载舟覆舟 – Chinese philosophy and culture

zàizhōu-fùzhōu 载舟覆舟

Carry or Overturn the Boat / Make or Break

水既能载船航行,也能使船倾覆。水比喻百姓,舟比喻统治者。“载舟覆舟”所昭示的是民心向背的重要性:人民才是决定政权存亡、国家兴衰的根本力量。这与“民惟邦本”“顺天应人”的政治思想是相通的。自古以来它对执政者有积极的警示作用,提醒他们尊重民情民意,执政为民,居安思危。

Water can carry a boat, but can also overturn it. Here, water is compared to the people, while the boat is compared to the ruler. The phrase, “carry or overturn the boat,” reveals the importance of popular support: people are the critical force that decides the future of a regime and a country. This is consistent with such political doctrines as “the people are the foundation of the state,” and “it is necessary to follow the mandate of heaven and comply with people’s wishes.” Since ancient times, this term has served as a warning to the ruler, reminding him of the need to respect local conditions and popular will, to govern the country for the people, and to anticipate dangers in times of security.

引例 Citation:

◎君者,舟也;庶人者,水也。水则载舟,水则覆舟,此之谓也。(《荀子·王制》)

(君主是船,百姓是水。水既能载船航行,也能使船倾覆,说的就是这个道理。)

The ruler is the boat and the people are the water. Water can carry the boat but can also overturn it. This is the very truth. (Xunzi)

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