Summary: Selections from the Analects of Kongzi (Confucius), a foundational text in Chinese philosophy. It is split into twenty books recounting things that the Master (Kongzi) and his disciples said and did. Much of the rest of Chinese philosophy owes a debt, more or less explicit, to this work. Kongzi seeks the cultivation of virtue through ritual, so that worthy persons will occupy positions of power and influence. Society will thereby return to some of the splendor of the bygone ages of the legendary Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, as well as the more recent Xia, Shang, and Western Zhou dynasties.
Comment: The selections are best read in their entirety, as the work is holistic and difficult to interpret piecemeal. (So reading the whole text is better still!) It's helpful to stress Kongzi's particularism, as this makes sense of seemingly contradictory pronouncements he makes in different contexts. But if you're looking to incorporate some Classical Chinese philosophy in a course without space for the whole thing, the selections from Book One include many key Confucian themes: ritual, the ideal of a junzi or gentleman, virtue, filial piety, and the appeal to tradition. Either way, it's probably wise to give students some historical context to help understand the appeal of harking back to older traditions.