Quotations by Confucius

Quotations | Speeches | Poetry

Confucius, Chinese thinker and social philosopher

Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC), was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher, whose teachings and philosophy have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese thought and life. (Source: Wikipedia)


  1. Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.

  2. No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.

  3. Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.

  4. Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.

  5. He who will not economize will have to agonize.

  6. I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

  7. Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star.

  8. It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.

  9. Men's natures are alike, it is their habits that carry them far apart.

  10. Respect yourself and others will respect you.

  11. Study the past if you would define the future.

  12. The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved.

  13. To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness.

  14. To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle.

  15. What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.

  16. When anger rises, think of the consequences.

  17. When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.

  18. Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.

  19. They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.

  20. By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart. (The Confucian Analects)

  21. Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue. (The Confucian Analects)

  22. Have no friends not equal to yourself. (The Confucian Analects)

  23. He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it. (The Confucian Analects)

  24. He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good. (The Confucian Analects)

  25. He with whom neither slander that gradually soaks into the mind, nor statements that startle like a wound in the flesh, are successful may be called intelligent indeed. (The Confucian Analects)

  26. Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles. (The Confucian Analects)

  27. I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there. (The Confucian Analects)

  28. I have not seen a person who loved virtue, or one who hated what was not virtuous. He who loved virtue would esteem nothing above it. (The Confucian Analects)

  29. If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand. (The Confucian Analects)

  30. If a man withdraws his mind from the love of beauty, and applies it as sincerely to the love of the virtuous; if, in serving his parents, he can exert his utmost strength; if, in serving his prince, he can devote his life; if in his intercourse with his friends, his words are sincere - although men say that he has not learned, I will certainly say that he has. (The Confucian Analects)

  31. Is virtue a thing remote? I wish to be virtuous, and lo! Virtue is at hand. (The Confucian Analects)

  32. Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous. (The Confucian Analects)

  33. Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness. (The Confucian Analects)

  34. The cautious seldom err. (The Confucian Analects)

  35. The determined scholar and the man of virtue will not seek to live at the expense of injuring their virtue. They will even sacrifice their lives to preserve their virtue complete. (The Confucian Analects)

  36. The firm, the enduring, the simple, and the modest are near to virtue. (The Confucian Analects)

  37. The man of virtue makes the difficulty to be overcome his first business, and success only a subsequent consideration. (The Confucian Analects)

  38. The man who in view of gain thinks of righteousness; who in the view of danger is prepared to give up his life; and who does not forget an old agreement however far back it extends - such a man may be reckoned a complete man. (The Confucian Analects)

  39. The people may be made to follow a path of action, but they may not be made to understand it. (The Confucian Analects)

  40. The scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar. (The Confucian Analects)

  41. The superior man cannot be known in little matters, but he may be entrusted with great concerns. The small man may not be entrusted with great concerns, but he may be known in little matters. (The Confucian Analects)

  42. The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions. (The Confucian Analects)

  43. The superior man is satisfied and composed; the mean man is always full of distress. (The Confucian Analects)

  44. The superior man...does not set his mind either for anything, or against anything; what is right he will follow. (The Confucian Analects)

  45. There are three things which the superior man guards against. In youth...lust. When he is strong...quarrelsomeness. When he is old...covetousness. (The Confucian Analects)

  46. Things that are done, it is needless to speak about...things that are past, it is needless to blame. (The Confucian Analects)

  47. To be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue...[They are] gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness. (The Confucian Analects)

  48. To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short. (The Confucian Analects)

  49. Virtue is more to man than either water or fire. I have seen men die from treading on water and fire, but I have never seen a man die from treading the course of virtue. (The Confucian Analects)

  50. Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors. (The Confucian Analects)

  51. What the superior man seeks is in himself. What the mean man seeks is in others. (The Confucian Analects)

  52. What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others. (The Confucian Analects)

  53. When a man's knowledge is sufficient to attain, and his virtue is not sufficient to enable him to hold, whatever he may have gained, he will lose again. (The Confucian Analects)

  54. When we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves. (The Confucian Analects)

  55. When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them. (The Confucian Analects)

  56. When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it - this is knowledge. (The Confucian Analects)

  57. With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow - I have still joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness are to me as a floating cloud. (The Confucian Analects)

  58. Without an acquaintance with the rules of propriety, it is impossible for the character to be established. (The Confucian Analects)

  59. [The superior man] acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions. (The Confucian Analects)

  60. While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve spirits [of the dead]?...While you do not know life, how can you know about death? (The Confucian Analects, bk. 11:11)