Journal of Basic Education


2009.第18卷第1期(Vol. 18 No. 1).pp. 69–86


The Origin and Related Research of the Saying “A Good Life Lies in Being Diligent”

蔡根祥(Ken-Hsiang TSAI)





In Taiwan, the Mandarin textbook of junior middle school selects Li Wenzhao’s article “The Exhortation of Diligence” as one of its reading texts. In this article, it is written that “Shao Yong said: ‘A good day depends on a right start in the morning, a good year lies in a right start in spring, and a good life lies in being diligent.’” However, documentary evidence shows that Shao Yong did not write any sayings exactly like that, especially the key sentence “a good life lies in being diligent.” Li Wenzhao must have been mistaken in quoting these sentences, which could well have been the origin of all the quotation mistakes that followed in a variety of teachers’ manuals, reference books, and even on the web since then. So what is the origin of this key saying? That is the core issue in this article. As to the problem of why Li Wenzhao referred to Shao Yong and not to other scholars, this paper argues that it might have been due to the former’s academic background, which was linked to Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucianism of the Song Dynasty, and so quoting Shao Yong was understandable.