以武为植,以文为种 – Chinese philosophy and culture

yǐ wǔ wéi zhí, yǐ wén wéi zhǒng 以武为植,以文为种

Military Action Is like Planting; Good Rule Is like the Seed.

对战争而言,“武”只能作为辅助性手段,“文”才是统一和治理天下的根本方略。“武”指武力、军事手段,“文”主要指德治和教化。由战国军事家尉缭子提出。农作物的长势是否茂盛,首先取决于种子的好坏,而后才取决于农人的栽培和养护。尉缭子以此比喻德治和军事两者在统一和治理天下时的相互关系:军事只是辅助手段,能够让天下人主动归附及国家长治久安的根本方略必须靠德政和教化。这也是最早阐明政治与军事二者关系的命题:军事从属于政治,政治才是军事的本质内容。

When there are armed conflicts, military action is only supplementary to good rule, which is the basis for unity and governance. Wu (武) means armed force or military means, and wen (文) means benevolent rule and edification. This notion was first proposed by the military strategist Yuliaozi of the Warring States Period. He said that how well plants grow depends more on the quality of the seeds than on the skill and care by the farmer. He used this analogy to illustrate the relationship between using military force and benevolent rule to unify and govern the state. To ensure long term peaceful governance over an obeying population depends on benevolent and enlightened rule, with military means only as a supplement. This is one of the earliest descriptions of the relationship between politics and military: the army is always subordinate to the politics, and serves the politics.

引例 Citation:

◎兵者,以武为植,以文为种。武为表,文为里。能审此二者,知胜败矣。(《尉缭子·兵令上》)

(对战争而言,“武”的作用相当于农作物的栽培,“文”的作用相当于农作物的种子。“武”只是辅助手段,“文”才是根本方略。能弄清楚二者的关系,就懂得胜败的道理了。)

As regards warfare, military action is like planting, and benevolent rule is like the seeds. The former is supplementary, while the latter is essential. Those who understand this relationship will understand the cause for victory or defeat. (Yuliaozi)

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