Manyul Im’s Chinese Philosophy Blog

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Little Fish, Little Fish, Swimming in the Water…

Daodejing (Tao Te Ching) 60 begins with:

“To govern a large state: like cooking small fish…” (治大國,若烹小鮮)

Dan Robins and I were wondering how to interpret “cooking small fish.” The first thing that comes to mind seems to be to be careful because of the fish’s delicacy. I’ve favored in the past, thinking of small fish as actually requiring less delicacy–i.e. small fish can just be tossed onto the pan and cooked whole, without any cutting or cleaning–sort of like smelt (which only helps you if you’ve ever cooked or eaten smelt). But Dan pointed out to me that at least in contemporary China and probably in the recent past, larger fish are also often cooked whole without any cutting or cleaning, as anyone who’s gone to a good Chinese restaurant can attest. So, I guess I don’t really have a compelling interpretation, unless cooking large fish whole is only a recent development. Any thoughts? Any early Chinese cuisine experts out there? Any other interesting or weird interpretations? Jump in…

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October 20, 2008 - Posted by | Chinese philosophy, Daoism, Taoism

155 Comments

  1. Little fish burn quicker than you would imagine when you are cooking them over charcoal. So, they need to be watched. When I cook little fish, I don’t necessarily do anything special– however, I rarely stray far from the fire because if I do, it’s usually curtains!

    Of course, I’m not much of a cook either… 笑

    Hello from another Moses Hall alumni…

    Comment by Peony | October 20, 2008

  2. Like I said I am not much of a cook. I checked the Japanese sources (usually right on target) and found the following standard 解説:

    http://33you.hp.infoseek.co.jp/academy/chinakoji.htm

    When *cooking* (ie 煮る) a small fish, if you continually poke the fish or continually turn it over (in the soup), the fish will break apart and it won’t be as delcious. In the same way, government which governs wth too strong of a hand will also not produce the best results…. less Libertarian and more simple 無為 concepts for cooking and governance??

    Best.

    Comment by Peony | October 20, 2008

  3. This is my last one (on fish at least) I promise.

    Another contemporary blogger remarked that:
     管理は口でなく「目」で

    Something which comes down to not micromanaging everything. Cook and govern with your eyes, not your mouth– is the basic idea??

    Am I the only one whose getting hungry??

    Comment by Peony | October 20, 2008

  4. If you chop, stir, or flip too much, it falls apart.

    (That’s assuming it’s a “small” fish, and not a “tiny” fish, which you can stir-fry, as Manyul says.)

    One problem is that the saying might have originated among people who didn’t cook their own fish in the first place.

    Comment by Chris Fraser | October 20, 2008

  5. In #4, I was recalling the way I learned to read DDJ 60 and have seen it interpreted by others.

    But after thinking a bit more about how fish is actually cooked, I believe the main challenge in cooking a small fish might be not to overcook. A small, thin fish cooks faster than most of us non-expert chefs would think.

    So the point could be: Observe carefully and avoid overdoing it.

    Comment by Chris Fraser | October 20, 2008

  6. That’s great stuff; and it does make me hungry. The only thing is, like Dan was saying, doesn’t “not overdoing” or “not overcooking” also apply to large fish? I’m still a little suspicious that we might be missing something more specific to little fish.

    And there’s still the question of what this has to do with the rest of the passage:

    以道莅天下,其鬼不神;非其鬼不神,其神不傷人;非其神不傷人,聖人亦不傷人。夫兩不相傷,故德交歸焉。

    which (cutting and pasting) Legge translates as:

    “Let the kingdom be governed according to the Dao, and the manes of the departed will not manifest their spiritual energy. It is not that those manes have not that spiritual energy, but it will not be employed to hurt men. It is not that it could not hurt men, but neither does the ruling sage hurt them. When these two do not injuriously affect each other, their good influences converge in the virtue (of the Dao).”

    (I like Legge’s translation because it has “manes” in it.) Any ideas what this has to do with cooking fish–or with governing a large state?

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 20, 2008

  7. I cook fish about five times a week. Mostly I grill fish but once a week I cook fish (煮物)And, in my experience it is precisely just that: large fish, you need to keep flipping in the sause and kind of pressing it down to absorb the juice– whereas with a small fish doing that will just break the fish apart. Likewise, a small fish over charcoal will burn very quickly– and I do like the japanese essayist’s 解説 that, one should rule with their eyes not their mouth. That looking and listening should come before speaking. Thinking before action. That’s how it is with cooking fish, at least!

    And, I did agree with you about France by the way.

    I am going to work on the rest of this in a bit so as the Governor says, “I’ll be back!”

    Comment by Peony | October 20, 2008

  8. Hmm. This makes my brain strain! Here are four bits of lines of thought, most of which seem to me unpromising.

    1. To cook a small fish you don’t need big vessels.

    2. No other chapter in the DDJ uses the term “gui”. Three others use “shen” (6, 29, 39). One of these (29) says “天下神器, 不可為也, 為者敗之, 執者失之” (Legge with a bracketed modification: “The kingdom is a spirit-[vessel], and cannot be got by active doing. He who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses it.”) Perhaps the point is that the empire is a fake vessel, as for funerary purposes. But I can’t see any connection with our Chapter 60.

    3. Maybe the way to fry a small fish is to have virtually no effect. What reminds me of having virtually no effect is the retreat in: “其鬼不神;非其鬼不神” (The ghosts won’t become spirits. It’s not that the ghosts won’t become spirits …). But I don’t know what to do with the next line, that starts off sounding as though it’s supposed to be parallel. So never mind that.

    4. One puzzle in the text is that it speaks of the spirits not hurting people (or: others) and the sages’ not hurting people (or: others), and seems to regard these two non-hurtings as a mutual non-hurting. Could the talk of ghosts v. sages be an allegory of revolution? Don’t overturn the fish – or if you do, do it in such a way that neither side gets hurt?

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 21, 2008

  9. Sorry Peony, I was careless about “peng.”

    The Gujin Hanyu Cidian (Commercial Press, 2000) gives the phrase “peng xiao yu” (cook small fish) as an example for their third definition of peng (cook), which I translate as: “A cooking method. First fry slightly in hot oil, then add soy sauce and other ingredients and stir until done.” But the first definition is “boil,” and for this they cite the Zuo Zhuan (Zhao Gong 20, a passage in which Yanzi compares harmony with making soup. The passage is quoted at length in the notes to Ames & Rosemont’s Analects, pages 254ff . A&R there translate “peng” as “cook”).

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 21, 2008

  10. Hi Bill,

    “Careless about peng”– now, that’s an understatement!! 笑

    You know, I’ve been reading Chinese history in Japanese for 10 years and never once have I thought, “Wow, they’ve got it wrong.” In this case too, I stand by the conventional Japanese interpretation.. “peng” is “niru” 煮る which is not really boil. It’s like simmering a slice of fish in miso… And, having done just that a few minutes ago I can tell you with a large fish to make sure the fish soaks in the miso taste you flatten it and puncture it and flip… all things that would break up and spoil the taste of a smaller fish (not to be confused with a tiny fish which can be stir fried)…

    Cooking a small fish is very hands off but requires a watchful eye– how’s that?

    I may as well tell you I take any chance I get to talk about bronze vessels too– and as much as you tempted me, I just don’t see it in this case..

    My problem is with “Mane”… I am at a loss… which word are they translating as “mane” and why does our fearless leader like that– now those are the questions that are causing me brain strain!

    Comment by Peony | October 21, 2008

  11. Hi Peony,

    I agree about the vessels. -storm and -strain, eh?

    Wikipedia says “In Roman mythology, the Manes were the souls of deceased loved ones.” Wikihack says the word lacks a singular in English.

    It’s used to translate shen 神.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 21, 2008

  12. How about this:

    Governing the state is like cooking a small fish [: you mainly leave it alone].
    If [the sage] approaches the world by way of the Dao, the bogeymen won’t come.
    OK sure, the bogeymen might come, but they won’t attack.
    OK sure, they might attack, but at least the sage won’t attack.
    And if both sides don’t attack, then maybe we can all get along.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 21, 2008

  13. Bill, you really threw me with that “bogeyman”… it actually had me down in the kitchen for a beer (which I am now drinking to relieve my shock)…

    OK, how about this (based solely on online Japanese sources):

    Governing the state is like cooking a small fish (you mainly leave it alone for best results→ 無為)

    If the Sage (aka fish cooker) approaches the world in this manner by way of the Dao, the souls of the dead will lose their supernatural abilities which can cause humans (人民)harm. Even if the dead do not lose their supernatural powers, still they will not use these powers to do men harm. In the same way, sages (men who govern large countries) should also not do their people (人民) harm. Therefore as neither of these forces is not doing men harm the way of virtue can be achieved.

    And what does this have to do with fish cooking?

    When dealing with things like ruling large countries or dealing with the dead, a 無為 approach is the best approach for achieving a virtuous result– and that goes for cooking small fish as well…

    On a side note, I think this is not bad advice!
    (not in everything, but there are times for inaction and that it seems is becoming a lost art??)

    Now, if our fearless leader ever wakes up he can tell us why on earth he liked that “manes”… or was that mane??

    Comment by Peony | October 21, 2008

  14. Hi Peony,

    Mm, beer. I should explain what drove me to the bogeymen. I was worried about the terms “xiang shang” 相傷 and “jiao” 交. They suggested to me that we’re to think of the two potentially harming parties as potentially harming each other. And I couldn’t think of a way to do that except by making the “sage” at the end of the piece be the same party as the one who was supposed to approach the world by the Way, and making the ghosts 鬼 stand for general social threats (hooligans, capitalist roaders, ACORN, that sort of thing). The result is a strain on the text, but it makes sense of the path the general presentation takes – I mean, the retreating path. (It reminds me of the old Maxwell Smart schtick “Would you believe …” – of which I can’t find any examples on line.) For one might be in favor of nonviolence on the grounds that it will flood the world like Mencian benevolence, or more realistically that it will flood the neighbors, or at least that it refrains from provoking further violence and giving suicide bombers new reason.

    And I don’t want a radical lack of parallelism between those two “fei 非 …” lines.

    I have a hard time taking Ch 60 seriously as literally talking about ghosts, mainly because I want my philosophical texts to be smarter than that and more Relevant.

    No doubt there are less extreme ways than mine of taking the ghosts not-quite-literally. I suppose they could represent Confucian overconcern with ancestors and sage kings.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 21, 2008

  15. I’m up; Bill, Legge uses “manes” for 鬼 not for 神. Peony, I like “manes” just because it’s an archaism tossed into the translation, also because it’s so much more specific than “ghosts.” Now that I’m half awake, here’s a try:

    Govern large states like cooking small fish.
    Use the Dao to tend (li 莅) the world and
    The spirits of its dead will not haunt (其鬼不神).
    If the spirits do not stop haunting
    Their haunting should not harm men.
    If their haunting does not stop harming
    Sagely men should as well not harm.
    So if neither with each other harms
    Then does moral power resound therein.

    Something like that; the meter could be better here and there. The fish part, I’ll have to think about some more. This reminds me of Tampopo, the noodle western, somehow.

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 21, 2008

  16. Actually, maybe lines 4-9 should read:

    If the spirits do not stop haunting
    At least it [i.e. their haunting] will not harm men.
    If their haunting does not stop harming
    At least the sagely men will not harm men.
    Now if neither along with the other harms (men)
    Then moral power resonates therein.

    Okay; that was my second and final attempt. Mmmm, noodles.

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 21, 2008

  17. Unscramble me for sloppy, fearless leader. But are you satisfied that this version adequately handles the xiang 相 and jiao 交? And why would the text unconfidently backtrack on its initial claim? And most importantly, do you see a line of thought in it about how the dao would keep the ghosts away?

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 21, 2008

  18. Hey Bill,

    I’m pretty happy with xiang; it doesn’t necessitate action “toward” each other (in opposition); it could indicate “with” (in tandem). I think. But of course now you’ve questioned that… You’re right about jiao. I should further emend the last line to: “Then they commute with each other (carpool?) in moral power.”

    I’m not sure about why the passage backtracks, but it seems to do it. Maybe this has something to do with fish-cookery?

    On my tentative reading, I don’t think the Dao keeps the ghosts away; it just keeps them from haunting (and hence harming) people, taking shen 神 verbally. That probably requires more support.

    I’m sure the fish cooking analogy is the key here. Between fish-cooking and exorcism, I’m out of my depth.

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 21, 2008

  19. Manyul, I think your version has many virtues. But here’s a worry. You write:

    6 If their haunting does not stop harming
    7 At least the sagely men will not harm men.
    8 Now if neither along with the other harms (men) …
    9 [resonating or carpooling]

    For the transition from 8 to 9, it seems important that 8 mean “if they are both harmless,” which is what I think you mean. But that’s not a perfect fit with the original text of 8: 夫兩不相傷 (They don’t both harm). On your reading of 8 wouldn’t the text prefer to be 夫兩相不傷 (They both don’t harm)? I think that if xiang 相 means “each other,” this problem is smaller. (Also I wonder whether the proximity of jiao 交 tends to militate for a mutuality reading of xiang 相.)

    Reading 8 as you do also makes the transition from 6-7 to 8 a little difficult, because 6-7 describes the case where exactly one of the two parties is harming.

    I think it’s a little weird that the climax should be that sages and ghosts get a vibe going, especially since the text seems to prefer that the ghosts just go away.

    Do you find anything philosophically interesting in the passage as you read it?

    Do the ideas about ghosts in the chapter as you read it resonate with anything else in the DDJ?

    I’m not sure the key is in the fish, because I gather that the chapters of the DDJ are sometimes themselves agglomerations of independently produced bits.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 21, 2008

  20. It’s 5:30 am and I’m awake– and hoping you two don’t drive me to the booze again today!

    First, I am curious as to whether either of you have ever really cooked a fish before? Have you ever cooked a small fish? Have you ever grilled a large or small fish? I am starting to hve some doubts….

    I actually was completely satisfied with Manyul’s translation (our fearless leader’s position is back to main fish cooker in my mind).

    Manes is obviously out. It’s even worse than bogeyman. I think because it is so clearly from a different tradition with its own separate connotations and nuaneces, it just could never work.

    My only other real comment regarding this very interesting (and I think very wise short passage) is this… The Japanese translation doesn’t translate 人 as 人 but rater as 人民。To me this was key. (Otherwise like our friend in Hongkong, you would be left asking what is the deal with ghosts??)

    Bill, I will let Manyul tackle your question about back tracking (because you addressed it to him and I am not 100% sure what you mean- due to my own ignorance) but… regarding ghosts, this is my take:

    By consciously swapping 人 and replacing it with 人民 that is a big clue that this text is all about how “the people” (not “man” or people as in person’s but a ruled “people”) should be treated by their rulers.

    If a ruler of large populations of people uses as hands off approach (NOT libertarian) with “the people” he rules, then all shall be harmonious– EVEN the feelings of the dead ancestors (of those ruled people) will not feel a need to use their supernatural powers. However, even if the spirit of the dead should use their supernatural powers, the ruler should still not ever harm “the people”… In this way the greatest amount of virtue can be garnered and harmony (you heard me!) restored to the realm.

    That is not a translaton but a 解説。

    Finally and verily, Manyul– I humbly disagree because I think this is far deeper stuff than noodles.

    OK, over and out. I’m on trash duty and crosswalk duty today– see more than Bill drives me to drink! :)

    Have a good one.

    Comment by Peony | October 21, 2008

  21. That seems tricky, but I may submit one or two matters for consideration.

    The first is that a lot of this talk seems to be spoken from a modern-day treatment of fish-cooking. How were fish were cooked in ancient China? If they were skewered and rotated over a fire, that would make cooking them markedly different from grilling them in a pan. Prof. Im mentions that 煮 (“cooking by boiling”) is the character used in the chapter, but even then, there are discrepancies, perhaps with the need for attention and density of the water. If you boil a fish in a thick sauce, I would guess that you don’t need to pay quite as much attention because the fish stays together more easily. In thin broth, would it be the same?

    I should thank you all for the cooking ideas, nonetheless.

    Second, I wonder whether there are a handful of considerations being thrown together at once. How we do something seems understandable only to contrast from something else with respect to the passage. How do we boil a small fish? Well, how do we boil a big fish? Perhaps that could be turned to experiment.

    Take two fish, one small, and one large, and cook them with the bare minimum needed to cook the fish, and then take an account of what was needed to cook the small fish compared to what was needed to cook the big ones.

    My guess is that this is what will turn up:

    Small Fish Needs: small pot, small fork, fewer turns, less water, less attention (?)…

    Big Fish Needs: big pot, more turns, more water, more attention (?)…

    Well, what’s the big difference between the two that the other has in common? Well, it seems to be a matter of quantity. Small fish need less than large fish do, overall, so perhaps it is advisable to just use an induction as a basis for what Laozi meant and move on something a bit more general.

    If it’s not terribly insightful, I blame the structure of aphorism. They’re prone to vagueness.

    Comment by Joshua Harwood | October 21, 2008

  22. Boil is not the correct translation, I think.

    Cook or perhaps simmer are better words.

    I too would have prefered the grill analogy but alas I think it is clear from the kanji (and I do not think simmering fish in sause has radically changed that much over time)…

    Small Fish/Big Fish= same pot is no problem
    Big fish= takes longer, tastes better with holes punctured in fish and many flippings–BUT less attention
    Small fish= hands off, but needs to be watched more carefully for obvious reasons

    Disagreeing with Joshua I think it’s terribly insightful… and very elegant actually…

    My two yen.

    Comment by Peony | October 21, 2008

  23. I’m dealing with true chefs here. I’ve only grilled dolphin fish on rare occasion. Otherwise, I leave it to chefs.

    I like “simmer” better, too.

    I would want to defend some of the controls to the already loose experiment I propose.

    One area of importance is my claim that “the bare minimum needed to cook the fish” ought prompt the use of different equipment for each cooking. When I read, “Small Fish/Big Fish= same pot is no problem,” I see the transition working fine Big –> Small, but not from Small –> Big. I think that’s a cooking fact that applies to every kind of meal. If I used the minimum pan needed to make a single burger or the the minimum pot needed to make single helping of pasta, I would be at a loss to efficiently cook for a family of four using the same equipment I use as a bachelor.

    I’m not sure about the attention level needed to cook small or large fish. With respect to delicacy, I’m also at a loss. However, in terms of resources, I’m pretty certain that cooking small fish take fewer. In terms of duration, I’m sure that small fish cook in less time. In terms of effort in the manipulation of the cookware, I’d probably just appeal to Prof. Im’s authority on it. I still think the urge for less is still rather dominant. Maybe Laozi wants more attentive, but less exerted cooking. That sounds more like a statement about governing a large country than anything else I’ve said.

    But again, I’m not much of a cook.

    Comment by Joshua Harwood | October 21, 2008

  24. Just as I suspected regarding your cooking skills!!

    Regarding your logic, there are not enough defined parameters to form a conclusion as you are trying to, I think.

    Because saying cooking 1 small fish/1 big fish= same pot is different from saying cooking for a bachelor requires different cooking ware than for a family of 4. These are different statements– provided we both agree to the logically implied caveat that the pot must be big enough to hold the larger fish. If it can hold the larger fish than you can use the same pot to cook tbe smaller fish. That is the only restriction I think that applies to the vessel. hence: the vessel is not the essential point. (ie its probably not the relavant point).

    What is the relavant point, then? It ain’t the ghosts.

    Anyway, I have already stated what I myself have taken from the text via the japanese approach (which in my experience so far is rarely far off the mark).

    Bodily experience is very important in doing philosophy. As is “hyper-rationality” too…. Cheers, Peony

    Comment by Peony | October 21, 2008

  25. When Manyul gets cooking there’s nothing like it.
    Peony, your blog is Awesome.

    I think I was kind of assuming that ren 人 is supposed to suggest not the occasional person but people at large, suggesting something about the general quality of life in all-under-heaven. Clearly the idea that life is better all around if spirits and sages and rulers take a hands-off approach fits the general views of the DDJ, though I’d like to see the passage saying something more than just that.

    I’d rather translate ren 人 as “people” than as “the people,” because I don’t want the passage to seem to set up three distinct parties: sages above, ghosts below, and civil society in between. The reason I don’t want to do that is that I don’t want the last lines to seem to be talking about harmony between parties extrinsic to the people.

    So how is the dao supposed to tend to keep the spirits at bay? Does the fish say? One can imagine there might be some ancient turn of phrase comparing overcooking with offense to the dead, i.e. the dead fish. (Peng 烹 was also the name of a kind of boiling-torture which presumably ended in death and upset somebody’s ancestors.) But I don’t know of any such turn of phrase, and by itself I think the text doesn’t suggest this line of thought.

    (A reason to think the fish line does belong with the rest of the chapter is that without the fish line, the rest starts in speaking of the dao without any hint about what aspect of the dao it has in mind. A reason to think the fish line does not belong with the rest is that the fish line speaks of a large state, while the rest speaks of the empire. But that’s consistent, I think, with the idea that the author of the rest intentionally used a pre-existing fish line as an intro.)

    I think if we take the passage as literally or narrowly being about ghosties, it ends up sounding like this: “Dr. Dao’s crystals will cure your lumbago. If they don’t cure your lumbago, they will reduce the symptoms. If they don’t reduce the symptoms, they won’t add any. If nothing makes symptoms, Dr. Dao and your lumbago will be fast friends to the end of their days.”

    So I want to know what the ghosties represent other than simply ghosties. Two things come to mind, suggesting different pictures of what the passage is about.

    (1) The picture the passage suggests to me – and this is mostly consistent with Manyul’s translation, I think, though not really brought out by it – is that violent or meddling government hurts the laobaixing, i.e. the people considered as an aggregate of families; and hence leads to bad humor all around, represented by spirits and portents and things that go bump in the night. The angry ancestors would direct their anger, one would think, primarily at the rulers; but we don’t have to think of that as a very narrow group, and angry spirits often pitch wild anyway. (The angry American laobaixing even votes Republican.) So harmony between sages and ghosts stands for harmony between governors and laobaixing, i.e. harmony of the whole, not harmony between two external parties at least one of which shouldn’t even be around. That’s the basic idea of the bogeymen reading.

    (2) The ghosties represent Confucian hallucinations such as ancient sage kings, the feudal order, and the tradition of three-year funerals. The Confucians dance around trying to raise these ghosts, and maybe they raise a few ghosts, but it’s just not helping things. The passage isn’t so much against violence as it is against fancy cooking. So there, Peony.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 21, 2008

  26. Hey gang,

    I have actually cooked a lot in my life–the cost of graduate school–and have cooked lots of fish, only not in the 4th century BCE (to speak to Johsua’s point). I’m still not sure how well the fish reference goes with placating, governing, handling, or tending to the spirits of the dead. I can see how someone might think this was an “agglomeration of independent bits” but I hold out hope that there’s some actual, original connection here.

    There’s a pair of issues here that matters to the analogy:

    A) Why is cooking fish relevant to the activity of spirits?

    B) Why is cooking fish relevant to the activity of sages?

    I think the answer to B provides some clearer options than to A. To “Mad Lib” it: Sages should govern the kingdom by way of (fill in the fish cooking aspect here). But what does any of this have to do with spirits? That’s the part that calls out for better explanation.

    Is the idea that the spirits of our dead should be placated (worshipped? honored?) somehow like one cooks fish? Or is it that in governing the kingdom, if that is done like cooking fish, the spirits will, as a generality, be placated–though not in all instances? Or…?

    I think this is an especially hard chapter of the DDJ. And to address the underlying issue that Bill, Peony, and Joshua have all brought up: I don’t know that we can say whether there is an “important philosophical point here” until we’ve figured out how to interpret it; wouldn’t you agree? (Too much end-of-the-day Scotch over here…)

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 21, 2008

  27. Bill, while you clearly know nothing about fish, I think you may have other interesting talents! And I heartily agree:

    “A reason to think the fish line does belong with the rest of the chapter is that without the fish line, the rest starts in speaking of the dao without any hint about what aspect of the dao it has in mind. ”

    To wit– and in fact, to return to the conventional Japanese interpretation, they actually explicitely added that in– so that one of the sites I read had something like this for the 2nd line:

    If the Sage approaches the world in this manner (ie a soft-handed approach to governing large countries) by way of the Dao, the souls of the dead will lose their supernatural abilities which can cause humans (人民)harm.

    Bill, I like your bogeyman reading more and more too…You don’t perhaps study this stuff (ie, the dead ancestors of fish and their supernatural powers) do you??

    Manyul and Joshua– I posit that there are certain areas of life that have remained remarkably unchanged since the 4th century BC… for example, humans sleep the same way, we fall in love the same way (I am inducing from literature), we enjoy our booze the same way…. and I submit we simmer fish the same way. I also posit that before we even start discussing the possibility that fish was simmered in a way so radically different than it is today as to affect this argument, that it is up to you guys to provide Bill and I (and Bill’s ghostie friends) some kind of evidence of what you have in mind….

    And Bill, speaking of fancy cooking– there is a restaurant overlooking the bay just down the hill from Chinese university. I think it was famous for pigeon– the tofu there was so delicious I was actually moved to tears. We are not talking about some of Manyul’s questionable “boiled” fish either… but the most delcious tofu in the whole world….. Bill, do you know the place?

    Comment by Peony | October 22, 2008

  28. Manyul, I don’t think one can leave the philosophical questions until after the interpretation is done. I think the coherence and interest of the ideas in a proposed interpretation are part of what makes the interpretation plausible as an interpretation. That’s part of how we decide, for example, which of the aspects of cooking a small fish the author might have in mind. The philosophical vetting of an interpretation is important in proportion as the text is otherwise hard, as this one is.

    I do think the focus of the text is the sage’s approach to the living, not specifically to the dead. (But I’m also inclined to think the text means to play fast and loose with the distinction between the living and the dead. For that reason I’d be happy to think the fish stands as a metaphor for both, for the old hundred family-lines, if there were some further evidence from ancient culinary lore to support that idea.)

    (“Placating” suggest calming the ghosts after they’ve come out in anger. But the text suggests to me that under a sage the ghosts aren’t provoked in the first place. Maybe they come out, but not because they’re provoked. Is that not how you see it?)

    Peony, my own ancestors were fish. What I have said about ‘peng’ and Legge and proposed about the passage on this string justifies feeding me to the fishes; but I fail to see where I have made a mistake about fish! I know more about catching them than cooking them, having done plenty of the former in my childhood. I like to eat fish, but at present I don’t have a kitchen, a stove, or even a microwave. The two kinds of cooking I do are more properly called “steeping” and “thawing.” I think it makes perfect sense to think that the spirit of the fish would be offended by hamhanded overcooking, and would take its revenge by toughness, though I suppose that’s less of a problem with simmering than with plain frying.

    I don’t know the restaurant, but I will hunt it down for the sake of my wife, who will join me here in January. Thanks!!

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 22, 2008

  29. Bill, can I ask what exactly you “steep”– Regarding your ancestors, I’m not sure they are a metaphor– don’t you think it’s the method of cooking that is the metaphor and that– really– sweet potatoes or various other things could have been conceivably used in place of fish??

    The ghosts to me are the main question and all I can come up with is that if the living are not treated well by their ruler than the living’s ancetors would get riled? Or just in general when a King doesn’t act in accordance to certain patterns than the anger of the spirits is symbolic of Heaven’s displeasure (like a natural calamity?)

    Bill, do track the restaurant down– it’s really lovely.

    Oh, Manyul, regarding your last post: I don’t think fish cooking is relavant to dead ancestors but rather that the way one governs is relavant (and that style of governing is being likened to a method of cooking small fish– )Really in the end this is all about a method of governing large countries, I think…

    OK, guys, over and out.

    Comment by Peony | October 22, 2008

  30. Peony, it’s literally true that my ancestors were fish. I come from a very very long line of fish. I steep mainly coffee bags and instant noodles, and yes it shows in the way I comment.

    I agree with Joshua that the main point about cooking a small fish is that (a) it’s a minimal task. I think the text brings that point out pretty explicitly. For this, a sweet potato would have done as well. But I also think the author had a right to expect the reader to pick up on the related point that (b) one should cook small fish with a very light touch. A potato wouldn’t have made that point.

    The point about (c) attentiveness seems to me less obvious, though it could be relevant if it were taken up in some way by something else in the chapter. The point that the (d) fish is dead could be relevant if it were noted by some other lore that the author could have been alluding to (I was hoping somebody might know of something). But so far as I know, neither of these conditions is satisfied.

    I’m still worried about yi 亦 in line 7. (I think yi 亦 means either “indeed” or “also”.) I don’t know what to do with it. It seems to interfere with the parallelism between 4-5 and 6-7. Here is Manyul’s latest version, which so far as I can tell ignores the yi 亦 or takes it as a very faint “indeed”:

    4 If the spirits do not stop haunting
    5 At least it [i.e. their haunting] will not harm men.
    6 If their haunting does not stop harming
    7 At least the sagely men will not harm men.

    Maybe fei 非 slipped into line 6 by accident. If we pop it out, we get this:

    4 If the spirits do not stop haunting
    5 At least they will do no harm.
    6 They will do no harm:
    7 The sage too will do no harm.

    I don’t find that a particularly attractive idea. But it’s an idea.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 22, 2008

  31. PS: I wanted to say thanks to Manyul, Joshua and Bill for the very enjoyable conversation and thanks to all three of you for being so forgiving of my teasing and my comments which had very little to add to the discussion, I know!!

    Bill, thanks for your kind words about my blog too! Please stop by there sometimes and leave a comment, OK?

    Also, I looked up the name and it’s Yucca. The tofu is heavenly!! You know what else I recommend when your wife comes? Hike to the Great Buddha on Lantau. There in the temple they have a surprisingly good vegetarian lunch… you guys will love it.

    I still buy tea from Fook Ming Tongs and have them send to Japan but there is another teashop I prefer near Hollywood Road. I would bring a book and spend the afternoon there reading and drinking white tea (called 白牡丹– of course)The staff even offered me a job! I’ll email you if I can remember the name….

    OK guys!! Back to the salt mines….

    Comment by Peony | October 22, 2008

  32. Bye Peony, y’all come back now. You added plenty.

    I shouldn’t have been speaking so cavalierly of “author” and “reader” in connection with the DDJ. I wonder if that’s a problem for my argument.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 22, 2008

  33. Bill, your coffee-steeping ways are intriguing…. I’m going to ignore the question about your pescine ancestors because– quite honestly– I think it will lead to trouble… but I cannot resist asking where you get a) above. This is not “explicit” or obvious to me in the text…

    Could 亦 mean “also” like in japanees? I say ignore.

    Again– I must insist (based only on common sense and my own fish-like prelidictions) that dead fish have nothing to do with dead ancestors– that it is styles of governance (and their resulting affects on people 人民)that has a connection with the dead….

    Oh, and Bill– don’t be so quick to dismiss the potato!!

    Comment by Peony | October 22, 2008

  34. “Governing a large state is like boiling a small fish.” That’s D.C. Lau’s translation, as I know by heart because the line struck my fancy when I was in college. Not that I really thought about Chinese philosophy back then. I was charmed by Lau’s DDJ because I liked its poetry and its wacky presocraticity.

    The line explicitly highlights a big/small contrast. That’s what I had in mind.

    You 亦 are descended from a very very long line of fish.

    I meant to be mainly endorsing the potato.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 22, 2008

  35. Hi all,

    My take:

    Governing a great kingdom is like cooking a small fish.
    Using Dao to attend to the world,
    Ghosts will not be spirited.
    It is not that ghosts won’t be spirited,
    But their spiritual power will not harm people.
    It is not merely that their spiritual power will not harm the people.
    But sages also will not harm the people.
    These two not harming each other,
    Consequently De returns to their association.

    — I’m not sure what De signifies here. But there is a connection between sages and ghosts/spirits and their De. “Non-harm” (不傷) is also a theme here, both in connection to Dao and De and thus suggests a ethical or moral disposition. Implies that sages and ghosts have De, but doesn’t say so explicitly. Perhaps, the last line literally says: “therefore De association/relationship return to it/them.” If so, De might signify goodwill or benevolence.

    — As for 以道蒞天下, is it possible we translate it as “using THIS dao to attend to the world”?

    — Gui can also mean “demons.”

    Hanfeizi 20 has a commentary:
    人處疾則貴醫,有禍則畏鬼。聖人在上則民少欲,民少欲則血氣治而舉動理,〔舉動理〕則少禍害。夫內無痤疽癉痔之害,而外無刑罰法誅之禍者,其輕恬鬼也甚。故曰:「以道蒞天下,其鬼不神。」
    治世之民,不與鬼神相害也。故曰:「非其鬼不神也,其神不傷〔人〕也。」
    鬼祟也疾人之謂鬼傷人,人逐除之之謂人傷鬼也。民犯法令之謂民傷上,上刑戮民之謂上傷民。民不犯法則上亦不行刑,上不行刑之謂上不傷人。故曰:「聖人亦不傷民。」
    上不與民相害,而人不與鬼相傷,故曰:「兩不相傷。」
    民不敢犯法,則上內不用刑罰,而外不事利其產業。上內不用刑罰,而外不事利其產業,則民蕃息。民蕃息而畜積盛,民蕃息而畜積盛之謂有德。凡所謂祟者,魂魄去而精神亂,精神亂則無德。鬼不祟人則魂魄不去,魂魄不去而精神不亂,精神不亂之謂有德。上盛畜積而鬼不亂其精神,則德盡在於民矣。故曰:「兩不相傷則德交歸焉。」言其德上下交盛而俱歸於民也。
    Hagop Sarkissian and Liao have translated it. I’m not sure its very helpful though.

    All in all, I think it’s an odd chapter, especially mentioning Gui and Shen. But it was included for a reason, likely because it advocates a hand-off, harmonious society.

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 22, 2008

  36. Hi Scott,

    In your penultimate line, what do you take “these two” to be?

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 22, 2008

  37. I mean, your translation seems to me to catch the literal text pretty well, but I wonder how you understand the line of thought.

    If I understand the Han Feizi passage, the idea is that when the sages rule well, the people are in good order psychologically, which is to say (or to cause) that the people are not full of ghosts. The situation is stable, so neither people nor ghosts are harmed. That orderly situation is characterized by de 德. But when ruling is not done well, the people fill with disorder and ghosts, and so the people violate public standards (harming their superiors) and the superiors in turn harm the people by punishment and conscription into productive enterprises (?) and thereby harm the ghosts (by shooing them out of the people).

    Have I got it right?

    I gather you’re not very happy with that reading of the DDJ chapter.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 22, 2008

  38. In paraphrasing Han Feizi, I should have said: the stable orderly de 德 situation is one in which the three parties don’t harm each other, though Han Feizi is willing to go along with calling this “two” parties not harming each other because the people are sort of vehicles or media for the action of the sages or rulers on the one hand, and the ghosts or unruly desires on the other.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 22, 2008

  39. The fish spirit wants us to prepare fish correctly.

    http://www.tacp.gov.tw/tacpeng/home02_7.aspx?ID=$1004&IDK=2&EXEC=L

    [Bill, et. al., I just de-spammed this. Nostalgically remembering when spam was food…or was it? -Fearless Leader]

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 22, 2008

  40. Thanks Manyul – your chum.

    Scott, I forgot to thank you for the Han Feizi. That’s an impressive find.

    1 Governing a great kingdom is like cooking a small fish.
    2 Using Dao to attend to the world,
    3 Ghosts will not be spirited.
    4 It is not that ghosts won’t be spirited,
    5 But their spiritual power will not harm people.
    6 It is not merely that their spiritual power will not harm the people.
    7 But sages also will not harm the people.
    8 These two not harming each other,
    9 Consequently De returns to their association.

    Scott, I’m worried about the “merely” you add in line 6. It has the effect of more or less negating what the line otherwise says. The problem is not just that this is not reflected in the text, but also that it breaks the apparent parallel between lines 4 and 6.

    I think if we read lines 4 and 6 with you as “It is not that …” rather than reading them with Manyul as “If not …,” then we have a much starker contradiction between 3 and 4 — and between 6 and 7 too, if we drop the “merely.”

    Maybe that’s how it should be; I don’t know. That stark double contradiction is what led me originally to suspect that the text was being playful, like the Maxwell Smart schtick, of which I’ve now found an example on line:

    Max: You might as well surrender, because at this very moment, you are being surrounded by 5,000 crack Swiss troops. Would you believe it? 5,000 crack Swiss troops.
    Villain: I find that very hard to believe, Mr Smart.
    Max: Oh. Well, would you believe 150 Tyrolean skijumpers?
    Villain: No, I wouldn’t.
    Max: How about two St. Bernards in heat?

    Two other miscellaneous points:

    Are we all agreed that qi gui 其鬼 in 3 means “the ghosts” or “the ghosts in the empire,” not some ghost(s) associated with the person approaching the empire with the Way?

    Is it obvious how, grammatically, to parse de jiao gui 德交歸 in 9? It isn’t obvious to me.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 22, 2008

  41. 5:30am Tochigi– I’m a bit groggy but wanted to comment:

    * I don’t like the “these two not harming each other”– there are three parties and two (ghosts and sages) are not harming humans so all is sweet smelling in denmark….I say cut “each other”

    * I also am not totally crazy about the 1st line (even though it’s a literal translation). I still would make explicit in what way sages need to approach the Dao…
    otherwise this whole mess will start all over again… :)

    * I’m glad everyone is on board with “the people”

    * Last line need work for readability…

    Manyul– since everyone went through so much trouble, why not get a great translation that we can all stand by??

    Bill, are you awake yet?

    In a rush gotta– get The Kid ready for school..

    * Regarding 其鬼 it is signifying “certain ghosts” I think not ghosts in general and so it would logically have to be ghosts of one of the parties involves (the people’s ghosts or the sage’s ghosts– or both)

    Comment by Peony | October 22, 2008

  42. Hi Bill,

    By “these two,” I am thinking of sages and ghosts, but there certainly is much ambiguity here. Sages also presumably have “numinous power” (神) and could harm either ghosts or the people. The Hanfeizi seems to understand the “two” as people and ghosts AND the rulers and people.

    Re: “Scott, I’m worried about the “merely” you add in line 6. It has the effect of more or less negating what the line otherwise says. The problem is not just that this is not reflected in the text, but also that it breaks the apparent parallel between lines 4 and 6.”

    — You’re right. I should change it to “It is not (only) that their spiritual power will not harm the people…”

    Back to the opening lines. Manyul, Heshanggong might be helpful, especially “不去腸 / 不去鱗 / 不敢撓”:

    鮮,魚〔也〕。
    烹小魚不去腸、不去鱗、不敢撓,恐其糜也。
    治國煩則下亂,治身煩則精散。

    Wangbi, for his part, uses a cognate of Heshanggong’s Nao (撓): 不擾也.
    So, the opening part seems fairly straightforward.

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 22, 2008

  43. Peony,

    “I say cut ‘each other’” – A further reason against this is the fact that Han Feizi, who knew his classical Chinese, felt compelled to read ‘each other’ even though he had to strain to make sense of it.

    上不與民相害,而人不與鬼相傷,故曰:「兩不相傷。」
    “Superiors and the people don’t hurt each other; and people and ghosts don’t hurt each other; therefore [the text] says: ‘The two don’t hurt each other’.” (My successive reports of HFZ on this point are in order of decreasing sloppiness.)

    Scott,

    What’s the difference between ‘merely’ and ‘only’?

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 23, 2008

  44. Peony,

    “Regarding 其鬼 it is signifying ‘certain ghosts’ I think not ghosts in general and so it would logically have to be ghosts of one of the parties involved (the people’s ghosts or the sage’s ghosts– or both)”

    Suppose we want to pin qi 其 to an antecedent. Then we have two options: the sage and all-under-heaven. The latter has less semantic magnetism to attract qi 其, I think; and if the latter is the antecedent, then we seem to have ghosts in general (except the ones in heaven). If the former is the antecedent, we have the sage’s ghost, which doesn’t offhand look like an attractive reading. I’m not heading in any direction with this worry; I’m just wondering why qi 其 is there at all.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 23, 2008

  45. Oh, you’re saying qi 其 isn’t pinned to an antecedent. I see.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 23, 2008

  46. Hi there Bill,

    No I do think it is pinned to an antecedent.

    It’s funny but this text really does not seem that problematic to me and– again– I really think the Japanese have done a fine job with it. I mean, I am quite satisfied (I cook a LOT of fish though)….

    I have only one problem (and one complaint).

    The problem is precisely with those ghosts– and it truly is even worse with the qi 其 (which I think is important)

    Honestly, I am not totally clear.

    My best guess (which is based on the qi 其) is that if the sage does not govern in a 無為 style and takes too strong a hand, then “the ghosts” will get riled (for– in Peony Land– natural disasters occur and ghosts get riled when humans don’t act in accordance with the Dao (in this case, watchful but not too overbearing: a la the Han Dynasty)

    My complaint is logical– just read the translation as we have it thus far– there are three parties doing different things with relation to each other– so to me, the “The two don’t hurt each other’ just doesn’t make sense, does it? Which two?? I think you need to repeat the subject and object otherwise it is illogical.

    I went back and looked at a few more japanese sights and they all interpret the text in the same way, and that is that Ghosts will not harm men **And also** 亦 Sages will not harm men.

    Therefore 道徳 is maintained (or garnered)

    I submit to you all that this is the only way to make clear the Chinese– because otherwise it cannot make sense.

    Regarding Gui 鬼 while it only means demons in Japanese in classical Chinese I think it can only mean dead ancestors 精霊(forgive my ignorance if I’m incorrect– this is again based on Jpse internet sources).

    Soooo Bill, did you steep anything good tonite? Hope all is well.

    Comment by Peony | October 23, 2008

  47. re: “What’s the difference between ‘merely’ and ‘only’?”

    Haha ;) None, I suppose. I am *merely* following other translators, such as Henricks, Lau, Ames, Mair, etc. It seems to make sense to me. Waley has an unusual reading.

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 23, 2008

  48. Scott, I was just about to post the following when I saw your #47:

    Hi Peony!

    About ‘gui’ in classical Chinese: my impression is that Han Feizi in the passage Scott gave us does not mean ghosts of ancestors. Aside from that, I don’t know.

    I think what we can do with xiang 相 depends on what we do with jiao交.

    I checked some previous translations I have handy, and here’s what I found:

    Chan and Lau and LaFargue and Ivanhoe read the whole thing as Scott does above, except for line 9 (gu de jiao gui yan 故德交歸焉). Here are their versions of line 9. In each case the two parties in question are the ghosts and the sage(s):

    Chan: “Virtue will be accumulated in both for the benefit of the people.”
    Lau: “each attributes the merit to the other.”
    LaFargue: “Thus Te unifies and restores.”
    Ivanhoe: “virtue gathers and accrues to both.”

    But Waley does something very different with the whole passage. I’ll add line numbers to his text.

    1 Ruling a large kingdom is indeed like cooking small fish.
    2 They who by Tao ruled all that is under heaven
    3 did not let an evil spirit within them display its powers.
    4 Nay, it was not only that the evil spirit did not display its powers;
    5 neither was the Sage’s good spirit used to the hurt of other men.
    6 Nor was it only that his good spirit was not used to harm other men,
    7 the Sage himself was thus saved from harm.
    8 And so, each being saved from harm,
    9 their ‘powers’ could converge toward a common end.”

    Waley wants to drop ren 人 from line 7; he says Han Feizi put it there.

    Waley comments:
    “A number of parallel passages, which the author quite certainly had in mind, make it evident that both ‘gui’ and ‘shen’ are here used in a subjective sense. ‘The enlightened (i.e. Realist) monarch in the carrying out of his institutes is a god (tian); in his use of men he is a demon (gui). He is a god, in that he cannot be gainsaid; a demon, in that he is subject to no restraint.’ [footnote cites Han Feizi 48.1] ‘The Sages of old did not damage their souls (shen) by evil passions.’ [footnote cites Lü Shi Qun Qiu, 119] Another passage, containing both a reference to ‘gui’ and the curious sequence of a statement followed by ‘Nay, it was not so…’ was certainly also in the author’s mind: ‘If with the whole essence of your being you ponder on a question, the gui will give you the answer. Nay, it is not that the gui answers you, it is simply that you have pondered with the whole essence of your being.’ [footnote cites Lü Shi Qun Qiu, 147].
    “The general meaning is that if the ruler follows the realist’s advice and is a ‘demon’ in his dealings with the people, he will do as much harm to his own soul as to them.

    ?!

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 23, 2008

  49. Lü Shi Chun Qiu

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 23, 2008

  50. Manyul and Scott et al disagree mainly about lines 4-7. Here’s why I prefer Manyul on those lines, over pretty much everybody else:

    In using if-then rather than ‘it is not that’, he makes the text less self-contradictory. (That at least tends to count in Manyul’s favor.) Also Manyul’s version makes the 4-5 and 6-7 couplets truly parallel, and it doesn’t add ‘merely’ to 6. The pressure to add ‘merely’ to 6 comes from the yi 亦 in 7, which Manyul’s version ignores. I think ignoring yi 亦 is on its face a much smaller problem then adding “merely” and ruining the prima facie parallelism. I’d rather not ignore anything though.

    Waley wants to amend the text, and everybody wants to translate as though they’re amending the text (adding ‘merely’ or dropping yi 亦), so here’s an alternative amendment to consider: maybe there shouldn’t be a fei 非 in line 6. Then we get:

    4 It is not that ghosts won’t be spirited,
    5 But their spiritual power will not harm people.
    6 Their spiritual power will not harm the people,
    7 And sages too will not harm the people.

    As with the fish-spirit, I’m not endorsing this idea, I’m just casting it out.

    Just coffee, Peony. I was teaching this morning. I agree about wanting to wrestle this chapter into total submission.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 23, 2008

  51. Oops, Manyul and Scott et al also disagree about “each other”, which is a big deal. I must have a daemon opposite to Socrates’ daemon. Mine won’t let me submit a comment that isn’t somehow wrong.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 23, 2008

  52. Here’s a new reading, inspired by Analects 2.24 “Sacrificing to a spirit not one’s own is flattery” (fe qi gui er ji zhi, chan ye 非其鬼而祭之,諂也).

    1 Governing a large state is like simmering a small fish.
    2 Approaching the empire by the Way,
    3 One’s own ancestor doesn’t become a spirit,
    4 And others’ ancestors don’t become spirits.
    5 One’s own spirits don’t hurt people,
    6 And others’ spirits don’t hurt people..
    7 For the sage does not hurt people.
    8 Both sides not hurting each other,
    9 [relations are good].

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 23, 2008

  53. Well, now that’s looking ungrammatical to me. I’m not sure whether it is.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 23, 2008

  54. Another try, before someone tells me it’s ungrammatical:

    1 Governing a large state is like simmering a small fish.
    2 Approaching the empire by that gentle Way,
    3 One’s own ancestral or inner demons don’t flame up as lively spirits,
    4 And those not one’s own also do not flame up as lively spirits.
    5 One’s own lively spirits don’t hurt people,
    6 And lively spirits not one’s own don’t hurt people.
    7 For the sage does not hurt people.
    8 Both sides not hurting each other,
    9 [relations are good].

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 23, 2008

  55. Ames & Hall agree with Scott et al about 1-7, but agree with Manyul and Peony in rejecting “each other” for 8-9.

    8 It is because the ghosts and sages do no harm
    9 That their powers (de) combine to promote order in the world.

    Ames & Hall also point out that in the Mawangdui texts, line 7 indeed doesn’t have ren 人: 聖人亦弗傷也. Chalk one up for Waley.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 23, 2008

  56. Hi Bill,

    Unless you show me someplace where 鬼 is being used to mean “inner demons” in Chinese, I must vote for the death penalty for the above translation! It is like the Sage is in an AAA meeting– or n worse– it’s like a New Age translation.

    So far every single English translation you have shown me by the legenedary translators has seemed really off the mark too…

    In looking at classical Japanese (which is actually my own area) we never look at established English translations, but rather we look at modern Japanese translations or Japanese glosses on the translations– it’s like with fish, the whole thread I think started with cultural gaps (cooking) so it’s probably safer to see how Chinese philosophers are explaining it. I’ve already shown you how the Japanese philosophers explain the passage (and those Japanese are basing their interpretations not just on the classical japanese but also on some similar cultural practices as well)

    Two more Peony Points:
    1) Because the fish stand as nothing more than a metaphor they cannot be in any way associated with anything else in te passage– because potatoes could have worked (just not so obviously).
    1) Note how in the several sample examples you give (and again I do not recommend people relying too much on these old English translations as I do not think it’s the most productive place to look for answers) Anyway tho note that only 1 person used “each other” while the others used “both”

    Also a small point– but gentle is inaccurate and inappropriate I think. This passage is not about gentleness (but rather about delicacy and maybe even Han-style 無為).

    My real question is who is Dan?? He was mentioned at the very start of this thread but no where does he make an apperance?

    Bill, you must consume more than steeped coffee bags (as it will rile the fish demons to see you half nourished!)

    Was there something about Manyul’s translation that bothered you? I wonder what part?? Also, I refuse to chalk one up for Waley! He did a really poetical job with Genji but it ain’t gonna work here!!

    Comment by Peony | October 23, 2008

  57. Hall & Ames’ “It is because the ghosts and sages do no harm” is not a translation of 夫兩不相傷, but an interpretation. I maintain that Xianghai 相傷 should be “harm each other.” Xiang is commonly used this way, including in Laozi 2 and 80.

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 23, 2008

  58. Moss Roberts has an interesting reading!


    And the ghosts of the dead shall have no force.
    is it that they have no force?
    Or that their force can do no harm?
    That their force can do no harm?
    Or that the wise lord does no harm?
    Nor ghosts nor wise lord doing harm
    To their joint virtue thus redounds.

    He says, “This stanza, and indeed the entire Laozi, may be counted as one of the voices of protest against the idea that ghosts and spirits have power over humans.” (p. 152)

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 23, 2008

  59. Hi Scott,

    It would depend on how you translated the entire passage but how it stands now, I don’t think “harm each other makes sense.” That is because it would be ambiguous to the point of problematic.

    Isn’t there a standard reference in Chinese– like a Loeb Classic or a Shogakkan Genji Monogatari that presents explanations beneath the original text? I don’t think relying on existing english translations will yield the best (most accurate) results, do you?

    For example Roberts above: it looks way off the mark. I would add that I think it would be more fruitful to think of ghosts and fish in the same way– as metaphors.

    As you say, Scott, “harm each other” is a perfectly standard translation of 相傷. But isn’t “harm in conjunction with each other” also doable? You have to remain true to the text but at the same time you need to end up with something that makes sense in English… What would your whole translation be then?? I’ll send you mine later after I get the Kid off the 1st grade… (!)

    Comment by Peony | October 23, 2008

  60. I finished my translation and put it up on my blog in the midst of much personal commentary!

    It is dedicated to Bill– of course, my new comrade in the potato revolution.

    I may hide it behind Shimmering Blue though, so please use the link in my name below.

    Over and out!

    Comment by Peony | October 23, 2008

  61. Written before I saw 60:

    Scott, thanks for the Moss Roberts. That is very interesting, and literarily pleasing.

    To answer your question Peony, the two parts of Manyul’s translation I’m not comfortable with are that it ignores yi 亦 and that it drops “each other.” I’m not sure on either of these points.

    (1) Regarding yi 亦 in line 7: Here are Manyul’s relevant lines.

    4 If the spirits do not stop haunting
    5 At least it [i.e. their haunting] will not harm men.
    6 If their haunting does not stop harming
    7 At least the sagely men will not harm men.

    Nothing in 7 reflects the yi 亦, I think. We can’t insert “also” into Manyul’s 7 without making nonsense. We can’t insert “indeed” without suggesting a cause-effect relation between the haunting’s harmfulness and the sages’ harmlessness.

    (2) Regarding “each other,” here’s what I think the reasoning on the table is so far:

    Manyul has said (#18) that he thinks that because of jiao交, line 9 should be translated not the way he first had it (“Then moral power resonates therein”) but rather as “Then they commute with each other (carpool?) in moral power.” Then I proposed that reading line 9 that way would strongly influence xiang 相 to mean “each other.” That looks to me like a good point, but nobody has spoken to it directly.

    For “each other” we have the authority of Han Feizi (see #43 above).

    (You write: “Note how in the several … English translations … only 1 person used ‘each other’ while the others used ‘both’.” –Chan, Lau, LaFargue, and Ivanhoe agree with Scott on lines 1-8, which I didn’t quote, and in particular they agree in using “each other” for 相 in 8. Which doesn’t settle the matter for me.)

    A general worry about “each other” is on the table, and you’ve been insisting on it recently Peony, though I don’t remember its whole history. That’s the worry that (a) if we read “each other,” then it seems we have to be talking specifically about ghosts v. sages, leaving out the people, because ghosts and sages are the two potential agents of hurt mentioned in the previous lines; while (b) any reading that makes the climax of the chapter be about good relations only between ghosts and sages makes the chapter weird.

    In #25 I replied to that argument as follows (in harmony but not identity with your interpretation in #20, Peony). For independent reasons of charity we should take the text as not drawing a sharp distinction between ghosts and the people (the old hundred families literally include many dead ancestors [“subjective” gui too are not quite distinct from the people]). And we seem to have been supposing together that “sage(s)” stands for good governors, which is some part of the people. So sages and ghosts mainly represent parts of the state; they’re like the extremes of (good) government and (potentially unruly) people; the extremes of 上下, so that good relations between them = social harmony.

    It has just now occurred to me that maybe Manyul has in the back of his mind the followoing worry about that reply: the reply confuses two legitimate projects: (i) understanding the text’s surface story about gui and sheng, and (ii) interpreting that story as a philosophically interesting metaphor. I haven’t responded to that.

    Anyway the above is my answer to the question what bothers me about Manyul’s translation.

    Alas that I can’t read Japanese translations or commentaries myself. I’m grateful for all reports. I was thinking that the English translators were worth checking out not so much for their authority as for their ideas. I felt my springs running dry at that point. I’m not very good at accepting philosophical interpretations on anyone’s authority! On grammar and cooking, however, my ears are more obedient.

    There are plenty of scholarly editions in Chinese with commentary on specific lines. I haven’t looked yet. I will, but I might not get to campus today.

    As for what’s relevant about the cooking, I think we have to say there are many possibilities, most or all of which have been presented on this string. From those possibilities we have a chance of making a justified selection as to what the DDJ has in mind only if the first line belongs with the rest of the chapter and only insofar as we can find a definite connection with the ideas in the rest of the chapter.

    “Because the fish stand as nothing more than a metaphor they cannot be in any way associated with anything else in the passage– because potatoes could have worked (just not so obviously).” –I think that the idea that the fish are a metaphor tends to argue for associating them with something else in the passage, such as the empire, which we’re also associating with the people. So I don’t quite get your point of principle here!

    —-

    I don’t know whether the approach to lines 3-6 I proposed in ##52,54 above is permitted by the grammar of classical Chinese. I suspect it’s not. I don’t like discussing that proposal before being told by a qualified party that the proposal is not disqualified on grounds of gross linguistic impossibility. But I’ll answer one point …

    Peony: “Unless you show me someplace where 鬼 is being used to mean “inner demons” in Chinese, I must vote for the death penalty for the above translation!”

    I meant to be maybe showing you in my #48, where I said it looked to me as though, in the passage from Scott, Han Feizi probably didn’t mean “dead ancestors” by ‘gui’. Waley seems to back me up in the first few lines of his note, quoted in #48.

    Anyway I meant my phrasing “One’s own ancestral or inner demons …” to be noncommittal about how to interpret that character, so that if you don’t like one reading you don’t have to kill the whole translation! That was certainly unclear of me.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 23, 2008

  62. Bill,

    As you can see from my translation, I have already solved both problems. 亦 was added per your request (and indeed it fits perfectly) and the problem of “each other” was also dealt with likewise. The essential point here is (and I hope you won’t let this come between us 笑) precisely how we are seeing the fish as a metaphor. This is where you are skating on extremely thin ice (in my most humble opinion).

    That is, the fish are NOT a metaphor of the people but rather are a metaphor of a style of governing which is in accordance to the dao. This style of governing it seems is not universal either (hence the Big Kingdom qualification!)

    And I am sorry for my threats of the death penalty! It’s sometimes like I am Qin Shihuangdi stuck in the Han dynasty with no other means at my disposal….surely you can understand… however I can see you are a Pacifist and so I suppose I should apologize!

    Finally– I must insist that we remove all the Western translators (unless you find someone more contemporary) and try and stick to Chinese or Japanese interpretations. In any event, or at the very least, if you don’t want to accept what I say about philosophy than at least accept what I say about coffee bags, ok??

    Your friend, Peony

    Oh yes, actully, the text makes a distinction between people, sages and ghosts. Therefore, I think we should as well.

    Comment by Peony | October 23, 2008

  63. I just realized one more issue: I don’t like haunt– not one bit. In fact, I am not even sure about the verb:

    神ならず

    Any ideas?

    Comment by Peony | October 24, 2008

  64. Hola amiga,

    One should read an old text as though skating on thin ice.

    While you were cooking up your lovely post over there I was scratching out my terra-cotta screed over here, hum.

    I think you have made room for yi 亦 by spiriting away line 6 entirely!

    I think for grammar’s sake your ‘each’ should be ‘the’ in the penultimate line, but I appreciate the gesture!

    One person who never said “I want to be alone” is the Great Gialbo. His friend Dan is an occasional contributor here, a young scholar of Chinese phil, a rising star in the field. (Big barley in the sky?)

    You’re right, the cooking metaphor doesn’t absolutely require that the fish stand for anything. But I want to insist that the fact that it’s a metaphor doesn’t rule that out either. Anyway the interpretive glosses I threw into the early lines of #54 are plenty fishy.

    I think if we say careless drivers risk hurting people we aren’t saying they aren’t people. I think ren in the text suggests people in general, but I don’t see that it should be read strictly as the collective “the people.” (I did use “the people” rather than “people” in some lines somewhere above, but I didn’t mean it.)

    “I must insist that we remove all the Western translators (unless you find someone more contemporary)” –You don’t think we should even consider their ideas? As for authority, my impression is that scholarship on each side of the water has its unique merits. (Ivanhoe published his translation in 2002, Ames&Hall theirs in 2003.)

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  65. Our friend Dan, I mean. Dan Robins.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  66. “One should read an old text as though skating on thin ice”

    Then I would say you are doing splendidly, Bill! And is a terracotta streed anything like a terracotta steed?

    On this issue of terracotta I emailed you– hopefully you receive it. I will figure out the elusive line 6– any thoughts about haunts? It is clearly wrong.

    Regarding scholarship on both sides of the ocean– it depends… I was just talking about in this case– which I see not really overcoming the cultural gaps. So good luck with your steeds– or was that streeds?

    Comment by Peony | October 24, 2008

  67. Hi Bill, Peony; Bill, I don’t actually see how adding yi 亦 in my translation would nonsense it. The line in question, line 7, is 聖人亦不傷人. Here is as I have it, but with “also” for yi, added:

    4 If the spirits do not stop haunting
    5 At least it [i.e. their haunting] will not harm men.
    6 If their haunting does not stop harming
    7 At least the sagely men will not also harm men.

    It would be reasonable to add “also” since in lines 4-6, only the spirits and their haunting are in question. The sages are introduced in 7. I left out “also” out of carelessness, but I don’t see how it’s really an issue to insert it, out of care.

    Here’s my tentative response your jiao 交 and xiang 相 comment. You wrote:

    “For the transition from 8 to 9, it seems important that 8 mean “if they are both harmless,” which is what I think you mean. But that’s not a perfect fit with the original text of 8: 夫兩不相傷 (They don’t both harm). On your reading of 8 wouldn’t the text prefer to be 夫兩相不傷 (They both don’t harm)? I think that if xiang 相 means “each other,” this problem is smaller. (Also I wonder whether the proximity of jiao 交 tends to militate for a mutuality reading of xiang 相.)”

    I think even with xiang translated as “each other” that doesn’t solve the issue.

    Here is my original translation of 夫兩不相傷:

    “Now if neither along with the other harms (men)”

    And here are two versions, both using “each other” for xiang:

    8.1) Now if these two do not with each other harm

    8.2) Now if these two do not (at) each other harm

    Clearly I would want 8.1 while I think 8.2 is what you think is mandated by translating xiang as “each other.” But you can see that xiang can still be translated either as a “with-each-other-pairing” or as an “at-each-other-pairing,” with grammatical neutrality, no?

    (Also, if I am or have been slow to respond, it’s the grading that has harmed me; not that the grading has harmed me but the time spent has harmed me; not that the time spent has harmed me but my own procrastination in the past week has harmed me…)

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 24, 2008

  68. Just a quick addition to 67:

    The object of “harm” 傷 throughout seems to be 人, so why should it suddenly change in line 8?

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 24, 2008

  69. I agree with everything in comment #67. Question is whose line 8 are you referring to Manyul? Good luck with your grading!

    Comment by Peony | October 24, 2008

  70. You write: “Here is as I have it, but with “also” for yi, added: …
    7 At least the sagely men will not also harm men.”

    Your English makes sense but it puts the “also” in a place that the text doesn’t support. If we read yi 亦 as “also” then the text properly says “will also not harm men” (亦不傷人). Yes? And that looks like nonsense after 6.

    You write: “I think 8.2 is what you think is mandated by translating xiang as ‘each other.’” Hmm, you and Peony each seem to think that when I’ve been discussing the “each other” reading what I’ve bene talking about is mainly whether to use the English phrase “each other” in the translation, and only secondarily and derivatively whether whether to read xiang 相 as referring to A acting on B and B acting on A, so that if you could give me the former without the latter I might be placated. Actually I’ve just been using “each other” as a shorthand for the ABBA idea. My thought about the proximity of jiao 交 should be understood in that light. Commuting suggests a two-way street.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  71. Hmm, maybe I’m weakening on xiang 相. But I’d be happier to give that up if I felt better oriented to the possible grammatical structures of line 9. It confuses me.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  72. Bill,

    Hmmm; I’m not so sure the order makes much difference in 7; I’m not sure why, but the negation of 亦傷 in Classical Chinese seems natural to me to be 亦不傷 and not really ever 不亦傷; but again, I’m not sure why my gut response to 不亦傷 is “that’s not proper negation!” I could be totally wrong about this. Maybe someone could look up a grammar reference, to the extent that that might help.

    My fault that you think “each other” is what matters in 8; sorry. I meant rather that 相 in its position in 不相傷 could be read grammatically either as “not (A acting on B and B acting on A)” OR as “not (A and B acting together).” Proximity of 交 could argue the other way from what you suggest: use one for commuting (ABBA) relationship, then use a different character for the A-yoked-with-B relationship, for variety.

    Also, see comment 68.

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 24, 2008

  73. Sorry, got that last bit backward; should be:

    Proximity of 交 could argue the other way from what you suggest: use one for the A-yoked-with-B relationship, then use a different character for the commuting (ABBA) relationship, for variety.

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 24, 2008

  74. #68 is what kicked me into weakening.

    Yes I do accept that xiang can in general simply mean “in tandem.” I’m under the impression that that’s a less common use, but I don’t have an opinion about how much less.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  75. Manyul, I think you’re right that bu yi X (不亦 X) rarely or never means “not also.” It means “not indeed” as part of a rhetorical question. But it’s still a somewhat separate question whether yi bu X (亦不 X) has to mean “also not X” or can also mean “not also X”.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  76. Manyul:

    “子路傷人。顏囘亦不傷人”
    On your view that should look OK. Does it look OK? I’m just asking!

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  77. Not sure; shouldn’t it be this?

    “子路不傷人。顏囘亦不傷人”

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 24, 2008

  78. On my view, shouldn’t the relevant test be this:

    “非子路不傷人,顏囘亦不傷人”

    A) “If it is not that Zilu stops harming men, then Yanhui also will not harm men.” or

    B) “If it is not that Zilu stops harming men, then Yanhui will not also harm men.”

    To be frank, I don’t see the difference between A and B.

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 24, 2008

  79. Oops; no, I see your point, Bill. A doesn’t make sense.

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 24, 2008

  80. But your original example

    子路傷人。顏囘亦不傷人

    looks fine, except that it would have to be translated:

    “Zilu harms men. Yanhui does not also harm men.”

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 24, 2008

  81. I used the simpler sentence because if you were right about the phrase when you wrote, “the negation of 亦傷 in Classical Chinese seems natural to me to be 亦不傷”, then my simple Chinese sentence should have sounded fine.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  82. So, see 80, I’m not sure this resolves anything. Or maybe you were looking for a quicker reaction, which I could understand; I’m not too quick in general, and right now I don’t read so good…

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 24, 2008

  83. Oh, and you think it does work and fits your view. OK.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  84. On the other hand, your first reaction to #76 makes me wonder … But it is, as I think you hint, 3am where you are. Good night!

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  85. Note: this is largely a response to 70-73.

    Even the ancients are ambiguous. I prefer a hyper-rational approach to nearly everything I read, and

    while I don’t think this approach definitively solves the matter, I think it may be of some help.

    The texts I have found negate in line seven with “亦不傷人,” not “不亦傷人.” I usually take the

    transliteration to heart in instances like these, but that strategy makes queer sentences in other places.

    “夫兩不相傷,” seems to me to read as, “The two/both of them do not each other harm,” and that does

    create quite a few ambiguities. If we take it to mean ~(相傷), where the 相 has three possible referents

    — a spirit, a person, or a sage — from which to choose two in the just stated relationship, then the one to

    pick is a problem.

    I’m afraid I don’t see the other ambiguity you are trying to point out, Prof. Im. If we treat the referents as

    “not acting together,” and if we are thinking of the harm (傷) transitively, is it that two of the three could

    harm a third, or another not mentioned?

    I wouldn’t think you meant that, or else your 68 appears to claim that the ninth should read like, “夫兩

    不相傷人,” but I don’t see an account for an extra object. Is that what you meant, or are you claiming

    that people should be one of the intended referents for the ~(“A struggles with B and vice versa”)

    interpretation?

    Moeller claims that the Mawangdui suggests that the referents are ghosts and people not maligning

    each other. Now, seeing how the region in question is, according to this resource (http://www.tao-te-

    king.org/mawangdui-neu.htm), unreadable, I think he’s using it as filler. His bigger claim is this:

    “If everything is set up in line with the Dao, the ghosts and spirits won’t roam around and cause trouble.

    It should be recalled that the order of the state and the cosmos also encompasses the realm of the

    ghosts and spirits — in whose existence people commonly believed in ancient China. Under the rule of

    an ideal king, the ghosts do not disturb the people and the people do not disturb them. This is at least a

    reading suggested by the Mawangdui manuscripts. Thus the last stanza would mean that if two, that is,

    the people and the ghosts, do not harm each other then this will enhance the ‘efficacy’ of the ruler. Even

    the ghosts will be under his nonactive control.”

    Also, since I’m such a stickler for formalism, I always like to see the disagreement in a classical scope.

    I’ll take a D of D of entities under assumption of governance according to the Way:
    Sx =df “x is a sage,”
    Gx =df “x is a ghost,”
    Px =df “x is a person,”
    Hxy =df “x does not harm y.”

    Let’s assume some premises from the earlier lines of 60 (assuming we are using them as premises):

    (∀x)(∀y)[(Gx & Py) ⊃ ~Hxy]
    (∀x)(∀y)[(Sx & Py) ⊃ ~Hxy]

    Now, if I’m interpreting Im’s correctly, I get…
    (∀x)(∀y)(∀z){[(Gx & Sy) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Hxz v Hyz)}

    If I’m interpreting Haines’s correctly, I get…
    (∀x)(∀y){[(Gx & Sy)] ⊃ ~(Hxy v Hyx)}

    Now the fun part. (I’ll do Im’s first, and then Haines’s later.)
    (∀x)(∀y)[(Gx & Py) ⊃ ~Hxy], (∀x)(∀y)[(Sx & Py) ⊃ ~Hxy] |- (∀x)(∀y)(∀z){[(Gx & Sy) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Hxz v Hyz)}

    1.) (∀x)(∀y)[(Gx & Py) ⊃ ~Hxy] (‘Sumed)
    2.) (∀x)(∀y)[(Sx & Py) ⊃ ~Hxy] (‘Sumed)
    3.) | ~(∀x)(∀y)(∀z){[(Gx & Sy) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Hxz v Hyz)} (Im’s AIP)
    4-6.) | (∃x)(∃y)(∃z)~{[(Gx & Sy) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Hxz v Hyz)} (3,4,5,CQ)
    7.) | | (∃y)(∃z)~{[(Ga & Sy) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Haz v Hyz)} (6, EI)
    8.) | | | (∃z)~{[(Ga & Sb) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Haz v Hbz)} (7,EI)
    9.) | | | | ~{[(Ga & Sb) & Pc] ⊃ ~(Hac v Hbc)} (8,EI)
    10.) | | | | ~{~[(Ga & Sb) & Pc] v ~(Hac v Hbc)} (9,MI)
    11.) | | | | {~~[(Ga & Sb) & Pc] & ~~(Hac v Hbc)} (10,DeM)
    12.) | | | | [(Ga & Sb) & Pc] & ~~(Hac v Hbc) (11,DN)
    13.) | | | | (∀y)[(Ga & Py) ⊃ ~Hay] (1,UI)
    14.) | | | | (Ga & Pc) ⊃ ~Hac (13,UI)
    15.) | | | | (Ga & Sb) & Pc (12,Simp.)
    16.) | | | | Pc (15,Simp.)
    17.) | | | | Ga & Sb (15,Simp.)
    18.) | | | | Ga (17,Simp.)
    19.) | | | | Ga & Pc (18,16,Conj.)
    20.) | | | | ~Hac (14,19,MP)
    21.) | | | | (∀y)[(Sb & Py) ⊃ ~Hby] (2,UI)
    22.) | | | | (Sb & Pc) ⊃ ~Hbc (21,UI)
    23.) | | | | Sb (17,Simp.)
    24.) | | | | Sb & Pc (23,16,Conj.)
    25.) | | | | ~Hbc (22,24,MP)
    26.) | | | | ~Hac & ~Hbc (20,25,Conj.)
    27.) | | | | ~(Hac v Hbc) (26,DeM)
    28.) | | | | ~~(Hac v Hbc) (11,Simp.) (FALSUM! – 27 & 28)
    29.) | | | ~(∃z)~{[(Ga & Sb) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Haz v Hbz)} (9-28,IP) (FALSUM! – 8 & 30)
    30.) | | ~(∃y)(∃z)~{[(Ga & Sy) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Haz v Hyz)} (8-29,IP) (FALSUM! – 7 & 31)
    31.) | ~(∃x)(∃y)(∃z)~{[(Gx & Sy) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Hxz v Hyz)} (7-30,IP) (FALSUM! – 6 & 32)
    32-34.) | (∀x)(∀y)(∀z)~~{[(Gx & Sy) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Hxz v Hyz)} (32,33,34,CQ)
    35.) | (∀x)(∀y)(∀z){[(Gx & Sy) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Hxz v Hyz)} (34,DN) (FALSUM! – 3 & 35)
    36.) ~~(∀x)(∀y)(∀z){[(Gx & Sy) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Hxz v Hyz)} (3-35,IP)
    37.) (∀x)(∀y)(∀z){[(Gx & Sy) & Pz] ⊃ ~(Hxz v Hyz)} (36,DN)

    Well, that means that Im’s conclusion (at least as I see it) works alright if we grant the premises from earlier lines of Chapter 60.

    Any further point I have to make will have to follow from a proof or disproof of Haines’s claim.

    Comment by Joshua Harwood | October 24, 2008

  86. Oh, mind some problems with the spacing, and also the mistake that Hxy =df “x harms y.”

    Comment by Joshua Harwood | October 24, 2008

  87. Hi Joshua,

    Interesting !

    Regarding 亦不傷, I don’t think there’s any controversy above about what the text actually is; the controversy is about whether what looks to anglophone eyes like the surface logic of亦不傷 requires that if we read 亦as “also”, the whole phrase need not always mean “also not hurt” but can sometimes, and indeed in 60, mean “not also hurt.”

    I haven’t worked through your formal argument, but I agree that the premises plainly generate the Manyul conclusion, and they plainly don’t generate the conclusion you identify as mine. However, when I’m liking to say that 8 means the sages and ghosts don’t hurt each other, that’s because I’m taking sages and ghosts both to represent (literally or metaphorically or something in between) people. So whatever would be true of all people would therefore be true (or sorta true) of all sages and ghosts.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  88. Joshua, rather than “requires” I should have said “allows” or “means”.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  89. Here is Manyul’s concluding couplet:

    8 Now if neither along with the other harms (men)
    9 Then they commute with each other (carpool?) in moral power.

    I take that as being open to three interpretations:
    9a) the sages traffic with ghosts,
    9b) the sages, ghosts, and people all traffic, or
    9c) the sages&ghosts on the one hand traffic with the people on the other hand.

    I don’t know that Manyul meant to rule any of those out.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  90. From the words of 60 it appears that on the early Chinese view, it happens sometimes but not always that a gui shens or becomes a shen. There ought to be some lore about that. Does anybody know where that might be? If there is some, then we should look there for the answers to two questions:

    Peony has recently asked us to focus on, “What does a gui’s shenning involve?” I think it might also be very helpful to focus on, “What sort of thing is supposed to be likely to make a gui’s shenning happen?”

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  91. Hey Joshua,

    You’re one serious formalism-loving mf (as we would say informally)! Let me just clarify in reply to your question:

    If we treat the referents as

    “not acting together,” and if we are thinking of the harm (傷) transitively, is it that two of the three could

    harm a third, or another not mentioned?

    I wouldn’t think you meant that, or else your 68 appears to claim that the ninth should read like, “夫兩

    不相傷人,” but I don’t see an account for an extra object. Is that what you meant, or are you claiming

    that people should be one of the intended referents for the ~(”A struggles with B and vice versa”)

    interpretation?

    Yes, I did mean in 68 that line 9 should have an implicit 人 at the end (“夫兩不相傷人”). The accounting for the extra object is mainly a literary consideration, namely that 人 is the object of 傷 throughout the piece so it would seem odd at this point to introduce the topic of possible harm to ghosts and sages without that being explicit. So, I guess you could say the “conversational implicature” (or the “literary” one) is to treat the absent object of 傷 as 人. But that of course doesn’t cement the case. Nonetheless, it is a reason to think the formal expression of the line is underdetermined here.

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 24, 2008

  92. The deduction I provided assumed you (Im) meant to revise the line to say, “夫兩不相傷人.” The formal argument assumes this, as well, and it does follow from the premises I identified in earlier lines from 60. Literally, I don’t see cause for it (Why would we demand regularity of the object?), but formally, it’s perfectly acceptable, so even if it’s not what Laozi specifically said, it’s what Laozi appears to imply.

    For Haines, I haven’t tried your argument yet, so don’t assume that it doesn’t follow yet. Your claim may very well follow from the premises, and I promise I’ll get to it later today or tomorrow unless you have already done it. However, you appear to have clarified or modified your claim somewhat in 87, and I’ll have to take that clarification/restatement into account.

    Comment by Joshua Harwood | October 24, 2008

  93. re: Bill’s “Peony has recently asked us to focus on, “What does a gui’s shenning involve?” I think it might also be very helpful to focus on, “What sort of thing is supposed to be likely to make a gui’s shenning happen?””

    Gui Bushen 鬼不神 I believe means ghosts/demonic spirits do not have potency/efficacy. Shen often has connotation (like Ling 靈), even when referring to Nature’s spirits of the mountains and rivers or the Shen within a person.

    I still have a hard time with the last line, 故德交歸焉. We have:
    Gu 故 – therefore; ancient
    De 德 – character, beneficence, virtue(s), inner power, ‘charisma’, excellence, prestige, gratitude
    Jiao 交 – to cross, mix, mingle, associate with, exchange, join
    Gui 歸 – to return, to turn to
    Yan 焉 – therein, herein; in it, to it

    My provisional translation is/was, “Consequently De returns to their association.” Obviously, I’ve messed with the order. Other translations:

    “Then moral power resonates therein.” Manyul (post 16)
    “Their ‘powers’ could converge toward a common end.” Waley
    “Then so shall virtuous governing be achieved.” Peony
    “To their joint virtue thus redounds.” Roberts
    “That their powers combine to promote order in the world.” Hall & Ames
    “Virtue will be accumulated in both for the benefit (of the people).” Wing-Tsit Chan
    “Each attributes the merit to the other.” Lau
    “The original character is restored.” Lin Yutang
    “Therefore their Virtues intermingle and return to them.” Henricks
    “Then virtuosity exchanges and returns in it.” Hansen
    “Virtue gathers and accrues to both.” Ivanhoe
    “That is why what they (the spirits and the Sage) achieve (得) is to interact in returning (the people to the root).
    “Integrity accrues to both.” Mair

    Thoughts anyone?

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 24, 2008

  94. Back in post #30 Bill wrote: “I’m still worried about yi 亦 in line 7. (I think yi 亦 means either “indeed” or “also”.) I don’t know what to do with it. It seems to interfere with the parallelism between 4-5 and 6-7.”

    — I just wanted to say that I think the message is clarified by omitting it, or reading it as “surely.” Then the chapter says that when rulers govern delicately then the spiritual world doesn’t have a harmful influence in the world, but it is not actually that the spiritual world causes no harm, but the doings of the sage that are benign. But that makes me ask, who would ever guess that SAGES would have any malign influence in the first place?!

    Another idea, perhaps the line about sages not harming is a later addition and the passage should actually read:
    以道莅天下,
    其鬼不神;
    非其鬼不神,
    其神不傷人;
    非其神不傷人,
    夫兩不相傷,
    故德交歸焉。

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 24, 2008

  95. Hi Scott,

    Interesting idea about the sage line! One could imagine a scholiast writing something like that. A version of the line is present in the Mawangdui texts (given in #55 above). I don’t know if texts that early were embodied in such a way as to allow for scholia.

    If we drop the sage line the chapter looks much neater. But maybe that’s only an illusory appearance of neatness, because if we drop the sage line then it seems we have to read shen 神 very differently in the first two and the second two of the four lines (4-7) that look as though they are trying their hardest to be neat. And that’s not neat.

    Waley does have 神 thus shift.

    A problem is that it seems rather out of place for the DDJ to defend governing-by-dao on the grounds that it puts sages in the right relation to gods.

    I’m still hoping for a judgment from somebody about whether Chinese grammar allows what I do with 4-7 in #52 and #54 above.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  96. I meant 3-6 above, not 4-7.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  97. Hi Bill,
    Re: “if we drop the sage line then it seems we have to read shen 神 very differently in the first two and the second two of the four lines”

    Version #22016 ;):
    (The world’s mischievous) ghosts will lack potency. 其鬼不神
    It’s not that the ghosts lack potency, 非其鬼不神
    (But rather) their potency will not harm humans. 其神不傷人
    It’s not that their potency does not harm humans, 非其神不傷人
    (But rather) these two (i.e., 人 and 鬼) do not harm each other. 夫兩不相傷

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 24, 2008

  98. Cool!

    Hmm. That reading of lines 3-7 seems to give the reader a kind of dilemma. Either it says ghosts by their potency harm humans but humans don’t harm ghosts, or it says that although the ghosts’ potency harms humans, the ghosts and humans each don’t harm the other. Neither seems very satisfactory.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  99. I searched Donald Sturgeon’s text collection for 交歸 to see if it could be a verb. It doesn’t appear outside of our chapter (and Han Feizi’s commentary on same). I searched for 德交 and (aside from our DDJ 60 and HFZ) found only this, from the Huainanzi. I’ll leave the last bit untranslated.

    故至人之治也,心與神處,形與性調,靜而體德,動而理通。隨自然之性而緣不得已之化,洞然無為而天下自和,憺然無為而民自樸,無禨祥而民不夭,不忿爭而養足,兼包海內, 兼包海內,澤及後世,不知為之誰何。是故生無號,死無諡,實不聚而名不立,施者不德,受者不讓,德交歸焉。

    Therefore the right way to order oneself is: heartmind and spirit (神) stay together, form and natural tendencies fit each other; when still one embodies de, when acting, order/reason takes effect. By one’s following spontaneous nature, [I’m not sure how to translate this next bit: 緣不得已之化]; by one’s cave-like wu wei, the empire harmonizes itself; by peaceful wu wei the people make themselves simple; by the absence of prayer for good fortune the people don’t die young; by the absence of anger and fighting people are adequately provided for. One embraces all within the seas, the benefits accrue to succeeding generations and nobody knows who or what did it. Thus one has no great name in life or in death. One accumulates no fruits and establishes no fame. The doer does not accrue gratitudeworthiness (施者不德), and the receiver does not defer. 德交歸焉.

    Looks like it doesn’t mean ABBA. Except that there’s mutual inaction.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  100. (boring erratum: 交歸 did of course also appear in the Huainanzi bit.)

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  101. Bill, I’m not following you. This reading says that ghosts CAN by their potency harm humans, (and probably DO in a country not governed by Dao). It also doesn’t suggest that humans CANNOT harm the ghosts if they want to (because they probably do during exorcisms, etc.). But it does suggest that in a country governed by Dao humans find it unnecessary to harm the ghosts.

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 24, 2008

  102. Hi guys,

    Some of my translator friends are responding on my site– if you are interested check comments there. I am now very interested in this concept of ghost as spirits of the dead as we see so dramatically genji monogatari and the furies of ancient Greek tragedy. You see these “ghosts” were all (to my understanding) particular ghosts (tied to a particular person)– which is why I dislike “world’s ghosts” or spirits of a general nature (or internal demons too.

    Regarding the “each other” it is becoming clearer to me the more examples I see and the more people I talk to that this line could be translated into either: “in conjunction with” or “to each other” so I think it is up to the translator’s interpretation. That is to say, like much Japanese (and perhaps Chinese translation) must rests on the interpretative powers of the translator.

    At this point, I stand by my translation as one viable interpretation (and again that is the closest we can get).

    Along these lines, I like this story

    here
    is the passage translated into some european languages– any comments from those who read the languages?

    In a hurry…

    Comment by Peony | October 24, 2008

  103. I just re-read what I wrote: to clarify: I don’t think MY translation is the closest we can get, but rather a viable translation is the best one can hope for (as there will always remain other possible voable translations)

    Translation is a always a work in progress, and like the Fable of the Rat I linked to above, the further away in culture, geography and time a target language is from its object language so too will the translation become more difficult to grasp…

    Also, regarding ghosts, with Genji’s ghosts and the furies as images in my mind, I personally would now like to turn my attention to fixing the word “haunt” which I do not like.

    What do “manes” do, I wonder??

    Comment by Peony | October 24, 2008

  104. Scott, here’s your proposal again:

    3 (The world’s mischievous) ghosts will lack potency.
    4 It’s not that the ghosts lack potency,
    5 (But rather) their potency will not harm humans.
    6 It’s not that their potency does not harm humans,
    7 (But rather) these two (i.e., 人 and 鬼) do not harm each other.

    As this English 4 seems to say the ghosts have potency (sc. even when the world is dao-governed), so the English 6 seems to say the potency does harm humans (sc. even when the world is dao-governed).

    From what you say now (#101) I gather your reading is more exactly expressed as follows:

    3 (The world’s mischievous) ghosts will lack potency.
    4 It’s not that ghosts lack potency [no matter how the world is governed],
    5 (But rather) their potency will not harm humans [when the world is governed by the dao].
    6 It’s not that their potency does not harm humans [no matter how the world is governed],
    7 (But rather) these two (i.e., 人 and 鬼) do not harm each other [when the world is governed by the dao].

    Is that right?

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  105. In the Gujin 古今 dictionary, the first definition of xian 鮮 is “live fish,” with our line 1 as the citation. Somebody thinks our sagely simmering involves killing the fish, Peony!

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  106. Ah, I see the problem, Thanks.
    How about:
    3 (The world’s mischievous) ghosts will lack potency.
    4 It’s not that ghosts lack potency [no matter how the world is governed],
    5 (But rather) their potency will not harm humans [when the world is governed by the dao].
    6 It’s not that their potency cannot harm humans [no matter how the world is governed],
    7 (But rather) these two (i.e., 人 and 鬼) do not harm each other [when the world is governed by the dao].

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 24, 2008

  107. Scott,

    What my brackets were originally trying to do was to replace your “can’t” with a distinction between special and general circumstances. I think my lines with the brackets are still highly ambiguous, and that confuses me about what you mean now too, so I’m going to try a new paraphrase. I’m assuming, by the way, that you’re not relying on any connection between “potency” and “can.”

    Are you saying this:

    3 (The world’s mischievous) ghosts will lack potency.
    4 It’s not that ghosts (always) lack potency,
    5 (But in the special circumstance of Dao-govt) their potency will not harm humans.
    6 It’s not that ghost-potency (always) doesn’t harm humans,
    8 (But in the special circumstance of Dao-govt) these two (i.e., 人 and 鬼) do not harm each other.
    I’ve put “doesn’t” rather than “can’t” in line 6 because I think that given the “(inherently)” there’s no practical difference between the two, and “doesn’t” is closer to the text.

    One problem: Given line 5, it’s not clear to me why there’s any need for line 6.

    Here’s a different version, involving no contrast in 4-7 between “always” and “Dao-govt”:

    3 (The world’s mischievous) ghosts will lack potency.
    4 It’s not that they won’t be able to have potency,
    5 But their potency will not harm humans.
    6 It’s not that their ghost-potency won’t be able to harm humans,
    8 But these two (i.e., 人 and 鬼) will not harm each other.

    The problem with this version is that the able-logic of 4-5 and 6-8 still doesn’t come out parallel. For it to be parallel, 5 should be: “But they won’t have potency,” reprising 3.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  108. “(inherently)” should be “(always)”

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  109. “In the Gujin 古今 dictionary, the first definition of xian 鮮 is “live fish,” with our line 1 as the citation. Somebody thinks our sagely simmering involves killing the fish, Peony!”

    Don’t they know we’re vegans????

    鬼=Lady Rokujo, Greek Furies (is this doable)

    And what do Manes do (Do they “haunt”? What’s their action?)

    Comment by Peony | October 24, 2008

  110. From miscellaneous web sites of mixed authority:

    The Manes are the spirits of the dead ancestors. When the deceased receives the due honours and rites, he is allowed to ascend from the Underworld to protect his family. This is in contrast with the Lemures or Larvae, evil ghosts which are the souls of the dead who the Dii Inferi refused to receive in the Underworld.

    mānēs, in Roman thought, the spirits of the dead, named euphemistically the ‘kindly ones’ (from the old Latin adjective mānus, ‘good’). From a sense of their collective divinity they were worshipped as the di manes (‘the divine dead’) at the festivals of the Feralia, Parentalia, and Lemuria. By extension the name manes was applied by the poets first to the realm of the dead, the Underworld, and secondly to the gods of the Underworld (di inferi), Dis, Orcus, Hecatē, and Persephonē. Later the di manes were individualized and identified with the di parentes, the dead of the family. The individual tomb led to the conception of each dead person having an individual spirit, and manes, although a plural noun, came to be used of a single spirit. Graves were originally dedicated to the dead collectively and were inscribed dis manibus sacrum (‘sacred to the divine dead’); under the empire it became customary to add the name of the dead person, as if the meaning was ‘sacred to the divine spirt of so-and-so’.

    The Manes were offered blood sacrifices. The gladiatorial games, originally held at funerals, may have been instituted in the honor of the Manes.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 24, 2008

  111. Thank you! Interestingly, this is– surprisingly– close to Japanese thought. Different from furies– similar to manes and Japanese ghosts.

    Comment by Peony | October 24, 2008

  112. Manyul, if I understand your reading, the following is a fair paraphrase:

    1 Govern large states as you would cook small fish.
    2 Use the Dao to tend the world,
    3 And the ghosts of the dead will not haunt.
    4 Or if they do haunt,
    5 Their haunting will not harm people.
    6 Or if it does harm people,
    7 The sage won’t also harm (i.e. won’t join in their harming).
    8 If these two aren’t *both* harming,
    9 Then their relations have moral strength.

    So that the last line is saying that even if the ghosts are haunting and harming, so long as the sages aren’t also doing so the relations between ghosts and sages will be strong and good.

    Is that it?

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  113. OK, it’s not it. You’ve proposed

    8 Now if neither along with the other harms (men)
    9 Then they commute with each other (carpool?) in moral power.

    What confused me is that your reading of 6 and 7 does strongly suggest the 8 that I reported above.

    Especially because the text in 8 has 不相傷, not相不傷 .

    (Where you’ve seen that contrast before: #19 and #67.)

    If I were you I’d reply this way:

    “My 6 says IF. It doesn’t say the haunting will definitely harm people. So the picture is that the sage’s harmlessness, her following the Dao, at least has a chance of reducing or eliminating the ghostly hurting, and IF it succeeds all the way, then we have good moral relations all around. That’s a reason why 4 and 6 have to be ‘If not…’ instead of ‘It is not that…’. Also the fact that yi bu 亦不 is ambiguous as between ‘also not’ and ‘not also’, as we’ve discussed, helps the chapter be noncommittal about whether the haunting is hurting.”

    Maybe that’s right.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  114. There’s been some discussion of the passage over on Peony’s blog, and it has suggested to me something I hadn’t thought of. We’ve had two approaches to the fei 非 lines (4 and 6). One approach says they withdraw and negate the previous lines (“It is not that …”). The other approach says they withdraw the previous lines and introduce their negations as antecedents of conditionals (“If not …”). But a third possibility is that they simply withdraw the previous lines, to introduce corrected explications of what those lines were trying to get at.

    Like this:

    1 Governing a large kingdom is like cooking a small live fish.
    2 Follow the Way in dealing with the world, and
    3 Its ghosts will not become demons.
    4 Or rather, that is to say,
    5 The demons won’t hurt people.
    6 Or rather, that is to say,
    7 The sage (that’s it!) won’t hurt people.
    8 Both sides refrain from hurting.
    9 Hence relations return to Virtue.

    This version expresses a coherent line of thought if the rationale of the correction in 5-7 is like the rationales in Manyul’s aside up in #67: “if I am or have been slow to respond, it’s the grading that has harmed me; not that the grading has harmed me but the time spent has harmed me; not that the time spent has harmed me but my own procrastination in the past week has harmed me…”

    That is, the harmlessness of the people’s ghosts or demons is really a reflection of the harmlessness of the the government toward the people.

    So there is something true about 5, which is why 8 can be said.
    _____

    Four problems for this reading:

    A. What in the original text is supposed to signal to the reader that the earlier statements are being explicated, not simply withdrawn and abandoned?

    B. What’s the point of including step 3-5?

    C. Does the original text say enough to make it reasonable for the author to expect the reader to get the idea that any harm from the people’s demons would be reflections of harm from the government?

    D. Yi 亦 in line 7 is given by the parethesis. I’m not sure that’s fair.
    _____

    Reply to A and B: Steps 3-5 might constitute the signal.

    Reply to C: The comparison of governing with boiling a “live fish” might adequately prime the reader for the idea that any actions of ghosts or demons are reflections of the actions of the governing party.
    _____

    In fact of course the original text of the fei 非 lines simply isn’t so specific about whether it’s withdrawing, negating, etc. But if we’re rendering the thing into English, and if the chapter’s idea really is that a government that doesn’t harm the people finds itself governing a harmless people, then the argument might best be communicated by a translation of the fei 非 lines that doesn’t strongly suggest negating the previous lines (as “It’s not that” does) and doesn’t strongly suggest make such negations the antecedents of conditionals (as “If not” does), but does suggest the explication idea.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  115. Scott asks a good question in #94: “who would ever guess that SAGES would have any malign influence in the first place?”

    If we were really sure about the ideas in the passage, maybe we could take more liberty with line 7 and satisfy Scott as follows:

    1 Governing a large kingdom is like cooking a small live fish.
    2 Follow the Way in dealing with the world, and
    3 Its ghosts will not become demons.
    4 Or rather,
    5 The demons won’t be hurting people.
    6 Or rather,
    7 It’s the sage who won’t be hurting people.
    8 Both sides refrain from hurting.
    9 Hence relations return to Virtue.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  116. Further reply to #114C: lines 2-3 set up the idea that what the ghosts or demons do is provoked by the actions of the governor, the person who approaches or treats the world.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  117. Bill,

    This horse is just about dead.

    Here’s how I choose to read this passage:
    1 Governing a great kingdom is like cooking a small fish.
    2 Using Dao to attend to the world,
    3 (The world’s mischievous) ghosts will lack potency.
    4 It’s not that the ghosts lack potency,
    5 (But rather) their potency will not harm humans.
    6 It’s not that their potency does not harm humans,
    7 Sages also do not harm humans. (possible later addition)
    8 These two (i.e., 聖人 and 鬼) do not together cause harm.
    9 Consequently De-goodwill intermixes and returns (to each) therein.

    If line 7 regarding sages is a later addition, line 8 should be “(But rather) these two (i.e., 人 and 鬼) do not harm each other.” If we adopt the Mawangdui version, line 7 might be: “Sages also do not harm (the ghosts).” (I’m also thinking of changing my translation of 鬼 to ‘demons,’ because there were plenty of spiritual entities mentioned in ancient texts which described the Gui as being human-animal hybrids, often with serrated teeth and claws. So the Gui were not necessarily the souls of human beings.

    I also think Bill’s reading in reply #115 is good:
    7 “It’s the sage who won’t be hurting people.” This doesn’t exactly answer my question about why is it necessary to mention sages not hurting people. Would a ruler who governed not in accordance with the Dao ever be called a sage? Ellen Chen once remarked, “There is a hint of ancient shamanism in speaking of the sage as having this power to harm the people.” But, I’m a bit skeptical of this.

    re: manes
    — If manes are good ghosts, then the comparison to Gui is not appropriate. At least not always.

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 25, 2008

  118. darn! My line 6 should have “can” instead of “does.”

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 25, 2008

  119. Mawangdui version:

    1 Governing a great kingdom is like cooking a small fish.
    2 Using Dao to attend to the world,
    3 (The world’s mischievous) demons will lack potency.
    4 It’s not that the demons lack potency,
    5 (But rather) their potency will not harm humans.
    6 It’s not (only) that their potency will not harm humans,
    7 Sages also do not harm (ghosts).
    8 These two (i.e., 聖人 and 鬼) do not harm each other.
    9 Consequently De-goodwill intermixes and returns (to each) therein.

    (Yes Bill, I’ve gone back to adding “only” in line 6!)

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 25, 2008

  120. Scott, what the phrasing in

    7 It’s the sage who won’t be hurting people.

    does is to make sure the reader sees the line as addressing the question “Who’s the key non-hurter?” rather than “What is the sage doing?”

    The whole idea of looking for the real agent is a little awkward when the action in question is an omission, however.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  121. We’ve been identifying the sage with the governor, and that’s in line with other parts of the DDJ; but I think the picture is not that her sagehood puts her on the throne; rather the question of the chapter is what kind of action by an enthroned party would be sagely. Is that wrong?

    What does seem to me radically out of keeping with the rest of the DDJ is a literal concern with ancestral ghosts. The term ‘gui’ doesn’t appear anywhere else, and the term ‘shen’ appears in only one other passage where it might possibly refer to (a state or stage of an) ancestral ghost, viz. Ch. 39, here with Ivanhoe’s English:

    神得一以靈
    “The spirits attained the One and became numinous”

    神無以靈,將恐歇
    “If spirits lacked what made them numinous, they might lose their activity”

    Metaphorical talk of spirits, however, seems a cultural universal, and it can help give the chapter a point.

    (From Wikipedia, for Peony: “Numen (“presence”, plural numina) is a Latin term for the power of either a deity or a spirit that is present in places and objects, in the Roman religion. The many names for Italic gods may obscure this sense of a numinous presence in all the seemingly mundane actions of the natural world.”)

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  122. Ivanhoe gives a reason to think the chapter is literally about spirits, consistent with my concern about philosophical harmony with the rest of the DDJ:

    “Laozi seems here to be arguing against the idea, seen in thinkers like Mozi et al., that the ideal state requires the active participation of ghosts and other spirits in meting out rewards or punishments. Laozi does not deny the existence of such beings but like Kongzi sees a direct appeal to them as inappropriate.”

    I guess the idea would be, that under sagely rule, ghosts aren’t a threat because the ruler doesn’t conjure them up to threaten the people. I guess the idea in line 8 then would be that the sages are not using the ghosts as allies against the people: bu xiang shang [ren].

    And 9 might be a kind of offhand comment that this is the right relation between sages and ghosts.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  123. I am a pale rider of dead horses.

    Without Ivanhoe’s idea, Manyul’s reading and Scott’s reading-with-8 would both seem to be saying,

    1-2 Govern with a light touch
    3-6 And whether or not the ghosts harm people,
    7 At least you won’t.
    8 So if the ghosts don’t harm people you’ll share your harmlessness.
    9 And that’s good solid relations between you and the ghosts.

    But here (without Ivanhoe’s idea) the mention of ghosts seems pointless. Nothing is said about them really unless maybe in 9, but on this reading 9 looks like kind of a throwaway line.

    The ghosts would at most seem to be a rhetorical device, like this remark we might imagine Mengzi making to a king: “I know a way to stop ghosts in their whimsy from persecuting good families, spreading pestilence, ruining harvests, stealing food, and filling the rivers with human blood. Rather, I know a way you can stop doing that.”

    With Ivanhoe’s idea, however, the mention of ghosts has more of a point, consistent with (roughly) Manyul’s and Scott’s versions.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  124. I mean Scott’s reading-with-7.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  125. To chime in– I am in complete agreement with Scott’s last stand: comment #117

    I also agree that manes is inappropriate for the reasons he stated.

    Finally, it seems we live in age of the Will to Efficiency and the bottom line is all the matters. This discussion has given me great hope that there are people (eg Bill) who have the heart to really explore an idea– indeed the best things in life are often found in the lest-efficient places and in smallest details found in a short passage. (peony Philosophy 101) I will put a short post up on “ghosts” at my place tomorrow.

    Oh yes, I absolutely agree with Bill about being sagely. I was struck that here “spirts” was a translation of 神 not 鬼。 Is that correct? If so, or 鬼 trnslation needs work. I was strongly advised by several people to stick with straight “spirits” but then I am left asking, well what is the difference betwee 鬼 and  神?

    Comment by Peony | October 25, 2008

  126. Hi Peony,

    re: “I am left asking, well what is the difference between 鬼 and 神?”

    This is not an easy question to answer, especially with regards to Shen 神,and more especially since guishen 鬼神 was a common compound. Shen can refer to Nature Spirits, as in “the spirits of mountains and rivers” (山川之神) which were regularly sacrificed to. These spirits were never called Gui that I know of. And contrary to what I wrote earlier, many human-animal hybrids were called Shen. Around the mid-Warring States period Shen also came to be understood as something inside each person (Zhuangzi 12: 形體保神), but distinct from one’s two-part souls, Hun 魂 and Po 魄. As Harold Roth says, Shen can represent “a profound level of consciousness.” Shen can refer to an indescribable and mysterious potency of efficacy, as in Zhuangzi 13’s: “Nothing is more Shen than Tian-Heaven/Nature” (莫神於天). Anything considered covert and very effective was called Shen. Natural phenomena appeared to ancient peoples to be directed by unseen powers – Shen – and so relationships were attempted with these natural forces and phenomena. Sacrificing to them and asking for guidance was a central and ancient practice and ritual. (Why? So they could have more control and power over their lives = personal welfare.) Early Daoists discovered that we had, or could have, this efficacious power within us. Moreover, they discovered that it was during periods of psychological calmness that we experience this covert efficacy. It seemed to require and emptiness of mind and seemed to require an un-coloured awareness. Blah Blah Blah…

    Gui are human ghosts, hungry or malevolent ghosts, demonic spirits. Haha :) I don’t know very much about them! ;)

    Comment by Scott Barnwell | October 25, 2008

  127. Scott, if you have a moment, can you leave this same comment on my blog so that my Jpanese translator ffriends can see it there as well– on the post for ghosts. I may have to revise accordingly too.

    Comment by Peony | October 25, 2008

  128. Scott, I forgot to add link. The Post on ghosts is here

    http://www.tangdynastytimes.com/2008/10/lady-rokujo.html

    Comment by Peony | October 25, 2008

  129. Peony, if you’re asking about #121, yes, “spirits” there stands for shen 神. In Chapter 39, the DDJ seems to say “From the Dao [or something intimately bound up with it], spirits gain potency.” (Though instead of gui shenning, we have shen linging 靈.)

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  130. Oops, I think Scott is right about the Sage in a way that I missed at first. If we translate gui 歸 in 9 using the image of returning, the result is a pretty vivid suggestion that it’s possible for sages and ghosts not to be handling things well. Not that the lines strictly require that, but the suggestion is salient and so rhetorically awkward. Fortunately gui 歸 doesn’t have to mean any kind of returning. It can mean accruing. Manyul got this right from the beginning.

    Very unconventional versions aside, here’s a version I like:

    1 Governing a large kingdom is like cooking a small live fish.
    2 When one oversees the world by this Way,
    3 Ghosts do not rise up.
    4 It is not that they do not rise up;
    5 It is that they do not harm people.
    6 It is not that ghosts do not harm people;
    7 It is really that the sage does not harm people.
    8 When these two are not partners in harming.
    9 Their relations strengthen in goodness.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  131. 8 As these two are not partners in harming,
    9 Their relations grow in moral strength.

    (Because of Scott’s point again)

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 25, 2008

  132. 老馬非馬

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 26, 2008

  133. Old but not dead.

    Wait, that’s not how I want to put it.

    In case anyone is interested, the discussion is continuing on two strings on Peony’s blog, under the posts “Two Bachelors & Hanna Arendt” and “Lady Rokujo.”

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 27, 2008

  134. “I’M NOT DEAD YET!”

    From Mengzi 5A2:

    昔者有饋生魚於鄭子產,子產使校人畜之池。校人烹之,反命曰:‘始舍之圉圉焉,少則洋洋焉,攸然而逝。’子產曰‘得其所哉!得其所哉!’校人出,曰:‘孰謂子產智?予既烹而食之,曰:得其所哉?得其所哉。’故君子可欺以其方,難罔以非其 道。彼以愛兄之道來,故誠信而喜之,奚偽焉?”
    Once, someone made a present of a live fish to Zichan of Zheng. Zichan ordered his pond-keeper to keep it in the pond, but that officer cooked (烹) it, and reported the execution of his commission, saying, “When I first let it go, it appeared embarrassed. In a little while, it seemed to be somewhat at ease, then it swam away joyfully.” Zichan observed, “It had got into its element! It had got into its element!” The pond-keeper then went out and said, “Who calls Zichan a wise man? After I had cooked and eaten the fish, he says, “It had got into its element! It had got into its element!”

    That’s Legge’s translation, pinyinized. But it doesn’t quite make sense. We get careful detail about the pond-keeper’s report to Zi Chan, and these details are somehow supposed to support the pond-keeper’s later claim that Zichan has shown noteworthy foolishness. But how do the details support that claim?

    Answer: Legge (like Lau and Van Norden) has mistranslated the pond-keeper’s report. It’s a play on words. Should be: “When I first let it go, it was restrained. Soon it became lively and then relaxed and passed away.” That is, the cook was not exactly lying.

    Which means that the fish went into the pot alive.

    That’s peng 烹.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 27, 2008

  135. Bill; that’s brilliant! And, in all likelihood, it puts a new twist on 若烹小鮮. But what? My initial image is of fish flapping and jumping around in hot broth or oil, then slowly being subdued and dying. I can’t imagine why anyone would cook large fish that way, though if you put a lid on the pot it would be manageable. It might be easier, or more routine, to peng 烹 small fish, though they can also hop quite a bit. Anyway, it’s a method of gradual subduing (subduction?). Maybe this is relevant to gui 鬼 who have recently become ghosts through death but are still “hopping” (“still kicking” would be more colloquial in English)–hence they haunt, shen 神. Then the cooking-fish-like process would be some kind of gradual subduction of the ghosts of the recently dead so that they aren’t causing bad things to occur with their haunting, if they haven’t stopped haunting altogether (picture the gradual movement from the fish jumping, being still, twitching, then stopping; or imagine what microwave popcorn sounds like during the final stages of popping). That might explain the “back and forth” swing of the logic of the text (ghosts will stop haunting; if they don’t stop haunting, at least the haunting’s not harming; if the haunting doesn’t stop harming, at least the sages aren’t harming).

    Sorry, those thoughts were too quick, but I wanted to put them on the table before I thought twice about it.

    BTW, has anyone actually gotten the Mencius 5A2 passage right, the way you have, Bill? (Now that you’ve pointed it out, I can’t see how the other reading is even remotely plausible.)

    Comment by Manyul Im | October 27, 2008

  136. Tell me more about my eyes. Don’t think twice, it’s all right.

    I haven’t checked Hinton. Any party who may have translated Mencius recently and who reads lots of stuff would probably have known if the idea were out there.

    The passage doesn’t show that a pre-Qin cook would always peng fish alive, but it suggests that doing so was common enough that people would get the puns. That combined with the fact that the DDJ-60 has xian 鮮 (live fish) does suggest that there’s supposed to be some resonance between line 1 and the gui 鬼. (For more on that see over at Peony’s place.) But you raise the key question: how would the cooking go? I can think of two possibilities. Either the fish is put into a large pot as lobsters are—but then you just get boiled fish and there isn’t much art or delicacy to it. Or one presses the fish down in the pan by some sort of—I don’t know, maybe a big fork with many tines. You’d want to hold the fish down before heating the pan, not put it down into the hot fluid. But then the fish would stick to the pan unless there were some sort of bamboo grill on the bottom. Dunno. Sounds tricky and doesn’t sound like wu wei. More reminiscent of treating the people as straw dogs.

    Hmm, doesn’t one want to gut and scale fish (scaly fish) before cooking them? On the other hand, I can see why people might want to go for the theoretical maximum of freshness, especially if there’s some idea about getting the best qi 氣.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 27, 2008

  137. Manyul– in all due respect, I think it’s a bit early to say that Bill’s live fish theory is brilliant!! First and foremost, not only is a dubious but more because it doesn’t fit in neatly with the wuwei approach!! And– more importantly, if we start off down that road, the ghosts too might just well take on a far more flapping appearance.

    Bill, are you there! After I get the KID off to school, I “shall” doubtlessly and doubtfully be writing my final version of the translation and I promise it “shall” be a masterpiece full of so many punctiation mistakes as to send the fish (and you my friend!) willing into the pot for cooking!!!

    Comment by Peony | October 27, 2008

  138. Little did I realize how being a vegetarian most of my adult life would interfere with my ability to understand a passage from the Daodejing. And after attempting to follow this thread I’ve discovered not a few more shortcomings in my hermeneutic abilities.

    Comment by Patrick S. O'Donnell | October 27, 2008

  139. Sorry Patrick! Our intense little conversation did descend too far into shorthand in places. It’s nice to see you here. I think I understand most of the string, so please email me if there are things you’d like spelled out.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 28, 2008

  140. No apologies necessary: you and others are the experts here and I’m the novice (lack sufficient formal training in the field). I’m learning what I can however. And thanks for the offer!

    Comment by Patrick S. O'Donnell | October 28, 2008

  141. To me ,”cooking small fish” means settling. Not stopping until you’ve reached your full potential as a human being.

    Comment by mama parmley | October 28, 2008

  142. Hi mama, pleased to meet you.

    I think you mean “not settling”? Because limiting oneself to small fish now is a way to save for bigger things in future? Interesting! It never occurred to me that “cooking small fish” might mean “being frugal”.

    But in the context of the whole book, I think being frugal might not suggest saving for the future; it might instead suggest living in a simple way, without needs that could get you too much involved with other people, potentially in conflict with them.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 28, 2008

  143. Cooking a live fish sounds potentially messy. One immediately thinks of splashing and sloshing. Here’s the pond-keeper’s line again, and the reading I proposed above:

    ‘始舍之圉圉焉,少則洋洋焉,攸然而逝。
    “When I first let it go, it was restrained. Soon it became lively and then relaxed and passed away.”

    An excellent student of mine told me he suspected that yangyang 洋洋 had too definitely happy a connotation to fit my translation “lively.” Perhaps a desperate fish couldn’t be yangyang 洋洋. So I checked early texts and found that yangyang 洋洋 often seems to mean “surging to overflowing” (literally or metaphorically) and in one place might mean “completely done”, i.e. done cooking, more specifically boiling.

    Here are some passages, numbered as by Donald Sturgeon:

    Zongyong 12
    The Master said, “How abundantly do spiritual beings (gui shen鬼神) display the powers that belong to them! We look for them, but do not see them; we listen to, but do not hear them; yet they enter into all things, and there is nothing without them. They cause all the people in the kingdom to fast and purify themselves, and array themselves in their richest dresses, in order to attend at their sacrifices. Then, like overflowing water (洋洋乎), they seem to be over the heads, and on the right and left of their worshippers. (Legge)

    Zhongyong
    How great is the Way of the Sage! Like overflowing water (洋洋乎), it sends forth and nourishes all things, and rises up to the height of heaven. (mostly Legge)

    Zhuangzi, outer chapter Heaven and Earth
    夫道,覆載萬物者也,洋洋乎大哉!
    It is the Dao that overspreads and sustains all things. How great It is in Its overflowing influence! (Legge)

    Shijing, 國風, 衛風 , 碩人
    河水洋洋
    the waters of the He, wide and deep (Legge)
    the Yellow River surges mightily (Fu-shiang JIA)

    Shijing, 國風, 陳風, 衡門
    泌之洋洋
    the wimpling stream from my fountain (Legge)
    freely flows the river Mi (Jia)

    And my favorite, which I’m unsure how to translate but in which 洋洋 might mean fully done [cooked] or even overcooked:

    Shiming 釋名
    餳: 洋也,煮米消爛,洋洋然也。

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 29, 2008

  144. I’m going to have to get a better dictionary.

    I’ve been checking an earlier character in the pond-keeper’s remark: 圉. He reduplicates it, and there’s no record of anyone else doing that. In ancient texts the word seems mainly to mean successfully resist, ward off, defend against – as warding off wind and cold, successfully fending off enemy attack, protecting against bandits and thieves (in the Liezi), and fending off deadly punishments from ghosts and spirits (in the Mozi). If the fish 圉圉焉, that might mean it was defensive, struggling in self-defense, perhaps against a restraining grill. (The reduplication of the character might allow it to describe the style of the fish’s action without implying that the resistance was successful.) Or perhaps the idea is that the cook restrained the fish: 圉 can also mean imprison.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 29, 2008

  145. My dear Bill,

    Yes, it does sound messy–highly messy. If you wanted to provide evidence for #60, you first need to prove the translations of the words contained with in that translation– or as a worse case scenerio prove way yang as contained in the texts above have anything to do with niru 煮る or sen 鮮 in reference to #60 at least

    And who boils a live fish? If there are any sauses involves it would never work. Fish are not clams. Now, if you were talking of eating a live fish a la sashimi I would be in board. Or if I was in particularly sweet mood (rare) I would even consider “grilling” a live fish– but wasn’t there a different verb? like 焼く or perhaps even better 炒め。 We need better dictioners. And they have to be ones that talk about the ancient meanings of these cookery words.

    And yes I know you told me about 古今 (I am trying to double check).

    In the meantime, this live fish thing is the fishiest thing I’ve seen yet with this passage!! I mean, our interpretation has to be practical right?

    My comment only is concerning DDJ #60. Regarding yang yang, I have no comment (yet)– ok, back to the salt mines

    Comment by Peony | October 29, 2008

  146. Also, for those who might be even remotely interested, I will copy my final draft of the passage here. However, there are three things I wanted to note
    1) The “rile to fury” is my interpretation. One has to interpret if one wants a working translation that non-China readers can understand and I explain all my reasons for this debiously-informed decision in my post

    http://www.tangdynastytimes.com/2008/10/lady-rokujo.html

    2) After all that, I went back and realized that my translation is really just a mirror image of Manyul’s. So that is nice (since of course I like being on Manyul’s side; it’s also similar to Red Pine’s reading which I would say is probably the best published version? I know people like Legge’s. I don’t I’m afraid) My translation also really remains based on japanese and all the conversation about that is in the comments of the above post (for those interested)

    3) Bill brought up a really, really good point that my language does not reflect the original simplicity and minimalist vocabulary of the ancient Chinese, so I am planning to re-do the translation and make an “ancient version”– which I will put up on the blog as soon as I get a handle on work (yes, this is not my day job!!) Ok, guys..

    10/27 (火) My final draft– in which the fish is already dead at the time of cooking:

    六十
    治大國、若烹小鮮。以道莅天下、其鬼不神。非其鬼不神、 其神不傷人。
    非其神不傷人、聖人亦不傷人。夫兩不相傷。故徳交歸焉

    The Sage governs a large kingdom as he cooks a small fish
    Approaching the world by way of the Dao–
    The spirits of our dead ancestors are not riled to fury

    Even if these spirits are riled
    Still, their presence will not harm

    Even if they were to harm, however–
    The Sage will not seek ever to harm the people
    And, if neither sages nor spirits cause harm
    Then so shall virtuous governing be achieved

    Comment by Peony | October 29, 2008

  147. (Well, when I mentioned simplicity on another web site I didn’t say Peony’s version fell short in that regard. I was defending my version’s pedestrian quality.)

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 29, 2008

  148. Bill: have you seen this. It is very uncommonly used in japan
    兔死狗烹

    More in notes on my blog (the rabbit– you will note and I hope I am reading correctly– is already dead)

    Comment by Peony | October 29, 2008

  149. Your version’s pedestrian quality is problematic because of “spirits act” You were completely correct, but when I just tried to re-write my “final” version more minimalistically to reflect original, it sounded like fortune cookie english– what to do? I need time to sort it out… (Bill: don’t let the rabbit lead you astray– it’s the rat)

    Comment by Peony | October 29, 2008

  150. Not that I am backing Bill up, but do you all know this one?
    丈夫生不五鼎食、死即五鼎烹耳」
    出典:「史記-主父偃伝」

    I like its bravado.

    Comment by Peony | October 29, 2008

  151. Alas! I can find no evidence in ancient texts that 逝 meant or even suggested “die” in early times. Rather, it’s used for “go” in places where one might hesitate to use it if it could suggest “die”. I think that kills the play-on-words theory of the passage from the Mencius. Perhaps the idea was just that the pond-keeper was (imprudently) proud of his elaborate deception.

    And I can’t find any other evidence in ancient texts of cooking fish alive. (I can find reference to chopping up live fish (zu sheng yu 俎生魚) at rituals. At least those fish weren’t boiled alive.) In my opinion this kills the idea that the DDJ might contemplate that the fish went alive into the pan or pot.

    But I don’t think it kills every whiff of an association between the fact that cooking a fish involves a dead thing delicately (a thing one has presumably killed) and the idea of ghosts not being very much provoked.

    Fish may not have been cooked alive, but there’s an awful lot of talk of boiling people. Mostly about boiling one’s enemies or unsatisfactory advisers, rather than criminals. One fellow failed to die after three days of boiling. “Put the lid on,” he suggested. That worked.

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 30, 2008

  152. Hi Bill,

    WEll, I am pleased you’ve come to your senses!! I don’t know, it just doesn’t really make practical sense– but more than that– just between you and me– I think it would then mean something so different that perhaps it really wouldn’t belong in the ddj any longer… That the sage should be watchful but should rule delicately, to me makes sense from everything I’ve read in the book as a whole. Also, regarding the ghosts (which I have made an executive decision to change spirits to ghosts I will tell you my reasons offline), that they would be riled to fury over being boiled alive also doesn’t make sense– because then what about all the sashimi we eat around here? No matter what, the fish is being prepared for food so I think the ghosts would be forgiving of that…

    That peng is a means of punishment– without a doubt. We even say that in English: “he’s cooked!” (although I prefer skating on thin ice)…

    And I must say Bill, your intellectual curiousity and willingness to really engage with books is really an impressive thing.

    Here are my notes if you missed them on my website:

    10/30 (木) Notes:

    (1) 兔死狗烹 Usually referring to the first emperor of a dynsty) to get rid of all the brave and meritorious comrades-in-arms after they had helped him won the throne; and were no longer useful to him (cf here: Japanese here)

    Peony: We do the same thing in English, I think, “he’s cooked”– yes, peng was also a slang for torture or murder. But, you have not provided enough evidence to convince me in this case.

    Bill: (From Gialbo’s realm): In the Gujin 古今 dictionary, the first definition of xian 鮮 is “live fish,” with our line 1 as the citation. Somebody thinks our sagely simmering involves killing the fish, Peony!

    Peony: The kanji, I still stand, refers to fish for food (without expliciely designating whether its raw, fresh, alive or already dead)

    (2) 丈夫生不五鼎食、死即五鼎烹耳」
    出典:「史記-主父偃伝」

    What would be an apt translation:

    “If I can’t have it all, then boil me in a ding.”
    (I used to think this way– now I just wonder, how do I climb outta this ding??)

    Comment by Peony | October 30, 2008

  153. Fable of the Rat=

    http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200504/the.fable.of.the.rat.htm

    It makes Derek and my point about cultural and historical distance…. this is one reason why I tended to far prefer the japanese glosses to the english. Even on ghosts– more than Caesar’s wife, Japanese ghosts came to mind– but remember what I said about natural disasters– to me that stands. Did you agree with that?

    Comment by Peony | October 30, 2008

  154. Here’s a proposed translation and reading, informed by ideas from pretty much everybody in our discussion:

    Governing a large state is like cooking a small fish
    Attend to the world by the Way
    Its ghosts will not stir
    Or if they stir
    They will not harm anyone
    Or if they do harm
    The sage surely does no harm
    If these two do not join in harming
    They come to join in goodness

    The main point about the fish is that it is a small job, and that treating it as a larger job means doing a worse job.

    Statements are put forth and then largely withdrawn, replaced by other statements which embody less and less worrying about ghosts. “Its ghosts will not stir” reflects a view that takes ghosts very seriously and might see the job of the emperor as a ritual job, effective by spooky magical means (perhaps the “just face south” brand of wu wei). This statement is replaced by “They will not harm anyone,” which introduces the idea that ghosts as such need not be dangers at all. Moving further in the same direction, “The sage surely does no harm” takes the focus off ghosts and off magical government, putting it wholly on the mundane goodness of doing no harm. We have moved toward a less haunted world. But it does not have to be a disenchanted world; hence the final couplet.

    At the same time, the ghosts are metaphors, standing in a very general way for potential problems, including but not limited to the hostility of families that are victims of injustice. By not doing injury, the sage governor does not provoke trouble. So trouble does not arise; or at least she does not make anything worse, as active government does.

    What tipped me in favor of this view was a YouTube video in which an approximately wu-wei policy was presented as neutralizing certain haunting troubles:

    Ironic that I would settle here. So:

    AGAINST A POPULAR ALTERNATIVE

    The most popular approach in reputable published translations is to say “not only” in 6. Using “not only” in 6 is attractive because it lets the yi 亦 in 7 mean “also,” so that lines 5678 agree that both sage and ghosts are harmless.

    But that approach implies that the chapter was written wrongly in one respect and badly in another. Wrongly, because nothing in line 6 invites changing “not” to “not only,” and doing so roughly reverses the meaning. (Compare: I’m not a member / I’m not only a member.) And badly, because parallelism is very important in reading early Chinese texts, especially poetical ones, and the prima facie parallel between 34 and 56 is as salient as parallels can be. Reading (4) denies the parallel. (Adding “only” to line 4 to restore the parallel would make nonsense of 45.)

    On the assumption that the text is consistent and not corrupt, this reading seems unavailable. The merits of this reading and the difficulty of finding another simple reading that shares those merits add up to a pretty strong argument that the text is corrupt, or that it was written by more than one hand and the right hand didn’t know what the left hand had in mind.

    Against that argument for corruption: If there’s such a corruption, it’s shared by all extant textual variants. And I can’t think offhand of a plausible candidate wording for the original text that would fit this reading. If the original had “not only” (fei du 非 獨) in 6, it would have what looks like a failed attempt at a parallel between 34 and 56. In that case, what would be the point of including step 34 in the chapter at all?

    Comment by Bill Haines | October 31, 2008

  155. From Ronald Reagan’s seventh State of the Union address: “History records the power of the ideas that brought us here those seven years ago. Ideas like the individual’s right to reach as far and as high as his or her talents will permit, the free market as an engine of economic progress and, as an ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu, said, ‘Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish; do not overdo it.'”

    (A footnote of Bryan’s helped me find that.)

    Comment by Bill Haines | November 4, 2008


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