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4.2 out of 5 stars
37
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 12 May 2017
Some interesting points to think about. The style is a bit rushed and abrupt...
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on 25 May 2017
Good book but terribly bound and badly layed out.
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on 5 April 2015
The work of a master obviously, what else do you need to know.
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on 27 December 2012
Always useful to have a copy to read when you have five minutes or so. Great introduction explaining the context too.
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on 7 January 2013
Just what I wanted. Gives an introduction to Confucius followed by the sayings themselves. Couldn't have asked for anything more.
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on 24 January 2013
The Analects contain twelve books (I to XX) each with around 15 to 50 numbered paragraphs. Confucius believed a leader that acted virtuously without resort to punishment could govern a country. Confucius lived in the "hundred philosophers period "551-233 BC. Two other prominent philosophers in that period were Mo Tzu with Consequentialism (see my review) and Han Fei Tzu with Legalism (see my review).
Many of Confucius ideas are similar to Mo Tzu, be it with some important differences (see later). The government never practiced Confucius ideas without including some of the ideas of Legalism, which emphasized the establishment of laws and punishment.
I have read the analects several times and analyzed each paragraph for relevance and usefulness to day. Many are. I learned a lot.
Many authors have tried to group these paragraphs under a few headings, some under the Chinese words, Jen, Chun tzu, Li, Te and Wen. The author presents in the Introduction such a summary of 46 pages of the Analects text 102 pages.
My recommendation is to read the analects before the introduction and determine what you think is relevant to day. Confucius presents ideas on how you should think and act. I have selected a few of the paragraphs about government and the way to act that I hope will encourage you to read the analects.
XII.19.Question. What would you think if I were to kill those who do not follow the way (do what is right)? Answer, What need is there for you to kill? Just desire the good yourself and the common people will be good. The virtue of the gentleman is like wind; the virtue of the small man is like grass. Let the wind blow over the grass and it is sure to bend.
II.3 Guide them with edicts, keep them in line with punishments, and the common people will stay out of trouble but will have no sense of shame. Guide them with virtue, keep them in line with rites, and they will, besides having a sense of shame, reform themselves
XVI.10 There are nine things the Gentleman turns his thought to: seeing clearly when he uses his eyes, to hearing acutely, when he uses his ears, to looking cordial when it comes to his countenance, to appearing respectful when it comes to his demeanor, to being conscientious when he speaks, to be reverent when he performs his duties, to seeking advice when he is in doubt, (be aware) of the consequences when he is enraged, and to do what is right at the sight of gain.
IV.15 The way of the master consists in doing one's best and in using oneself as a measure to gauge others.
VI.3 Yen Hui was eager to learn. Unfortunately his allotted span was a short one and he died". Mo Tzu concluded from this last paragraph that Confucius was a fatalist
All three philosophers believed that the ancestors were living in heaven and watching their descendants and interfering in what happened on earth. Elaborate funerals were held to show respect. Confucius supported rites and elaborate funerals. Mo Tzu said," if the officials sincerely desire to practice benevolence and righteousness and to benefit the people of China, they ought to adapt moderation in funerals as a principle of government.
The paragraphs also show that Confucius believed that it was possible for leaders to govern by acting virtuously and skeptical about the use of laws and punishment as advocated by Han Fei Tzu (II.3).
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on 9 January 2013
I understand that this is no fault of the writer(s); Confucius has much less surviving work than western counterparts Plato, Aristotle etc. - and it can be a little offsetting. This book won't read like Plato's "Republic", Aristotle's 'Politics' or pretty much anything else - it's more of a compilation of the sayings of Confucius (hence 'Analects'). Some excerpts are a single line, whilst others a whole page. This makes for very easy picking up, as you won't need to remember where you left off, really.

What I can make of this book is that Confucius was an extremely wise man, and it's a shame that he didn't write his own book(s). Also, there are great footnotes in this version of The Analects, and extensive further reading material at the back of the book; in addition to a very scene setting introduction.

It'll be a quick read (therefore buy it from a cheaper supplier), but unquestionably worthwhile
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on 15 December 2009
I purchased this having often enjoyed reading asserted Confucius quotes on sites such as wikiquote, and others. When I discovered I could purchase them in this form, I ordered it. About half a year later I started to read it, having purchased many classics at once.

I am not a stranger to reading philosophy: odd, perhaps, considering my age (19). I had read Nietzsche, Milton Friedman's monograph Capitalism and Freedom, much of Max Stirner's The Ego and Its Own, numerous political essays and opinion pieces, Machiavelli's The Prince...all those were much more 'cynical' than Confucius, who has a wonderful, if cautious outlook on life. Nietzsche, too, has this property, although it takes a reader to understand the underlying celebration, and to reach the joyful regions of his arguments.

Confucius, known here generally as 'The Master', can be summed simply: he promotes 'wisdom' and 'benevolence' as the chief sources of happiness in life. To Confucius, what follows this is loyalty, social cohesion (if we strive for benevolence, then we are bound to please others, and thus have them seek to please us). In other words, Confucius believes that these elements help the reproduction of society, and the reproduction of man. Confucius refreshingly believes that men can improve themselves, and can become Gentlemen whether they are poor, or are rich. Becoming a gentle man (to twist the translation to show its etymological implications) is, therefore, a wonderful cause, and something which is rewarding.

The early chapters are less interesting than the later, but I picked up and read this over a long period of time (a large break), so I may be wrong. I would read a chapter or a half every day or two, and would on the rest of my journey throughout the hours muse on them, internalise them, think on their wisdom. The less helpful passages are ones which are not as applicable to a secular, Western reader, such as about ancestor worship, and perhaps too the rigorousness of 'filial piety': obeying of one's parents, and the writings based around tea and rice (although we can substitute this and simply take the wisdom behind it).

However, the principles Confucius founds these ideas on are sound and are rigorously applied: for example, Confucius writes that "If a man sets his heart on benevolence, he will be free from evil"- the same is true of Kings, Dukes, Lords, all of whom should lead by example- Confucius believed, having served in government himself in his younger years, that if their leaders were good and kind, so too would be their people.

D.C. Lau's edition is thoughtful, and its footnotes are often helpful, particularly on corruption. Something I did not note until I was near the end of the book was the very helpful glossary of names after the main text, which I would recommend to use- The Analects were written down by Confucius' followers and friends, thus the majority of the sayings are based around dialogue between those individuals and The Master.

Confucius' humility, wisdom and sticking to his principles are refreshing. Most importantly to this review, this book helped stabilise me at a time when I was uncertain and thinking a lot- Nietzsche may have turned me into a man of dynamite ("I am not a man, I am Dynamite", Ecce Homo), I feel Confucius helped turn me into a wiser man.

Lightweight and easy to pick up, I'd recommend The Analects to anyone who perhaps wants to immerse themselves in one of the significant roots of China's culture, and to immerse themselves in their own mind and thoughts. Often the most favourable interpretation of a saying is best- be open and respectful (to be Confucian) and these sayings will help you as they certainly did with me. I only wish I had the volume here at university, something I will rectify when I return home.

5 stars/5
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on 28 December 2012
I bought this book as a present this was by far the cheapest , delivery took some time compared to one I had bought at the same time from a different amazon supplier , but it arrived in a plastic wrapper unopened untouched , I was very happy and so was my nephew
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on 8 December 2013
Fantastic must read book.
After reading this book, I realized the the issues related to the "human factor" issues is real and last from few thousand of years. Its comforting from a certain point of view.
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