Analects of Confucius Book 4: new English translation

Richard Brown
4 min readMar 28, 2019

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 4 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. Its main themes include goodness, leadership, filial devotion, and the need for restraint.

Chapter 1
Confucius said: “It’s beautiful to live in a neighborhood that’s filled with goodness. How can someone be wise if they choose to live in a place that lacks goodness?”

Chapter 2
Confucius said: “A person who lacks goodness cannot endure adversity or enjoy happiness for long. A person who possesses goodness finds contentment in it; a wise person profits from it.”

Chapter 3
Confucius said: “Only a person who possesses goodness can love people and can hate people.”

Chapter 4
Confucius said: “Dedicating yourself to the pursuit of goodness leaves no room for evil.”

Chapter 5
Confucius said: “Riches and rank are what people desire; but if they can only obtain them through improper ways, they should not pursue them. Poverty and obscurity are what people detest; but if they can only escape from them through improper ways, they should accept them. If a leader abandons goodness, how can they live up to that name? A leader never abandons goodness, even for as long as it takes to eat a single meal; in moments of haste and confusion they still stay true to it.”

Chapter 6
Confucius said: “I’ve never seen anyone who truly loves goodness and truly detests evil. Anyone who truly loves goodness would place nothing above it; anyone who truly detests evil would practice goodness in such a way that they would allow no evil to enter them. Is there anyone with the ability to devote all their strength to goodness for a single day? I’ve never seen anyone whose strength is insufficient. There may be people who don’t have even the small amount of strength it takes, but I’ve never seen them.”

Chapter 7
Confucius said: “People’s flaws reveal the type of person they are. By observing someone’s flaws, you’ll understand the true extent of their goodness.”

Chapter 8
Confucius said: “Know the way at dawn; die without regret at dusk.”

Chapter 9
Confucius said: “A scholar who pursues the way but is ashamed of his threadbare clothes and coarse food is not worth talking to.”

Chapter 10
Confucius said: “In dealing with the world, a leader has no prejudice or bias: they go with what is right.”

Chapter 11
Confucius said: “A leader pursues virtue; a petty person pursues land. A leader pursues justice; a petty person pursues favors.”

Chapter 12
Confucius said: “People who act out of self-interest cause great resentment.”

Chapter 13
Confucius said: “If a ruler is able to govern a state by observing ritual and showing deference, what more does he need to do? If a ruler fails to accomplish this, what use is ritual to him?”

Chapter 14
“Don’t be concerned that you haven’t secured an official position; be concerned that you have what it takes to secure one. Don’t be concerned that you aren’t recognized for your abilities; be concerned that you deserve to be recognized for your abilities.”

Chapter 15
Confucius said: “Shen, my way is woven into a single thread.” Zengzi replied: “Indeed.” After Confucius had left, the other followers asked: “What did he mean?” Zengzi said: “The way of the Master is based on loyalty and reciprocity; that and nothing more.”

Chapter 16
Confucius said: “A leader is concerned about what is right; a small-minded man is concerned about what is in their own interest.”

Chapter 17
Confucius said: “When you meet people of exceptional character, think how you can become their equal. When you meet people of poor character, look inside and examine yourself.”

Chapter 18
Confucius said: “When serving your parents, you may gently remonstrate with them. If you notice that they do not take your advice, remain respectful and do not contradict them. Don’t let your efforts turn to resentment.”

Chapter 19
Confucius said: “When your parents are alive, do not travel far. If you do have to travel, be sure to have a specific destination.”

Chapter 20
Confucius said: “If after three years a man has not deviated from his father’s path, then he may be called a filial son.”

Chapter 21
Confucius said: “Always keep the age of your parents in mind. Let this knowledge be a source of both joy and dread.”

Chapter 22
Confucius said: “The ancients were reluctant to speak, fearing disgrace if their actions didn’t match their words.”

Chapter 23
Confucius said: “You rarely go wrong when you exercise restraint.”

Chapter 24
Confucius said: “A leader should be slow to speak and prompt to act.”

Chapter 25
Confucius said: “Virtue never stands alone; it always has neighbors.”

Chapter 26
Ziyou said: “In the service of a lord, overzealousness brings disgrace; in the company of friends, it brings estrangement.”



Richard Brown

I live in Taiwan and am interested in exploring what ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about technology and the rise of modern China.