Originally, these sayings and conversations were penned during the Warring States period of Chinese antiquity. The subjects range from wise behaviour in times of crisis to general instruction upon how to live a peaceful life characterised by serenity, humility and good work. The importance of family life and community cooperation are also alluded to, offering an insight into the mores and customs of ancient Chinese life. The politics of the time, rife with infighting between noble families and dukedoms, also attract consideration by Confucius and his contemporaries.
To better illustrate his points, examples and analogies are readily offered by Confucius, who engages with several other philosophers through the course of the twenty named books that comprise the core text of the Analects.