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Chinese Text Project
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-> -> -> Discussion about the People

《說民 - Discussion about the People》

English translation: J. J. L. Duyvendak [?] Library Resources
1 說民:
辯慧,亂之贊也;禮樂,淫佚之徵也;慈仁,過之母也;任譽,姦之鼠也。亂有贊則行,淫佚有徵則用,過有母則生,姦有鼠則不止。八者有群,民勝其政;國無八者,政勝其民。民勝其政,國弱;政勝其民,兵強。故國有八者,上無以使守戰,必削至亡;國無八者,上有以使守戰,必興至王。
Discussion about the People:...:
Sophistry and cleverness are an aid to lawlessness; rites and music are symptoms of dissipations and licence; kindness and benevolence are the foster-mother of transgressions; employment and promotion are opportunities for the rapacity of the wicked. If lawlessness is aided, it becomes current; if there are symptoms of dissipation and licence, they will become the practice; if there is a foster-mother for transgressions, they will arise; if there are opportunities for the rapacity of the wicked, they will never cease. If these eight things come together, the people will be stronger than the government; but if these eight things are non-existent in a state, the government will be stronger than the people. If the people are stronger than the government, the state is weak; if the government is stronger than the people, the army is strong. For if these eight things exist, the ruler has no one to use for defence and war, with the result that the state will be dismembered and will come to ruin; but if there are not these eight things, the ruler has the wherewithal for defence and war, with the result that the state will flourish and attain supremacy.

2 說民:
用善,則民親其親;任姦,則民親其制。合而復之者,善也;別而規之者,姦也。章善則過匿,任姦則罪誅。過匿則民勝法,罪誅則法勝民。民勝法,國亂;法勝民,兵強。故曰:以良民治,必亂至削;以姦民治,必治至強。
Discussion about the People:...:
If virtuous officials are employed, the people will love their own relatives, but if wicked officials are employed, the people will love the statutes. To agree with, and to respond to, others is what the virtuous do; to differ from, and to spy upon, others is what the wicked do. If the virtuous are placed in positions of evidence, transgressions will remain hidden; but if the wicked are employed, crimes will be punished. In the former case the people will be stronger than the law; in the latter, the law will be stronger than the people. If the people are stronger than the law, there is lawlessness in the state, but if the law is stronger than the people, the army will be strong. Therefore is it said: 'Governing through good people leads to lawlessness and dismemberment; governing through wicked people leads to order and strength.'

3 說民:
國以難攻,起一取十;國以易攻,起十亡百。國好力,曰:「以難攻」;國好言,曰:「以易攻」。民易為言,難為用。國法作民之所難,兵用民之所易,而以力攻者,起一得十。國法作民之所易,兵用民之所難,而以言攻者,出十亡百。
Discussion about the People:...:
A country which attacks with what is difficult will gain ten points for every one that it undertakes; a country which attacks with what is easy will lose a hundred men for every ten that it marches out. A country that loves force is said to attack with what is difficult; a country that loves words is said to attack with what is easy. People find it easy to talk, but difficult to serve. A state where, when the laws of the country are applied, conditions for the people are hard and by military service those conditions are eased, so that it attacks with force, will gain ten points for every one it undertakes; but a state where, when the laws of the country are applied, conditions for the people are easy, and by military service those conditions are made hard, so that it attacks with words, will lose a hundred men for every ten that it marches out.

4 說民:
罰重,爵尊;賞輕,刑威。爵尊,上愛民;刑威,民死上。故興國行罰則民利,用賞則上重。法詳則刑繁,法簡則刑省。民不治則亂,亂而治之又亂。故治之於其治,則治;治之於其亂,則亂。
Discussion about the People:...:
The fact that penalties are heavy makes rank the more honourable, and the fact that rewards are light makes punishments the more awe-inspiring. If rank is honoured, the ruler loves the people, and if punishments are so awe-inspiring, the people still die for their ruler. Therefore, in a prosperous country, the people profit by the application of penalties, and by the distribution of rewards the ruler will gain credit. If the law goes into details, the punishments will be multitudinous; if the laws are multitudinous, punishments will be scarce. If, from a condition of rule and order, the people become lawless, and if one tries to rule this lawlessness, it will only increase; therefore, it should be ruled while it is still in a state of rule and order, then there will be true rule and order; if it is ruled while it is in a state of lawlessness, lawlessness will remain.

5 說民:
民之情也治,其事也亂。故行刑,重其輕者;輕者不生,則重者無從至矣。此謂「治之於其治」也。行刑,重其重者,輕其輕者;輕者不止,則重者無從止矣。此謂「治之於其亂」也。故重輕,則刑去事成,國強;重重而輕輕,則刑至而事生,國削。
Discussion about the People:...:
It is the nature of the people to be orderly, but it is circumstances that cause disorder. Therefore, in the application of punishments, light offences should be regarded as serious; if light offences do not occur, serious ones have no chance of coming. This is said to be "ruling the people while in a state of law and order". If in the application of punishments, serious offences are regarded as serious, and light offences as light, light offences will not cease and in consequence, there will be no means of stopping the serious ones. This is said to be "ruling the people while in a state of lawlessness". So, if light offences are regarded as serious, punishments will be abolished, affairs will succeed and the country will be strong; but if serious offences are regarded as serious and light ones as light, then punishments will appear; moreover, trouble will arise and the country will be dismembered.

6 說民:
民勇,則賞之以其所欲;民怯,則刑之以其所惡。故怯民使之以刑,則勇;勇民使之以賞,則死。怯民勇,勇民死,國無敵者必王。
Discussion about the People:...:
If the people are brave, they should be rewarded with what they desire; if they are timorous, they should be put to death in a manner they hate. In this way timorous people, being incited by punishments, will become brave; and the brave, being encouraged by rewards, will fight to the death. If timorous people become brave, and the brave fight to the death, the country having no equal will certainly attain supremacy.

7 說民:
民貧則弱,國富則淫;淫則有蝨,有蝨則弱。故貧者益之以刑,則富;富者損之以賞,則貧。治國之舉,貴令貧者富,富者貧。貧者富,富者貧,國強。三官無蝨,國強;而無蝨久者,必王。
Discussion about the People:...:
If the people are poor, they are weak; if the country is rich, they are licentious, and consequently there will be the parasites; the parasites will bring weakness. Therefore, the poor should be benefited with rewards, so that they become rich, and the rich should be injured by punishments, so that they become poor. The important thing in undertaking the administration of a country is to make the rich poor, and the poor rich. If that is effected, the country will be strong. If the three classes of people do not suffer from the parasites, the country will be strong for a long time to come, and such a country, free of parasites, may be certain of supremacy.

8 說民:
刑生力,力生強,強生威,威生德,德生於刑。故刑多則賞重,賞少則刑重。民之有欲有惡也,欲有六淫,惡有四難。從六淫,國弱;行四難,兵強。故王者刑於九,而賞出一。刑於九,則六淫止;賞出一,則四難行。六淫止,則國無姦;四難行,則兵無敵。
Discussion about the People:...:
Punishment produces force, force produces strength, strength produces awe, awe produces virtue. Virtue has its origin in punishments. For the more punishments there are, the more valued are rewards, and the fewer rewards there are, the more heed is paid to punishments, by virtue of the fact that people have desires and dislikes. What they desire are the six kinds of licence, and what they dislike are the four kinds of hardship. Indulgence in these six kinds of licence will make the country weak; but the practice of these four kinds of hardship will make the army strong. Therefore, in a country which has attained supremacy, punishments are applied in nine cases and rewards in one. If in nine cases, punishments are applied, the six kinds of licence will stop, and if in one case rewards are given, the four kinds of hardship will be practised. If the six kinds of licence are stopped, the country will be without crime; and if the four kinds of hardship are practised, the army will be without equal.

9 說民:
民之所欲萬,而利之所出一。民非一則無以致欲,故作一。作一則力摶,力摶則強;強而用,重強。故能生力,能殺力,曰:「攻敵之國」,必疆。塞私道以窮其志,啟一門以致其欲,使民必先其所惡,然後致其所欲,故力多。力多而不用則志窮,志窮則有私,有私則有弱。故能生力,不能殺力,曰:「自攻之國」,必削。故曰王者國不蓄力,家不積粟。國不蓄力,下用也;家不積粟,上藏也。
Discussion about the People:...:
The things which the people desire are innumerable, but that from which they benefit is one and the same thing. Unless the people be made one, there is no way to make them attain their desire. Therefore, they are unified; as a result of this unification, their strength is consolidated, and in consequence of this consolidation, they are strong; if, being strong, they are made use of, they are doubly strong. Therefore, a country that knows how to produce strength and how to reduce it is said to be one that attacks the enemy, and is sure to become strong. It bars all private roads for gratifying their ambition, and opens only one gate through which they can attain their desire; thus, without doubt, it can make the people first do what they hate, in order thereafter, to reach what they desire; and so their strength will be great. If their strength is great, but not made use of, ambition is gratified; and this being so, there will be private interest and in consequence there will be weakness. Therefore, a country that knows how to produce strength, but not how to reduce it, is said to be one that attacks itself, and it is certain to be dismembered. So it is said that if a state has attained supremacy, it does not reserve its strength and the family does not hoard grain. That the state does not reserve its strength means that its subjects are used, and that the family does not hoard grain means that the superiors keep it in the granaries.

10 說民:
國治:斷家王,斷官強,斷君弱。重輕刑去,常官則治。省刑要保,賞不可倍也。有姦必告之,則民斷於心。上令而民知所以應,器成於家而行於官,則事斷於家。故王者刑賞斷於民心,器用斷於家。治明則同,治闇則異。同則行,異則止。行則治,止則亂。治則家斷,亂則君斷。
Discussion about the People:...:
If the order of the country depends on the judgments of the family, it attains supremacy; if it depends on the judgments of the officials, it becomes only strong; if it depends on the judgments of the prince, it becomes weak. If light offences are heavily punished, punishments will disappear; if officials are permanent, there is orderly administration. The necessary guarantee for restricting the use of punishments is that promises of rewards are kept. If they make it their habit to denounce all crimes, then the people make the judgments in their own minds; and if, when the ruler gives his orders, the people know how to respond, so that the means for enforcing the law are really manufactured in the families and merely applied by the officials, then the judgments over affairs rest with the family. Therefore, in the case of one who attains supremacy, judgments with regard to punishments and rewards rest with the people's own minds, and those with regard to the application of the means for enforcing the law rest with the family. If there is a clear law, people will agree with one another; if there is an obscure law, people will differ from one another. If they agree, things run smoothly, but if they differ, things are hampered; in the former case, there is order, in the latter, disorder. If there is order, it is the families that make judgments; if there is disorder, it is the prince who makes judgments.

11 說民:
治國貴下斷,故以十里斷者弱,以五里斷者強,家斷則有餘,故曰日治者王。官斷則不足,故曰夜治者強。君斷則亂,故曰宿治者削。故有道之國,治不聽君,民不從官。
Discussion about the People:...:
Those who administer a country deem it important that inferiors should give judgments; therefore, when ten hamlets are the unit for making judgments, there will be weakness; whereas when five hamlets are the unit for making judgments, there will be strength. If it is the family that gives judgments, there will be abundance. Therefore, of such a country it is said: 'He who creates order in one day will attain supremacy.' If it is the officials who give judgments, the order will not be sufficient; therefore of such a country it is said: 'He who creates order in a night will merely be strong.' But if it is the prince who gives judgments, there will be disorder; therefore of such a country it is said: 'He who procrastinates in creating order will be dismembered.' Therefore in a country that has the true way, order does not depend on the prince, and the people do not merely follow the officials.

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