正名- Chinese philosophy and culture

zhènɡmínɡ 正名

Rectification of Names

修正或端正事物的指称、名号,使名实相符。“名”是对事物的指称,规定着事物的属性及其与他者的关系。“实”是名所指称的事物、实体。名的规定应与其所指之实相符。但在现实中,名实往往不能相合。针对这种情况,就要求事物所用之名不能超过事物自身的属性,名所指之实也不能超出名所规定的范围。“正名”是维护名所构建的社会秩序的重要方法。各家都认同“正名”的主张,但其所修正的“名”的具体内容则有所不同。

This refers to the rectification of what things are called so that name and reality correspond. A name is what is used to refer to a thing, which determines the attributes of the thing and its relations with other things. “Reality” refers to a thing or an entity that its name refers to. The name of a thing should conform to what the thing actually is. However, very often name and reality do not match in real life. To deal with this situation, the name of a thing should not go beyond the nature of the thing; likewise, the reality referred to by the name must not go beyond the scope that the name implies. The “rectification of names” is an important way to maintain the social order constructed by the names. Various schools of thoughts have agreed on the necessity of rectifying names, but they differ in their views of the concrete meanings of the names to be rectified.

引例 Citations:

◎名不正,则言不顺;言不顺,则事不成;事不成,则礼乐不兴;礼乐不兴,则刑罚不中;刑罚不中,则民无所错手足。(《论语·子路》)

(名号不端正,则说话就不能顺畅;说话不顺畅,则做事就不能成功;做事不成功,则礼乐就不能兴盛;礼乐不兴盛,则刑罚就不能得当;刑罚不得当,则百姓就不知所措。)

If names are not rectified, one’s argument will not be proper. If speech is not proper, nothing can be accomplished. If nothing is accomplished, rites and music will not flourish. If rites and music do not flourish, punishments will not be meted out properly. If punishments are not meted out properly, people will have no guidance as how to behave. (The Analects)

◎其正者,正其所实也;正其所实者,正其名也。(《公孙龙子·名实论》)

(所要正的,就是端正名所指称的实;端正名所指称的实,就是正名。)

Rectification is to bring forth what actuality is. To bring forth what actuality is is what it means to rectify the name. (Gongsun Long’s Papers)

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