Confucius quote: 知之为知之,不知为不知,是知也

(| Updated : 2022-09-24

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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.


It is wise to hold what you know and admit what you don't know.


This saying from Book 2 of The Analects is an integral part of Confucianism.

Confucius emphasized the importance of knowledge. "Having knowledge, to apply it; not having knowledge, to confess your ignorance; this is real knowledge." Thinking that you know more than you know - this is a delusion. Not recognizing that you know what you know - this is also a delusion.

The saying of "知之为知之,不知为不知,是知也" was once cited by Yasuo Fukuda, former prime minister of Japan. He expressed the saying while commenting on the Sino-Japanese relationship in his speech at Peking University in Beijing on Dec 28, 2007.

Talking about the differences between China and Japan, he said both sides should trust one another fully, deepen mutual understanding, recognize differences and get to know each other's true face. The two sides should not lose sight of their shared goals, but remain committed to finding common solutions.

As for the future of bilateral relations, Fukuda hoped that the two countries' younger generations will strengthen exchanges and jointly build a better future.


File photo: Yasuo Fukuda, the then prime minister of Japan, delivers a speech at Peking University in Beijing on Dec 28, 2007. [Photo/Agencies]