白马非马 – Chinese philosophy and culture

bái mǎ fēi mǎ 白马非马

A White Horse Is Not A Horse.

白色的马不是马。“白马非马”是名家提出的一个重要命题,公孙龙对这个命题进行了充分的讨论。他认为,“马”之名是用来指称马的形体的,而“白”之名是用来指称白色的。“白马”兼指马与白,因此与“马”所指称的是不同的事物。“白马非马”的命题意在指出,“马”之名无法精确指示马之中的白马、黄马、黑马所具有的特殊性。为了准确指称事物,就需要对名做出细致的辨析。

This is an important proposition made by the School of Names. Gongsun Long discussed this thesis in great detail. In his view, “horse” is a name of the physical body of a horse, whereas “white” is the name for white color. “White horse” refers both to “horse” and “white” and therefore is not the same thing as that which is referred to as “horse.” The proposition that “a white horse is not a horse” is meant to point out that the name “horse” accurately refers to the particular characteristics of white, brown and black horses. More careful differentiation is necessary in order to indicate an object precisely.

引例 Citations:

◎龙之所以为名者,乃以白马之论尔。(《公孙龙子·迹府》)

(我之所以有名,就是因为有“白马非马”的论说。)

The reason why I am famous is because I made the proposition that “a white horse is not a horse.” (Gongsunlongzi)

◎曰:“马固有色,故有白马。使马无色,如有马已耳,安取白马?故白者非马也。白马者,马与白也。马与白,马也?故曰白马非马也。”(《公孙龙子·白马论》)

(公孙龙子说:“马本就有颜色,因此有白马。如果马没有颜色,就只有马而已,哪里会有白马?所以白色并不是马。白马,是指称马与白。马与白,是马吗?因此说白马不是马。”)

Gongsun Long said: “Horses definitely have colors. That is why there are white horses. Suppose horses had no colors: if there were horses only, how could we pick out a white horse? Therefore, whiteness is not a horse. A white horse is horse with whiteness. Is horse with whiteness the same thing as horse? For this reason, I say: A white horse is not a horse.” (Gongsunlongzi)

bǎo mín ér wáng 保民而王

Protect the People and then Rule as a King

能使百姓安居乐业,就能统一天下了。“王”(wànɡ)即称王,统治一国或一地。在中国古典语境中,“王”(wánɡ)不是指一般意义上的掌握最高统治权的人,而是指通达天、地、人基本原理,为天下人拥戴的人。“保民”即爱民、养民,使百姓获得生存资源,接受教育,安定地生产、生活。“保民”是国家或政权的基本职能,是赢得民心的前提,也是权力正当性的依据所在。它是“民本”、“仁政”思想的具体体现。

If one can make the people live in peace and happiness, he can unify all the land. In ancient China, a “king” (wang) was not just the one who held the highest power. Rather, he was a man who clearly understood the fundamental principle of maintaining harmony with heaven and earth as well as other humans and enjoyed popular support. To “protect the people” is to love and care for them, ensuring that they obtain the means of survival, receive education and live and work in peace. To “protect the people” is the primary function of the state or government, a prerequisite for winning the people’s hearts and minds; it is also the source of legitimate power. It gives concrete expression to the vision of “putting the people first” and “benevolent governance.”

引例 Citations:

◎曰:“德何如,则可以王矣?”曰:“保民而王,莫之能御也。”(《孟子·梁惠王上》)

([齐宣王]问道:“德行怎样才可以统一天下呢?”[孟子]回答说:“能使百姓安居乐业,就能统一天下了,谁都抵挡不了。”)

King Xuan of Qi said: “What kind of virtue should one poses to be able to rule as a true king?” Mencius replied:”Protect the people and ensure their wellbeing, and you can rule as a king of all the land. No one can challenge you.” (Mencius)

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