合同异 – Chinese philosophy and culture

hé tóngyì 合同异

Unify Similarity and Difference

把事物的同和异合而为一。“合同异”是惠施提出的看待事物同异的一种方式。惠施认为,事物的同异是相对而言的。两个具体事物之间会有或大或小的相同或相异之处。从“同”的角度来看,万物有共同之处,因此可以说万物是相同的;而从“异”的角度来看,则没有完全相同的两个事物,万物是不同的。事物的同异取决于看待事物的角度,因此惠施主张打破同异的界限,也即是“合同异”。

The philosopher Hui Shi’s approach to similarity and difference among things was to unite them, regarding similarities and differences as relative. There are bound to be small or great similarities and differences between any two concrete things. If we look at them from the point of view of similarity, all things have something in common, so they can be said to be similar. If we look at them from the point of view of difference, no two things are completely the same, so they are all different. Whether things are similar or different depends on the perspective from which we look at them. This led Hui Shi to determine that similarities and differences are not separate; that is, they are unified.

引例 Citation:

◎大同而与小同异,此之谓“小同异”。万物毕同毕异,此之谓“大同异”。(《庄子·天下》)

(大同小异与小同大异是有区别的,这种区别称为“小同异”。万物完全相同、完全不同,这称为“大同异”。)

When there are major commonalities and minor differences, or minor commonalities and major differences, it is called “minor commonality and differentiation.” When things are totally identical or totally different, it is called “major commonality and differentiation.” (Zhuangzi)

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