Understanding the Analects of Confucius

A New Translation of Lunyu with Annotations

By Peimin Ni

Subjects: Confucianism, Asian Religion And Philosophy, Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9781438464503, 508 pages, July 2017
Hardcover : 9781438464510, 508 pages, March 2017

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Table of contents


Historical Background
Life of Confucius
Confucianism before and after Confucius
The Formation of the Analects
English Translations of the Analects
The Gongfu Orientation

Key Terms

Ren 仁 — Human-heartedness
Xiao 孝 — Filial piety
De 德 — Virtuosity, virtue, kindness
Xing 性 — Human nature
Tian 天— Heaven
Tianming 天命 — Mandate of heaven
Dao 道 — the Way
Ming 命 — Destiny
Yi 义 — Appropriateness / rightness
Li 礼 — Ritual propriety, ritual
Zhengming 正名 —  Rectification of names
Wuwei  无为 —  Action by non-action
He 和 — Harmony
Yue or Le 乐 — Music / joy
Wen 文 and Zhi 质 — Refined form and substance
Quan 权 —  Discretion
Zheng 政 — Governing
Shi 士 — Educated person
Junzi 君子 — Exemplary person
Sheng 圣 — Sage
Zhong 忠— Wholehearted devotion
Shu 恕 — Reciprocity
Xin 信 — Trustworthiness
Zhi 直 — Uprightness
Xue 学 — Learning, studying
Zhi 知 — Knowing, understanding, wisdom
Zhongyong 中庸 — Hitting the mark constantly

论语    Lunyu—THE ANALECTS

学而第一    Book 1
为政第二  Book 2
八佾第三    Book 3
里仁第四    Book 4
公冶长第五    Book 5
雍也第六   Book  6
述而第七   Book 7
泰伯第八  Book  8
子罕第九   Book   9
乡党第十    Book 10
先进第十一   Book 11
颜渊第十二   Book  12
子路第十三  Book  13
宪问第十四   Book   14
卫灵公第十五   Book  15
季氏第十六   Book   16
阳货第十七     Book  17
微子第十八   Book  18
子张第十九   Book  19
尧曰第二十   Book   20

Index of Names and Terms in the Analects
General Index

A new translation and commentary of the Analects for contemporary audiences.


Winner of the 2019 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for a Translation of a Scholarly Study of Literature presented by the Modern Language Association

The Analects of Confucius is arguably the single most influential work of China's cultural heritage. In this new English translation, Peimin Ni accomplishes the rare feat of simultaneously providing a faithful translation of the text, offering his own reading based on gongfu (practice) perspective, and presenting major alternative readings to help the reader understand how diverse interpretations and controversies arise. In addition to the inclusion of the original Chinese text, Ni adds a comprehensive introduction, a discussion of key terms, annotations, and extensive cross-references. In doing so, Ni makes the text accessible and engaging for today's audience.

Peimin Ni is Professor of Philosophy at Grand Valley State University. His books include Moral Cultivation and Confucian Character: Engaging Joel J. Kupperman (coedited with Chenyang Li), also published by SUNY Press.


"To date, there are about forty complete English translations of the Analects. Any new translation that adds to the existing stack faces the challenge of presenting something new and interesting about the text while not sacrificing the faithfulness to the original … Understanding the Analects of Confucius accomplishes this feat impressively … Ni's translation is a valuable contribution to the field." — Reading Religion

"Understanding the Analects of Confucius is an outstanding work of sinological scholarship." — Henry Rosemont Jr., author of A Reader's Companion to the Confucian Analects

"Peimin Ni's translation of the Analects has many virtues that make it stand out as an exemplary version of this most important Chinese text. Ni has chosen to present the text as a living document, embedded in two thousand years of commentarial conversation over its meaning, with today's readers very much part of that ongoing conversation." — Stephen C. Angle, author of Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy