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Wow! Confucious has certainly inspired a lot of quotes! And I love the original chinese there... excellent stuff. -- Neolux 15:38 29 Jul 2003 (UTC)

And lot of stuff that is not from Confucius, I guess...

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." vs "Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous."[edit]

Pacerier (talk) 21:29, 26 February 2016 (UTC): ❝

I see two quotes listed:
  • 學而不思則罔,思而不學則殆。To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.
  • Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.
Are they one and the same?

Famous Quote[edit]

Is this a relevant quote? "Upon seeing the shadow of a pigeon, one must resist the urge to look up."

Answer: No, it is not. It was made up for a title card that was used for a comedy sketch entitled "A bad day at the gym". People latched onto it and started passing it off as one of confucius'.


How about some pinyin on these quotes?


Is the "translation" on these quotes really needed? I think they are easy enough to understand, and open enough for other interpretations depending on the reader. Seems out of place to dictate exactly what the translations should be.

Anyone disagree?

English translations are needed, but what you seem to be refering to are interpretive comments of IP that were added and labelled "translations". I have just removed or reverted most of these. ~ Rumour 09:59, 27 September 2006 (UTC)


This is one hell of a list, is anyone willing to spend some time putting these into sections? It was nice reading a few but after a while it became very repetitive and if maybe there was section you could see little bits on various areas of philosophy/proverbs/whatever these quotes are called. 19:38, 28 November 2006 (UTC)


Confucius had some really good quotes and they were really deep.

"unsourced" quotes?[edit]

These unsourced quotes, are they quotes that are probably by confusious but hard to source, or probably NOT by confusious but are commonly attributed to him? 16:08, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

is the quote, "The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell." unsourced or is it perhaps a anachronistic translation of "The mind of the superior man is conversant with righteousness; the mind of the ordinary man is conversant with gain." (Confucius: Analects, bk. iv., c. xxi.) --Teledyn (talk) 19:36, 7 March 2015 (UTC)


basically, it seems like a common academic belief (i study chinese literature and so I'm taught, but I'm no luminary) that anything confucius comes from a 3rd party source, apparently we don't have a single piece of text written by the man himself - those are either the work of his disciples or plain falsifications.

a little pinyin would be appreciated, especially since the quotes are written with traditional characters (which is a bad thing itself, simplified characters are the standard by now even for traditional texts - they are the ones taught in mainland china and to foreigners).


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote on this list please move it to Confucius. --Antiquary 19:48, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

  • When words are unfit, speech is unadapted, and actions are unsuccessful.
  • He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand.
  • 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.
  • Is virtue remote? I wish to be virtuous, and lo! Virtue is at hand.
  • Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.
  • Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.
  • It's only when a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize there's always a way to solve problems without using violence
  • 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 essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it; not having it to confess your ignorance.
  • The firm, the enduring, the simple, and the modest are near to virtue.
  • 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 people may be made to follow a path of action, but they may not be made to understand it.
  • The scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.
  • 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 superior man... does not set his mind either for anything, or against anything; what is right he will follow.
  • There are three things which the superior man guards against. In youth, lust. When he is strong, quarrelsomeness. When he is old, covetousness.
  • Things that are done, it is needless to speak about. Things that are past, it is needless to blame.
    • Variant translation: Whats done is done, move on.
  • To be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue: gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.
  • To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.
  • 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.
  • What the superior man seeks is in himself; What the mean man seeks is in others.
    • Variant translation: A superior man is himself as himself; A lesser man must define himself through others
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Without an acquaintance with the rules of propriety, it is impossible for the character to be established.
  • While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve spirits... While you do not know life, how can you know about death?
  • An oppressive government is more to be feared than a man-eating tiger.
  • Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.
  • Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.
  • Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.
  • He who will not economize will have to agonize.
  • If a man sets his heart on benevolence he will be free from evil.
  • Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star.
  • It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.
  • It does not matter the number of times we fall but the number of times we rise when we fall.
  • Respect yourself and others will respect you.
  • Study the past if you would divine the future.
  • The commander of the forces of a large State may be carried off, but the will of even a common man cannot be taken from him.
  • They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.
  • To lead uninstructed people to war is to throw them away.
  • To love a thing is to want it to live.
  • To see the right and not to do it is cowardice.
  • When anger rises, think of the consequences.
  • 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 the world.
  • Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.
  • I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
  • The superior man is a man with ideal characteristics.
  • The father who does not teach his son his duties is equally guilty as the son who neglects them.
  • When a wise man points at the moon, the imbecile examines the finger.

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without[edit]

There is actually a Chinese saying similar to this one, but of different meaning:

  • 寧為玉碎,不為瓦全。

Better be a piece of broken jade than unbroken tile — it's better to die with honour than to survive in disgrace. However, it wasn't said by Confucius, but was first recorded in one of the dynastic histories in the second half of the first millenium.

traditional chinese?[edit]

please change it to simplified, Im lazy.

Better to Light a Candle Than to Curse the Darkness[edit]

Many sources in the Internet attributes the following quote to Confucius:

"Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness"

Original(traditional Chinese version):"與其詛咒黑暗,不如點亮光明".

Misattributed quotes[edit]

There are plenty of quotes that are misattributed to Confucius. Beside the obvious joke ones, there are also many that come of top of "most popular Confucius quotes" over the internet. Shouldn't these be added to the Misattributed list as well? WikiLaurent (talk) 04:22, 26 April 2014 (UTC)


What is the meaning of bolding text and not others? 04:32, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

This has been an editorial option here since the earliest days of the project, to emphasize quotes or portions of quotes which are deemed of higher significance, for various reasons. There are occasionally a few disputes as to where it should or should not be applied, but overall these have been rather rare. ~ Kalki·· 05:00, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

Looks like a false quote to me. Anyone know?[edit]

I want you to be everything that's you, deep at the center of your being.—This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) .

Yet another[edit]

"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children." Repeated in various forms all over the Internet. Is there any actual source for it or was it made up by Oscar Wilde like everything else? -- 18:52, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

Not Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde, but a paraphrase of the Guan Zi : 《管子·权修 第三》:« 一年之计,莫如树谷;十年之计,莫如树木;终身之计,莫如树人。一树一获者,谷也;一树十获者,木也;一树百获者,人也。我苟种之,如神用之,举事如神,唯王之门。»

Source for 3 or 4 wise monkeys[edit]

German Wikipedia has this quote:

  • 「非禮勿視,非禮勿聽,非禮勿言,非禮勿動」
  • 「fei li wu shi, fei li wu ting, fei li wu yan, fei li wu dong」
  • „Was nicht dem Gesetz der Schönheit [= angemessenes Verhalten] entspricht, darauf schaue nicht; was nicht dem Gesetz der Schönheit entspricht, darauf höre nicht; was nicht dem Gesetz der Schönheit entspricht, davon rede nicht; was nicht dem Gesetz der Schönheit entspricht, das tue nicht.“

– Kungfutse: Lun Yu. Gespräche. Buch 12 [1]

English Wikipedia also has it:

In Chinese, a similar phrase exists in the Analects of Confucius from 2nd to 4th century B.C.: "Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety" (非禮勿視,非禮勿聽,非禮勿言,非禮勿動).[1] It may be that this phrase was shortened and simplified after it was brought into Japan.

Should this be added to this page? Crissov (talk) 13:39, 19 June 2017 (UTC)

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance"[edit]

This quote is generally attributed to Confucius. I have tried to figure out where it is from, but...-- 14:42, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

will to win[edit]

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” – Confucius

Is this misattributed? Cesiumfrog (talk) 23:31, 6 May 2020 (UTC)

"Men, at first, are good; same in nature, their habits part"[edit]

Having read Falun Dafa's teachings, I don't get what makes that saying evil in itself; it may well be used out of context by Chinese brainwashed by the CCP to justify their evil-doing. --Apisite (talk) 04:33, 22 June 2020 (UTC)

  1. Original text: 論語, Analects