天命 – Chinese philosophy and culture

tiānmìnɡ 天命

Mandate of Heaven

天的命令与赐予。“天命”主要包含三种不同含义:其一,指天对于人事的命令。命令的内容最初集中于王权的更替,即上天授命有德者征讨并取代失德之君,享有至高无上的权力和福禄。其二,指命运,具有不可抗拒之义,标志着人力的限度。其三,指天赋予人的禀性。《中庸》称“天命之谓性”。宋儒发挥这一思想,以“天命之性”指称人禀受于天的纯善的本性。

The term means order and bestowment from Heaven. “Mandate of heaven” mainly contains three different meanings: The first is the order of heaven over human affairs. Such order first of all focuses on a change of the supreme ruler’s authority: Heaven empowers the virtuous to attack and replace a ruler who has lost his virtue, and thus enjoy the highest and unsurpassed power and benefits. Secondly, mandate of heaven means fate, which is irresistible and imposes limit on human power. Thirdly, the term indicates the natural disposition bestowed by heaven upon human being. According to The Doctrine of the Mean, “Mandate of heaven endows one with his nature.” Song-dynasty Confucian scholars developed this idea, proposing that human nature was the “nature of mandate of heaven,” that is, the inherent pure and good nature one receives from heaven.

引例 Citations:

◎天命靡常。(《诗经·大雅·文王》)

(天所命令赐予的王权和福禄不是恒常不变的。)

The power and fortune bestowed upon one by heaven are not permanent. (The Book of Songs)

◎莫之为而为者天也,莫之致而至者命也。(《孟子·万章上》)

(没有人能做到却做到了,这是天意;没有人求它来它却来到了,这是命运。)

That which no man can do but is accomplished is the mandate of heaven. That which no man asks but comes is from fate. (Mencius)

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