The Analects Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 16 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Analects.
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Benevolence is Confucius' Underlying Principle

The theme of benevolence runs through the Analects. Benevolence can be defined with several distinct features. One way to express benevolence is to love one's fellow man. China's society during Confucius' time is organized by class. Consequently the term one's fellow man does not include the common people as it might in a modern Western society. Confucius' directive to love one's fellow man precedes by centuries Christ's birth and mandate. Specifically, benevolence requires generosity to the common people but not love. Confucius claims benevolence, also referred to as the right way, is essential to virtue. The spirit of benevolence requires that one not make others do or desire what oneself does not. The Master claims benevolence is more vital to the common people than either fire or water. No one can really dislike someone who practices benevolence by doing good. Similarly, no one can...

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