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The Book of Filial Duty, by Ivan Chen, [1908], at



On hearing what Confucius said about filial duty, Tsêng Tzŭ remarked: "How great is the use of filial duty!" Here Confucius continued: "Filial duty is the constant doctrine of Heaven, the natural righteousness of Earth, and the practical duty of man. Every member of the community ought to observe it with the greatest

p. 21

care. We do what is dictated by Heaven and what is good for the general public in order to organise the community. On this account our education is wide-spread, though it is not compulsory, and our government is sound, though it is not rigorous. The effect of education upon the minds of the people was well known to the good Emperors of old. They made every person love his parents by loving their own parents first. They induced every person to cultivate his virtue by expounding the advantages of virtue to him. They behaved themselves respectfully and humbly, so that the people might not quarrel with one another. They trained the people with ceremonial observances, and educated them with music so that they might live in harmony. They told the people what things they liked or disliked to see done, so that they might understand what they were forbidden to do.

In the Shih Ching it is thus written: "The dignified statesman is always the subject of the attention of the people."


20:1 I.e. Heaven, Earth, and Man.

Next: Chapter VIII: Filial Duty in Government