Quotations by Confucius


Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
(Spurious)

Though it has been included in books of quotations, the earliest connection between this thought and Confucius is found in the mid-1980s. See here and here for more discussion.
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Trickling water, if not stopped, will become a mighty river.

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
(Spurious)

No citations found. Not found in the Analects.
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When things are investigated, then true knowledge is achieved; when true knowledge is achieved, then the will becomes sincere; when the will is sincere, then the heart is set right; when the heart is set right, then the personal life is cultivated; when the personal life is cultivated, then the family life is regulated; when the family life is regulated, then the national life is orderly; and when the national life is orderly, then there is peace in this world.

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
Liki [Record of Rites], ch. 42
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Respectfulness, without the rules of propriety, becomes laborious bustle; carefulness, without the rules of propriety, becomes timidity; boldness, without the rules of propriety, becomes insubordination; straightforwardness, without the rules of propriety, becomes rudeness.

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 8.2 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse, tr. Legge (1930)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "Without ritual, courtesy is tiresome; without ritual, prudence is timid; without ritual, bravery is quarrelsome; without ritual, frankness is hurtful." [tr. Leys (1997)]
  • "Unless a man acts according to the spirit of the rites, in being respectful, he will tire himself out; in being cautious, he will become timid; in being brave, he will become unruly; in being forthright, he will become derisive." [tr. Chin (2014)]
  • "Respectfulness without the rituals becomes laboriousness; discretion without the rituals becomes apprehensiveness; courage without the rituals becomes rebelliousness; straightforwardness without the rituals becomes impetuosity." [tr. Huang (1997)]
  • "Courtesy uncontrolled by the laws of good taste becomes labored effort, caution uncontrolled becomes timidity, boldness uncontrolled becomes recklessness, and frankness uncontrolled become effrontery." [tr. Soothill (1910)]
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The Master said of Yen Yuan, “Alas! I saw his constant advance. I never saw him stop in his progress.”

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 9.20 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse, tr. Legge (1861)]
    (Source)

Probable origin of the frequently attributed "It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop." Alt. trans.:
  • 'Confucius remarked of the same disciple [Yen Hui]: "Alas! he is dead. I have observed his constant advance; I never saw him stop in his progress."' [tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]
  • "Alas for Hwui! I saw him ever making progress. I never saw him stopping short." [tr. Wilson (1900)]
  • 'The Master, referring to Yen Yüan, said: "Alas! I ever saw him make progress, and never saw him stand still."' [tr. Soothill (1910)]
  • 'The Master said of Yan Hui: "Alas, I watched his progress, but did not see him reach the goal."' [tr. Leys (1997), 9.21]
  • 'The Master said about Yan Hui, "Such a pity! I only saw his progress; I never saw where he got to."' [tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]
  • 'The Master, referring to Yan Hui, said, "It is a pity! I saw him moving forward but did not see him complete his journey."' [tr. Annping Chin (2014)]
  • "I saw him ever making progress. I never saw him stopping short." [tr. Jennings]
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If you don’t know how to serve men, why worry about serving the gods?

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 11.11 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse]

Common translation of this Analect, source unknown. Other translations:

  • 'Chi Lu asked about serving the spirits of the dead. The Master said, "While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?"' [tr. Legge (1861)]

  • 'Tszlu propounded a question about ministering to the spirits of the departed. The Master replied, "Where there is scarcely the ability to minister to living men, how shall there be ability to minister to the spirits?"' [tr. Jennings (1895)]

  • 'A disciple (the intrepid Chung Yu) enquired how one should behave towards the spirits of dead men. Confucius answered, "We cannot as yet do our duties to living men; why should we enquire about our duties to dead men?"' [tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

  • 'When Chi Lu asked about his duty to his spirits the Master replied: "While still unable to do your duty to the living, how can you do your duty to the dead?"' [tr. Soothill (1910)]

  • 'Zilu asked how to serve the spirits and gods. The Master said: "You are not yet able to serve men, how could you serve the spirits?"' [tr. Leys (1997)]

  • 'Jilu asked how one should serve the gods and spirits. The Master said, "When you don't yet know how to serve human beings, how can you serve the spirits?"' [tr. Watson (2007)]

  • 'Jilu [Zilu] asked about how to serve the spirits of the dead and the gods. The Master said, "You can't even serve men properly, how can you serve the spirits?"' [tr. Annping Chin (2014), 11.12]

  • 'Ji Lu asked about how to serve and worship gods and spirits. Confucius said, "You still have not served men well. Why do you bother serving gods and spirits?"' [tr. Li (2020), 11.12]
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What is called a great minister is one who serves his prince according to what is right; and when he finds he cannot do so, retires.

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 11.23 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse; tr. Legge (1861)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "Men I call statesmen are those who will serve their master according to their sense of duty; who, however, when they find they cannot do that, consistently, with their sense of duty, will resign." [tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]
  • "Those whom we call 'great ministers' are such as serve their prince conscientiously, and who, when they cannot do so, retire." [tr. Wilson (1900)]
  • "He who may be called a great minister is one who serves his Prince according to the right, and when that cannot be, resigns." [tr. Soothill (1910)]
  • "A great minister is a minister who serves his lord by following the Way, and who resigns as soon as the two are no longer reconcilable." [tr. Leys (1997)]
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To let a sudden fit of anger make you forget the dangers you risk for yourself and for those who are nearest and dearest to you — is this not clouded judgment?

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 12.21 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse; Annping Chin (1983)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "For a morning's anger to disregard one's own life, and involve that of his parents; -- is not this a case of delusion?" [tr. Legge (1861)]
  • "If a man allows himself to lose his temper and forget himself of a morning, in such a way as to become careless for the safety of is own person and for the safety of his parents and friends: -- is that not a case of a great delusion in life?" [tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]
  • "For a morning's anger to forget his own safety and involve that of his relatives, is not this irrational?" [tr. Soothill (1910)]
  • "To endanger oneself and one's kin in a sudden fit of anger: is this not an instance of incoherence?" [tr. Leys (1997)]
  • "Because of one morning's anger, to forget your own safety and even endanger those close to you -- this is faulty thinking, isn't it?" [tr. Watson (2007)]
  • "And as to illusions, is not one morning's fit of anger, causing a man to forget himself, and even involving the consequences those who are near and dear to him -- is not that an illusion?" [tr. Jennings]
A common paraphrase of this is "When anger rises, think of the consequences." This is attributed to Confucius in Kang-Hi (K'ang-hsi, Kangxi) The Sacred Edict, Maxim #16 (1670, 1724) [tr. Milne (1817)]. An alternate translation is "In anger, think of the trouble" [tr. Baller (1892), ch. 16, sec. 15]
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Zigong asked how to practice humanity. The Master said: “A craftsman who wishes to do good work must first sharpen his tools. In whatever country you settle, offer your services to the most virtuous ministers, and befriend those gentlemen who cultivate humanity.”

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 15.10 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse; tr. Leys (1997)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • 'Tsze-kung asked about the practice of virtue. The Master said, "The mechanic, who wishes to do his work well, must first sharpen his tools. When you are living in any state, take service with the most worthy among its great officers, and make friends of the most virtuous among its scholars."' [tr. Legge (1861), 15.9]
  • 'Zigong asked about the practice of humaneness. The Master said, "Artisans who wish to excel at their craft must sharpen their tools. When you live in any given state, you should serve the worthiest among the counselors and befriend the most human among the educated professionals."'[tr. Annping Chin (1983)]
  • Part of this is often quoted, without citation: "The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools." The quote can be found in English as early as the late 19th Century.
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Tsze-kung asked, saying, “Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” The Master said, “Is not RECIPROCITY such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 15.24 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse; tr. Legge (1930)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • Zigong asked: "Is there any single word that could guide one's entire life?" The Master said: "Should it not be reciprocity? What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others." [tr. Leys (1997)]
  • Zigong asked: "Is there a single word that can serve as the guide to conduct throughout one's life?" The Master said, "It is perhaps the word shu. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not want." [tr. Chin (2014); Chin translates shu as "treating others with an awareness that they, too, are alive with humanity"]
  • Zi-gong asked: "Is there one single word that one can practice throughout one's life?" The Master said: "It is perhaps 'like-hearted considerateness.' 'What you do not wish for yourself, do not impose on others.'" [tr. Huang (1997)]
  • "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you."
See also the Bible, Matthew 7:12.
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Observe a man’s actions; scrutinize his motives; take note of the things that give him pleasure. How, then, can he hide from you what he really is?

confucius-what-he-really-is-wist_info-quote

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 2.10 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse] [tr. Giles (1907)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "See what a man does. Mark his motives. Examine in what things he rests. How can a man conceal his character?" [tr. Legge (1930)]
  • "Observe [shi] what a man does. Look into [guan] what he has done [you]. Consider [cha] where he feels at home. How then can he hide his character?" [tr. Chin (2014)]
  • "See what a man does; contemplate the path he has traversed; examine what he is at ease with. How, then, can he conceal himself?" [tr. Huang (1997)]
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To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 2.24 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse, tr. Legge (1930)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "Not to act when justice commands, that is cowardice." [tr. Leys (1997)]
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A gentleman seeks virtue; a small man seeks land. A gentleman seeks justice; a small man seeks favors.

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 4.11 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse; tr. Leys (1997)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "The superior man thinks of virtue; the small man thinks of comfort. The superior man thinks of the sanctions of law; the small man thinks of favours which he may receive." [tr. Legge (1930)]
  • "The gentleman [junzi] worries about the condition of his moral character, while the common man [xiaoren] worries about [whether he can hold on to] his land. The gentleman is conscious of [not breaking] the law, while the common man is conscious of what benefits he might reap [from the state]." [tr. Chin (2014)]
  • "The superior man seeks what is right; the inferior one, what is profitable." [Source]
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A man should say, I am not concerned that I have no place, I am concerned how I may fit myself for one. I am not concerned that I am not known, I seek to be worthy to be known.

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 4.14 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse; tr. Legge (1930)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "Do not worry if you are without a position; worry lest you do not deserve a position. Do not worry if you are not famous; worry let you do not deserve to be famous." [tr. Leys (1997)]
  • "Do not worry that you have no official position. Worry about not having the qualifications to deserve a position. Do not worry that others do not know you. seek to be worthy of being known." [tr. Chin (2014)]
  • "Do not worry about having no office; rather, worry about whether you deserve to stand in that office. Do not worry about nobody knowing you; rather, seek to be worth knowing." [tr. Huang (1997)]
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When you see a worthy man, seek to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, examine yourself.

見賢思齊焉、見不賢而內自省也。

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 4.17 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse; tr. Leys (1997)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "When we see men of worth, we should think of equalling them; when we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves." [tr. Legge (1930)]
  • "When you meet a worthy person, think how you could become his equal. When you meet an unworthy person, turn inward and examine your own conduct." [tr. Chin (2014)]
  • "On seeing a worthy man, think of equalling him; on seeing an unworthy man, examine yourself inwardly." [tr. Huang (1997)]
  • "When you see a good man, try to emulate his example, and when you see a bad man, search yourself for his faults."
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I have never seen anyone who loves virtue as much as he loves beautiful women.

9.18 吾未見好德、如好色者也。

15.13 吾未見好德如好色者也。

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 9.18 and 15.13 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse; tr. Huang (1997)]
    (Source)

The phrase is repeated in both locations in the Analects. Alt. trans.:
  • "I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves beauty." [as 9.17 and 15.12, tr. Legge (1930)]
  • "I have never seen anyone who loved virtue as much as sex." [tr. Leys (1997)]
  • "I have never met a person who loved virtue as much as he loved physical beauty." [tr. Chin (2014)]
  • "I have yet to meet a man as fond of high moral conduct as he is of outward appearances." [tr. Ware (1950)]
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To be born enlightened: that is highest. To study and so become enlightened: that is next. To feel trapped and so study: that is third. To feel trapped and never study: that is the level of the common people, the lowest level.

[孔子曰、生而知之者、上也、學而知之者、次也、 困而學之、又其次也、困而不學、民斯爲下矣。]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lúnyǔ, 论语], Book 16, ch. 9 (16.9) (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse, tr. Hinton (1998)]
    (Source)

(Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

Those who are born with the possession of knowledge are the highest class of men. Those who learn, and so, readily, get possession of knowledge, are the next. Those who are dull and stupid, and yet compass the learning, are another class next to these. As to those who are dull and stupid and yet do not learn; -- they are the lowest of the people
[tr. Legge (1861), sec. 2]

They whose knowledge comes by birth are of all men the first (in understanding); they to whom it comes by study are next; men of poor intellectual capacity, who yet study, may be added as a yet inferior class; and lowest of all are they who are poor in intellect and never learn.
[tr. Jennings (1895)]

The highest class of men are those who are born with a natural understanding. The next class are those who acquire understanding by study and application. There are others again who are born naturally dull, but who yet by strenuous efforts, try to acquire understanding: such men may be considered the next class. Those who are born naturally dull and yet will not take the trouble to acquire understanding: such men are the lowest class of the people.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

Those who have innate wisdom take the biggest rank. Those who acquire it by study rank next. Those who learn despite natural limitations come next. But those who are of limited ability and yet will not learn, -- these form the lowest class of men.
[tr. Soothill (1910)]

Those who know instinctively (as at birth) are the highest; those who study and find out, come next; those who are hampered and study come next. Those who are boxed in and do not study constitute the lowest people.
[tr. Pound (1933)]

Best are those who are born wise. Next are those who become wise by learning. After come those who have to toil painfully in order acquire learning. Finally, to the lowest class of the common people belong those who toil painfully without ever managing to learn.
[tr. Waley (1938)]

Those who are born with knowledge are the highest. Next come those who attain knowledge through stud. Next again come those who turn to study after having been vexed by difficulties. The common people, in so far as they make no effort to study even after having been vexed by difficulties, are the lowest.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

Those who know things from birth come first; those who know things from study come next; those who study things although the find them difficult come next to them;and those who do not study because they find things difficult, that is to say the common people, come last.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

Those who have innate knowledge are the highest. Next come those who acquire knowledge through learning. Next again come those who learn through the trials of life. Lowest are the common people who go through the trials of life without learning anything.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

It is the first class that one gets the knowledge because of one's innateness, it is the second class that one gets the knowledge because of one's studying, it is the third class that one gets studying because of one's encountering the difficulty, and it is under the class that one who does not study even if one encounters difficulties.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), #435]

Knowledge (zhi 知) acquired through a natural propensity for it is its highest level; knowledge acquired through study is the next highest; something learned in response to difficulties encountered is again the next highest. But those among the common people who do not learn even when vexed with difficulties -- they are at the bottom of the heap.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

Those who know from birth are the highest, those who know it from study are next, those who despite difficulties study it are next after that. Those who in difficulties do not study: these are the lowest.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998)]

This appears to be the source of the following aphorism frequently attributed to Confucius, and recorded in James Wood, ed., Dictionary of Quotations (1893):

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

For more discussion of that Wood "translation":
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I have no use for the strictures of You must. You must not.

[無可無不可]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lúnyǔ, 论语], Book 18, verse 8 (18.8.5) (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse, tr. Hinton (1998)]
    (Source)

(Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

I have no course for which I am predetermined, and no course against which I am predetermined.
[tr. Legge (1861)]

I will take no liberties, I will have no curtailing of my liberty.
[tr. Jennings (1895); in the footnote he gives a more raw translation, "Without possibilities (or freedom to act) -- without impossibilities"]

With me there is no inflexible "thou shalt" or 'thou shalt not."
[tr. Soothill (1910)]

I have no categoric can and cannot.
[tr. Pound (1933)]

I have no "thou shalt" or "thou shalt not."
[tr. Waley (1938)]

I have no preconceptions about the permissible and the impermissible.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

I avoid saying what should or should not be done.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

I follow no rigid prescriptions on what should, or should not, be done.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

I have not any stubborn positiveness or negation.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998)]

I do not have presuppositions as to what may and may not be done.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

I have no "may" and no "may not."
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998)]

I have no preconceptions about what one can or cannot do.
[tr. Annping Chin (2014)]

This may be the source of Lin-Yutang, ed. The Wisdom of Confucius (1938):

The superior man goes through his life without any one preconceived course of action or any taboo. He merely decides for the moment what is the right thing to do.

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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He who knows the Truth is not equal to him who loves it, and he who loves it is not equal to him who delights in it.

[知之者、不如好之者、好之者、不如樂之者]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 6, verse 20 (6.20) (6th C. BC – 3rd C. AD) [tr. Soothill (1910), 6.18]
    (Source)

Earlier translations use Legge's verse numbering, 6.18. The source material uses 之 (zhi, "it") without a clear antecedent. Soothill suggests it may refer to Truth, Virtue, or the Right. Some translations provide what they think is the reference; others leave it ambiguous or footnote it, as shown below.

(Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it.
[tr. Legge (1861), 6.18]

They who know it are not as those who love it, nor they who love it as those who rejoice in it.
[tr. Jennings (1895), 6.18]

Those who know it are not as those who love it; those who love it are not as those who find their joy in it.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898), 6.18]

Those who know aren't up to those who love; nor those who love, to those who delight in.
[tr. Pound (1933), 6.18]

To prefer it is better than only to know it. To delight in it is better than merely to prefer it.
[tr. Waley (1938), 6.18; "the Way"]

The man who loves truth (or learning) is better than the man who knows it, and the man who finds happiness in it is better than the man who loves it.
[tr. Lin Yutang (1938)]

To be fond of something is better than merely to know it, and to find joy in it is better than merely to be fond of it.
[tr. Lau (1979), 6.20]

Those who understand a thing are not equal to those who are fond of it, and those who are fond of it are not equal to those who delight in it.
[tr. Dawson (1993), 6.20]

To know something is not as good as loving it; to love something is not as good as rejoicing in it.
[tr. Leys (1997), 6.20]

The persons who know something are not better than the persons who favor something; The persons who favor something are not better than the persons who enjoy something.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), 6.20, #140]

To truly love it is better than just to understand it, and to enjoy it is better than simply to love it.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998), 6.20; "knowledge and learning"]

Knowing it is not as good as loving it; loving it is not as good as taking delight in it.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998), 6.20; virtue]

To understand something is nothing like loving it. And to love something is nothing like delighting in it.
[tr. Hinton (1998), 6.19]

To know it is not as good as to approve it. To approve it is not as good as to find joy in it.
[tr. Watson (2007), 6.20]

To know something is not as good as to have a love for it. To have a love for something is not as good as to find joy in it.
[tr. Annping Chin (2014), 6.20; learning, cf. 6.11 and 7.19]

Learned people are inferior to those who are eager to learn. Those who are eager to learn are inferior to those who enjoy learning.
[tr. Li (2020), 6.20]

Better than the one who knows what is right is he who loves what is right.
[Common English translation]

Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 20-Jun-22
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Self-control seldom leads astray.

[以約、失之者鮮矣。]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 4, verse 23 (4.23) (6th C. BC – AD 3rd C.) [tr. Leys (1997)]
    (Source)

(Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

The cautious seldom err.
[tr. Legge (1861)]

Those who keep within restraints are seldom losers.
[tr. Jennings (1895)]

He who wants little seldom goes wrong.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898); alternate: "He who confines his sphere ..."]

The self-restrained seldom err.
[tr. Soothill (1910)]

Self-restraint avoids error.
[tr. Soothill (1910), alternate]

Those who have gone astray through self-restraint are few.
[tr. Soothill (1910), alternate]

Those who consume their own smoke seldom get lost. The concise seldom err.
[tr. Pound (1933)]

Those who err on the side of strictness are few indeed!
[tr. Waley (1938)]

It is rare for a man to miss the mark through holding on to essentials.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

There are few indeed who fail in something through exercising restraint.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

The persons who lose because of restraining themselves, are few.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), #89]

It is rare indeed for someone to go wrong due to personal restraint. [tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

Those who err on the side of strictness are few.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998)]

To lose by caution is rare indeed.
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

Very few go astray who comport themselves with restraint.
[tr. Slingerland (2003)]

Those who go wrong by holding back are few.
[tr. Watson (2007)]

Few are those who make mistakes by knowing to hold back.
[tr. Annping Chin (2014)]

If you practice self-control according to the rules of Li, you will make fewer mistakes.
[tr. Li (2020)]

Added on 17-Aug-22 | Last updated 17-Aug-22
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There were four things the Master abstained from entirely: he did not speculate, he did not claim or demand certainty, he was not inflexible, and he was not self-absorbed.

[子絕四、毋意、毋必、毋固、毋我]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 9, verse 4 (9.4) (6th C. BC – 3rd C. AD) [tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]
    (Source)

Different versions of the Analects take these four items in slightly differing order, reflected in the translations below. (Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

There were four things from which the Master was entirely free. He had no foregone conclusions, no arbitrary predeterminations, no obstinacy, and no egoism.
[tr. Legge (1861)]

The Master barred four (words); - he would have no "shall"s, no "must"s, no "certainly"s, no "I"s.
[tr. Jennings (1895)]

There were four things from which Confucius was entirely free : He was free from self-interest, from prepossessions, from bigotry and from egoism.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

The Master was entirely free from four things: he had no preconceptions, no pre-determinations, no obduracy, and no egoism.
[tr. Soothill (1910)]

He was cut off from four things; he had no prejudices, no categoric imperatives, no obstinacy or no obstinate residues, no time-lags, no egotism.
[tr. Pound (1933); yes, that looks to be five things]

There are four things that the Master wholly eschewed: he took nothing for granted, he was never over-positive, never obstinate, never egotistic.
[tr. Waley (1938)]

He denounced (or tried to avoid completely) four things: arbitrariness of opinions, dogmatism, narrow-mindedness and egotism.
[tr. Lin Yutang (1938)]

There were four things the Master refused to have anything to do with: he refused to entertain conjectures or insist on certainty; he refused to be inflexible or to be egotistical.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

The Master cut out four things. He never took anything for granted, he never insisted on certainty, he was never inflexible and never egotistical.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

The Master absolutely eschewed four things: capriciousness, dogmatism, willfulness, self-importance.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

Confucius prohibited the four points: no wantonness, no dictatorship, no stubbornness, and no arrogance.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998)]

The Master avoided four things: no wish, no will, no set, no self.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998); they further interpret, "no fixed opinions, no foregone conclusions, no stubbornness, no self-absorption"]

The Master had freed himself of four things: idle speculation, certainty, inflexibility, and conceit.
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

The Master observed four prohibitions: no willfulness, no obstinacy, no narrow-mindedness, no egotism.
[tr. Watson (2007)]

The Master stayed away from four things: he did not put forth theories or conjectures; he did not think he must be right; he was not obdurate; he was not self-centered.
[tr. Annping Chin (2014)]

Confucius has four ultimate mindsets for perfect: no prejudice, no absolute must, no fixation, no self.
[tr. Li (2020)]

Added on 27-Jun-22 | Last updated 27-Jun-22
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Not to talk with people although they can be talked with is to waste people. To talk with people although they can’t be talked with is to waste words. A man of understanding does not waste people, but he also does not waste words.

[子曰、可與言、而不與之言、失人、不可與言、而與之言、失言、知者不失人、亦不失言。]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 15, verse 8 (15.8) (6th C. BC – 3rd C. AD) [tr. Dawson (1993)]
    (Source)

(Source (Chinese)). Older translations use Legge's original verse divisions and numbering (15.7).

The passage contains a native pun, combining both noun and verb senses of yén [言] (talk), which is difficult to translate into English (leading to blends of "speak" and "talk" and "words"). Alternate translations:

When a man may be spoken with, not to speak to him is to err in reference to the man. When a man may not be spoken with, to speak to him is to err in reference to our words. The wise err neither in regard to their man nor to their words.
[tr. Legge (1861), 15.7]

Not to speak to a man to whom you ought to speak, is to lose your man; to speak to one to whom you ought not to speak is to lose your words. those who are wise will not lose their man, nor yet their words.
[tr. Jennings (1895), 15.7]

When you meet the proper person to speak to and do not speak out, you lose your opportunity; but when you meet one who is not a proper person to speak to and you speak to him, you waste your words. A man of intelligence never loses his opportunity, neither does he waste his words.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898), 15.7]

Not to enlighten one who can be enlightened is to waste a man; to enlighten one who cannot be enlightened is to waste words. The intelligent man neither wastes his man nor his words.
[tr. Soothill (1910), 15.7]

When you should talk to a man, and don’t, you lose the man; when it’s no use talking to a man, and you talk to him, you waste words. An intelligent man wastes (loses) neither men nor words.
[tr. Pound (1933), 15.7]

Not to talk to one who could be talked to, is to waste a man. To talk to those who cannot be talked to, is to waste one's words. He who is truly wise never wastes a man; but on the other hand, he never wastes his words.
[tr. Waley (1938), 15.7]

When you find a person worthy to talk to and fail to talk to him, you have lost your man. When you find a man unworthy to talk to and you talk to him, you have lost (i.e., wasted) your words. A wise man neither loses his man, nor loses his words.
[tr. Lin Yutang (1938)]

To fail to speak to a man who is capable of benefiting is to let a man go to waste. To speak to a man who is incapable of benefiting is to let one's words go to waste. A wise man lets neither men nor words go to waste.
[tr. Lau (1979), 15.8]

When dealing with a man who is capable of understanding your teaching, if you do not teach him, you waste the man. When dealing with a man who is incapable of understanding your teaching, if you do teach him, you waste your teaching. A wise teacher wastes no man and wastes no teaching.
[tr. Leys (1997), 15.8]

When you should talk with one, you do not talk with one, it means to lose the people. When you should not talk with one, you talk with one, it means to lose the word. A wise person does not lose the people, and does not lose the word too.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), 15.8 / #392]

To fail to speak to someone who can be engaged is to let that person go to waste; to speak to someone who cannot be engaged is to waste your words. The wise [zhi] do not let people go to waste, but they do not waste their words, either.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998), 15.8]

If he can be talked to and you do not talk to him, you waste the man. If he cannot be talked to and you talk to him, you waste your talk. The knowledgeable will not waste a man, but will also not waste his talk.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998), 15.8]

When a person is capable of understanding your words, and you refuse to speak, you're wasting a person. When a person isn't capable of understanding your words, and you speak anyway, you're wasting words. The wise waste neither words nor people.
[tr. Hinton (1998), 15.8]

If it's someone you ought to speak to and you fail to speak, you waste a person. If it's someone you ought not to speak to and you speak, you waste words. The wise man doesn't waste people and doesn't waste words, either.
[tr. Watson (2007), 15.8]

Not to speak to a man who is capable of absorbing what you say is to let the man go to waste. To speak to a man who is incapable of absorbing what you say is to let your words go to waste. A person of wisdom does not let either men or words go to waste.
[tr. Annping Chin (2014), 15.8]

When it is appropriate and feasible to speak [and give advice] to a person, but you refrain from doing so, you will lose a friend. When it is inappropriate or infeasible to speak to a person, but you speak anyhow, you misspeak.
[tr. Li (2020), 15.8]

Added on 5-Jul-22 | Last updated 5-Jul-22
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If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand.

[人無遠慮、必有近憂。]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 15, verse 12 (15.12) (6th C. BC – 3rd C. AD) [tr. Legge (1861), 15.11]
    (Source)

In modern arrangements, this is 15.12; older ones use Legge's verse numberings (15.11). (Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

They who care not for the morrow will the sooner have their sorrow.
[tr. Jennings (1895), 15.11]

If a man takes no thought for the morrow, he will be sorry before today is out.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898), 15.11]

Who heeds not the future will find sorrow at hand.
[tr. Soothill (1910), 15.11]

Men who don't think of the far, will have trouble near.
[tr. Pound (1933), 15.11]

He who will not worry about what is far off will soon find something worse than worry close at hand.
[tr. Waley (1938), 15.11]

He who gives no thought to difficulties in the future is sure to be best by worries much closer at hand.
[tr. Lau (1979), 15.12]

If a man avoids thinking about distant matters he will certainly have worries close at hand.
[tr. Dawson (1993), 15.12]

A man with no concern for the future is bound to worry about the present.
[tr. Leys (1997), 15.12]

If one has no any consideration for the future, might have some anxiety in near.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), 15.12]

The person who does not consider what is still far off will not escape being alarmed at what is near at hand.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998), 15.12]

If a man has no worries about what is far off, he will assuredly have troubles that are near at hand.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998), 15.12]

If things far away don't concern you, you'll soon mourn things close at hand.
[tr. Hinton (1998), 15.12]

The person who fails to take far-reaching precautions is sure to encounter near-at-hand woes.
[tr. Watson (2007) 15.12]

The person who does not think ahead about the distant future is sure to be troubled by worries close at hand.
[tr. Annping Chin (2014)]

If a person does not plan and prepare for the future, he must be beset by worries and troubles very soon.
[tr. Li (2020), 15.12]

Added on 12-Jul-22 | Last updated 12-Jul-22
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The superior man in everything considers righteousness to be essential. He performs it according to the rules of propriety. He brings it forth in humility. He completes it with sincerity. This is indeed a superior man.

[君子義以為質,禮以行之,孫以出之,信以成之,君子哉]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 15, verse 18 (15.18) (6th C. BC – 3rd C. AD) [tr. Legge (1861), 15.17]
    (Source)

(Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations, noting where Legge's numbering is used:

When the "superior man" regards righteousness as the thing material, gives operation to it according to the rules of propriety, lets it issue in humility, and become complete in sincerity, -- there indeed is your superior man!
[tr. Jennings (1895), 15.17]

A wise and good man makes Right the substance of his being; he cries it out with judgment and good sense; he speaks it with modesty; and he attains it with sincerity: -- such a man is a really good and wise man!
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898), 15.17]

The noble man takes the Right as his foundation principle, reduces it to practice with all courtesy, carries it out with modesty, and renders it perfect with sincerity, -- such is the noble man.
[tr. Soothill (1910), 15.17]

When a princely man makes the Right his fundamental principle, makes Courtesy his rule in evolving it, Modesty his rule for exhibiting it, and Sincerity his rule for effectuating it perfectly, -- what a princely man he is!
[tr. Soothill (1910), 15.17, alternate]

The proper man gives substance to his acts by equity. He proceeds according to the rites, puts them forth modestly, and makes them perfect by sticking to his word. That's the proper man (in whom's the voice of his forebears).
[tr. Pound (1933), 15.17]

The gentleman who takes the right as his material to work upon and ritual as the guide in putting what is right into practice, who is modest in setting out his projects and faithful in carrying them to their conclusions, he indeed is a true gentleman.
[tr. Waley (1938), 15.17]

The gentleman has morality as his basic stuff and by observing the rites puts it into practice, by being modest gives it expression, and by being trustworthy in word brings it to completion. Such is a gentleman indeed!
[tr. Lau (1979)]

Righteousness the gentleman regards as the essential stuff and the rites are his means of putting it into effect. If modesty is the quality with which he reveals it and good faith is his method of bringing it to completion, he is indeed a gentleman.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

A gentleman takes justice as his basis, enacts it in conformity with the ritual, expounds it with modesty, and through good faith, brings it to fruition. That is how a gentleman proceeds.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

A gentleman takes the righteousness as his essence, practices with the rituals, words with modesty, and gets achievement with honesty. It is the gentleman.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), v. 402]

Having a sense of appropriate conduct [yi] as one's basic disposition [zhi], developing it in observing ritual propriety [li], expressing it with modesty, and consummating it in making good on one's word [xin]; this then is an exemplary person [junzi].
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

If a gentleman has right as his substance, and puts it in practice with propriety, promulgates it with lineality, and brings it to a conclusion with fidelity, he is a gentleman indeed!
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998), LY17 c0270 addition]

The noble-minded make Duty their very nature. They put it into practice through Ritual; they make it shine through humility; and standing by their words, they perfect it. Then they are noble-minded indeed!
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

The gentleman takes rightness as his substance, puts it into practice by means of ritual, gives it expression through modesty, and perfects it by being trustworthy. Now that is a gentleman!
[tr. Slingerland (2003)]

The gentleman makes rightness the substance, practices it through ritual, displays it with humility, brings it to completion with trustworthiness. That’s the gentleman.
[tr. Watson (2007)]

The gentleman makes rightness the substance. He works at it through ritual propriety; he expresses it with modesty; he brings it to completion by being trustworthy. Now that is a gentleman!
[tr. Annping Chin (2014)]

A Jun Zi regards righteousness and honor as fundamental bases, acts in line with Li, shows humility, delivers promises, and completes contracts with sincerity and trust. If so, he is indeed a Jun Zi.
[tr. Li (2020)]

A leader takes rightness as their essence, puts it into practice through ritual, manifests it through humility, and brings it to fruition through trustworthiness. This is how a leader behaves.
[tr. Brown (2021)]

Added on 19-Jul-22 | Last updated 1-Aug-22
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In pursuit of virtue, do not be afraid to overtake your teacher.

[當仁、不讓於師。]
[当仁不让于师]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 15, verse 36 (15.36) (6th C. BC – 3rd C. AD) [tr. Leys (1997)]
    (Source)

(Source (Chinese) 1, 2). Modern numbering is 15.36; exceptions (mostly after Legge) noted below. Alternate translations:

Let every man consider virtue as what devolves on himself. He may not yield the performance of it even to his teacher.
[tr. Legge (1861), 15.35]

Rely upon good-nature. 'Twill not allow precedence (even) to a teacher.
[tr. Jennings (1895), 15.35]

When the question is one of morality, a man need not defer to his teacher.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898), 15.35]

He upon whom a Moral duty devolves should not give way even to his Master.
[tr. Soothill (1910), 15.35]

He who has undertaken the way of Virtue does not yield place to his Teacher.
[tr. Soothill (1910), 15.35, alternate]

Manhood’s one's own, not leavable to teacher.
[tr. Pound (1933), 15.35]

When it comes to Goodness one need not avoid competing with one's teacher.
[tr. Waley (1938), 15.35]

When faced with the opportunity to practice benevolence do not give precedence even to your teacher.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

When one is confronted by humaneness, one does not yield precedence to one's teacher.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

One should not decline modestly to one's teacher when one faces the benevolent thing.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), analect 420]

In striving to be authoritative in your conduct (ren), do not yield even to your teacher.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

With (ren), one need not defer to one's teacher.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998)]

Abide in Humanity, and you need not defer to any teacher.
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

When it comes to being Good, defer to no one, not even your teacher.
[tr. Slingerland (2003)]

In matters of humaneness, do not defer even to your teacher.
[tr. Watson (2007)]

When encountering matters that involve the question of humaneness, do not yield even to your teacher.
[tr. Annping Chin (2014)]

When confronted with a challenge of upholding Ren virtue or not, one should not yield -- not even to his own teacher.
[tr. Li (2020), 15.37]

Added on 1-Aug-22 | Last updated 1-Aug-22
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It is enough that the language one uses gets the point across.

[辭、達而已矣]
[辞达而已矣]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 15, verse 41 (15.41) (6th C. BC – AD 3rd C.) [tr. Lau (1979)]
    (Source)

Currently identified as 15.41; older sources use the Legge numbering, as noted below. (Source (Chinese) 1, 2). Alternate translations:

In language it is simply required that it convey the meaning.
[tr. Legge (1861), 15.40]

In speaking, perspicuity is all that is needed.
[tr. Jennings (1895)], 15.40]

Language should be intelligible and nothing more.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898), 15.40]

In language, perspicuity is everything.
[tr. Soothill (1910), 15.40]

Words should be used simply for conveying the meaning, ornateness is not their aim.
[tr. Soothill (1910), alternate. 15.40]

Problem of style? Get the meaning across and then STOP.
[tr. Pound (1933), 15.40]

In official speeches all that matters is to get one's meaning through.
[tr. Waley (1938), 15.40]

Expressiveness is the only principle of language.
[tr. Lin Yutang (1938)]

In words, the purpose is simply to get one's point across.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

Words are merely for communication.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

It is enough that the words can express the meanings.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), #425]

In expressing oneself, it is simply a matter of getting the point across.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

The words should reach their goal, and nothing more.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998)]

Language is insight itself.
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

Words should convey their point, and leave it at that.
[tr. Slingerland (2003)]

With words it is enough if they get the meaning across.
[tr. Watson (2007)]

The sole purpose of a language is to communicate messages and ideas. That is all.
[tr. Li (2020), 15.42]

Added on 9-Aug-22 | Last updated 9-Aug-22
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It is only the very wisest and the very stupidest who never change.

[唯上知與下愚不移]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 17, verse 3 (17.3) (6th C. BC – 3rd C. AD) [tr. Soothill (1910)]
    (Source)

Some scholars recommend reading 17.2-3 together (I don't get it), and some actually merge them into a single verse; that is noted below. (Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

There are only the wise of the highest class, and the stupid of the lowest class, who cannot be changed.
[tr. Legge (1861)]

Only the supremely wise and the most deeply ignorant do not alter.
[tr. Jennings (1895)]

It is only men of the highest understanding and men of the grossest dullness, who do not change.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

There are two classes that never change: the supremely wise and the profoundly stupid.
[Source (1906)]

Only the wisest and the dullest never change.
[tr. Soothill (1910), Alternate 1]

Only the uppermost wise and the lowermost stupid do not change.
[tr. Soothill (1910), Alternate 2]

Only those of highest intelligence, and lowest simplicity do not shift.
[tr. Pound (1933)]

It is only the very wisest and the very stupidest who cannot change.
[tr. Waley (1938)]

Only the highest and the lowest characters don’t change.
[tr. Lin Yutang (1938)]

It is only the most intelligent and the most stupid who are not susceptible to change.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

Only the most intelligent and the most stupid do not change.
[tr. Dawson (1993), 17.2]

Only the wisest and the stupidest never change.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

Only the super wisdom and the infer stupidness cannot be changed.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), #443]

Only the most wise (zhi) and the most stupid do not move.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

It is the highest wisdom and the lowest stupidity that do not change.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998), 17.2b]

Those of the loftiest wisdom and those of the basest ignorance: they alone never change.
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

Only the highest among the wise and the lowest among the stupid never change.
[tr. Watson (2007)]

Only the most intelligent and the most stupid are not inclined to change.
[tr. Annping Chin (2014)]

Only superior wisdom and extreme stupidity cannot be changed.
[tr. Li (2020)]

Only the supremely wise and the most deeply ignorant do not alter.
[Source]

Only the supremely wise and the abysmally ignorant do not change.

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 25-Jul-22
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