Keywords: Culture & History, People

Confucius[2] (551-479 BC), (Chinese :孔子 !Kong3 zi3). Chinese philosopher.

Famous quotes

子曰: "飽食終日,無所用心,難矣哉!不有博弈者乎?為之猶賢乎已!"

"It is difficult for a man who always has a full stomach to put his mind to some use. Are there not players of liubo and weiqi? Even playing these games is better than being idle."

-- Analects (Book 17, Chapter 22) by Confucius
(translated by [ext] Jean-Louis Cazaux)

"The Master said, Hard is it to deal with him, who will stuff himself with food the whole day, without applying his mind to anything good! Are there not gamesters and chess[1] players? To be one of these would still be better than doing nothing at all."

-- Analects (Book 17, Chapter 22) by Confucius
(translated by James Legge, [ext] Projekt Gutenberg)

"Confucius say: Lovers in triangle, not in square" -- Found in one of the fortune cookies while at local Go club

"Gentlemen should not waste their time on trivial games -- they should play go[3]" - Confucius, The Analects. ca. 500 BCE (found on AGA site and other places)



[1]: Frs: Could someone with knowledge of Chinese language (and weiqi and chess history) please proofread (and fix) the Gutenberg translation which seems to include encoded original Chinese characters.

Niklaus: Knowledge of modern Chinese language unfortunately is not enough for being able to read (and understand) ancient Chinese texts. Grammar as well as the meaning of the characters have changed considerably over the millenia. These texts are also a lot more concise than modern texts, leaving the reader a lot of space for interpretation and speculation. As I will begin my studies in ancient and classical Chinese just in two weeks, I do not at all feel competent to correct Mr. Legge's translation. However, I have read the Essay "Go in the Classics" in the Go Player's Almanac, also available [ext] here, where it is discussed in quite some detail. I guess what bugs you about it is the "gamesters and chess players" bit. This part seems to have puzzled researchers for a long time, but they now came to the conclusion that it means "players of liubo and weiqi", as in the translation by Mr. Cazaux.

Hu: Yes, it seems a common mis-translation of "weiqi" to see it rendered as "chess".

Bill: Indeed. But in this case the original is not weiqi. I think that John Fairbairn has discussed this quotation somewhere. :-)

Niklaus: Right, the word in question is 弈 (pronounced yi4).

Charles: The Legge translation is by far the better, the other one is just a copy adding information not present in the original text.

Jared: One simple problem with the Legge translation is revealed in the Potter's essay [ext] "Go in the Classics".

In the 1860s, when Legge translated the Tso-chuan, the word `go' was not yet widely used. Today we would translate the expression as `playing go' rather than `playing at chess.'

Legge actually translated the term as `gamesters and chess-players' because, as he admits in his notes, he did not know whether i referred to Chinese chess or to go. There is no doubt that it refers to the latter, so we have amended his translation. Legge also admits he doesn't know what po means but handles the problem very well with the word `gamesters.'

John F. It's not so simple. As I recall Potter raised another question, which was whether the text refers to one game or two. He was dismissive of those before Legge who had opted for one term. But there are plenty of Chinese scholars today who would plump for one game, and that game might well be backgammon. The character for yi has been interpreted as hands putting something on a board (any board) and so just means playing a board game. That is why through the centuries yi has also been used also for Chinese chess. Clearly that is not meant here, but backgammon was certainly known in the time of Confucius. Personally I go with the "go" option because of the references in Mencius and the one in the Zuo Zhuan, but it would be foolish to be dogmatic. Admittedly the recent discoveries of old boards, especially the 1999 one that is possibly 3000 years old lend weight to the go theory, but even then caution is advisable.

C.S. Graves: I wonder if it will ever be possible to know precisely what Confucius referred to. Regardless, I enjoyed O Rissei's comments about this portion of the Analects hanging in the Nihon Ki-in building!

[2]: Tas: How was the guys name pronounced? (Is it known?) It confused me at first to see it written as "Confucius". I've never before seen the name in other than danish context, and there it is always written "Kungfutze". And by the way... has his name anything to do with the origin of the word "confuse"?

Menchi: Prounounce it "Confucius", and feel lucky that he has been awarded a Latin name which is easy for Americans to pronounce.

tealeaf: His family name was "Kong". The full name usually given is "kong fu zi", but the "fu zi" part of that just means "master". So "kong fu zi" means "Master Kong". That was rendered into a Latin-sounding name by Western missionaries in China, which is the origin of our common name of "Confucius".

[3]: gocrazy432?: Could this be mistranslation? It seems that Confucius did not like Go in most contexts that I've seen. GSI317? this quote needs a link to where in his writings he said this. So far with my research this quote isn't supported

Confucius last edited by on October 18, 2017 - 05:19
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