Shengren – Chapter 4.13 – Chang’s Book

One of the best summaries of Confucian thought to be found, certainly the best among all featured on these pages, was the one by Chang Chi-yun and his translator into English, Shih Chao-yin’s A Life of Confucius (1957) published in Taipei. Although it was a little book of some 113 pages and offered no systematic translation of the Classic, references or index, it showed powerful analysis and admirable understanding of Chinese tradition and thought. According to Chang and Shih, “The basic concepts of Confucianism consist of the twin principle of the expression of human nature and the perfectibility of the human personality.” In their brief summary, there was no talk of God, saints, Heaven, or religion, like most of the German books had, and many others too. And then the authors went further and said: “He who possesses the fundamental virtues of wisdom, kindliness and courage is a gentleman”. That was the junzi, flawlessly defined. Although the authors said at one point “Confucius’ philosophy”, they avoided the title “philosopher” and instead called Confucius the “Thinker” (from Chinese 思想家 sixiangjia), and, on another occasion: “the sagest of sages”.[1] Chang and Shih being Chinese, they both knew very well from the original Chinese text that Confucius was talking about “emperors, kings and sages”[2]; and notabout what the easily impressionable European missionaries imagined: saints, philosophers, holy men and God.

[1] Chang, 1957, pp. 3, 26, 86

[2] Ibid., p. 3