The man of honor thinks of his character, the inferior man of his position. The man of honor desires justice, the inferior man favor.


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 11 (4.11) (6th C. BC – AD 3rd C.) [tr. Soothill (1910)]

(Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

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 (1861)]

The masterly man has an eye to virtue, the common man, to earthly things; the former has an eye to penalties (for error), the latter, to favour.
[tr. Jennings (1895)]

A wise man regards the moral worth of a man; a fool, only his position. A wise man expects justice; a fool expects favours.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

The proper man is concerned with examining his consciousness and acting on it, the small man is concerned about land; the superior man about legality, the small man about favors.
[tr. Pound (1933)]

Where gentlemen set their hearts upon moral force (tê), the commoners set theirs upon the soil. Where gentlemen think only of punishments, the commoners think only of exceptions.
[tr. Waley (1938)]

The perfect gentleman cherishes high moral conduct; the mean man, well-being. The perfect gentleman cherishes the penal code; the mean man, ex¬ emptions therefrom.
[tr. Ware (1950)]

While the gentleman cherishes benign rule, the small man cherishes his native land. While the gentleman cherishes a respect for the law, the small man cherishes generous treatment.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

The gentleman cherishes virtue, but the small man cherishes the soil; the gentleman cherishes the rigors of the law, but the small man cherishes leniency.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

A gentleman seeks virtue; a small man seeks land. A gentleman seeks justice; a small man seeks favors.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

The gentleman cherishes virtue; the small man cherishes land. The gentleman cherishes institutions; the small man cherishes favors.
[tr. Huang (1997)]

The gentlemen are concerned about the virtuousness; the mean persons are concerned about the land. The gentlemen are concerned about the status; the mean persons are concerned about the benefit.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), #77]

Exemplary persons (junzi) cherish their excellence; petty persons cherish their land. Exemplary persons cherish fairness; petty persons cherish the thought of gain.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

The gentleman likes virtue; the little man likes partiality. The gentleman likes justice; the little man likes mercy.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998)]

while the noble-minded cherish integrity, little people cherish territory. And while the noble-minded cherish laws, little people cherish privilege.
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

The gentleman cherishes virtue, whereas the petty person cherishes physical possessions. The gentleman thinks about punishments, whereas the petty person thinks about exemptions.
[tr. Slingerland (2003)]

The gentleman has his mind fixed on virtue; the petty man has his mind fixed on land. The gentleman has his mind fixed on penalties; the petty man has his mind fixed on bounty.
[tr. Watson (2007)]

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)]

A Jun Zi cares about virtuous and righteous principles, whereas a Xiao Ren cares about worldly matters. A Jun Zi cares about rules and discipline, whereas a Xiao Ren cares about benefits.
[tr. Li (2020)]

The superior man seeks what is right; the inferior one, what is profitable.

Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 8-May-23
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