民心惟本 – Chinese philosophy and culture

mínxīn-wéiběn 民心惟本

The People’s Will Is the Foundation of the State.

民众的意愿、意志是政治的根本。出自战国竹简(五)《厚父》中所记载的商王(一说即太甲)与厚父(一说即伊尹)的一则对话,厚父对商王说:“民心惟本,厥作惟叶。”字面意思是民心像树的根,而树根决定枝叶的生长繁茂。其深层意思则是说民心是国家的根本,民心的向背最终决定国家或政权的盛衰兴替。古人认为,一个政权的合法性在于“顺天应人”,而“天意”以“民心”为基础或前提,只有顺应“民心”,国家才能长治久安。它与“民惟邦本”的思想是一致的。

The notion of the people’s will being the foundation, or the “roots,” of government comes from a dialogue between a king of the Shang Dynasty and Houfu (in a text found on bamboo slips of the Warring States Period). Houfu said to the king, “The people’s will is like the roots of a tree: they support the leaves.” By that he meant that public support was the foundation of the state, and without it the state or political power would perish. The ancients believed that a government was legitimate so long as it “followed the mandate of heaven and complied with the wishes of the people.” The people’s wishes were a prerequisite of heaven’s will, and only if the state complied with the people’s wishes, would it enjoy lasting stability. This notion is identical to the concept that the people are the foundation of the state.

引例 Citations:

◎得天下有道,得其民,斯得天下矣。得其民有道,得其心,斯得民矣。得其心有道,所欲与之聚之,所恶勿施尔也。(《孟子·离娄上》)

(得到天下有规律,得到百姓,就能得到天下。得到百姓有规律,得到民心,就能得到百姓。得到民心有规律,百姓想得到的,就替他们聚积起来;百姓所厌恶的,就不要施加于他们身上,如此罢了。)

There is a way to win all under heaven: if you win the people, you win all under heaven. There is a way to win the people: if you win their hearts, you win the people. There is a way to win their hearts: amass for them what they desire, do not impose on them what they detest, and it is as simple as that. (Mencius)

◎治国犹如栽树,本根不摇,则枝叶茂荣。(吴兢《贞观政要·政体》)

(治国就像栽树,树根坚实不动,枝叶自然生长繁茂。)

Governing a country is like planting a tree. If the roots are firm, the leaves and branches flourish. (Wu Jing: Important Political Affairs of the Zhenguan Reign)

◎民为邦本,未有本摇而枝叶不动者。(苏舜钦《诣匦疏》)

(民众是国家的根本,没听说根本摇动了而枝叶却不摇动的情况。)

The people are the foundation of the state. If the roots are not firm, the branches and leaves of the tree cannot but follow suit. (Su Shunqin: Memorial to the Emperor)

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