Confucius quote: 四海之内皆兄弟也

(| Updated : 2022-09-23

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Editor's Note: The Analects, a collection of Confucius' sayings from over 2,000 years ago, still has significant influence on the Chinese way of thinking and the cultural values in modern times. The book's philosophical passages are increasingly quoted by officials and dignitaries from around the world. We share some of examples in this series as follow to celebrate the 8th Nishan Forum on World Civilizations, which will be held from Sept 26 to 28 in Qufu, a county-level city in Jining, East China's Shandong province.


Within the four seas all men are brothers.


This saying from Book 12 of The Analects is an integral part of Confucianism.

In Confucius' thoughts, benevolence was a crucial proposition. When brothers live in harmony and stay united, great energy will be generated. "Within the four seas" means the entire world. The word brother is not limited to family, nor to interpersonal social relationships, but can also be extended to ethnic and state relations.

Likewise, with the rapid advance of globalization, the relationship between countries is closer than ever before, which is why it's more necessary for countries to respect and assist each other like brothers.

This saying of "四海之内皆兄弟也" was once cited by David Cameron, the then-British Prime Minister, in his speech at Peking University in Beijing on Nov 10, 2010.

Cameron reiterated that the UK sees China's rise as an "opportunity, not a threat. I say it's an opportunity. I choose engagement, not disengagement; dialogue, not stand-off; mutual benefit, not zero-sum game; partnership, not protectionism".


File photo: The then-British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) shakes hands with students at Peking University on Nov 10, 2010. [Photo by Sun Linlin/Beijing Evening News]