The Unwobbling Pivot

The Unwobbling Pivot is a simple quotebot created for Twitter, which tweets out selections from the Confucian Classics. Below are answers to a few questions people may have about it:

Who created this bot?
Richard Carroll, whose main twitter account is @CheshireOcelot

What’s the purpose of this bot?
Though Confucius is very well-known, his ideas generally aren’t, at least among Westerners. My goal, then, is to give people a sampling of Confucianism and encourage them to read the original works. There are some Confucius quotebots on twitter already, but all that I could find, like the vast majority of quotebots generally, exist primarily as a vehicle for advertising.

What are the sources for the quotations?
Currently, it has selections from The Analects of Confucius, The Doctrine of the Mean, The Great Learning, and Mencius, which comprise what are known as the Four Books, and The Book of Odes, The Book of Changes, and The Book of Documents, three of the Five Classics.

Regarding the translations used, for the Analects Wing-Tsit Chan’s was the primary source, with other selections taken from D. C. Lau, James Legge, Arthur Waley, and in one instance Ezra Pound.

Doctrine of the Mean and Great Learning are all from Chan.

Mencius is taken primarily from Chan and Legge, with a few from David Hinton.

The Changes and Documents are all from Legge.

The Odes are taken from Waley, except for one taken from Pound.

Selections are edited for clarity and to fit into 280 characters, so note that quotations may not line up exactly. Furthermore, in a few cases, most notably the Analects, chapter numberings vary slightly between editions, so citations may match one version of the book but not another.

I will add selections from the rest of the Five Classics over time.

What do the abbreviations stand for?

  • An. x.y = Analects Book x. Chapter y
  • DM x = Doctrine of the Mean Chapter x
  • GL = The Great Learning (main text)
  • GL x = Chapter x of the commentary on The Great Learning
  • Mn. x.y = Mencius Book x. Chapter y
  • Ode x = Book of Odes, Ode number x
  • Ch. Ax = Book of Changes, appendix number x (following Legge’s edition)
  • Doc. x.y = Book of Documents Book x. Section y

Why “The Unwobbling Pivot?”
The Unwobbling Pivot is the title of Ezra Pound’s translation of The Doctrine of the Mean.

Who is the account’s avatar?
Confucius, taken from this illustration. The banner is a selection of The Book of Filial Piety, not one of the Four Books or Five Classics, but still highly regarded and studied by the Confucians.