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《论语诠解英文版》——Chapter IV "里仁" (Liren)

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[4- 1]   子曰:            ”里仁为美。择不处仁,焉得知?”

4.1       The Master said, "What makes a neighborhood excellent and beautiful is its abundance of virtue. How can it be called wise if one chooses to reside in  a neighborhood without true virtue?"

[Comment] According to "《说文解字》s hu6         wen     jie z1," the first Chi­ nese etymological dictionary, which came into existence as early as the sec­ond century AD from the Han Dynasty (206 BC—220           AD), "里 IT "    refers to "neighborhood, quarter, or environs." "择不处仁 ze bu c h u 诧n" means "to choose a neighborhood where there is no tradition of virtue of decency" and "知zh1"is used homophonically with " 智 zh1."

[Reading] Confucius emphasized the importance of living in a good envi­ ronment with moral decency and ethical values. While moral refinement and cultivation are primarily the business of the individual, they also have a lot to do with the environs in which men reside. Carefully selecting a neigh­ borhood and interacting with people of virtue remain important matters to Confucius, as he strongly believed surrounding oneself with men of superior moral force has a profound impact on the cultivation of these traits in the in­ dividual. That social environment determines, to a significant degree, one's character remains an important consideration for Confucius, particularly for Mencius (372—289 BC), an outstanding Confucian philosopher after Con­fucius himself, whose mother moved houses many times before finding what she believed to be the proper environment for raising children.

[4- 2] 子曰:  “不仁者不可以久处约,不可以长处乐。仁者安仁, 知者利仁。"

4.2       The Master said, "A man without virtue cannot endure for long in a condition of destitution and hardship nor in a condition of comfort and con­ tentment. A virtuous man derives pleasure in practicing virtue; a wise man benefits from virtue by practicing it."

[Comment] " 约 yue " refers to " 困 顿 ku n dun," meaning "poverty and hardship." "乐伦" refers to "安乐 a n le"         (comfort and contentment) and "富贵 f u gu1" translates as "affluent and well-off'. The first " 仁 伦n" in "仁者安仁 r的 zhe            an        r的 " refers to "men of true virtue," whereas the second "仁伎n" is used as a verb to mean "enacting of virtuous deeds."

[Reading] In this passage, Confucius stated that under no circumstance should one stop seeking virtue. For Confucius, it is imperative that one culti­ vates himself in accordance with the rules of propriety and diligently prac­ tices virtuous deeds.

[4- 3]   子曰:            “唯仁者能好人,能恶人。"

4.3       The Master said, "Only a real virtuous man is able to like and dislike others discerningly."

[Comment] "好的o" means "to like," while " 恶 wu" means "to dislike."

[Reading] Confucius told us that a man of true virtue is impartial and unbi­ ased. When he likes or dislikes others, he does so for good reasons because as a virtuous man he is in possession of sound judgment and does not pro­ ceed from any personal considerations. Another important implication of these remarks is that a virtuous man does not only love others, he also dis­ likes and even hates when they fail to measure up to his sense of integrity.

This idea is best illustrated in Chapter XIV where Confucius made clear his beliefs about justice: "It         is imperative that injury be recompensed with jus- tice("以直报怨 yT zhf boo yuan") and virtue be recompensed  with virtue."

[4- 4]   子曰:            "苟志千仁矣,无恶也。"

4.4       The Master said, "If a man is indeed virtuous and benevolent, he would have no intention to do evil."

[Comment] "苟g6 u" connotes "assuming, or on the assumption," while " 恶 e" means "evil, depraved."

[Reading] Confucius believed in the importance of practicing virtuous deeds and of cultivating oneself as a man of true virtue. This section is meant to be studied as a companion piece to Section 4.3.

[4- 5]   子曰:            “富与贵,是人之所欲也;不以其道得之,不处也。  贫与贱,是 人 之 所 恶也;不           以 其 道 得 之,不 去也。君子去仁,恶乎成名? 君子无终食之间违仁,造 次 必 千是,颠 沛必千是。"

4.5       The Master said, "Wealth and status are what men desire, but if they are attained in a way not in accordance with the proper way, men should not keep them. Poverty and lowliness are what men dislike, but if they cannot be avoided properly, they should not be circumvented. If a truly virtuous man discards virtue, he is no longer worthy of the name, is he? The virtuous man would not depart from his virtue even for a single meal's time. He stays with virtue both in moments of haste and difficulty."

[Comment] " 富 fu" translates as "wealth" and " 贵 g u1" describes one of "prominent status." Meanwhile, " 贫 pf n"   indicates "poverty" and "贱 jia n" denotes "low status." " 得 啦 " indicates the actions "to gain, or to obtain," while"恶乎 wu hu"     means " how.""终食之间 zho ng       shf zhT jian" implies "a single meal's time.""造次 zoo d" denotes "in a hurry, or in haste," while "颠 沛 d ia n          p苛     trans lates as "impoverished."

[Reading] Here, Confucius advocated that a man of true virtue never de­ parts from ethical values. In addition, he would never abandon virtue be­ cause of the temptations of wealth and or status nor as a means for moving himself out of poverty and lowliness. It is interesting to note that Confucius did not exclusively focus on virtue and righteousness. He was also greatly concerned with the human desire for wealth and social status and he be­ lieved that there is nothing wrong with such pursuits. However, he warned that these should not be attained by such means that are not in accordance with the proper way.

[4- 6]   子曰:            “我未见好仁者,恶不仁者。好仁者,无以尚之;恶不仁者,其为仁矣,不使不仁者加乎其身。有能一日用其力千仁矣乎? 我未见力不足者。盖有之矣,我未之见也。"

4.6       The Master said, "I  have never seen one who really loves the virtuous or really hates the unethical. He, who loves the virtuous, fully rests in true virtue. He, who hates the unethical, would practice true virtue so that the unethical could not act on him. Is there anyone able to focus exclusively on the virtuous for a whole day? I have not seen anyone who is unable to do so because of a lack of the strength of will. Perhaps there has been such a man, but I have not yet seen him."

[Comment] "尚s ha ng" means "to surpass, or to exceed."

[Reading] Virtue and benevolence constitute the core value of Confucian thought. That is why Confucius repeatedly emphasized the importance of practicing virtuous deeds and of cultivation and self-refinement, particularly in a world of social chaos. Precisely because of this, Confucius lamented the fact that in his time there seemed to be a dire lack of interest in seeking true virtue.

[4- 7]   子曰:            “人之过也,各千其党。观过,斯知仁矣。"

4.7       The Master said, "People of the same kind may err in the same way. By observing their faults, we can tell if they have indeed practiced virtue."

[Comment] " 党 da ng " indicates the phrase "groups of people of the same kind," while " 斯 s1" is an emphatic word, implying "just so, or precisely."

[Reading] By observing why and in what ways men err, Confucius thought that we may be able to tell if people are virtuous. For Confucius, men of virtue are able to avoid making mistakes, but that is not the case with men without virtue. Precisely because of this, men without virtue often en噜 in the same way. It is, therefore, imperative that men cultivate themselves by prac­ ticing virtuous deeds.

[4- 8] 子曰:  “朝闻道,夕死可矣。"

4.8       The Master said, "If a man learns the right way in the morning, he may die without regret in the evening."

[Comment] Here in the context, " 道dao" implies "the right way of doing things, or having an enlightened perspective on society or truth."

[Reading] This section demonstrates how determined Confucius was in pursing"道dao." It should be noted that "道 dao" is indeed a vague con­ cept in Chinese culture. It may mean different things for different schools of philosophical and religious traditions such as Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. The concept may signify "path," "route," "way," "doctrine," "principle," "fundamental nature of the Universe," or "the primordial order of nature." In the context of Confucian thought, we believe Confucius used

“道 dao" to imply the fundamental principle of truth, virtue, and ethical val­ ues, which focuses on moral development and spiritual cultivation.

[4- 9]   子曰:            “士志千道,而耻恶衣恶食者,未足与议也。"

4.9       The Master said, "An accomplished scholar sets his mind on truth. But if he feels ashamed of poor clothes and simple food, he is not a worthy man with whom to discourse about truth."

[Comment] " 而 缸 ' is used as a hypothetical conjunction word, implying a hypothetical condition . "耻 c hT"    means "feel ashamed at." " 恶衣恶食 e yT e shf" suggests "ragged clothing and poor food."

[Reading] The term "士 Shi" is translated into English with such terms as

"scholar," "man of service," "officer," "scholar-official," "scholar-gentry" or even "knight" and "a man of social elite." The various meanings of this term indicate that over much of Chinese history, due to the changing role played by this social strata called " 士 Shi," its reference has been rendered less definitive. The "士 Shi" as discussed by Confucius in the Analects refers to "scholar" or "scholar-gentry" who learns and tries to exercise virtue but has not yet reached the status of "君子J unzi"  (the noble man of superior moral force).

[4- 10] 子曰: “君   子之千天下也, 无适也, 无莫也,义 之 与比。"

4.10     The Master said, "A man of true virtue is neither for nor against anyone in the world. He only befriends the virtuous."

[Comment] "适s h1" is the archaic form for "敌 df" (enemy). In a broad sense, "适s h1" implies "an unwillingness to do something, prejudice." "莫mo" means "greedy about something," and " 上 七 bT" translates as "to col­ laborate, to get close."

[Reading] One of the qualities Confucius attributed to "君子Junzi" is "义 之与比 y1 zhT yu         bT," meaning "A          man of true virtue is neither for nor against anyone in the world. He only befriends the virtuous." The noble man of true virtue does not favor nor distance others in his interaction with them. Open-minded, fair and friendly, he follows the Doctrine of the Mean (中庸zhong yang) and maintains a balanced state between the extremes  of  ex- cess.

[4- 11] 子曰:            “君子怀德,小人怀土;君子怀刑,小人怀惠。"

4.11     The Master said, "The noble man of superior moral force cares about virtue; the mean man only thinks of material wealth. The noble man of su­ perior moral force cares about the enhancement of law; the mean man only thinks of favors he may obtain."

[Comment] According to "说文 s hu6            w却 ,”“ 怀          h u6 i" means "思念 SI nian"(to pay attention to). "刑 xf ng"           is                      here used interchangeably with " 型xf ng"   to imply "code of conduct, moral example," while " 惠 h u1''indicates one's "personal interests."

[Reading] There are several fundamental differences between the noble man of superior moral force and the mean man of narrow mindedness. According to Confucius, the noble man of true virtue cares about the whole of human­ ity and seeks to bring ultimate peace to the world, whereas the mean man is only concerned about individual interest and personal gain. The former focuses on integrity and moral development—the   latter pursues material wealth regardless of morality. In pursuing and practicing perfect virtue, the noble man is on friendly terms with himself, enjoying an inner peace. The mean man, on the other hand, is self-centered and remains anxious lest he may lose his personal gain.

[4- 12] 子曰:            “放千利而行,多怨。"

4.12     The Master said, "If a man acts only to pursue his own advantage, he will incur resentment from others."

[Comment] "放f a ng" means "to pursue." "利 II"    means "personal gain, self-interest." "怨yua n" connotes "resentment."

[Reading] This section deals with the relationship between righteousness and personal gain. For Confucius, a noble man of true virtue would not focus on personal advantage nor devote himself to the pursuit of self-interest as this exclusive focus on the needs and desires of the self would only in­ cur resentment from others. This is another way of saying that Confucian thought puts righteousness above self-interest.

[4- 13] 子曰:            “能以礼让为国乎?何有?不能以礼让为国,如礼  何?”

4          .13 The Master said, "If one can govern his state with comity, he will not encounter difficulty, will he? If one cannot govern his state with comity, how then can he promote it first?"

[Comment] "为国 wei gu6" means "to govern, to rule a state," while "何有 he you" is often interpreted as to mean "It cannot be that difficult, can it?"

[Reading] According to Confucius, a good government is one that rules with moral force. For that matter, he also argued that a country would need to be governed by the rules of propriety as well.

[4- 14] 子曰: “不   患 无 位 ,患 所 以 立。不患莫已知, 求为可知也。"

4.14     The Master said, "One should not be concerned that he does not have a position, he should be concerned if he is virtuous enough to fit a position. One should not worry about others not knowing him, he should worry if he is virtuous enough for others to know."

[Comment] "立 11"    means "put in a position." "患huan" translates as "to worry."

[Reading] Confucius repeatedly admonished his disciples not to seek to establish themselves so that they may be recognized by others in their future career development. Instead, they should first cultivate themselves so as to be virtuous enough to fit whatever office they may hold. This is also what Confucius required of himself as an educator, a mentor, and above all a man of virtue.

[4- 15] 子曰: “参   乎!    吾 道 一 以 贯 之 。"           曾 子 曰:      “唯。“子出, 门人问曰:                       “何谓也?”曾子曰:            “夫子之道,忠恕而巳矣。"

4.15     The Master said, "Shen, my doctrine is consistent." Zeng Zi replied, "Yes." When the Master left, other disciples asked Zeng Zi, saying, "What does the Master mean?" Zeng Zi replied, "Our Master's doctrine is sincerity and forgiveness. That is all."

[Comment] "曾子ze ng          zT" was a leading disciple of Confucius. His given name was "参 s he n" and courtesy name "子舆 zT yu."

[Reading] This passage focuses on the concept of sincerity and forgiveness as one of the core values of Confucian thought. To be sincere about and for­ giving towards others constitutes an important component of the principle of true virtue that informs the whole of Confucian precept.

[4- 16] 子曰: “君   子 喻 千义,小 人 喻 千利。"

4.16     The Master said, "The noble man of true virtue always focuses on righteousness; whereas the mean person is only interested in personal gain."

[Comment] " 喻yu"    means "understand ." " 义 y1" signifies "righteousness," and "禾lj II''means "gain, profitability."

[Reading] Here, Confucius continued to discuss the distinct difference between the noble man of true virtue and the mean man of narrow minded­ ness. For Confucius, the noble man is not self-centered. Rather, he focuses on righteousness and acts accordingly. The mean man, on the other hand, is only concerned with personal gain and cares for self-interest, which in its extreme form would lead to transgression of the social order.

[4- 17] 子曰: “见贤思齐焉,见不贤而内自省也。"

4.17     The Master said, "When we see a man of true virtue, we want to be­ come like him. When we see an unethical man, we should look inwards and reflect on ourselves."

[Comment] "贤xi6 n" translates as "a virtuous man" and "思贤 s1xi6n" implores one to "think of becoming like the virtuous man."

[Reading] Confucius believed strongly in the importance of learning from men of virtue and emulating their virtuous deeds. Meanwhile it is imperative that one, when he sees unethical men, reflects upon himself and engages in self-examination to see if he suffers from similar faults. In this way, he can avoid erring in the future and tum himself into a better man.

[4- 18] 子曰: ”事父母几谏,见志不从,又敬不违,劳而不怨。"

4.18     The Master said, "When one serves his parents, one may correct them, but politely. If one sees that they won't take his advice, he should still be respectful, without offending them. He may be concerned, but he should not resent them."

[Comment] "几 jT ",    in extended broad sense, can be used to mean "gently, politely." "违 w创' means "to go against, to violate," while "劳 loo" indi­ cates that one is "distressed."

[Reading] While children are supposed to be filial to their parents, Con­ fucius also believed that when necessar y, they would need to correct their parents and offer advice when their parents err. Still, filial piety requires that they do so politely and in a respectful manner.

[4- 19] 子曰:            “父母在,不远游,游必有方。"

4.19     The Master said, "While one's parents are alive, one should not travel far away. If he does travel, he must ascertain a destination."

[Comment] "方f a ng " is used in this context to mean "destination, a place of certainty."

[Reading] For Confucius, one of the requirements of filial piety is that chil­ dren live with or close to their parents so that they can serve them as much  as possible.

[4- 20] 子曰:            “三年无改千父之道,可谓孝矣。"

4.20     The Master said, "If the son does not change his father's way of doing things for three years, he can be regarded as filial."

[Reading] These remarks of Confucius also appear in Chapter I, Section 11. This shows that Confucius attached great importance to the norm of filial piety.

[4- 21] 子曰: “ 父母之年,不 可不知也。一则以喜, 一 则 以 惧 。 "

4.21     The Master said, "One should remember his parents'age. On the one hand, it is joyful; on the other it may be fearful."

[Comment] "知ll zhT" means "to remember, to be kept in memory."

[Reading] For children, to remember their parents'age is, according to Confucius, an indication of their filial piety to their parents. Confucius'time was marked with social chaos and various kinds of transgression of the rules of propriety. To restore social order in accordance with the rites of Zhou, as Confucius would have it, it is important that filial piety, one of the core values of Confucian thought, be emphasized  and enacted. For children to be filial to their parents, it is imperative that they be sincere, referential, and respectful.

[4- 22] 子曰: “古者言之不出,耻躬之不逮也。"

4.22     The Master said, "The ancients never promised easily. This is because they regarded it as a shame not to be able to live up to their words."

[Comment] "耻 c hT"  translates as "to be ashamed of something," while " 逮 啦 i" implies "to catch up."

[Reading] In this section Confucius  advised that one should be cautious with what he says and should always keep his promises. Credibility and ac­ countability mattered very much to the ancients and as a result, they did not make promises lightly. When they did make promises, they ensured that they live up to their words.

[4- 23] 子曰: “以约失之者鲜矣。"

4.23     The Master said, "The man, who is strict with himself, rarely errs." [Comment] "约yue " means "to restrain, to put under control," while " 鲜 xian" connotes "rarity."

[Reading] This section advocates self-restraint and self-control, which would enable one to avoid mistakes and stay away from troubles.

[4- 24] 子曰: “君子欲讷千言而敏千行。"

4.24     The Master said, "The man of true virtue is cautious with his words and is diligent in his action."

[Comment] ' 寸 内 ne " indicates that one is "slow in speech, not articulate." However, in this context, it implies that one is "cautious with one's words."

[Reading] Confucius believed a man of true virtue should match his words with actions. He should be quick in actions but cautious with his speech.

[4- 25] 子曰: “德不孤,必有邻。"

4.25     The Master said, "A virtuous man is never lonely. He always has men of the same virtues as friends."

[Comment] "{ 息 d e" means "moral disposition" and "the virtuous." " 令 Ifn" indicates "neighbors."

[Reading] Once again Confucius emphasized the importance of moral de­ velopment and true virtue which are required of a noble man of superior moral disposition.

[4- 26] 子游曰:        ”事君数,斯辱矣;朋友数,斯疏矣。"

4.26     Ziyou said, "Too much trivial service for a prince will lead to contempt for the person who delivers such service. Too much frivolous interaction with friends will result in distance in friendship."

[Comment] "子游 zT y6u" was a disciple of Confucius . " 数 s huo " implies "triviality, frivolousness."

[Reading] The final section of this chapter discusses appropriate ways of serving a prince and also of making friends. According to Confucius, too much enthusiasm in delivering trivial and frivolous service would only re­ sult in contempt from the prince and distance from friends.