Confucius and the Analects

Initial Post Due March 20, 2019
Final Posts Due March 26, 2019
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“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
― Confucius

Using the supplied excerpt from the Analects provided, consider the above quote while answering the following prompt.

Explain how the twin concepts of jen and li, which are often said to constitute the basis of Confucianism are reflected in the above quote and in the Analects.

Your responses should cite at least three examples from the Analects to demonstrate your knowledge of Confucianism.


  1. The concepts of Jen and Li, which means human heartedness; goodness; benevolence; man-to-man-ness( which gives humans beings of their humanity) and the principle of gain, benefit, order, propriety, concrete guide to human actions, are considered to constitute the basis of Confucianism.

    In the Analects these concepts are reflected with some of the Master teachings, (“Judge:—Seeing that the feudal lords planted a screen at their gates, he too would have one at his! Seeing that when any two of the feudal lords met in friendly conclave they had an earthenware stand on which to place their inverted cups after drinking, he must have the same! If he knew the Rules of Propriety, who is there that does not know them?", page 7). With these example the Master explain one of the concept of the Li.

    He also use “The masterly man has an eye to virtue, the common man, to earthly things; the former has an eye to penalties for error—the latter, to favor.” On page 9 to speak about the Jen.

    A example of the first sense of Li ; the five Relationships is on page 6: “In dealing with his ministers a prince should observe the proprieties; in serving his prince a minister should observe the duty of loyalty”. With this example the Master is teaching the relationship between ruler and subject.

    1. I like the quotation from page 9 but I think it needs more explanation. What are the virtues of the common man if they have any? How do they compare to the virtues of the masterly? I think a comparison and contrast between the two would be interesting.

  2. Confucianism is based in the ideas that if humans just act human then order will come. Jen is the principle of being human, doing the right thing and treating other humans with respect and understanding. Li is the societal etiquette we follow. With these two principles Confucius believes that order can be achieved.
    On page 14 of the Analects the master says "By the fact of their not remembering old grievances, they gradually did away with resentments."(14) his belief in moving past previous wrongs done to you leading to lose of your resentment towards the wrong doer. This is Jen and if everyone followed this belief all resentment would cease to exist.
    On page 24 he says "The man of superior mind is placidly composed; the small-minded man is in a constant state of perturbation." He says that the men of superior mind are the most relaxed and content while the less superior ones are the ones the beget chaos. The practicers of jen and li are the more relaxed and civil.
    On page 29 he says about living with the nine wild tribes "what rudeness would be there... if a 'superior man' was living in there midst?" He believes that all it takes is one "superior man" to bring order to chaos.

    1. I like your explanation of the superior man and the examples that you use to explain it, but I think that you should explain that Confucianism divide people in two, the middle man and the superior man, and this superior man is the one who life for the knowledge and dedicate his life to the Jen and the Li.

    2. On page 9 the master says that the superior man will never forget what he owes his fellow man. Later in that passage he states that the smaller minded man will always be concerned with the pursuit of gain.


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