Confucius, The Confucian Analects

Chinese philosopher & reformer (551 BC - 479 BC)

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By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.
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.
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 a thing remote? I wish to be virtuous, and lo! Virtue is at hand.
Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.
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 superior man is satisfied and composed; the mean man is always full of distress.
The superior man...does not set his mind either for anything, or against anything; what is right he will follow.
To be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue...[They are] gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.
What the superior man seeks is in himself. What the mean man seeks is in others.
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 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.
[The superior man] acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions.

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