The Ancient World (HUM 124 - UNC Asheville)/Texts/Analects/Small man

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"What the superior seeks is in himself, what the small man seeks is in others."

This one quote from Confucius can summarize a great deal of the Confucian philosophy. In simple terms, Confucius is saying that a better person focuses on achieving what is in his own self and means, while a lesser person focuses on achieving a goal reliant on others: Material goods, status, companionship etc. Confucius was of the mind that the leaders of society should be the best, and that the rest of society should mimic their actions. Some have thought this aspect of the Confucian philosophy to be disheartening, due to it's lack of emphasis on the importance of the individual follower. And disheartening as it may be the idea is based in reality. There does seem to be an inherent sheepish desire in humans to not only choose leaders from amongst ourselves, but to act in accordance with the behaviors of those we idolize. Confucius was a visionary in his time in how far he saw the bandwagon effect reaching. Ofttimes we forget just how much we take after the leaders in our society, whether they be social, political, etc. Role models, how we style our clothes, hair and faces are all often the result of our seeing a "leader" and desiring to mimic their behaviors. The quote can also be interpreted as somewhat of a socially Darwinistic angle of looking at this relationship between a leader and follower, with Confucius words implying that the cause of inferiority in small people is the the direct result of seeking what is in others, in contrast to their superiors.