史 – Chinese philosophy and culture

shǐ 史

History

在甲骨文与金文中,“史”的字形是手执笔或简簿,其义指记载史事的官吏。东汉许慎(58?—147)《说文解字》说:“史,记事者也。从又(手)持中。中,正也。”“史”与“事”同源,记“事”的人叫“史”,人所记叫“事”。后来史官所记述的史事或史实以及按一定原则编集整理的关于史事或史实的各种记载及评述也称作“史”,即今之“历史”。按许慎说法,“史”字“从又持中”,所谓“持中”就是坚持客观公正、无所偏袒的原则。中国有重史的传统,在很长时期内,史官甚至有不受当政者干涉的特殊地位。一方面,史家可以通过秉笔直书对当政者形成一定程度的制约,使其谨言慎行;另一方面,又可以通过总结、评述历史人物与历史事件汲取经验教训,为当政者提供借鉴。这一传统构成了中国人的人文精神和理性精神的重要特征。

Ancient inscriptions on tortoise shells and ox scapula, together with inscriptions on ancient bronze objects, the pictographic Chinese character shi (史) represents a hand holding a writing brush or a hand holding a bamboo slip, referring to a court official in charge of keeping historical records. Explanation of Script and Elucidation of Characters by Xu Shen (58?-147) in the Eastern Han Dynasty goes: “Shi is the person who keeps records of events. A hand in the middle implies maintaining justice.” Same in sound, two differently-written Chinese characters shi (史 history) and shi (事 events) are from the same origin, and those who keep notes of what happens are called shi (史 record keeper) and what they write down is shi (事 records). Later, what the officials in charge of keeping records of historical incidents or events or collections of these incidents or events as well as comments about them are also called shi (史), which literally means history. According to Xu Shen, the original pictograph representing the Chinese character shi looks like a hand kept in the middle, which means keeping records of historical incidents or events objectively without lending favor to any side of an issue. Great emphasis was once placed on keeping records of history, and during certain periods, even the sovereign rulers were not allowed to interfere with the work of officials in charge of keeping records of historical incidents or events. On the one hand, by keeping records of historical incidents or events, such officials posed a deterrent to rulers, who had to be careful about what they said and what they did. On the other hand, by keeping records of or commenting on historical figures or events, lessons could be summed up or examples be set up, which rulers could draw on and learn from. This tradition constitutes an important aspect of Chinese people’s humanistic and rationalistic spirit.

引例 Citations:

◎此人皆意有所郁结,不得通其道,故述往事、思来者。(司马迁《报任安书》)

(这些人都是感情压抑郁闷,无法排解,不能实现其理想,所以记述过去的事迹,想让将来的人了解他们的志向。)

These people were depressed and unable to achieve their ideals. Thus, they wrote down the things that had happened, so that later generations could understand them. (Sima Qian: A Letter of Reply to Ren An)

◎千古兴亡之理,得自简编;百王善恶之由,闻于经史。其间祸淫福善,莫不如影随形,焕若丹青,明如日月。(赵普《上太宗请班师》)

(自古以来国家兴亡的道理,从书中都能找得到;数百个帝王行善作恶的缘由,从经史记述中也都听说过。史籍中所记述的淫乱招致祸殃、行善得到福报的事情,都像影子跟随形体一样密不可分,像图画一样鲜明,像日月一样光亮。)

Reasons for the rise and fall of all states since antiquity can all be found in books; reasons why hundreds of emperors did good or evil deeds can also be read in classics and history books. The examples recorded of how licentiousness invited disasters and good deeds brought about fortune are omnipresent like our own shadows, and they are as obvious as the sun and moon and as evident as a painting. (Zhao Pu: Memorial Urging Emperor Taizong to Withdraw Troops)

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