marked by poverty, and despite facing personal challenges, he devoted himself to the pursuit of knowledge. He became a prominent teacher, philosopher, and government official during a time of political and social upheaval in ancient China, known as the Warring States period.

Confucius emphasized the importance of ethical behavior, morality, and social harmony. His teachings revolved around the concept of Ren, often translated as "benevolence" or "humaneness," and emphasized the cultivation of virtuous qualities in individuals. Confucius believed that the key to a harmonious society lay in the moral development of its people, starting with the self-cultivation of individuals. The Analects, a collection of sayings attributed to Confucius, serves as the primary source for understanding his philosophy. In these texts, he provided guidance on various aspects of life, including family relationships, social order, and governance. Confucius advocated for the importance of filial piety, respect for elders, and the cultivation of a sense of propriety in all actions.

While Confucius did not leave a systematic philosophy, his teachings laid the foundation for Confucianism, a school of thought that became the dominant ideology in China for centuries. Confucianism influenced various aspects of Chinese culture, including education, government administration, and social ethics. Confucius' impact on Chinese thought and culture is enduring, and his legacy continues to shape the values and moral framework of East Asian societies. Despite the passage of more than two millennia since his death, Confucius remains a revered and respected figure, often referred to as "Kong Fuzi" or "Master Kong" in East Asia. His philosophy continues to be studied, adapted, and debated in contemporary discussions on ethics, governance, and the human condition.

 

The Analects of Confucius

One of the most influential books of all time,  The Analects of Confucius  collects the sayings and wisdom of the Chinese philosopher and his followers. Still as relevant today as they were over two thousand years ago, these teachings together present a moral code that values virtue above all, and make up the core values of the Confucian tradition.

The Analects are a collection of Confucius’s sayings that were brought together by his pupils shortly after his death in 497 BC. Together they express a philosophy, or a moral code, by which Confucius, one of the most humane thinkers of all time, believed everyone should live. Upholding the ideals of wisdom, self-knowledge, courage and love of one’s fellow man, he argued that the pursuit of virtue should be every individual’s supreme goal. And, while following the Way, or the truth, might not result in immediate or material gain, Confucius showed that it could nevertheless bring its own powerful and lasting spiritual rewards.

Compiled centuries before the birth of Jesus, the Analects of Confucius is anything but dry ancient philosophy. Many of its passages hold the same power as any great Socratic dialogue. Which makes trying to get to the heart of the Analects and its importance a challenging and undeniably exciting intellectual pursuit.

From his teachings came a system of ethics for managing society that has influenced generations of politicians, social reformers, and religious thinkers. Indeed, the effect of Confucian philosophy has been so profound that it has become basic not only to an understanding of traditional Chinese civilization, but of Western society as well.

"The Master said, “If a man sets his heart on benevolence, he will be free from evil"




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