A gentleman seeks virtue; a small man seeks land. A gentleman seeks justice; a small man seeks favors.

Confucius (551-479 BC) Chinese philosopher [Ku'ng Ch'iu / King Qiu, Ku'ng Fu-tzu / Kong Fuzi]
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]
Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 5-Jul-20
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