The Unwobbling Pivot

The Unwobbling Pivot is a simple quotebot created for Twitter and the Fediverse (specifically, Pleroma), 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?
It has selections from the Confucian canon (at least, the best-known form of that canon), 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, The Book of Documents, The Spring and Autumn Annals (or rather, the Gongyang Commentary on it), and the Book of Rites, which comprise 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, Documents, and Rites are all from Legge.

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

The Gongyang Commentary on The Spring and Autumn Annals is taken from Harry Miller.

Selections are edited for clarity and to fit into 280 characters on Twitter (though of course the Fediverse version does not have a length restriction, so selections are sometimes longer there), so note that quotations may not match the source 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.

What do the abbreviations stand for?

  • An. x.y = Analects Book x. Chapter y
  • BR x.y = Book of Rites, Book x.paragraph y.
  • Ch. Ax = Book of Changes, appendix number x (following Legge’s edition)
  • DM x = Doctrine of the Mean Chapter x
  • Doc. x.y = Book of Documents Book x. Section y
  • SA = Spring and Autumn Annals main text
  • GC = Gongyang Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals
  • 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

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.