防微杜渐 – Chinese philosophy and culture

fángwēi-dùjiàn 防微杜渐

Take Precautions Early

把差错、问题等消灭在萌芽状态。“微”即隐微、不明,指事物尚处于不易被察觉的潜在状态;“渐”即征兆、迹象,指事物刚露出苗头,正缓慢滋长。犹言“防患于未然”。任何事物都有一个由隐而显、由小变大的过程,其间还可能引发其他连锁反应。对于差错、问题等,如果不做好提前防范,及时堵塞各种漏洞,待其大势已成,可能会付出成倍的代价,甚至会酿成全局性灾难。它要求人们深刻认识并精准把握事物演变的内在规律。

This term can also be translated as “nipping the problem in the bud.” Hidden or inconspicuous things are not easily discovered. But there are always warning signs, indications of something newly emerged, slowly developing. All things evolve from hidden to obvious, from small to big, and in time they may lead to harmful consequences. If early steps are not taken to prevent mistakes and problems and to eliminate any defects in time, it will be costly to deal with the consequences, and even disaster may ensue. Thus, people should gain a deep understanding and good grasp of what underlies the evolution of things.

引例 Citations:

◎水旱之灾,虽尚未至,然君子远览,防微虑萌。(《后汉书·郎(yǐ)传》)

(水灾、旱灾虽然还没有发生,但有才能的人有远见,能将坏事消灭在萌芽状态。)

Even before flood or drought occurs, a far-sighted and virtuous man will have taken precautions in advance. (The History of the Later Han Dynasty)

◎赏刑者,人君之大柄,不可以假人。所以防微杜渐,消逆乱于未然也。(《资治通鉴·晋纪十八·显宗成皇帝咸康六年》)

(奖赏与惩罚是君主手中的两大权力,不能交给别人掌管。这是君主防微杜渐、将祸乱消灭在萌芽状态的保障。)

Rewarding and punishment are two powerful means which the ruler will not concede to others. This enables him to eliminate disasters in bud. (History as a Mirror)

◎病之始生,浅则易治;久而深入,则难治。《内经》云∶“圣人不治已病,治未病。”(徐大椿《医学源流论·防微论》)

(病情刚发生时,不严重,容易治;拖久了,病情加重,就难治了。正如《黄帝内经》上所说:“圣明的人不是在发病后才施治,而是在发病前就已经施治。”)

An incipient and light illness is easy to cure. However, prolonged illness is difficult to cure. As said in The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, the sage begins treatment before, not after, there is serious illness. (Xu Dachun: The Origin and Development of Illnesses)

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