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(NPPLC) Chapters #37-40 莊子秋水 (5-8)


somethingfunny

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somethingfunny

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

 

The second half of this chapter includes a series of anecdotes relating to the philosophy that has already been discussed.  I have given the text below taken from here where each section is given it's own little heading (bold font), although these are not included in Rouzer's version.  I've included them here to make it easier for discussion.

 

Some of these look fairly short and I hope to be able to get through all of this during the next week.

 

 

(1) 蛇与风

夔怜蚿,蚿怜蛇,蛇怜风,风怜目,目怜心。夔谓蚿曰:“吾以一足趻踔而行,予无如矣。今子之使万足,独奈何?”蚿曰:“不然。子不见夫唾者乎?喷则大者如珠,小者如雾,杂而下者不可胜数也。今予动吾天机,而不知其所以然。”蚿谓蛇曰:“吾以众足行,而不及子之无足,何也?”蛇曰:“夫天机之所动,何可易邪?吾安用足哉!”蛇谓风曰:“予动吾脊胁而行,则有似也。今子蓬蓬然起于北海,蓬蓬然入于南海,而似无有,何也?”风曰:“然,予蓬蓬然起于北海而入于南海也,然而指我则胜我,鰌我亦胜我。虽然,夫折大木,蜚大屋者,唯我能也。”故以众小不胜为大胜也。为大胜者,唯圣人能之。
 
(2) 孔子与子路
孔子游于匡,宋人围之数匝,而弦歌不辍。子路入见,曰:“何夫子之娱也?”孔子曰:“来,吾语女。我讳穷久矣,而不免,命也;求通久矣,而不得,时也。当尧、舜而天下无穷人,非知得也;当桀、纣而天下无通人,非知失也:时势适然。夫水行不避蛟龙者,渔父之勇也;陆行不避兕虎者,猎夫之勇也;白刃交于前,视死若生者,烈士之勇也;知穷之有命,知通之有时,临大难而不惧者,圣人之勇也。由,处矣!吾命有所制矣!”无几何,将甲者进,辞曰:“以为阳虎也,故围之;今非也,请辞而退。”
 
(3) 公孙龙与魏牟
公孙龙问于魏牟曰:“ 龙少学先王之道,长而明仁义之行;合同异,离坚白;然不然,可不可;困百家之知,穷众口之辩:吾自以为至达已。今吾闻庄子之言,茫然异之。不知论之不及与?知之弗若与?今吾无所开吾喙,敢问其方。”公子牟隐机大息,仰天而笑曰:“子独不闻夫埳井之蛙乎?谓东海之鳖曰:‘吾乐与!出跳梁乎井干之上,入休乎缺甃之崖。赴水则接腋持颐,蹶泥则没足灭跗。还虷蟹与科斗,莫吾能若也。且夫擅一壑之水,而跨跱埳井之乐,此亦至矣。夫子奚不时来入观乎?’东海之鳖左足未入,而右膝已絷矣。于是逡巡而却,告之海曰:‘夫千里之远,不足以举其大;千仞之高,不足以极其深。禹之时,十年九潦,而水弗为加益;汤之时,八年七旱,而崖不为加损。夫不为顷久推移,不以多少进退者,此亦东海之大乐也。’于是埳井之蛙闻之,适适然惊,规规然自失也。且夫知不知是非之竟,而犹欲观于庄子之言,是犹使蚊负山,商蚷驰河也,必不胜任矣。且夫知不知论极妙之言,而自适一时之利者,是非埳井之蛙与?且彼方跐黄泉而登大皇,无南无北,爽然四解,沦于不测;无东无西,始于玄冥,反于大通。子乃规规然而求之以察,索之以辩,是直用管窥天,用锥指地也,不亦小乎?子往矣!且子独不闻夫寿陵余子之学于邯郸与?未得国能,又失其故行矣,直匍匐而归耳。今子不去,将忘子之故,失子之业。”公孙龙口呿而不合,舌举而不下,乃逸而走。
 
(4) 庄子与惠子
 
庄子钓于濮水。楚王使大夫二人往先焉,曰:“愿以境内累矣!”庄子持竿不顾,曰:“吾闻楚有神龟,死已三千岁矣。王以巾笥而藏之庙堂之上。此龟者,宁其死为留骨而贵乎?宁其生而曳尾于涂中乎?”二大夫曰:“宁生而曳尾涂中。”庄子曰:“往矣!吾将曳尾于涂中。”
 
惠子相梁,庄子往见之。或谓惠子曰:“庄子来,欲代子相。”于是惠子恐,搜于国中三日三夜。庄子往见之,曰:“南方有鸟,其名为鹓鶵,子知之乎?夫鹓鶵发于南海而飞于北海,非梧桐不止,非练实不食,非醴泉不饮。于是鸱得腐鼠,鹓鶵过之,仰而视之曰:‘吓!’今子欲以子之梁国而吓我邪?”
 
庄子与惠子游于濠梁之上。庄子曰:“鯈鱼出游从容,是鱼之乐也。”惠子曰∶“子非鱼,安知鱼之乐?”庄子曰:“子非我,安知我不知鱼之乐?”惠子曰:“我非子,固不知子矣;子固非鱼也,子之不知鱼之乐全矣!”庄子曰:“请循其本。子曰‘汝安知鱼乐’云者,既已知吾知之而问我。我知之濠上也。”
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somethingfunny

As I expected, the first of these was pretty quick.  We've got a one legged beast jealous of a many-legged millipede, who in turn is jealous of a legless snake, who in turn is jealous of the formless wind, who in turn is jealous of eyes(?), who in turn are jealous of the heart(?).

 

There is a bit of dialogue between each one explaining the differences in their reasons for the way they are, until we get to the wind.  We don't hear about anything said between the wind, eyes and heart.  I assume originally this existed but has been lost at some point.

 

I have a few questions:

 

  1. When each speaks in turn to the next, are they asking "What's it like (being different from me)?" Or is it more along the lines of "Why are you different?"  The questions are 独奈何? and 何也?  What does the first one mean with that extra 独?
  2. What is the millipede talking about when he is talking about spit?  In fact, I'd generally like to see some ideas on what the whole line means (子不见夫唾者乎?喷则大者如珠,小者如雾,杂而下者不可胜数也。今予动吾天机,而不知其所以然。) 
  3. The wind seems to lament the ease with which people can hold out a finger or a foot against it, but that it still has the capability to blow down a house.  He then goes on: 故以众小不胜为大胜也, before making a final comment about wise people which is fairly straightforward.  So what does that bit mean?  I see that its a 故 (reason) 以 (with) 众小不胜 (?) 为 (do/cause/act for) 大胜 (big victory).  Its that missing middle four characters thats giving me trouble.

Note that Rouzer has the last little bit as being said by the wind, whereas the version here has that as an author comment.  I don't really think it makes much difference.  Also, 予 gets a lot of use here as a first person pronoun which is something we haven't seen much of before.

 

Probably try and do one of these a day.  Which means I might even do one on Christmas day!

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There is much about this passage that leaves me puzzled. One of these is what is meant by 怜. If we take it in its normal meaning, then it probably means "to pity" or "sympathize with." We should then expect the following lines to show the disadvantages faced by each successive creature, followed perhaps by some explanation of how those were really not disadvantages at all. If we take 怜 to mean something like "looked for sympathy from," then we would expect the following lines to show the advantages of each successive creature, followed perhaps by some explanation of how these were not in fact advantages. The problem is that some of the language is obscure and the following lines gives a mixed bag.

I can see a few ways out of my dilemma, but none of them are very satisfying. I choose to interpret 怜 as inherently ambiguous and meaning something like "commiserated with." I then interpret the doubtful passages accordingly, such as interpreting 予无如矣 as "I have no choice."

As for question, number 1, I interpret the Chinese as being closer to "What's up with that?" than "What is it like?" I think modern Chinese 怎么样 has a similar ambiguity. As for the extra 独, Rouzer suggests an answer for a similar case in comment 26.1 on page 255. I think it adds a flavor of "just that alone."

As for question 2, I think the millipede is suggesting that spitting is a simple act and yet produces uncountable drops of spit; similarly, its walking is a simple act and yet involves an uncountable number of leg movements. Here is my translation:

子不见夫唾者乎?喷则大者如珠,小者如雾,杂而下者不可胜数也。今予动吾天机,而不知其所以然。

"Have you not seen that guy spitting? There is a spurt, and then the big stuff is like pearls and the small stuff is like mist, raining down in an uncountable jumble. Now, I set in motion my heaven-sent gifts, and yet do not know the reason why it is so."

The wind seems to lament the ease with which people can hold out a finger or a foot against it, but that it still has the capability to blow down a house. He then goes on: 故以众小不胜为大胜也, before making a final comment about wise people which is fairly straightforward. So what does that bit mean? I see that its a 故 (reason) 以 (with) 众小不胜 (?) 为 (do/cause/act for) 大胜 (big victory). Its that missing middle four characters thats giving me trouble.


Rouzer gives an explanation in comment 37.4 on page 342. I think he takes 不胜 and 胜 as parallel nouns, making 小不胜 and 大胜 parallel noun phrases.
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somethingfunny

You're right about the meaning of 怜.  One of the meanings given in the back of Rouzer is "to envy" and the modern translation here substitutes it for 羡慕.

 

Rouzer also translates 予无如矣 as "there is nothing that comes up to me" which I don't really find very helpful to be honest.  I have to admit that it does sound a lot like he is boasting to the millipede here, but Rouzer explicitly advises against this interpretation.

 

The spitting analogy doesn't really strike me as a very good one.  All it seems to illustrate is how something simple can become complex, rather than how a simple big action can be based on many smaller complex actions.

 

So, is the point that only the wind (something that is without form) can make 'big victories' and everyone else must take small non-victories to make a big victory?  Or, is the point that something small, like trying to blow over a persons finger might result in non-victory, but when added up into something big will, result in a victory?

 

I'm going to be honest, I don't feel like I'm learning much from this anecdote, or feel that it effectively illustrates any of the preceding material.  I'll give the next one a go...

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The second part is fairly straightforward and is 'Confucius' discussing how values change under circumstances.  The grammar isn't the biggest problem here, but rather it is the vocabulary.  We have four main concepts: 穷,命,通 and 时.  I'd like to take a close look at the occurences of these and I will give my simple translations and invite others to provide any corrections they might have.

 

我讳穷久矣,而不免,命也

 

For a long time I have sought to avoid poverty, but ultimately I have been unable to avoid it, this is life.

 

求通久矣,而不得,时也

 

For a long time I have searched for success, but ultimately I have been unable to achieve it, this is time.

 

知穷之有命,知通之有时

 

To know that poverty has life, to know that success has time...

 

I feel like I've got the grammar right here (except maybe the last time) but I'm not sure about the meaning of each of the words I've used.  Would it be better to be talking of things life fate and non-fate, instead of life and time?

 

As for the rest, I'd just like to check my understanding is correct on his arguments:

 

When everyone is rich, no-one knows what success is.

When everyone is poor, no-one knows what loss is.

To be in the water and not avoid the snakes is the bravery of a fisherman.

To be on the land and not avoid rhinos and tigers is the bravery of a hunter.

To clash swords, taking death as life, this is the bravery of a martyred(?) solider.

 

In the third and fourth I'm not so sure about this idea of 'avoid', wouldn't it have been more appropriate to talk to 'not be afraid'?

 

The next one is a little longer.  I'll see how it goes.

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I think the thrust of this passage is that everything is guided by fate and also has its season.  He argues that you shouldn't fight what fate and the times have determined.

 

 

 

We have four main concepts: 穷,命,通 and 时.

 

穷 is "being down and out," or simply "poverty stricken."

 

命 is "what has been allotted," "fate," or "life."  Here, I think the meaning is "fate."

 

通 is "mastery" or "thorough knowledge."

 

时 is, in this case, "the times."

 

 

我讳穷久矣,而不免,命也;求通久矣,而不得,时也。当尧、舜而天下无穷人,非知得也;当桀、纣而天下无通人,非知失也:时势适然。

 

I long shunned poverty, but did not escape it.  It was fate.  I long sought mastery, but did not find it.  It was the times.  In the era of Yao and Shun, there were no poverty-stricken men in the land.  They did not know what they had gotten.  In the era of Jie and Zhou, there were no men of mastery in the land.  They did not know what they had lost. The way things are suit the times.

 

 

知穷之有命,知通之有时

 

To know that poverty has life, to know that success has time...

 

I would translate this as "to know that poverty has its fate, to know that mastery has its times...."

 

 

When everyone is rich, no-one knows what success is.

When everyone is poor, no-one knows what loss is.

To be in the water and not avoid the snakes is the bravery of a fisherman.

To be on the land and not avoid rhinos and tigers is the bravery of a hunter.

To clash swords, taking death as life, this is the bravery of a martyred(?) solider.

 

Yao and Shun were known as wise sage kings and were often sited as figures to be emulated.  Jie and Zhou were known as tyrants and were often cited for opposite reasons.  I think these references are used to show that different situations obtain in different times according to the nature of those times.  Bravery comes naturally to a fisherman on the water, to a hunter on the land, or to a stalwart man facing clashing swords.  Then Zhuangzi may reference himself by saying:

 

知穷之有命,知通之有时,临大难而不惧者,圣人之勇也。

To know that poverty has its fate, to know that mastery has its times, and to face disaster and not be afraid is the bravery of the sage.

 

I think this is ultimately his answer to Zilu's question about why he seems to be amusing himself by singing and playing in the face of being besieged.  His behavior is simply natural to a man of his type and recognizes that trying to escape what fate and the times have decreed is pointless.

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somethingfunny

OK, thanks again Altair for your comments, very useful.  It looks like we were both on similar tracks but your understanding of the vocabulary seems clearer.  Also, that final comment nicely sums up the whole point of the story - which I had missed.

 

Bit late on this third part - things got a bit hectic over Christmas and New Year.  But here we go:

 

I didn't really enjoy working through this part, it seemed quite difficult and took me a few sittings.  There were plenty of distractions, but I also felt myself losing patience with how difficult it was.

 

Once again, I was able to get the main gist by going through it myself and checking Rouzer's commentary, and then I was able to fill in any gaps I had missed by reading the modern translation here.

 

The worst part of this text, grammatically, has to be the line: 而水弗为加益, where 弗 needs to be unpacked as 不之 giving 不之为 which is an idiomatic inversion and is actually 不为之, leaving the whole thing as 而水不为之加益, or "and the (amount) water does not, because of this, increase".  The following parallel line just dispenses with the 之 altogether!

 

As for the rest of it, I'd rather go through the general meaning rather than individual grammar points so I'll provide a summary of how I understand this text:

 

  • Gongsun Long asks Prince Mou: "I learnt about the first king and how great he was and all the magic things he could do.  He was a master of a hundred schools and exhausted all the discussions.  I already thought I'd reached this level but now I hear the teachings of Zhuangzi and am confused.  Is it because I can't debate as well as him, or my knowledge isn't as vast as his?  I'm embarrassed even to ask. "
  • Prince Mou, being a Chinese person living 2000 years ago, answers with a story about a frog:
  • "The frog says to a turtle in the East Sea: "I'm super happy, look at me jump around with all my specific vocabulary about wells and small freshwater marine life.  No-one can be as happy as me, why don't you come and take a look around?"
  • The turtle makes some attempt to go in the well?  Changes his mind?  Then tells the frog how it really is:
  • "The East Sea is the s**t.  It's super big and super deep, what are you talking about with all this rubbish about your well?  It's so big, yearly floods cannot add water to it, and yearly droughts can't affect it's shorelines.  No matter how long or short time is, or how large or small any thing is, it simply cannot affect the size of the East Sea.  This is the happiness of the East Sea!"
  • Prince Mou then tells Gongsun Long how it is:
  • "The frog is startled and at a loss, if he (you?) doesn't know what is and what isn't a border, but you still listen to Zhuangzi, then you are like a mosquito carrying a mountain, or a centipede running in a river, you can't do it!  If you don't know how to discuss the things (论极妙之言), but you still try to make a living from it, are you not then the frog in the crumbling well?
  • "且彼方跐黄泉而登大皇,无南无北,爽然四解,沦于不测;无东无西,始于玄冥,反于大通。???
  • "You are at a loss but you still search for this through examination, look for it through discussion, this is like looking at the sky through a tube or using a small pointed object (an 'awl' apparently) to measure (dig?) at the ground.  Get out of here!
  • "Only you must have not heard of the boy from Shouling who went to Handan to learn how to walk!  He 未得国能(了), and also 失其故行(了) and in the end just crawled back home on his hands and knees.  If you don't leave now, you'll forget why you're here and lose your profession."
  • Gongsun Long's mouth was agape and his tongue lifted so it would not go down.  He turned and left. (In shame? Embarrassment? Awe? Enlightenment?)

 

Sorry it's a long post but this part gave me a lot of trouble.  Anything I've left in Chinese above are bits I'm not 100% on how to understand and would appreciate some input.

 

Also, a lot of these old stories seem to be just about people telling other people how ignorant they are and how they don't have time to be talking to such stupid people.  Doesn't really seem very friendly, or 'open-to-learning'.

 

One more to go!

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I just finished going through Lesson 40 and it's pretty straightforward.  Quite a nice way to finish things off really, with three nice, quite simple little snippets from Zhuangzi.  As I don't really have any major problems, I'm not going to add anything further about Lesson 40 and encourage anyone who has the time or inclination to focus on the more pressing questions from Lesson 39 in my previous post.

 

Finished!  What a blast.

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Great job finishing up!

 

Below, I am going to be somewhat detailed in what I say and translate for those who might want a closer understanding of what may be going on with the classical grammar and vocabulary.  Hopefully, I don't come across as too nitpicking, pedantic, or arrogant in my understanding.

 

The worst part of this text, grammatically, has to be the line: 而水弗为加益, where  needs to be unpacked as 不之 giving 不之为 which is an idiomatic inversion and is actually 不为之, leaving the whole thing as 而水不为之加益, or "and the (amount) water does not, because of this, increase".  The following parallel line just dispenses with the altogether!

 

 

This passage illustrates a couple of things that Rouzer touches on, but might have said more about.  The Chinese language of this era was heavily monosyllabic, but often packed more than one morpheme into a syllable, unlike modern Chinese, which does this only to a limited extent.  That means that when 不之 (pronounced something like "pe de") fused into   (pronounced something like "ped" or "pet"), it was probably felt to be a single "word," but still a contraction of two.  (Note that the English word "not" was originally an old contraction of something like "no wight" or "no whit.")  As the language changed, the connection between the contraction and the full two words was no longer felt, and   just became a synonym for .  Almost all learners of classical Chineses start with texts that still observed these distinctions, but should recognize that the classical Chinese of later periods will probably not observe them.

 

Also, from what I understand, putting  between the negative and the verb was a regular rule of the older classical Chinese of the period.  As the language changed, this rule was no longer observed.

 

Gongsun Long asks Prince Mou: "I learnt about the first king and how great he was and all the magic things he could do.  He was a master of a hundred schools and exhausted all the discussions.  I already thought I'd reached this level but now I hear the teachings of Zhuangzi and am confused. 

 

 

I think to understand this passage from the best perspective, you have to know about 百家争鸣 (" (Let) A hundred schools contend to sing out").  This is a reference to the latter part of the Spring and Autumn period through the Warring States period, where many schools of thought argued for attention.  The schools included what we might think of as different religious, philosophical, ethical, social, political, and professional viewpoints, such as Taoism, Confucian thought, Legalism, Mohism (墨家) (kind of like leftist social activists), Logicians (名家) (kind of like sophists)Naturalists (阴阳家) (suriving in TCM, Taijiquan, Daoism, etc.),  Militarists (e.g., Sunzi's Art of War), Diplomats (纵横家) (Kind of the Machiavellis of their day), etc.  When Gongsun says he has mastered a/the hundred schools, this is what he is referring to.  For instance, he says 龙少学先王之道,长而明仁义之行 ("When I was young, I studied the way of the kings of old.  When I had grown, I understood the conduct of benevolence and duty.").  This is almost certainly a reference to Confucian thought.  He then says 合同异,离坚白 ("I united the same and the different").  I think this is a reference to the Logicians, one of whom wrote a famous essay about a proof that "a white horse" is not "a horse."  In fact, it was this very same Gongsun Long who wrote the essay and who was a famous (perhaps the most famous) Logician.  

 

Is it because I can't debate as well as him, or my knowledge isn't as vast as his?  I'm embarrassed even to ask.

 

 

I think this is a fine understanding, but to increase your appreciation for the literary artistry, it might be helpful not to look for translations that are too specific in meaning.  A word like can mean "debate," but also "theory."  Perhaps words like "discourse" or "argumentation" are more neutral.  Here is how I might translate these lines:

 

不知论之不及与?知之弗若与?今吾无所开吾喙,敢问其方

"​I don't know whether my discourse is inferior to his or whether my knowledge is as good as his.  Now, I don't deserve to open my (stupid) mouth, but dare to ask the way of it."

 

Like the earlier story that purported to show that the famous Confucius was misunderstood by his disciples and was really a Daoist at heart, this story purports to show that the famous Gongsun Long recognized the limitations of his Logicians School (名家) and was now humbly requesting guidance as to how to further his knowledge.  In fact, he was wrongly considering Zhuangzi as just another school, on the level of all the other schools, and was at a loss as to why he was suddenly stumped after mastering all previous argumentation and theories and perfecting his knowledge.

 

"The frog says to a turtle in the East Sea: "I'm super happy, look at me jump around with all my specific vocabulary about wells and small freshwater marine life.  No-one can be as happy as me, why don't you come and take a look around?"

 

 

 

Your description of “specific vocabulary” really made me smile.  I had the same issue with this passage and was really putt off at first.  After comparing online translations and sleuthing through a few Pleco dictionaries, I finally got to a place where I felt comfortable in my understanding and actually got to appreciate the style of writing.  Since it is difficult, I will give my translation:

 

谓东海之鳖曰:吾乐与!出跳梁乎井干之上,入休乎缺甃之崖。赴水则接腋持颐,蹶泥则没足灭跗。还虷蟹与科斗,莫吾能若也。且夫擅一壑之水,而跨跱埳井之乐,此亦至矣。夫子奚不时来入观乎

“He addressed the Turtle of the Eastern Sea, saying: ‘How happy I am!  I hop about on the railing of the caved-in well and go in and rest on the rim with its missing bricks.  I wade in the water, and it then meets my armpits and holds up my cheeks.  I step in the mud and then sink my leg in it and let ye foot get submerged.  I turn back and look at the mosquito larvae, crabs, and tadpoles; and no one is as good as me.  What is more, I lord it over the water of all the big pool and bestride the happiness of the caved-in well.  This is the ultimate.  Now, why don't you come in and watch sometime?’”

 

I love the image of the mighty frog squatting over the big  pool like a colossus.

 

The turtle makes some attempt to go in the well?  Changes his mind?  Then tells the frog how it really is:

 

 

 

东海之鳖左足未入,而右膝已絷矣。于是逡巡而却,告之海曰

“The left leg of the turtle of the Eastern Sea had not yet gone inside, when its right knee got stuck.  Thereupon, it came up short and drew back and informed him (the frog) about the sea, saying: …."

 

if he (you?) doesn't know what is and what isn't a border, but you still listen to Zhuangzi

 

 

I take 是非 to be nouns here and so translate accordingly.

 

 

且夫知不知是非之竟,而犹欲观于庄子之言

 

"Moreover, your wisdom does not know the border between truth and falsehood, and yet you still desire to regard the words of Zhuangzi…"

 

 

then you are like a mosquito carrying a mountain, or a centipede running in a river, you can't do it!  If you don't know how to discuss the things (论极妙之言), but you still try to make a living from it, are you not then the frog in the crumbling well?

 

 

a centipede running in a river

商蚷驰

 

This is a case where the Chinese is vague, and so we need to be careful about being too specific with our understanding.  I think could be “galloping across/by/along/over/on/in/with a river.”To cover this vagueness, perhaps something like "galloping/running/racing a river”would be a better choice.  It is also possible that 河 is not just “a river,” but rather “the River”(i.e., the Yellow River).

 

If you don't know how to discuss the things (论极妙之言), but you still try to make a living from it, are you not then the frog in the crumbling well?

 

 

且夫知不知论极妙之言,而自适一时之利者,是非埳井之蛙与

Moreover, when [my take on the effect of 者 in this case] your wisdom does not know how to discourse about the most subtle of words and is satisfied with a sometime benefit, isn't this being the frog in the caved-in well?”

 

"且彼方跐黄泉而登大皇,无南无北,爽然四解,沦于不测;无东无西,始于玄冥,反于大通。???

 

 

“Furthermore, that one is just treading the Yellow Springs of the Netherworld and yet mounting the great vault of magnificence (i.e., “heaven”).  With neither north or south, he unravels the four corners (of the world) and sinks down to the unfathomable.  With neither east or west, he begins in the dim murkiness and returns in the Great Coherence.”

 

This passage has many specific cultural references that are hard or impossible to translate.  I have only limited familiarity with them.  Probably the most important for this reading selection is the use of the term 大通.  I believe this is a synonym for 大道 (the Great Dao) and so might be translated accordingly as the "Great Thoroughfare.”But 通 also has connotations of “thorough knowledge,” and so might be translated as something like “Great Knowledge.”  The character 通 also has connotations of pervading through everything, and that is why I chose “cohesiveness.”  Someone who knows more about this stuff could probably give a better analysis.

 

"You are at a loss but you still search for this through examination, look for it through discussion, this is like looking at the sky through a tube or using a small pointed object (an 'awl' apparently) to measure (dig?) at the ground.  Get out of here!

 

 

 

子乃规规然而求之以察,索之以辩,是直用管窥天,用锥指地也,不亦小乎?子往矣

"You're just at a loss as you search for it through scrutinizing it and seek for it through debating it.  This is just using a tube to peep at the sky or using an awl to poke holes in the earth.  Isn't that just petty?  Begone!”

 

I think the idea is that the Great Dao is beyond the verbal tricks of the Logicians and the narrow learning of the Confucians.

 

"Only you must have not heard of the boy from Shouling who went to Handan to learn how to walk!  He 未得国能(), and also 失其故行() and in the end just crawled back home on his hands and knees.  If you don't leave now, you'll forget why you're here and lose your profession."

 

 

 

I think that does not need a literal translation, but just heightens the rhetorical effect.

 

且子独不闻夫寿陵余子之学于邯郸与?未得国能,又失其故行矣,直匍匐而归耳。今子不去,将忘子之故,失子之业。

"Furthermore, you mean you have not heard of the lad from Shouling studying in Handan?  Having not yet mastered the technique of the land, he even forgot/lost his old gait/way of walking and just returned home crawling.  Now if you don't go, you'll forget your old (ways) and lose your profession.

 

Gongsun Long's mouth was agape and his tongue lifted so it would not go down.  He turned and left. (In shame? Embarrassment? Awe? Enlightenment?)

 

 

A short redundant negative clause is often used to emphasize a preceding positive statement.  In this case, 而不合 and 不下 are used just for emphasis.

 

公孙龙口呿而不合,舌举而不下,乃逸而走

Gongsun Long’s mouth dropped open agape, and his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth, and he just ran away.

 

I think the point was that he was shamed that he had thought he was such a master of philosophy and yet had completely underestimated the depth and breadth of what Zhuangzi had to offer and had no way to approach it.

 

Also, a lot of these old stories seem to be just about people telling other people how ignorant they are and how they don't have time to be talking to such stupid people.  Doesn't really seem very friendly, or 'open-to-learning'.

 

 

I think the idea is that Confucians just look at interpersonal ethics, Logicians just look at word games, but Zhuangzi's thought encompasses all the cosmos.  When Gongsun Long was confronted with his conceit, thinking that he was such a master of philosophy, he had no answer, but just had to flee in embarrassment.  The whole point seems to be to show how awesome Zhuangzi's though is compared to other philosophical systems.  By the way, the thinking of the Logicians did mostly disappear from the Chinese philosophical scene, and the Confucians later went through a renovation in their thinking during the Song Dynasty so that it could take on cosmic dimensions and stand on a more equal footing with Daoism and Buddhism in this respect.

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