势 – Chinese philosophy and culture

shì 势

Situation / Trend

事物存在与发展的态势、趋势。“势”的形成、存在与变化,取决于事物之间的格局、力度及相互关系。“势”可指自然的形势,如空间位置上以高临下之势,也可指人类社会中因身份地位或行为举动所造成的态势、趋势。在文艺创作领域,“势”也表现为由作品结构或风格所造就的作品内在的流动之势。“势”对于人和事物的影响,体现着自然与社会运行的法则。人可以通过顺应、把握外在的“势”而有所作为,在一定条件下甚至可以通过造“势”改变事物发展的趋向。

This refers to the situation or trend in the development of things. The formation, existence and change of a situation hinges on how things are organized, their relative strength, and how they interact with each other. It also refers to topography, such as occupying a commanding position at a high location. It may also refer to how people behave as influenced by their social positions. In terms of literary work, a trend refers to a particular force running through a literary work arising from its structure and style. The impact of a tendency upon people and social affairs gives rise to laws governing nature and social development. One can accomplish great things by following and gaining a good command of social trends. Under certain conditions, one changes the developmental course of things by creating trends.

引例 Citations:

◎水因地而制流,兵因敌而制胜。故兵无常势,水无常形,能因敌变化而取胜者,谓之神。(《孙子·虚实》)

(水根据地形而决定水流的形态和方向,用兵根据敌人的情况而制定取胜之道。因此用兵没有不变的形式,水流没有固定的形态,能够根据敌人的变化而取胜的人,可以称得上神妙。)

Topography decides where and how water flows. Similarly, the strategy to win a war should be made based on an understanding of the situation in the enemy’s camp. So, just as there is no fixed form of flowing water, there is no fixed strategy in commanding an army. Those who win the war by changing their strategy in response to changes in the enemy’s situation are truly master of warfare. (The Art of War)

◎君执柄以处势,故令行禁止。柄者,杀生之制也;势者,胜众之资也。(《韩非子·八经》)

(君主执掌权柄、占据权势,因此有令则行,有禁则止。权柄,是对生杀权力的控制;权势,是任使民众的凭借。)

With power to dictate the trend, a sovereign can ensure that his orders and prohibitions are enforced. Power means control over the life and death of others, while the ability to dictate a trend is the means to govern the general public. (Hanfeizi)

◎夫情致异区,文变殊术,莫不因情立体,即体成势也。(刘勰《文心雕龙·定势》)

(作者的情趣各不相同,因而文章的手法也多种多样,但都会根据所要表达的具体内容来确定体裁,就着体裁形成具有特定风格的文章气势。)

With different temperaments and tastes, different writers have different approaches to writing, and they will use different literary styles according to what they want to write about. In doing so, they create a particular literary force. (Liu Xie: The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons)

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