Kongzi (Confucius)’s Social Ideal



A Society of Great Harmony

When the Great Way is followed intentionally, all under heaven is distributed appropriately. 

People with virtues and merits are selected for public office, trust is cherished, and courtesy is cultivated. The people do not only love their own parents and children, they properly love other people’s parents and children as well. The elderly are attended until death; adults are employed; children are raised. Concerning widowers, widows, orphans, the aged with no children, the disabled, and the ailing: they are all nourished. Males and females are bonded in marriage; their talents and jobs are matched.

It is detestable for possessions and resources to be thrown away upon the ground. However, when gathering them, people would not store them solely for selfish use. It is detestable that people refrain from using their strength to fulfill their duties. However, when people do use their strength, it is not solely for personal gain.

Therefore, intrigues and deceptions can gain no foothold to arise. There are neither robbers nor thieves; neither is there any mob nor rebellious bandits. The doors of households appear to be closed, but they are never locked.

This is a society of great harmony.


“A society of great harmony” is the highest social ideal of Kongzi (Confucius). The passage is in the chapter of “Li Yun” (禮運, the Unfolding of Ritual-Propriety) from the Classic of Rites (禮記).

Translated and Commented By Bin Song; Edited by Lawrence Whitney.