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Themes from Confucius’ The Analects

Themes from Confucius’ The Analects

Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who primarily emphasized the importance of personal ethics and morality. After his death, generations of his disciples compiled anecdotes from his life, conversations, and a collection of brief quotations and wrote them as The Analects. Therefore, the Analects are basically ‘collected sayings’ that convey Confucius’ teachings and powerful vision. Consistently, two major themes come into mind as one reads the Analects.

The first noticeable theme is filial piety. In Confucianism, filial piety regards respecting one’s parents, elders, elder siblings, seniors, rulers, and ancestors. Confucius emphasized that one must show respect to one’s parents and elders. For instance, when Ziyou asked about filial piety, Confucius responded by saying that people must show respect for their parents (Puchner et al. 713). Zigong also asked The Master, Confucius, who truly deserves to be called a “gentleman,” “a superior person,” or “the junzi.” One of Confucius’ responses to this question states that it is he whose relatives praise his filial piety and he whose community praises how he respects the elders (Puchner et al. 719).

The second evident theme is moral charisma. Moral charisma or moral virtue revolves around ren. Consistently, Confucius emphasized that showing ren is the moral duty of all humans. Ren is goodness or humanity and is demonstrated through empathy, reciprocal concern, respect, and obligation (Puchner et al. 710). Also, the Analects portray Confucius’ attention to political figures whom he recognized as models of exemplary moral conduct. For instance, Confucius praised Emperor Shun as an ideal ruler whose moral virtue enabled him to sit reverently on his throne facing south, thus inducing spontaneous order in his empire (Puchner et al. 720). Other political figures that Confucius praised for their moral charisma include Shi Yu and Qu Boyu.

Works Cited

Puchner, Martin et al. The Norton Anthology Of World Literature. 4th ed., W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2021, pp. 689-721.


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Themes from Confucius’ The Analects

Themes from Confucius’ The Analects

This week, you read excerpts from Confucius’ The Analects. Please answer the following questions:

1. What are two themes that you noticed throughout The Analects? Be specific and cite them in your response.
Make sure to cite evidence from the readings to support your answers.
Volume A: UNIT 2: Early Chinese Literature and Thought

Read: Early Chinese Literature and Thought pgs. 1305-1313
Read Confucius and “from The Analects” pgs. 1326-1339

Book: The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 4th Edition Package 1 OR Volumes A, B, C
General Editor: Martin Puchner
ISBN: 978-0-393-26590-3
Published by: W.W. Norton & Company

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