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The Wisdom of Confucius

When you see a good man, try to emulate his example, and when you see a bad

man, search yourself for his faults. That quote is one of the many morals stated by the

ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius, which we still live by today. The Wisdom of

Confucius, edited and translated by Lin Yutang, takes the best things said and said about

Confucius and put them into one three hundred page book. It follows his life, from his

lowly birth in the small town of Tsou, to his death as one of the world s greatest

philosophers. The book also shows his ideas and beliefs on such subjects as education,

politics, and music, subjects still evident in modern day society.

The book is mainly comprised of sections and chapters taken from ancient

Chinese literature and translated into English by Yutang. He has also added his own

commentary and a very lengthy introduction. Some of the books that Yutang used were:

The Analects, written by one of Confucius disciples Mencius, Spring and Autumn,

written by Confucius himself, and The Book of Songs, which includes over three hundred

Chinese songs and anthems edited by Confucius.

Confucius was born in the small town of Tsou, Lu in 551 BC. His real name was

Ch iu K ung. Ch iu literally meant hill , and he was named this because he was born

with a large bump on his head. The name Confucius means K ung the master. When

he was a young boy, Confucius father and mother died and were buried together at

Fangshan, a town in eastern Lu. While he was still grieving a corrupt official told

Confucius that the baron of his city was giving a banquet for all of the scholars and he

was not invited. This upset Confucius greatly so he left Lu. On his deathbed , the baron of

Lu, Li Meng, told his son, Yi Meng, that Confucius was the descendant of a great

nobleman. He also told him that Confucius would grow up to be a great philosopher, and

that Yi Meng should follow him.

Confucius returned to his home country of Lu, and more and more disciples came

to study under him. He never stayed in the same spot for a long time. He would travel

from place to place in China for long periods of time. The books calls these times as

periods of wanderings. It was during these periods of wanderings that the books were

written that recorded his sayings and teachings to his disciples. These books are what has

made him one of the most famous philosophers. The book does not go into any detail

about where he went or what he was doing during the periods of wanderings. It only talks

about what was going on in China at that period of time.

The rest of the book has Confucius opinions and sayings on certain subjects. It is

mostly Confucius said this, and Confucius said that. There were a lot of interesting

quotes in this part of the book, but it was extremely hard to read without falling asleep.

On the subject of education, Confucius said Forever occupy your thoughts with

education. He is telling the reader that you should always think about learning

something new. You should be open to learning something from anyone you meet, no

matter how old or smart you think you are. He also said Teaching is half learning. This

means that the person who is teaching is also learning from their students.

When asked the question What do you think of repaying evil with kindness? ,

Confucius replied Then what are you going to repay kindness with? Repay kindness

with kindness, but repay evil with justice. Confucius main teaching subject was

gentlemen like conduct. He believed the best way to live you life was being kind .

I thought this book was very hard to read. The beginning was alright when it was

talking about his life, but when it got to his quotes it got tiring to read the same thing over

and over. It would be a good book to read if you wanted to find a quote to make yourself

sound cool in conversation or to do a report on philosophy. On a scale from one to ten, I

would give this book a 5.


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