Author  Huali Yuan

What kind of learning was Confucius fond of?

Confucius was a life-long learner. He considered himself as one not born with knowledge, but instead fond of learning. The Analects, a collection of dialogues between Confucius and his students, renders a fresh perspective of what learning is and what learning entails. According to Confucius, the motivation of learning is not to impress others, but to improve oneself; and learning involves not merely accumulating knowledge, but requires considerable self-cultivation. For example, he described one of his students who loved learning as someone who would never vent his frustration upon others nor make the same mistake twice. He also commented, “A gentleman (jūn zǐ 君子) eats without stuffing his belly;…is diligent in his office and prudent in his speech; seeks the company of the virtuous in order to straighten his own way. Of such a man, one may truly say that he is fond of learning.” In these conversations, Confucius illustrates how learning involves much more than simply engaging in intellectual inquiry, instead it entails refining one’s own character through daily activities until the light of humanity (rén 仁)shines forth.