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Confucian Analects, The Great Learning & The Doctrine of the Mean

Confucian Analects, The Great Learning & The Doctrine of the Mean

by Confucius

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Entire text of the Analects of Confucius in large, readable characters, and beneath this Legge's full translation, which has been accepted and the definitive, standard English version. Full chinese text, standard English translation on same page. Finest edition anywhere of one of world's finest thinkers.


Entire text of the Analects of Confucius in large, readable characters, and beneath this Legge's full translation, which has been accepted and the definitive, standard English version. Full chinese text, standard English translation on same page. Finest edition anywhere of one of world's finest thinkers.

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Confucian Analects, The Great Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean

By James Legge

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1971 James Legge
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-12292-2





Books included under the name of the chinese classics.

1. The Books now recognised as of highest authority in China are comprehended under the denominations of 'The five Ching' and 'The four Shû.' The term Ching is of textile origin, and signifies the warp threads of a web, and their adjustment. An easy application of it is to denote what is regular and insures regularity. As used with reference to books, it indicates their authority on the subjects of which they treat. 'The five Ching' are the five canonical Works, containing the truth upon the highest subjects from the sages of China, and which should be received as law by all generations. The term Shû simply means Writings or Books, = the Pencil Speaking; it may be used of a single character, or of books containing thousands of characters.

2. 'The five Ching' are: the , or, as it has been styled, 'The Book of Changes;' the 8hû , or 'The Book of History;' the Shih, or 'The Book of Poetry;' the Lî Chî, or 'Record of Bites;' and the Ch'un Ch'iû, or 'Spring and Autumn,' a chronicle of events, extending from 722 to 481B.C. The authorship, or compilation rather, of all these Works is loosely attributed to Confucius. But much of the Lî Chî is from later hands. Of the Yî, the Shû, and the Shih, it is only in the first that we find additions attributed to the philosopher himself, in the shape of appendixes. The Ch'un Ch'iû is the only one of the five Ching which can, with an approximation to correctness, be described as of his own 'making.'

'The Four Books' is an abbreviation for 'The Books of the Four Philosophers.' The first is the Lun Yü , or 'Digested Conversations,' being occupied chiefly with the sayings of Confucius. He is the philosopher to whom it belongs. It appears in this Work under the title of 'Confucian Analects.' The second is the Tâ Hsio, or 'Great Learning' now commonly attributed to Tsang Shan, a disciple of the sage. He is the philosopher of it. The third is the Chung Yung, or 'Doctrine of the Mean' as the name has often been translated, though it would be better to render it, as in the present edition, by 'The State of Equilibrium and Harmony.' Its composition is ascribed to K'ung Ch'î, the grandson of Confucius. He is the philosopher of it. The fourth contains the works of Mencius.

3. This arrangement of the Classical Books, which is commonly supposed to have originated with the scholars of the Sung dynasty, is defective. The Great Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean are both found in the Record of Bites, being the thirty-ninth and twenty-eighth Books respectively of that compilation, according to the best arrangement of it.

4. The oldest enumerations of the Classical Books specify only the five Ching. The Yo Chî, or 'Record of Musics,' the remains of which now form one of the Books in the Lî Chî, was sometimes added to those, making with them the six Ching. A division was also made into nine Ching, consisting of the Yî, the Shih, the Shû, the Chaû Lî, or 'Ritual of Chaû,' the Î Lî, or certain 'Ceremonial Usages,' the Lî Ch'î, and the three annotated editions of the Ch'un Ch'iû, by Tso Ch'iû-ming , Kung-yang Kâo, and Kûliang Ch'ih. In the famous compilation of the Classical Books, undertaken by order of T'âi-tsung, the second emperor of the T'ang dynasty (A. D. 627-649), and which appeared in the reign of his successor, there are thirteen Ching, viz. the Yî, the Shih, the Shû, the three editions of the Ch'un Ch'iû, the Lî Chî, the Châu Lî, the Î Lî, the Confucian Analects, the R Yâ, a sort of ancient dictionary, the Hsiâo Ching, or 'Classic of Filial Piety' and the works of Mencius.

5. A distinction, however, was made among the Works thus comprehended under the same common name; and Mencius, the Lun Yü, the Tâ Hsio, the Chung Yung, and the Hsiâo Ching were spoken of as the Hsiâo Ching, or 'Smaller Classics' It thus appears, contrary to the ordinary opinion on the subject, that the Tâ Hsio and Chung Yung had been published as separate treatises before the Sung dynasty, and that Four Books, as distinguished from the greater Ching, had also previously found a place in the literature of China



1. This subject will be discussed in connexion with each separate Work, and it is only designed here to exhibit generally the evidence on which the Chinese Classics claim to be received as genuine productions of the time to which they are referred.

2. In the memoirs of the Former Han dynasty (B.C. 202-A.B. 24), we have one chapter which we may call the History of Literature. It commences thus : 'After the death of Confucius, there was an end of his exquisite words; and when his seventy disciples had passed away, violence began to be done to their meaning. It came about that there were five different editions of the Ch'un Ch'iû, four of the Shih, and several of the Yî. Amid the disorder and collisions of the warring States (B.C. 481-220), truth and falsehood were still more in a state of warfare, and a sad confusion marked the words of the various scholars. Then came the calamity inflicted under the Ch'in dynasty (B.C. 220-205), when the literary monuments were destroyed by fire, in order to keep the people in ignorance. But, by and by, there arose the Han dynasty, which set itself to remedy the evil wrought by the Ch'in. Great efforts were made to collect slips and tablets , and the way was thrown wide open for the bringing in of Books. In the time of the emperor Hsiâo-wû (B.C. 140-85), portions of Books being wanting and tablets lost, so that ceremonies and music were suffering great damage, he was moved to sorrow, and said, "I am very sad for this." He therefore formed the plan of Repositories, in which the Books might be stored, and appointed officers to transcribe Books on an extensive scale, embracing the works of the various scholars, that they might all be placed in the Repositories. The emperor Ch'ang (B.C. 32-5), finding that a portion of the Books still continued dispersed or missing, commissioned Ch'an Nang, the Superintendent of Guests, to search for undiscovered Books throughout the empire, and by special edict ordered the Chief of the Banqueting House, Liû Hsiang, to examine the Classical Works, along with the commentaries on them, the writings of the scholars, and all poetical productions ; the Master-controller of Infantry, Zan Hwang, to examine the Books on the art of war ; the Grand Historiographer, Yin Hsien, to examine the Books treating of the art of numbers (i. e. divination) ; and the imperial Physician, Lî Chû-kwo , to examine the Books on medicine. Whenever any book was done with, Hsiang forthwith arranged it, indexed it, and made a digest of it, which was presented to the emperor. While this work was in progress, Hsiang died, and the emperor Âi (B.C. 6-A. D. I) appointed his son, Hsin , a Master of the imperial carriages, to complete his father's work. On this, Hsin collected all the Books, and presented a report of them, under seven divisions.'

The first of these divisions seems to have been a general catalogue containing perhaps only the titles of the works included in the other six. The second embraced the Classical Works. From the abstract of it, which is preserved in the chapter referred to, we find that there were 294 collections of the Yî-ching from thirteen different individuals or editors; 412 collections of the Shû-ching, from nine different individuals; 416 volumes of the Shih-ching, from six different individuals; of the Books of Rites, 555 collections, from thirteen different individuals; of the Books on Music, 165 collections, from six different editors; 948 collections of History, under the heading of the Ch'un Ch'iû, from twenty-three different individuals; 229 collections of the Lun Yü, including the Analects and kindred fragments, from twelve different individuals; of the Hsiâo-ching, embracing also the R Yâ, and some other portions of the ancient literature, 59 collections, from eleven different individuals ; and finally of the lesser Learning, being works on the form of the characters, 45 collections, from eleven different individuals. The works of Mencius were included in the second division, among the writings of what were deemed orthodox scholars, of which there were 836 collections, from fifty-three different individuals.

3. The above important document is sufficient to show how the emperors of the Han dynasty, as soon as they had made good their possession of the empire, turned their attention to recover the ancient literature of the nation, the Classical Books engaging their first care, and how earnestly and effectively the scholars of the time responded to the wishes of their rulers. In addition to the facts specified in the preface to it, I may relate that the ordinance of the Ch'in dynasty against possessing the Classical Books (with the exception, as it will appear in its proper place, of the Yî-ching) was repealed by the second sovereign of the Han, the emperor Hsiâo Hûi, in the fourth year of his reign, B.C. 191, and that a large portion of the Shû-ching was recovered in the time of the third emperor, B.C. 179-157, while in the year B.C. 136 a special Board was constituted, consisting of literati, who were put in charge of the five Ching.

4. The collections reported on by Liû Hsin suffered damage in the troubles which began A. D. 8, and continued till the rise of the second or eastern Han dynasty in the year 25. The founder of it (A.D. 25-57) zealously promoted the undertaking of his predecessors, and additional repositories were required for the Books which were collected. His successors, the emperors Hsiâo-ming (58-75), Hsiâo-chang (76-88), and Hsiâo-hwo (89-105), took a part themselves in the studies and discussions of the literary tribunal, and the emperor Hsiâo-ling, between the years 172-178, had the text of the five Citing, as it had been fixed, cut in slabs of stone, and set up in the capital outside the gate of the Grand College. Some old accounts say that the characters were in three different forms, but they were only in one form; — see the 287th book of Chû Î-tsun's great Work.

5. Since the Han, the successive dynasties have considered the literary monuments of the country to be an object of their special care. Many of them have issued editions of the Classics, embodying the commentaries of preceding generations. No dynasty has distinguished itself more in this line than the present Manchâu possessors of the empire. In fine, the evidence is complete that the Classical Books of China have come down from at least a century before our Christian era, substantially the same as we have them at present.

6. But it still remains to inquire in what condition we may suppose the Books were, when the scholars of the Han dynasty commenced their labours upon them. They acknowledge that the tablets — we cannot here speak of manuscripts — were mutilated and in disorder. Was the injury which they had received of such an extent that all the care and study put forth on the small remains would be of little use? This question can be answered satisfactorily, only by an examination of the evidence which is adduced for the text of each particular Classic ; but it can be made apparent that there is nothing, in the nature of the case, to interfere with our believing that the materials were sufficient to enable the scholars to execute the work intrusted to them.

7. The burning of the ancient Books by order of the founder of the Ch'in dynasty is always referred to as the greatest disaster which they sustained, and with this is coupled the slaughter of many of the literati by the same monarch.

The account which we have of these transactions in the Historical Records is the following :

'In his 34th year [the 34th year, that is, after he had ascended the throne of Ch'in. It was only the 9th after he had been acknowledged Sovereign of the empire, coinciding with B.C. 213], the emperor, returning from a visit to the south, which had extended as far as Yüeh, gave a feast in his palace at Hsien-yang, when the Great Scholars, amounting to seventy men, appeared and wished him long life. One of the principal ministers, Chau Ch'ing-ch'an, came forward and said, "Formerly, the State of Ch'in was only 1000 lî in extent, but Your Majesty, by your spirit-like efficacy and intelligent wisdom, has tranquillised and settled the whole empire, and driven away all barbarous tribes, so that, wherever the sun and moon shine, all rulers appear before you as guests acknowledging subjection. You have formed the states of the various princes into provinces and districts, where the people enjoy a happy tranquillity, suffering no more from the calamities of war and contention. This condition of things will be transmitted for 10,000 generations. From the highest antiquity there has been no one in awful virtue like Your Majesty."

'The emperor was pleased with this flattery, when Shun-yü Yüeh, one of the Great Scholars, a native of Ch'î, advanced and said, "The sovereigns of Yin and Châu, for more than a thousand years, invested their sons and younger brothers, and meritorious ministers, with domains and rule, and could thus depend upou them for support and aid; — that I have heard. But now Your Majesty is in possession of all within the seas, and your sons and younger brothers are nothing but private individuals. The issue will be that some one will arise to play the part of T'ien Ch'ang, or of the six nobles of Tsin. Without the support of your own family, where will you find the aid which you may require? That a state of things not modelled from the lessons of antiquity can long continue; — that is what I have not heard. Ch'ing is now showing himself to be a flatterer, who increases the errors of Your Majesty, and not a loyal minister."

'The emperor requested the opinions of others on this representation, and the premier, Lî Sze, said, "The five emperors were not one the double of the other, nor did the three dynasties accept one another's ways. Each had a peculiar system of government, not for the sake of the contrariety, but as being required by the changed times. Now, Your Majesty has laid the foundations of imperial sway, so that it will last for 10,000 generations. This is indeed beyond what a stupid scholar can understand. And, moreover, Yüeh only talks of things belonging to the Three Dynasties, which are not fit to be models to you. At other times, when the princes were all striving together, they endeavoured to gather the wandering scholars about them; but now, the empire is in a stable condition, and laws and ordinances issue from one supreme authority. Let those of the people who abide in their homes give their strength to the toils of husbandry, while those who become scholars should study the various laws and prohibitions. Instead of doing this, however, the scholars do not learn what belongs to the present day, but study antiquity. They go on to condemn the present time, leading the masses of the people astray, and to disorder.

'"At the risk of my life, I, the prime minister, say: Formerly, when the nation was disunited and disturbed, there was no one who could give unity to it. The princes therefore stood up together ; constant references were made to antiquity to the injury of the present state; baseless statements were dressed up to confound what was real, and men made a boast of their own peculiar learning to condemn what their rulers appointed. And now, when Your Majesty has consolidated the empire, and, distinguishing black from white, has constituted it a stable unity, they still honour their peculiar learning, and combine together; they teach men what is contrary to your laws. When they hear that an ordinance has been issued, every one sets to discussing it with his learning. In the court, they are dissatisfied in heart; out of it, they keep talking in the streets. While they make a pretence of vaunting their Master, they consider it fine to have extraordinary views of their own. And so they lead on the people to be guilty of murmuring and evil speaking. If these things are not prohibited, Your Majesty's authority will decline, and parties will be formed. The best way is to prohibit them. I pray that all the Records in charge of the Historiographers be burned, excepting those of Ch'in; that, with the exception of those officers belonging to the Board of Great Scholars, all throughout the empire who presume to keep copies of the Shih-ching, or of the Shû-ching, or of the books of the Hundred Schools, be required to go with them to the officers in charge of the several districts, and burn them; that all who may dare to speak together about the Shih and the Shû be put to death, and their bodies exposed in the market-place; that those who make mention of the past, so as to blame the present, be put to death along with their relatives; that officers who shall know of the violation of those rules and not inform against the offenders, be held equally guilty with them; and that whoever shall not have burned their Books within thirty days after the issuing of the ordinance, be branded and sent to labour on the wall for four years. The only Books which should be spared are those on medicine, divination, and husbandry. Whoever wants to learn the laws may go to the magistrates and learn of them."


Excerpted from Confucian Analects, The Great Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean by James Legge. Copyright © 1971 James Legge. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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