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The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation (Classics of Ancient China) [Kindle Edition]

Roger T. Ames , Henry Rosemont Jr.
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"To quietly persevere in storing up what is learned, to continue studying without respite, to instruct others without growing weary--is this not me?"
--Confucius

Confucius is recognized as China's first and greatest teacher, and his ideas have been the fertile soil in which the Chinese cultural tradition has flourished. Now, here is a translation of the recorded thoughts and deeds that best remember Confucius--informed for the first time by the manuscript version found at Dingzhou in 1973, a partial text dating to 55 BCE and only made available to the scholarly world in 1997. The earliest Analects yet discovered, this work provides us with a new perspective on the central canonical text that has defined Chinese culture--and clearly illuminates the spirit and values of Confucius.

Confucius (551-479 BCE) was born in the ancient state of Lu into an era of unrelenting, escalating violence as seven of the strongest states in the proto-Chinese world warred for supremacy. The landscape was not only fierce politically but also intellectually. Although Confucius enjoyed great popularity as a teacher, and many of his students found their way into political office, he personally had little influence in Lu. And so he began to travel from state to state as an itinerant philosopher to persuade political leaders that his teachings were a formula for social and political success. Eventually, his philosophies came to dictate the standard of behavior for all of society--including the emperor himself.

Based on the latest research and complete with both Chinese and English texts, this revealing translation serves both as an excellent introduction to Confucian thought and as an authoritative addition to sophisticated debate.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5901 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (24 Nov. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004BXA36S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #478,238 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confucius 29 Oct. 2009
Format:Paperback
There are lots of famous quotations and many are thought provoking and profound. Confucius is of course one of the most famous.
For me,the great value of this book lies in the learned introduction which showed me a new way to read Confcius and understand more the philosphy of the Chinese and the different way we use language.
I am not a scholar but am intersted in philosophy and the book has shown me a treasure chest of thoughts to revel in.
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5.0 out of 5 stars quick summation 8 May 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
how can I review this, it is what it is, a classic of Oriental philosophy. Even if you prefer Daoism this is still worth a read.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fresh and Thoughtful Look at Confucius 26 Nov. 1999
By Jeremy Tensed - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The only translation that is a pleasure to read for both its language and its profundity. Ames and Rosemont bury the stodgy old Confucius and introduce us to a vibrant thinker--the kind of intellectual magnet that attracted hundreds of followers in his own time and millions throughout history. Although their choice of translation for key Confucian terms may seem unorthodox, consider where our 'orthodox' translations have come from. They have come from translators with a knowledge of the Classical Chinese language but all of the built in presuppositions of Western (Christian and essentialistic) thinking (including, surprisingly, D.C. Lau). Since the standard translations (Legge, Waley, Lau), there have been great strides in understanding the philosophy of Confucius' time. Ames and Rosemont are not only experts in the language but are at the cutting edge of ancient Chinese philosophy. This book questions many basic presumptions about Confucius' philosophy and deserves thoughtful consideration.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich translation with origninal text 13 Oct. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This particular translation of the Analects is wonderful. The author begins the book by introducing some terms that are difficult to translate or have multiple implications. In the text itself, these words are frequently left untranslated so that the reader can fully appreciate the diversity of the meaning. The english text is presented side by side with the classical chinese text, allowing the linguistically inclined one to compare the two. A great book alltogether.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Confucius 9 July 2000
By Thomas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This translation questions the traditional translations of Confucius' ideas. "Ren" usually translated as "humanity" here becomes "authoritative conduct" which is closer to Confucius' original meaning of the word, which was "noble conduct." Another unique feature of the translation is that the key Chinese characters are highlighted as they appear, directly in the English translation. This is probably not the first choice for someone unfamiliar with the Analects because it is somewhat technical, but it's a must if you are looking for a deeper understanding of the classic.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars error in the previous review 16 Aug. 2004
By Huggy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Daomonkey's reviews exhibit detailed knowledge in Chinese philosophy, and I agree with many of his criticisms. But he has made a small error in his review of this book, which is important to note.

This book is NOT by Hall and Ames, and thus does not show the proclivity towards 'pragmatization' that runs throughout their stimulating work. Rather, it is by Ames and ROSEMONT, a philosopher who has published extensively on topics in Chinese philosophy. You will find little by way of "speculative acrobatics and obsolete wheedlings" here.

The unconventional nature of the translation may seem awkward at first but repays careful reading; Ames and Rosemont provide good arguments in the introduction for adopting them.

(Also, the translation by Slingerland he mentions, published by Hackett, is indeed a fine translation with much running commentary.)
35 of 45 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awkward translation, sloppy philosophy 16 Jun. 2012
By Hans Geuns-Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book consists of an introduction, a translation, and an appendix. The introduction gives an historical and textual background, and outlines the philosophical approach of the authors. The appendix has some further remarks about a new version of the Analects found in a Han tomb in 1974, and more ruminations about Chinese language and philosophy.

When I bought this book I was a bit skeptical about the subtitle "A Philosophical Translation" -- What kind of hybrid monster would that be? What would made a translation "philosophical"? Is this like saying: a "deep" translation or an "insightful" translation? And what does this choice of subtitle mean for other translations on the market? Are they now, by contrast, all "unphilosophical"? But... I decided to give the writers the benefit of the doubt, and see what they had to say.

Unfortunately, after reading the philosophical introduction, I came away sorely disappointed and almost disgusted by the intellectual laziness and sloppiness of the writers. Instead of two people trying to think through the real issues that Confucius addresses, issues that are interesting *either* because they are completely out of date (merely of historical interest) *or* because they still may be relevant for people today, whatever their cultural background, I find two muddle-headed academicians spouting nonsense about the "basically substantive and essentialistic" nature of the English language (sometimes generalized to all Indo-European languages) versus the "more eventful", "relational" nature of the Chinese language. If you just squint your eyes a bit, and pretend to sort of vaguely understand what that might mean, and consider the evidence for this view, you find mostly smoke, pipe dreams, the half-digested remains of past metaphysical discussions. You find stupid, plain falsehoods, like the claim that all Indo-European languages have articles. You find a severely misleading account of Chinese grammar -- underlining the supposed ambiguity and vagueness of written Chinese. You find arguments like "The very expression 'thing' ... -- dongxi '' literally, 'east-west,' -- is a nonsubtantial relationship." -- Deep!

The book could, I suppose, still be saved by the translation. Unfortunately, philosophy gets in the way and leads the writers to use some very awkward new terms, like "the authoritative person" for "ren".
The writers are aware of the awkwardness and try to justify their selections of certain key terms -- which is good --, but mostly I found their arguments, again, unconvincing and disappointing. The arguments are often either circular or straw-man arguments.

All in all, I didn't find special merit in this translation compared to earlier translations by others. The language often seems clumsy without need. Especially clumsy if you know enough classical Chinese to see that the original is pretty straightforward and seems very natural. As an example, here is the first paragraph of the first book:

"The Master said: "Having studied, to then repeatedly apply what you have learned -- is this not a source of pleasure? To have friends come from distant quarters -- is this not a source of enjoyment? To go unacknowledged by others without harboring frustration - is this not the mark of an exemplary person?"

"Having studied, to then repeatedly" - that's in my eyes just clunky and wooden.
"a source of" - the original merely has: "is (this) not pleasant".

Compare this with the old Legge translation (1861/1893):

"The Master said, 'Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application? Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters? Is he not a man of complete virtue, who feels no discomposure though men may take no note of him?'"

The last line in Legge's translation is quaint -- after all, this translation is more than a 100 years old, but the first two lines sound more natural to me. (Ames and Rosemont claim that "junzi" doesn't have a gender basis, so would probably object to "a man of", but that seems nonsense to me: women are hardly even mentioned in the Analects, and from a purely linguistic standpoint I also doubt that their claim is true.)
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