In Analects, chapter 4, 「吾日三省吾身 為人謀而不忠乎? 與朋友交而不信乎? 傳不習乎?」

I would translate it: Master Ceng said: everyday I check three things in myself: do I plan my behavior without loyalty? do I make friends without confidence/trust (or deserving confidence - sincerity)? do I propagate (disseminate) the Practice.

James Legge (who is extremely competent in it) translates the last lines differently: whether I may have not mastered and practiced the instructions of my teacher.

Am I wrong that 傳 is about dissemination?

  • OT: We taught 論語 back then when I was in school (9th grade). This line is my favorite and I still remember it decades later!! :)
    – leo4jc
    Jun 30 '15 at 16:39

朱熹四書章句集注 「傳,謂受之於師。習,謂熟之於己。」

So means what you've received from your Master. James Legge's translation seems right.


Yes, there're two comprehendings. The point is 曾子's identity, as a student of 孔子, or as a teacher (when he became elder) ?

Basically I prefer to James Legge's translation, here 曾子 is supposed to be a student, and means (the things) teached/passed on from the teacher.

If you think when 曾子 said these words he has become a teacher by himself, your understanding is reasonable too, even thouth I think it's more accurate to translate as teach/pass on, so the whole sentence should be Do I think twice and practice to check my thought/knowledge before I pass on them to others?

第二则 曾子曰:“吾日三省(xǐng)吾身:为人谋而不忠乎?与朋友交而不信乎?传不习乎?”(《学而》)

BTW: Some additional remarks about the translation of the first two sentence:

为人谋 means plan/do sth for others.
means elaborate/try one's best here.
means to be credible.

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