利 – Chinese philosophy and culture

lì 利

Interests / Gain

利益,即对人与人群的生存、发展有利的各种因素。古人常以之与“义”对举。“利”分私利、公利。“私利”指个人、家庭或特定群体所谋求的利益,包括财货、声誉、权力、地位等因素。当私利与他者的利益发生冲突时,人们往往会以损害他者利益的方式来实现自身的利益。“公利”是全社会所享有的公共利益,主要指充足的人口、富足的财货、良好的社会秩序与道德教化。从不同角度、不同立场出发,中国古代各学派对“利”的诉求与态度表现出显著的差异。

Gain means all factors conducive to the survival and development of individuals and groups. The ancients often contrasted gain with righteousness. There is private and public gain. The former is related to individuals, their families or special groups, and consists of such things as goods, money, reputation, power and status. When personal interests clash with the interests of others, people tend to achieve gains for themselves at the expense of other people’s interests. Public gain is shared by everyone in society and mainly means a large population, abundant property, good public order and high moral standards. Proceeding from different perspectives and viewpoints, ancient China’s schools of thought had conspicuous differences in their interests and attitudes in regard to gain.

引例 Citations:

◎王曰:“叟!不远千里而来,亦将有以利吾国乎?”孟子对曰:“王!何必曰利?亦有仁义而已矣。王曰‘何以利吾国’,大夫曰‘何以利吾家’,士庶人曰‘何以利吾身’,上下交征利而国危矣。”(《孟子·梁惠王上》)

(梁惠王说:“老先生,您不远千里来到我国,将有利于我国吧?”孟子回答说:“大王!您何必要谈利益呢?说到仁义就好了。您谈论‘怎样有利于我的国家’,大夫谈论‘怎样有利于我的家族’,士人和百姓谈论‘怎样有利于我自己’,全国上下相互追求利益,国家就危险了。”)

The King said: “Sir, you have come here despite a thousand-li-long distance. You must surely have something from which my kingdom stands to gain?” Mencius answered: “Your Majesty, why must you speak of ‘gain’? There is also love for others and righteousness that I have to speak of. If Your Majesty say, ‘how can I provide gains for my country?’ then high officials will say: ‘How can I provide gains for my family?’ and the gentlemen and commoners will say: ‘How can I provide gains for myself?’ Consequently superiors and inferiors will contend with each other for gains, and the state will be in danger.” (Mencius)

◎古者王公大人为政于国家者,皆欲国家之富,人民之众,刑政之治。(《墨子·尚贤上》)

(古代治理国家的王公大人,都希望自己的国家富足、人民众多、刑事政务得到治理。)

Without exception, all the ancient kings, dukes, and great men who ruled countries would wish their states to be wealthy, their people to be numerous and penalties and administration to be well ordered. (Mozi)

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