Extract from The Analects of Confucius
To `spin' or not to `spin'
Chris Patten refers to the following in his book East and West (page
One day a disciple asked Confucius `If a king were to entrust you with a
territory which you could govern according to your ideas, what would you do
first?' Confucius replied, `My first task would would certainly be to rectify
the names.' The puzzled disciple asked, `Rectify the names? And that would be
your first priority? Is this a joke?' Confucius was required to explain what
he meant: `If the names are not correct, if they do not match realities,
language has no object. If the language is without an object, action becomes
impossible - and therefore, all human affairs disintegrate and their
management becomes impossible. Hence, the very first task of a true statesman
is to rectify the names.'
University of Cambridge.