Language and Confucius
When reading the Analects or sayings contributed to Confucius I began wondering about the use of language of the times in which he lived. How can I the simple person grasp what it is that Confucius wanted to impart to the people with these sayings. Could there be some confusion as to the true meaning of his sayings? For example number 19 from Book II: “Duke Ai asked “What must I do before the common people will look up to me?” Confucius answered, “Raise the straight and set them over the crooked and the common people will look up to you. Raise the crooked and set them over the straight and the common people will not look up to you.”
At first I had to think on it as to the meaning of straight and then crooked. I basically came to the conclusion that the straight was meaning ‘the honest ones’ while the crooked meant ‘the dishonest ones’. In many of his sayings I really had to think to figure out what he was really saying. Now I know that I am far from stupid, yet there were times while reading these sayings that my brain sort of went to huh! Then I would have to ask myself what could the deeper meaning be. Leave it to me to ask the hardest questions. Yes I enjoyed reading the sayings, so don’t get me wrong. They serve people with great meaning and will continue long after my bones have turned to dust, however I shall probably have to read and re-read them just to figure out the deeper meaning.
How can one person write so eloquently and yet sound do confusing? And then say so much in such a small statement. He most defiantly had a way with words. He tended to have a since of brevity in his statements or maybe it was that his prose appear lacking to me in some of his sayings. It could be that I have grown used to complicated long winded descriptions and instructions. Therefore I would have to say that it could entirely be how I mentally ingested his sayings. I am nothing if not human and prone to seek out the breath, width...