Original Analects Supplement
LY 1

Passages: 15

Prefatory Note. This is the last of the preposed chapters. In actual date of composition, it adjoins the series LY 16-20, which Tswei Shu demonstrated were later than the rest of the book. On Tswei's criteria, it is thus the last Analects chapter which is plausible as part of the Analects proper. The chapter is placed at the very beginning of the text. The importance of that placement is hard to overestimate. The first words encountered by a new reader establish a framework of expectation and interpretation for all that follows. For a detailed study of how this operates on the reader's understanding of the Analects as a whole, see TOA Appendix 5.

1:15. This concluding statement (it is the last passage in the chapter as originally written) is notable for emphasizing positive values, not the mere avoidance of defects (such as the arrogance that can follow from wealth, or the resentment that is often produced by poverty). It is not enough to avoid the wrong path, one must enthusiastically pursue the right one.

The Shr 55 poem cited by Confucius (a more precise reference to the two lines quoted in this passage would be Shr 55A4-5) is carefully placed within the Shr anthology. It is the first of ten poems associated with the court of Wei. Wei counts as a "good" state in the Shr, and this first poem in the Wei section is a portrait of an exemplary gentleman. It is quoted in that same sense in LY 2:15.

Reflections. Our note on the inculcation of habit by repetition, and the classification of virtue as in effect a habit, may stand. We add that this notion has a close parallel in the thought of Sywndz, who was himself a student in the Lu capital at this time. Sywndz's prime example is the learning of a musician or a dancer.


This Supplement is Copyright © 2001- by E Bruce and A Taeko Brooks

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