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(NPPLC) Chapters #33-36 莊子秋水 (1-4)

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somethingfunny

This thread is for the discussion of chapters thirty-three through thirty-six in A New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese by Paul Rouzer.

 

Let's face it: This is it.  This is what we've all been waiting for.  Congratulations if you've made it this far, you've come a long way from 知命者不怨天,知己者不怨人.  To quote myself from chapter 3's review, "The difficulty is really starting to pick up now".  If only I had known.  Personally I've been looking forward to this for a long time.  I don't really remember why I bought these books on Classical Chinese back in Spring, I think I was maybe trying to find a way to get a deeper understanding of what people mean when they talk about Chinese culture, Chinese thinking and the differences between whatever that may be and the equivalent that we have in 'The West'.  I never really had any idea of what 'Ancient Chinese Philosophy' really meant and guessed (incorrectly) that it was probably just a series of maxims laid down by Confucius along the lines of "be good to your parents", "see things from other peoples point of view".  This changed a lot for me when I watched some lectures by Michael Puett at Harvard (you can see some on youtube and some are included in the ChinaX course).  Probably because it was interesting material, probably because it unexpectedly seemed like a fully formed philosophy, but most probably because it was so well presented, I was fascinated.  I don't imagine I'm about to have the same kind of profound understanding over the last eight chapters of this book, but I feel like its a start on a path that might lead me there.  After all, I never would have imagined I'd be here now after completing lesson 1.  It feels a little like when you start learning calculus and your teacher explains to you that your concept of calculus as 'the end of maths' is actually wrong and really everything you've been doing so far has been preparation and you're now actually at 'the start of maths'.

 

Anyway, let's crack on!  Rouzer gives a fairly explicit warning before this unit:  This is difficult.  He also says that many of the rules of grammar and syntax will not be followed.

 

I will post the first four parts together and subsequent posts will not include translations but rather questions about (1) grammar and (2) the meaning of the content.  Please try to be clear about which part you are talking about or which comment you are responding to.

 

Part 1:

 

秋水時至,百川灌河,涇流之大,兩涘渚崖之間,不辯牛馬。於是焉河伯欣然自喜,以天下之美為盡在己。順流而東行,至於北海,東面而視,不見水端。於是焉河伯始旋其面目,望洋向若而歎曰:「野語有之曰:『聞道百以為莫己若者』,我之謂也。且夫我嘗聞少仲尼之聞而輕伯夷之義者,始吾弗信;今我睹子之難窮也,吾非至於子之門則殆矣,吾長見笑於大方之家。」

  北海若曰:「井蛙不可以語於海者,拘於虛也;夏蟲不可以語於冰者,篤於時也;曲士不可以語於道者,束於教也。今爾出於崖涘,觀於大海,乃知爾醜,爾將可與語大理矣。天下之水,莫大於海,萬川歸之,不知何時止而不盈;尾閭泄之,不知何時已而不虛;春秋不變,水旱不知。此其過江河之流,不可為量數。而吾未嘗以此自多者,自以比形於天地,而受氣於陰陽,吾在[於]天地之間,猶小石小木之在大山也,方存乎見小,又奚以自多!計四海之在天地之間也,不似礨空之在大澤乎?計中國之在海內,不似稊米之在大倉乎?號物之數謂之萬,人處一焉;人卒九州,穀食之所生,舟車之所通,人處一焉;此其比萬物也,不似豪末之在於馬體乎?五帝之所連,三王之所爭,仁人之所憂,任士之所勞,盡此矣。伯夷辭之以為名,仲尼語之以為博,此其自多也,不似爾向之自多於水乎?」

 

Part 2:

 

河伯曰:「然則吾大天地而小豪末,可乎?」

  北海若曰:「否。夫物,量无窮,時无止,分无常,終始无故。是故大知觀於遠近,故小而不寡,大而不多:知量无窮。證曏今故,故遙而不悶,掇而不跂,知時无止;察乎盈虛,故得而不喜,失而不憂,知分之无常也;明乎坦塗,故生而不說,死而不禍,知終始之不可故也。計人之所知,不若其所不知;其生之時,不若未生之時;以其至小求窮其至大之域,是故迷亂而不能自得也。由此觀之,又何以知(毫)[豪]末之足以定至細之倪!又何以知天地之足以窮至大之域!」

  河伯曰:「世之議者皆曰:『至精无形,至大不可圍。』是信情乎?」

  北海若曰:「夫自細視大者不盡,自大視細者不明。夫精,小之微也;垺,大之殷也,故異便。此勢之有也。夫精粗者,期於有形者也;无形者,數之所不能分也;不可圍者,數之所不能窮也。可以言論者,物之粗也;可以意致者,物之精也;言之所不能論,意之所不能察致者,不期精粗焉。

  是故大人之行,不出乎害人,不多仁恩;動不為利,不賤門隸;貨財之爭,不多辭讓;事焉不借人,不多食乎力,不賤貪污;行殊乎俗,不多辟異;為在從衆,不賤佞諂;世之爵祿不足以為勸,戮恥不足以為辱;知是非之不可為分,細大之不可為倪。聞曰:『道人不聞,至德不得,大人无己。』約分之至也。」

 

Part 3:

 

河伯曰:「若物之外,若物之內,惡至而倪貴賤?惡至而倪小大?」

  北海若曰:「以道觀之,物无貴賤;以物觀之,自貴而相賤;以俗觀之,貴賤不在己。以差觀之,因其所大而大之,則萬物莫不大;因其所小而小之,則萬物莫不小;知天地之為稊米也,知(毫)[豪]末之為丘山也,則差數覩矣。以功觀之,因其所有而有之,則萬物莫不有;因其所无而无之,則萬物莫不无;知東西之相反而不可以相无,則功分定矣。以趣觀之,因其所然而然之,則萬物莫不然;因其所非而非之,則萬物莫不非;知堯、桀之自然而相非,則趣操覩矣。

  昔者堯舜讓而帝,之噲讓而絕;湯武爭而王,白公爭而滅。由此觀之,爭讓之禮,堯桀之行,貴賤有時,未可以為常也。梁麗可以衝城,而不可以窒穴,言殊器也;騏驥驊騮,一日而馳千里,捕鼠不如狸狌,言殊技也;鴟鵂夜撮蚤,察毫末,晝出瞋目而不見丘山,言殊性也。故曰,蓋師是而无非,師治而无亂乎?是未明天地之理,萬物之情者也。是猶師天而无地,師陰而无陽,其不可行明矣。然且語而不舍,非愚則誣也。帝王殊禪,三代殊繼。差其時,逆其俗者,謂之篡夫;當其時,順其俗者,謂之義[之]徒。默默乎河伯!女惡知貴賤之門,小大之家!」

 

Part 4:

 

河伯曰:「然則我何為乎?何不為乎?吾辭受趣舍,吾終奈何?」

  北海若曰:「以道觀之,何貴何賤,是謂反衍;无拘而志,與道大蹇。何少何多,是謂謝施;无一而行,與道參差。嚴乎若國之有君,其无私德;繇繇乎若祭之有社,其无私福;泛泛乎其若四方之无窮,其无所畛域。兼懷萬物,其孰承翼?是謂无方。萬物一齊,孰短孰長?道无終始,物有死生,不恃其成;一虛一滿,不位乎其形。年不可舉,時不可止;消息盈虛,終則有始。是所以語大義之方,論萬物之理也。物之生也,若驟若馳,无動而不變,无時而不移。何為乎,何不為乎?夫固將自化。」

  河伯曰:「然則何貴於道邪?」

  北海若曰:「知道者必達於理,達於理者必明於權,明於權者不以物害己。至德者,火弗能熱,水弗能溺,寒暑弗能害,禽獸弗能賊。非謂其薄之也,言察乎安危,寧於禍福,謹於去就,莫之能害也。故曰,天在內,人在外,德在乎天。知天人之行,本乎天,位乎得,蹢而屈伸,反要而語極。」

  曰:「何謂天?何謂人?」

  北海若曰:「牛馬四足,是謂天;落馬首,穿牛鼻,是謂人。故曰,无以人滅天,无以故滅命,无以得殉名。謹守而勿失,是謂反其真。」

 

Remember, everyone is welcome, don't feel like you have to have followed everything up until now, that's not the way this works.  I'm planning for this to take 2-3 weeks in total.

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somethingfunny

A question on 之 from the first part:  Towards the end there is a repetition of structure along these lines:

 

計中國之在海內,不似稊米之在大倉乎?

 

I take this to mean: "To take the middle kingdom amongst the ocean, is that not like taking a blade of grass in a granary?"

 

  1. Is this correct?
  2. How do these 之's work here?  I feel like this has probably been covered but I don't know where to start looking and Rouzer doesn't refer back to where it was covered.

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somethingfunny

In addition to my previous question I have a few more grammar points:

 

  1. 萬川歸之,不知何時止而不盈;尾閭泄之,不知何時已而不虛 I get the general idea here but I'm not sure specifically whats being said.  "All the streams return (to the sea), there is no knowing when they will stop and it will not be full.  The weilu rock drains it (the sea?), there is no knowing when it will stop and it will not be empty (the sea or the rock?)"  So, you can see the problem I've got in pinning down the meaning.
  2. 自多 Does this simply mean "to think more of oneself?"
  3. 方 What are they talking about when they say this?  'technique'? 'method'?

 

Content:

 

  • Bohe says "I have a saying 'He who hears The Way a hundred times will believe no-one is as good as him', I have also heard of people talking bad of Confucius and Boyi.  At first I did not believe it (始吾弗信), but today I see your sorry state.  It's not that by joining your school that I will end in a terrible state, rather that I don't want to be laughed at."  This translation must be wrong because it would mean that Bohe, upon seeing the vastness of the ocean, is only strengthened in his resolve that he is all beauty under heaven.  I thought the idea was that he thought he was great but upon seeing the ocean realised the truth that he wasn't?
  • 我之谓也 This actually means "This is speaking of me."  So when Bohe says this line, he is doing it in realisation of his own foolishness.  This makes a lot more sense.  Also, when he uses 非 it is not in the way that Rouzer talked about so often as negation in the sense of "it is not that..." but actually it provides a more concrete negation and adds some kind of conditional aspect: "If I do not become a student of your school then I will end terribly, I will always be laughed at by 大方之家"  The last four characters referring to some kind of collection of learned people I guess.

 

  • The North Sea then talks of (1) People not being able to comprehend things they have no concept of, (2)  The vastness of the water on earth, (3)  That despite this vastness he still does not think of himself as great because his existence compared to the heavens and earth is like a small rock on a mountain, (4) People are just one 'thing' amongst countless 'things', (5) Of all places where food grows and boats can travel, people occupy only one, (6) Everything that anybody has ever done is all in the name of this (the 1 amongst 10,000 insignificance), (7) Finally the argument seems to return to Bohe's comments about Boyi and Confucius, exactly how though I'm not sure.
  • I don't know much about the philosophy of Zhuangzi so it would be good if anyone here could quickly provide some relevant information.  Is Zhuangzi dissing Confucius?

 

 

Edit:  I didn't read the translation into modern Chinese, which quite simply solves a few of these problems that I was having.

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somethingfunny

Part 2, or Lesson 34, of this series is very difficult.  But it's not the kind of difficult that we had back in the first 10 lessons involving fumbling over the sentence structures and definitions of characters different to modern Chinese.  Now we're talking mainly of the warnings given to us by Rouzer of unfamiliar grammar patterns and sophisticated arguments.  To make it even harder, Rouzer even comments that parts of this lessons text are disagreed upon, and may even be incomplete in this form!

 

Grammar:

 

  1. 量无窮,時无止,分无常  Those first two are easy, but whats that third one about?
  2. 知分之无常也  See 1.
  3. 何以知毫末之足以定至細之倪 I don't see why there are two 以's in this sentence.  Or what the 足 does.  I'm assuming the meaning of this sentence is along the lines:  "How can a knowledge of the fineness of a hair allow us to define tiny differences."  That is to say, there is something smaller than a hair.  Which refers back to the the original question about if there is anything smaller than a fine hair.  So I guess he's making the point that, yes there is something smaller, but it's outside your realm of understanding because it's smaller than the thing you use to define the smallest possible thing.
  4. 數之所不能分也  I think it might be 分 which is causing me most problems here.
  5. 事焉不借人  That 焉 there, whats that doing?
  6. The last few lines of this passage have me a little lost, starting with 世之爵祿不足以為勸 which means... "The salaries of all the officials is not enough by which to persuade..."???

 

I'm not even going to attempt to summarise the arguments being made here as I understand them.  Not until I've gone back over it a few times at least.  This is very messy in my mind right now.

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Altair

 

 

After all, I never would have imagined I'd be here now after completing lesson 1.  It feels a little like when you start learning calculus and your teacher explains to you that your concept of calculus as 'the end of maths' is actually wrong and really everything you've been doing so far has been preparation and you're now actually at 'the start of maths'.

 

Well said!

 

I fear I am not up to this task, but, since I see no other responses, I will attempt to jump in a little.  I am also uncertain what problems you have already solved and which remain to be explained.  My Chinese is not nearly sufficient for this, but I think I may have enough knowledge of the grammar to offer an opinion, especially using the modern Chinese explanation to help my understanding.

 

 

計中國之在海內,不似稊米之在大倉乎?

 

I take this to mean: "To take the middle kingdom amongst the ocean, is that not like taking a blade of grass in a granary?"

 

  1. Is this correct?
  2. How do these 之's work here?  I feel like this has probably been covered but I don't know where to start looking and Rouzer doesn't refer back to where it was covered.

 

I assume that 海内 means "within the four seas."  Thus the meaning is more like: "Is taking the measure of China amidst the four seas not like taking the measure of a rice sprout in the imperial granary?  I think that 大倉 specific reference to the country granary.  I think the 之's are used to turn the clauses in which they appear into nouns.

 

 

 

  1. 萬川歸之,不知何時止而不盈;尾閭泄之,不知何時已而不虛 I get the general idea here but I'm not sure specifically whats being said.  "All the streams return (to the sea), there is no knowing when they will stop and it will not be full.  The weilu rock drains it (the sea?), there is no knowing when it will stop and it will not be empty (the sea or the rock?)"  So, you can see the problem I've got in pinning down the meaning.

 

I think there was a traditional concept that there was a "drain" at the bottom of the sea, called the 尾閭, that drained the water from the sea and returned it to the heavens for rain in an endless cycle.  I think then the translation is something like:  "The myriad streams return to it, stopping who knows when, and yet it, the sea, is not overfilled.  The hole at the bottom of the sea drains it, ceasing who knows when, and yet it, the sea, is not emptied.

 

 

 

  1. 自多 Does this simply mean "to think more of oneself?"

 

I think so.  The conventional translations go along the lines of "make much of oneself" or "brag."

 

 

 

  1. 方 What are they talking about when they say this?  'technique'? 'method'?

 

方存乎見小

 

I think this is the 方 that means "just," but I don't follow the grammar of the full phrase.  Perhaps it is something like: "just remaining in seeing myself as small" or "as long as I see myself as small."

 

大方之家

 

If you're asking about this , I think that it means "method (of dealing with life)."

 

 

 

  • Bohe says "I have a saying 'He who hears The Way a hundred times will believe no-one is as good as him', I have also heard of people talking bad of Confucius and Boyi.  At first I did not believe it (始吾弗信), but today I see your sorry state.  It's not that by joining your school that I will end in a terrible state, rather that I don't want to be laughed at."  This translation must be wrong because it would mean that Bohe, upon seeing the vastness of the ocean, is only strengthened in his resolve that he is all beauty under heaven.  I thought the idea was that he thought he was great but upon seeing the ocean realised the truth that he wasn't?

 

I had the same confusion, but looking at the modern Chinese (which you may now have done?), I see that 今我睹子之難今我睹子之難窮也也 means something like: "Now I see that you are inexhaustible/unfathomable."  The character 窮 means something at its limits and can be extend to mean "poor and in extremis," "to the fullest extent," or "all."  In this case, it simply means "go to the end of."  

 

 

 

  • I don't know much about the philosophy of Zhuangzi so it would be good if anyone here could quickly provide some relevant information.  Is Zhuangzi dissing Confucius?

 

I think so.  I understand Zhuangzi to be saying that Confucius thought he had a lock on how the universe worked, but Zhuangzi is saying that this is just like Bohe (the River Lord) thinking he was the cat's meow when he flooded with the autumn waters.

 

 

 

  • 量无窮,時无止,分无常  Those first two are easy, but whats that third one about?
  • 知分之无常也  See 1.

 

I think this is "capacity is without limit, time is without end, and what is allotted is without constant....They know that what is allotted is without constant."

 

 

 

何以知毫末之足以定至細之倪 I don't see why there are two 以's in this sentence.  Or what the 足 does.

 

I think that the first 以 is what turns 何 from "what" into "why."  The second 以 is often paired with 足, like "in" or "for" can be paired with "sufficient."  A somewhat literal translation might be "By what do you know of the end of hairs being sufficient for determining the most minute of what is tiny?"

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somethingfunny

Thanks Altair, although you claim your Chinese is "not nearly sufficient" you've still made some very useful points.  It's good to have any contribution and I hope you stick around for the remaining parts.

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Kenny同志
天下之水,莫大於海,萬川歸之,不知何時止而不盈;尾閭泄之,不知何時已而不虛;

 

 

 

  1. 萬川歸之,不知何時止而不盈;尾閭泄之,不知何時已而不虛 I get the general idea here but I'm not sure specifically whats being said.  "All the streams return (to the sea), there is no knowing when they will stop and it will not be full.  The weilu rock drains it (the sea?), there is no knowing when it will stop and it will not be empty (the sea or the rock?)"  So, you can see the problem I've got in pinning down the meaning.

 

 

I would punctuate the text as follows:

 

天下之水,莫大於海,萬川歸之,不知何時止,而不盈;尾閭泄之,不知何時已,而不虛;

 

誰不盈?海不盈。誰不虛?海不虛。

 

PS: 歸 doesn't necessarily mean return. I would translate it as flow here. : )

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Kenny同志

計中國之在海內,不似稊米之在大倉乎?

 

I take this to mean: "To take the middle kingdom amongst the ocean, is that not like taking a blade of grass in a granary?"

 

  1. Is this correct?
  2. How do these 之's work here?  I feel like this has probably been covered but I don't know where to start looking and Rouzer doesn't refer back to where it was covered.

 

Consider 之 as 's in English.

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somethingfunny

Thanks for the input Kenny.  I'm no expert but I'm not sure we can just take 之 to be possessive here (的) as it would need to be followed by a noun, but it's not, it's followed by the verb "to be located in".  The phrase 計中國之在海內, I'm fairly certain means "To take China as being located in the middle of the ocean...".  As you can see, there is nothing here that China possesses.  As for turning the phrase into a noun, wouldn't this be done by adding 者 at the end?

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Kenny同志
I'm no expert but I'm not sure we can just take 之 to be possessive here (的) as it would need to be followed by a noun, but it's not, it's followed by the verb "to be located in".  

 

You are welcome, Something Funny. I agree with you that 之 is often followed by a noun in similar cases, but it may be worth noting that in classical Chinese, the part of speech of a phrase/word can be very flexible. For example, we would usually define 相生 and 相剋 as verbs but in 陰陽之相生相剋, 相生相剋, as a whole, functions pretty much like a noun phrase. Similarly, I would say both 在大海 and 在大倉 work like a noun in that sentence.

 

And I would translate the line as:

By calculation, wouldn't the Middle Kingdom to 海内 be what a grain of millet to a huge granary?

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somethingfunny

OK, what if I try it like this:

 

計中國之在海內,不似稊米之在大倉乎?

 

To take China's being-located-in-the-middle-of-the-sea, is this not like a grain of rice's being-located-in-a-big-granary?

 

I'm sure you're right, I just like to get it into a form that makes sense to me.  I'd still feel a little happier if there were some 者's in there.

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Kenny同志
I'd still feel a little happier if there were some 者's in there.

 

 

I am afraid the sentence would be awkward with 者s. 

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somethingfunny

Fair enough.  I take it that the way I translated it in my last post is appropriate?

 

Thanks for the help, and sorry your 3,000th post couldn't have been more interesting! (Congratulations by the way.)

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lips

計中國之在海內,不似稊米之在大倉乎?

 

The two 之 here serve to make the respective phrase non-independent.  (In this case 計 and 乎 also do the same thing, but for different reasons).  If we only consider 之, we can look at the sentence without 計 and 乎: 中國之在海內,不似稊米之在大倉.  Now take away both 之:  中國在海內,不似稊米在大倉.  The meaning stays the same, but now both phrases can stand independently.  With the 之, they can't.  In other words, 中國之在海內, must have something before or after that relates to it.  The same for 不似稊米之在倉.

 

Using 之 thus way makes the sentence flow much better, especially orally.  This is an important aspect of classical Chinese 文言文.

 

If you translate the sentence to modern Chinese 语体文, most of the time you'd just skip the 之.  You don't replace them with 的.  This makes this usage of 之 different from a real possesive.  On the other hand, interpreting the 之 here as possesive do make sense:  China's characteristics of being inside the seas ...

 

This is quite confusing.  Sorry I did not write it any clearer.

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Kenny同志

Thanks Something Funny.

 

 I take it that the way I translated it in my last post is appropriate?

 

I am no expert on 莊子 so I am not quite sure...

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Altair

 

計中國之在海內,不似稊米之在大倉乎?

 

To take China's being-located-in-the-middle-of-the-sea, is this not like a grain of rice's being-located-in-a-big-granary?

 

I'm sure you're right, I just like to get it into a form that makes sense to me.  I'd still feel a little happier if there were some 者's in there.

 

I think the grammar is right in the translation; however, I think that 海内 does not mean "in the middle of the sea" in this case, but rather "in the world."  The reference is to the seas that were supposed to surround all land.  Also, for 大倉 (tai cang), the HDC dictionary in Pleco says: 没在京城的国家粮库  and cites this very passage as an example.  Thus 大倉 is not just "a big granary," but "the great granary."  Zhuangzi is saying that taking the measure of the China of the time amidst all the lands that lay within the four seas is like taking the measure of a rice sprout in the great county granary.

 

As for 者, it makes what precedes it act like a noun, just as one use of 之 makes the clause in which 之 appears act like a noun.  The discourse functions of the particles are, however, different, I think. The particle 之 simply has a grammatical function; but 者 as a syntax particle tends to mark what precedes it as the topic of the sentence.  This latter particle can thus appear even after words that are already nouns.

 

 

It occurs to me from looking at other translations, that maybe an alternative interpretation would be to translate the phrase as follows:

 

"Do (you/I) calculate that China's being amidst the four seas is unlike a grain sprout being in the great granary?"  If you ignore the question mark (which did not, of course, exist in the original) and assume that 不似 can mean the same as 不如 (I don't know whether this is possible), then maybe the translation is "I calculate that China's being amidst the four seas is not as much as a grain sprout being in the great granary!"  Such translations avoid some awkwardness in the previous comparisons, which were not strictly parallel from a grammatical point of view. 

 

 

數之所不能分也  I think it might be 分 which is causing me most problems here.

 

I think this is the same nominalizing use, thus: "counting what cannot be divided up in units."

 

 

事焉不借人  That 焉 there, whats that doing?

 

I guess this is "while engaging in anything, he does not borrow from others."

 

 

The last few lines of this passage have me a little lost, starting with 世之爵祿不足以為勸 which means... "The salaries of all the officials is not enough by which to persuade..."???

 

I think this is: "The world's titles and emoluments are not sufficient to urge him on."

 

 

是故大人之行,不出乎害人,不多仁恩;動不為利,不賤門隸;貨財之爭,不多辭讓;事焉不借人,不多食乎力,不賤貪污;行殊乎俗,不多辟異;為在從衆,不賤 佞諂;世之爵祿不足以為勸,戮恥不足以為辱;知是非之不可為分,細大之不可為倪。聞曰:『道人不聞,至德不得,大人无己。』約分之至也。」

 

Here is my guess as to a translation:

 

"Therefore, while the behavior of the great man does not stem from harming others, he does not make much of his kind and gracious acts.  While his movements are not for profit, he does not despise the porter at the gate.  While not striving after property (I found an alternate text, which has 貨財弗爭), he does not make much of politely turning it down.  While engaging in anything and not borrowing from others, he does not make much of eating from his own strength nor despise corruption.  While his conduct is exceptional among the common people, he does not make much of being an unusual phenomenon.  While yielding to the opinion of the masses, he does not despise flattery.  The world's titles and emoluments are not enough to urge him on; its executions and humiliations are not enough to shame him.  He knows right and wrong cannot be parted, the fine and the gross cannot be distinguished.  I have heard said: "The man of the Dao is not famous, supreme virtue is not obtained, the great man is impartial."  It is the height of restraining differentiation.

 

I am particularly unsure about what 約分之至也 means.  I am just guessing that it refers to not making the distinctions referred to in the previous sentences.

 

I have a question.  What does 此勢之有也 mean in the following section of Part 2?

 

 

北海若曰:「夫自細視大者不盡,自大視細者不明。夫精,小之微也;垺,大之殷也,故異便。此勢之有也。夫精粗者,期於有形者也;无形者,數之所不能分也; 不可圍者,數之所不能窮也。可以言論者,物之粗也;可以意致者,物之精也;言之所不能論,意之所不能察致者,不期精粗焉。

 

I gather that in the preceding phrase 便 is an alternate character for 辯, but that doesn't help much.

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stapler

damn you guys finished the book! I wish all my spare time didn't vanish recently. Jealous! (seriously, good work!)

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somethingfunny

Altair:  Rouzer has it punctuated like this:

 

故異便,此勢之有也。

 

And he gives the following translation:  "Consequently, as for the convenience of making distinctions, this is [something] possessed by circumstances."

 

It would seem that 便 is actually "convenience" here, which I admit I found a little strange.  I translated it the second part simply as "We have this situation."  As in:  "To look at something large from the perspective of something small, it is inexhaustible.  To look at something small from the perspective of something large, it is unidentifiable. 精 is what we call the tiny version of small, 垺 is what we call the enormous version or large.  For convenience, we have this situation."  

 

Rouzer's understanding appears to be that, although there are things which are too big or small to see, we can still conceive of them.  For example, I can't see a galaxy, and I can't see an atom, but I can conceive of the idea of both and imagine what they would be like.  Therefore, it is possible (convenient?) for me to put labels on their size ("really, really big" and "really, really tiny", or 精 and 垺).  Then he makes the point that there are things of which we can't conceive (无形者) and these things can not be labelled so conveniently.  Rouzer says he is most likely discussing ideas of infinity here.

 

There is also, apparently, no clear reason why 垺 is switched out for 粗.  But I guess they should both be taken to be talking about the same thing and have the same meaning.

 

 

(Stapler:  We haven't quite finished yet, still 6 more chapters to go!  Feel free to jump in at any chapter you like.)

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somethingfunny

I've gone through the third part and the first half deals with some pretty straightforward repeating structures with concrete examples, but there are still a few tricky parts, especially in the second half.

 

Some parts I quite liked were:

  1. 知天地之為稊米也  This caused me some real trouble but with the discussion here about 之 and reading a modern translation, I think I can take this to mean "To know of how the whole world can be like a grain of rice..." And then this ends with saying that this is to see the calculation of difference.
  2. 知東西之相反而不可以相无,則功分定矣。I'm taking this as "To know that East and West are opposites but that without one, you can't have the other, this is to define something in terms of merit."

And here are the bits I didn't fully understand:

  • 由此觀之,爭讓之禮,堯桀之行,貴賤有時,未可以為常也。I'm thinking:  "To view from this perspective then: the ritual of fighting and abdication, the actions of Yao and Jie can both, in their times, be considered high or low, but neither can be considered so forever."  I'm not a 100% on what he's getting at with these ideas of 贵 and 贱.
  • 帝王殊禪,三代殊繼。差其時,逆其俗者,謂之篡夫;當其時,順其俗者,謂之義[之]徒。None of this really makes sense to me.

 

Sounds like Ruo of the North Sea has just about had enough of the Earl River.  

 

(Thanks again to Altair, Kenny and Lips and everyone else contributing.  Not only are you helping me a lot but you're also making a great resource for anyone else that comes along in future with questions about this book.)

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somethingfunny

Altair, I get that 事焉不借人 means "while engaging in anything, he does not borrow from others."  But the problem I have is how the 焉 operates here grammatically.  Rouzer taught us that 焉 usually means 于之, is that how we should read it here?

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