The Analects of Confucius Book 17 New English Translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 17 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher.

Chapter 1
陽貨欲見孔子,孔子不見,歸孔子豚。孔子時其亡也,而往拜之。遇諸塗。謂孔子曰:「來!予與爾言。」曰:「懷其寶而迷其邦,可謂仁乎?」曰:「不可。」「好從事而亟失時,可謂知乎?」曰:「不可。」「日月逝矣!歲不我與!」孔子曰:「諾,吾將仕矣!」
Yang Huo wanted to see Confucius, but Confucius would not see him. Yang Huo sent him a suckling pig. Confucius chose a time when Yang Huo was not at home to call on him and give his thanks but ran into him along the way. Yang Huo said to Confucius: “Come! I have something to say to you.” He continued: “Can you be called consummate in your conduct if you keep your talents hidden while your country has gone astray? I do not think so. Can you be called wise if you are eager to take part in public affairs, but constantly miss the opportunity to do so? I do not think so. The days and months fly by; time is not on our side.” Confucius said: “All right, I shall accept an office.”

Chapter 2
子曰:「性相近也,習相遠也。」
Confucius said: “People are similar by nature; they diverge through their habits.”

Chapter 3
子曰:「唯上知與下愚不移。」
Confucius said: “Only the very wise and the very foolish never change.”

Chapter 4
子之武城,聞弦歌之聲,夫子莞爾而笑曰:「割雞焉用牛刀?」子游對曰:「昔者,偃也聞諸夫子曰:『君子學道則愛人,小人學道則易使也。』」子曰:「二三子!偃之言是也,前言戲之耳!」
Confucius went to Wucheng. When he heard the sound of stringed instruments and singing, he broke out into a smile and said: “Why use an ox cleaver to kill a chicken?” Ziyou replied: “Master, in the past I have heard you say: ‘An exemplary person who has been instructed in the way loves all people; ordinary people who have been instructed in the way are easy to manage.’” Confucius said: “My friends, Ziyou is right. The remarks I made a moment ago were just meant as a joke.”

Chapter 5
公山弗擾以費叛,召,子欲往。子路不說,曰:「末之也已,何必公山氏之之也?」子曰:「夫召我者,而豈徒哉?如有用我者,吾其為東周乎!」
Gongshan Furao, using the town of Bi as a stronghold, launched a revolt. He summoned Confucius to join him and Confucius was tempted to go. Zilu was unhappy about this and said: “We may have nowhere to go, but why must we go to join Gongshan?” Confucius said: “Since he has summoned me, it must be for some purpose. If his purpose is to employ me, perhaps I could establish a new Zhou Dynasty in the East.”

Chapter 6
子張問「仁」於孔子。孔子曰:「能行五者於天下,為仁矣。」「請問之?」曰:「恭、寬、信、敏、惠。恭則不侮,寬則得眾,信則人任焉,敏則有功,惠則足以使人。」
Zizhang asked Confucius about consummate conduct. Confucius said: “Someone who is capable of putting five qualities into practice across the world can be considered as consummate in their conduct.” “And what are those?” “Respectfulness, tolerance, trustworthiness, diligence, and generosity. If you are respectful, you will not be insulted by others; if you are tolerant, you will win people’s hearts; if you are trustworthy, people will entrust you with responsibility; if you are diligent, you will achieve results; if you are generous, you will be capable of managing other people.”

Chapter 7
佛肸召,子欲往。子路曰:「昔者由也聞諸夫子曰:『親於其身為不善者,君子不入也』。佛肸以中牟畔,子之往也,如之何?」子曰:「然,有是言也。不曰堅乎?磨而不磷;不曰白乎?涅而不緇。吾豈匏瓜也哉?焉能繫而不食!」
Bi Xi summoned Confucius. Confucius was tempted to go. Zilu said: “Master, in the past I have heard you say, ‘An exemplary person does not enter the domain of those who commit evil.’ Bi Xi is using his stronghold of Zhongmou as the base of a rebellion. How can you contemplate going to join him?” Confucius said: “It is true I said that. But has it not also been said, ‘so tough that it can withstand grinding; so white that it can withstand black dye.’ Am I no more than a bitter gourd that is hung on a piece of string instead of being eaten?”

Chapter 8
子曰:「由也,女聞六言六蔽矣乎?」對曰:「未也。」「居!吾語女。好仁不好學,其蔽也愚;好知不好學,其蔽也蕩;好信不好學,其蔽也賊;好直不好學,其蔽也絞;好勇不好學,其蔽也亂;好剛不好學,其蔽也狂。」
Confucius said: “Zilu, have you heard of the six virtues and their six attendant vices?” “No, I have not.” “Sit down, and I will tell you. Loving consummate conduct without loving learning leads to ignorance. Loving knowledge without loving learning leads to foolishness. Loving trustworthiness without loving learning leads to criminality. Loving frankness without loving learning leads to offensiveness. Loving boldness without loving learning leads to violence. Loving steadfastness without loving learning leads to recklessness.”

Chapter 9
子曰:「小子!何莫學夫詩?詩,可以興,可以觀,可以群,可以怨。邇之事父,遠之事君,多識於鳥獸草木之名。」
Confucius said: “Little ones, why don’t you study the Book of Songs? The Book of Songs can inspire your imagination, provide a vehicle for contemplation, help you to interact with others, and voice a complaint more effectively. At home it teaches you how to serve your father; further afield it teaches you how to serve your lord. You can also learn the names of many birds, animals, plants, and trees from it.”

Chapter 10
子謂伯魚曰:「女為周南召南矣乎?人而不為周南,召南,其猶正牆面而立也與?」
Confucius said to his son Boyu: “Have you studied the first and the second parts of the Book of Songs? Anyone who has not studied the first and second parts of the Book of Songs will remain stuck as if standing with their face to a wall.”

Chapter 11
子曰:「禮云禮云,玉帛云乎哉?樂云樂云,鐘鼓云乎哉?」
Confucius said: “Ritual, ritual, surely there is more to it than just jade and silk! Music, music, surely there is more to it than just bells and drums!”

Chapter 12
子曰:「色厲而內荏,譬諸小人,其猶穿窬之盜也與。」
Confucius said: “Someone who hides behind a blustering façade to conceal their deficiencies cannot even be compared with a petty person but a burglar climbing over a wall to break in.”

Chapter 13
子曰:「鄉原,德之賊也。」
Confucius said: “The village worthy is the thief of virtue.”

Chapter 14
子曰:「道聽而塗說,德之棄也。」
Confucius said: “To peddle gossip is to throw virtue away.”

Chapter 15
子曰:「鄙夫可與事君也與?其未得之也,患得之;既得之,患失之。苟患失之,無所不至矣!」
Confucius said: “Is it possible to work with a grasping boor in the service of a lord? Before they are appointed to an official position, their only concern is getting one; once they have been appointed, their only concern is keeping the position; when their only concern is keeping the position, they become capable of anything.”

Chapter 16
子曰:「古者民有三疾,今也或是之亡也。古之狂也肆,今之狂也蕩;古之矜也廉,今之矜也忿戾;古之愚也直,今之愚也詐而已矣。」
Confucius said: “The ancients had three failings, but people today are not even capable of having these. Whereas the rashness of the ancients was innocent, the rashness of people today is depraved; whereas the pride of the ancients was noble, the pride of people today is brutish; whereas the foolishness of the ancients was genuine, the foolishness of people today is devious.”

Chapter 17
子曰:「巧言令色鮮矣仁。」
Confucius said: “Smooth talk and an affected manner are seldom signs of consummate conduct.”

Chapter 18
子曰:「惡紫之奪朱也,惡鄭聲之亂雅樂也,惡利口之覆邦家者。」
Confucius said: “I loathe purple for replacing vermilion; I loathe the melodies of Zheng for corrupting classical music; I loathe the clever of tongue for undermining states and families.”

Chapter 19
子曰:「予欲無言!」子貢曰:「子如不言,則小子何述焉?」子曰:「天何言哉!四時行焉,百物生焉,天何言哉?」
Confucius said: “I wish to speak no more.” Zigong said: “Master, if you do not speak, how will your followers be able to pass on any of your teachings?” Confucius said: “Does heaven speak? The four seasons turn and all the creatures continue to be born, but does heaven speak?”

Chapter 20
孺悲欲見孔子,孔子辭以疾,將命者出戶,取瑟而歌,使之聞之。
Ru Bei wanted to see Confucius. Confucius declined due to illness. As Ru Bei’s messenger was leaving, Confucius picked up his zither and sang loudly enough for him to hear.

Chapter 21
宰我問:「三年之喪,期已久矣!君子三年不為禮,禮必壞;三年不為樂,樂必崩。舊穀既沒,新穀既升;鑽燧改火,期可已矣。」子曰:「食夫稻,衣夫錦,於女安乎?」曰:「安!」「女安則為之。夫君子之居喪,食旨不甘,聞樂不樂,居處不安,故不為也。今女安,則為之。」宰我出。子曰:「予之不仁也!子生三年,然後免於父母之懷。夫三年之喪,天下之通喪也;予也,有三年之愛於其父母乎?」
Zai Yu asked: “Three years of mourning for your parents: this is a long time. If an exemplary person does not practice ritual for three years, ritual is sure to decay; if they do not practice music for three years, music is sure to collapse. As the grain from last year’s crop is used up, grain from this year’s crop ripens, and the flint for lighting the fires is changed with each season. One year of mourning is surely enough.” Confucius said: “Would you be comfortable eating your fine food and wearing your fine clothes then?” “Absolutely.” “In that case, go ahead! When an exemplary person is in mourning fine food is tasteless to them, music offers them no pleasure, and the comforts of home give them no peace, so they prefer to do without these pleasures. But if you think you will be able to enjoy them, go ahead.” Zai Yu left. Confucius said: “Zai Yu is not consummate in his conduct! During the first three years after a child is born, they do not leave the arms of their parents. Three years of mourning is a custom that is followed throughout the world. Did not Zai Yu receive three years of love from his parents?”

Chapter 22
「飽食終日,無所用心,難矣哉!不有博弈者乎?為之猶賢乎已!」
Confucius said: “I cannot stand those people who eat all day long without ever using their minds! Can they not play dice or chess? At least playing those games would be better than nothing.”

Chapter 23
子路曰:「君子尚勇乎?」子曰:「君子義以為上。君子有勇而無義為亂,小人有勇而無義為盜。」
Zilu said: “Does an exemplary person prize courage?” Confucius said: “An exemplary person prizes rightness above all else. An exemplary person who is courageous but lacking in rightness could create chaos; a petty person who is courageous but lacking in rightness could become a bandit.”

Chapter 24
子貢曰:「君子亦有惡乎?」子曰:「有惡。惡稱人之惡者,惡居下流而訕上者,惡勇而無禮者,惡果敢而窒者。」曰:「賜也亦有惡乎?」「惡徼以為知者,惡不孫以為勇者,惡訐以為直者。」
Zigong said: “Does an exemplary person have things that they loathe?” Confucius said: “Yes. They loathe those who point out what is loathsome in others. They loathe those in inferior positions who slander their superiors. They loathe those whose courage is not tempered by ritual. They loathe those who are impulsive and stubborn.” Confucius continued. “Do you have things that you loathe?” “I loathe those who pretend to be learned by plagiarizing. I loathe those who pretend to be brave by acting arrogant. I loathe those who pretend to be frank by being malicious.”

Chapter 25
子曰:「唯女子與小人為難養也!近之則不孫,遠之則怨。」
Confucius said: “Women and servants are difficult to deal with: if you get too close to them, they become disrespectful; if you get too distant, they become resentful.”

Chapter 26
子曰:「年四十而見惡焉,其終也已。」
Confucius said: “If you reach the age of forty and are still disdained by others, you are finished.”

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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.