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Chinese Philosophical Texts

5. MÈNGZĬ 孟子 MENCIUS

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Translations

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 1.  D. C. Lau, tr., Mencius (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970)
2.  Bryan W. Van Norden, tr., Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2008)

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Extracts

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 A.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 1. 告子曰:性,猶杞柳也;義,猶杯棬也。

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 2. 以人性為仁義,猶以杞柳為杯棬。

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 3. 孟子曰:子能順杞柳之性而以為杯棬乎?

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 4. 將戕賊杞柳而後以為杯棬邪?

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 5. 如將戕賊杞柳而以為杯棬,則亦將戕賊人以為仁義與?

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 1 6. 率天下之人而禍仁義者, 必子之言夫。

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 7. 告子曰:性,猶湍水也。

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 8. 決諸東方則東流,決諸西方則西流。

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 9. 人性之無分於善不善也, 猶水之無分於東西也。

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 10. 孟子曰:水信無分於東西;無分於上下乎?

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 1 11. 人性之善也,猶水之就下也。

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 12. 人無有不善,水無有不下。

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 13. 今夫水,搏而躍之可使過顙;激而行之可使在山。

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 14. 是豈水之性哉?其勢則然也。

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 15. 人之可使為不善,其性亦猶是。

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 16. 告子曰:生之謂性。

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 17. 孟子曰:生之謂性也,猶白之謂白與?

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 18. 曰:然。

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 1 19. 白羽之白也,猶白雪之白?白雪之白猶白玉之白與?

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 20. 曰:然。

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 1 21. 然則犬之性猶牛之性,牛之性猶人之性與?

gào to tell, to inform; to report; to accuse
告子 gào zǐ Master Gào
xìng nature; inherent
yóu to resemble, to be like; still, even now
杞柳 qǐ liŭ a type of willow
duty; righteous; charity; meaning
bēi a cup
quān a plate; a tray
mèng eldest brother; first month of a season; savage; surname 孟子 mèng zǐ Master Mèng, i.e., Mencius
shùn to follow, to accord with; obedient; smooth, convenient
jiāng (auxiliary verb) to be about to (indicates incipient future action); to lead, to command
jiàng leader, commander
qiáng to destroy; to kill
hòu after; behind
final interrogative or exclamatory particle
together with, and; to give
to participate; an ally
shuài (here) to lead
yán words; to speak
(here) final particle expressing regret or an exclamation, or serving as a fusion of 不乎, meaning “.  .  . is it not?”
tuān rapid swirling (of water)
shuĭ water
jué to open up (a sluice); to burst (a dike); to dredge; to decide
zhū (here) fusion of 之 + 於
dōng east
liú to flow
西 west
fēn to divide, to share; to distinguish
fèn a part, a portion; a role (played by a person in life); fate
xìn (here) truly, really
jiù to go to; forthwith; exactly, precisely
jīn now
to strike, to box; to seize, to spring upon
yuè to jump; to cause to jump, to stir up
săng the forehead
to incite, to stir up; rapidly, quick
xíng (here) to cause to go
zài to be located in, to be found in
shān a mountain
particle marking a rhetorical question: “How could it be that…” (see “Particles and Grammar”)
zāi exclamatory final particle
shì tendency; (force of) circumstances; situation (in a dynamic sense)
feather
xuě snow
jade
quăn dog
niú ox

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 B.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 1. 我故曰:告子未嘗知義,以其外之也。

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 1 2. 心有事焉而勿正;心勿忘,勿助長也。

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 3. 勿若宋人然。

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 4. 宋人有閔其苗之不長而揠之者。

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 5. 芒芒然歸,謂其人曰:今日病矣。

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 6. 予助苗長矣。

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 7. 其子趨而往視之,苗則槁矣。

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 8. 天下之不助苗長者寡也。

cháng to taste; to try; to have (once) happened
未嘗 未尝 wèi cháng never (yet)
wài exterior, outside
fusion particle of negative imperative 毋 wú and the object pronoun 之, thus “do not + verb + it” (see “Particles and Grammar”)
正 = 政 zhèng to forcibly correct; to govern
wàng to forget
zhù to assist, to help
zhăng to grow; senior, elder
cháng long
sòng name of a state; name of a dynasty
閔 = 憫 mǐn to mourn, to grieve, to pity
miáo sprouts
to pull up or out
máng sharp point; ray (of stars); beard (of wheat)
芒芒 máng máng tired, weary; vast, extensive (see “Particles and Grammar”)
guī to return home; to pledge allegiance to, to find refuge with; to attribute; to marry (said of a woman)
bìng ill, sick; worn out; illness; to harm, to bother
another first person pronoun: “I, me” (do not confuse with 子 “son; master”)
to hasten, to hurry; to tend (towards), to be inclined
wăng to depart; to go toward; the past, bygone
wàng adverb indicating direction
shì to look at, to inspect; to compare, to be equivalent
găo withered, dead

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 Modern idiom (成語):  揠苗助長 = any stupid, self-defeating effort

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 C.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 1.  齊人有一妻一妾而處室者。

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 2. 其良人出,則必饜酒肉而後反。

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 3. 其妻問所與飲食者,則盡富貴也。

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 4.其妻告其妾曰:良人出,則必饜酒肉而後反;問其與飲食者,盡富貴也;
而未嘗有顯者來。

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 5. 吾將矙良人之所之也。

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 6. 蚤起,施從良人之所之,遍國中無與立談者。

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 7. 卒之東郭墦間,之祭者乞其餘。

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 8. 不足,又顧而之他。

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 9. 此其為饜足之道也。

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 10. 其妻歸告其妾曰:良人者,所仰望而終身也;今若此。

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 11. 與其妾訕其良人,而相泣於中庭,而良人未之知也。

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 12. 施施從外來,驕其妻妾。

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 13.由君子觀之,則人之所以求富貴利達者,其妻妾不羞也而不相泣者,幾希矣。

(here) name of a state (modern Shandong); equal, uniform
wife
qiè concubine
chŭ to live, to stay; to conduct, to deal with, to manage
chù a place; a bureau, office
shì a house; a room
liáng good; pleasant; innate, untaught
良人 liáng rén free man; husband
yàn satiated; to satiate
jiŭ wine
ròu meat
反 = 返 făn to return
yǐn to drink
jìn to use up, to exhaust; all; to the utmost (see “Particles and Grammar”)
rich, wealthy
guì noble, honored; valuable
xiăn illustrious; manifest; clear, distinct
kàn to overlook (from high ground), to look downward; to spy
蚤 = 早 zăo early
to get up, to arise
施 = 迤 to wind; to twist, to bend
biàn all over, throughout; to be everywhere
tán to chat, to converse
(here) finally
guō outer wall of a city
fán grave
jiān between, amongst
jiàn to divide, to separate; indirect; a crevice, a gap
to sacrifice
to beg, to entreat
remainder, left-over; surplus
yòu again, further, moreover
to look back, look around; to take care of; but
other, another
yăng to gaze up at; to admire; to lean or rely on
wàng to view, to gaze at from a distance; to hope, to expect
終身 终身 zhōng shēn to the end of one’s life
shàn to revile, to ridicule, to slander
to weep
tíng courtyard; court
shī to give, to distribute; to apply
施施 shī shī self-satisfied (see “Particles and Grammar”)
jiāo conceited, arrogant; to be haughty towards
yóu from; reason, cause
qiú to seek for; to beg
to reach, to arrive at; success; prominent; wise
xiū ashamed; shy
nearly, almost; minute
how many, how much; a few, several
few, scarce, rare

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0  PARTICLES AND GRAMMAR

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 a.  Major Particles

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 1. 豈

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 This sentence-initial question particle, in contrast to the others (何,希,惡,焉) always indicates a rhetorical question: “How could it be that . . . ?” “How could you . . . ?”  Thus 豈有死而復生之人邪 “How could there be a person who died and then returned to life?”  豈 is often paired with the sentence-final question particle 邪.

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 2.  盡 jìn

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 This character was originally a verb meaning “to use up” or “to exhaust.”  From this meaning it came to function as an adjective meaning “all” or adverb meaning “entirely.”  Thus 盡富貴也 “(They) are all rich and noble.” More commonly it is followed by a verb and object, in which case, although it formally modifies the verb, its meaning really relates to the object, thus 宋人盡揠之 “The man of Sòng pulled them all out (literally ‘exhaustively pulled them out’).”

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 3.  勿

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 This is a fusion particle for the most common negative imperative adverb 毋 combined with the object pronoun 之.  Thus 勿 + verb has the sense of “do not + verb + it.”  So in Extract B, Sentence #2 事焉而勿正 means “work at it (焉 = 於此 ‘at it’) but do not correct it,” where the understood object “it” refers to the development of one’s nature.  毋 and 之 can fuse because in early classical Chinese the normal order of verb and object was inverted following a negative adverb, thus the original phrase would have been 毋之正.

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 b.  Grammar Notes

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 1.  Binomes

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 Binomes are two-character units in which the sense of the binome is not deducible from the meaning of the individual characters.  In some cases the binome is formed by the repetition of a single character, in others by two rhymed or phonetically related characters.  They are usually descriptive.  Thus the extracts include two binomes: 芒芒 mángmáng (Extract B, Sentence #5) which means “weary,” while the character 芒 by itself means “a beard (of grain),” “a ray (of a star),” and 施施 shīshī (Extract C, Sentence #12) which means “self-satisfied,” while the character 施 by itself means “to give, to distribute, to apply.”  Other binomes consist not of a single, repeated character, but of two rhyming characters, such as 從容 cōng róng (in Lesson Six, Zhuāngzĭ Extract A, Sentence #2). Such binomes were extremely frequent in certain genres of Chinese poetry.

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 TRANSLATION AND COMMENTARY

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 A.  1. Master Gào said, “Innate nature is like a willow; duty is like cups and trays.  2. To take human nature and make it into benevolence and duty is like taking a willow and making it into cups and trays.”  3. Master Mèng said, “Are you able to accord with the nature of the willow and make it into cups and trays?  4. Or will you harm the willow and only then make it into cups and trays?  5. If you will harm the willow and [only then] make it into cups and trays, then likewise will you harm men in order to make them benevolent and dutiful?  6. That which will lead the people under Heaven to treat benevolence and duty as a calamity will certainly be your words, alas!”

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 7. Master Gào said, “Innate nature is like swirling water.  8. If you open it [the sluice] to the east, then it will flow east; if you open it [the sluice] to the west, then it will flow west.  9. Human nature’s not distinguishing good from bad is like water’s not distinguishing east from west.”  10. Master Mèng said, “Water truly has no distinction between east and west; does water have no distinction between up and down?  11. The goodness of human nature is like water’s going down.  12. As for men, there are none who are not good; as for water, there is none that does not go down.  13. Now this water, if you strike it and make it leap up, you can cause it to surpass the forehead; if you stir it up and make it move, you can cause it to be on [top of] a mountain.  14. But how could this be the nature of water?  Its circumstances make it thus.  15. As for the possibility of causing people to be bad, their nature is like this [i.e., like the case of water being artificially forced to moved upward].”

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 1 16. Master Gào said, “[The word] ‘life’ means ‘nature’.” [This statement hinges on the fact that 生 and 性 were still the same character in the Warring States.  Thus it is a tautology.]  17. Master Mèng said, “Is [the statement] ‘life’ means ‘nature’ like the statement ‘white’ means ‘white’?”  18. [Master Gào] said, “That is right.”  19. “Is the whiteness of a white feather like the whiteness of white snow?  Is the whiteness of white snow like the whiteness of white jade?”  20. [Master Gào] said, “That is right.”  21. “That being so, then is the nature of the dog like the nature of the ox?  Is the nature of the ox like the nature of the human?”

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 The context and meaning of this extract is the subject of a classic essay by A. C. Graham.  See “The Background of the Mencian Theory of Human Nature,” in Studies in Chinese Philosophy and Philosophical Literature (Singapore: Institute of East Asian Philosophies, 1986), pp. 7-66.

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 Sentence #1 is composed of two “subject = predicate 也” phrases, where the use of the character 猶 shifts the meaning from identity to resemblance: A (性) is like B (杞柳); C (義) is like D (杯棬).  Sentence #2 simply takes the two phrases of Sentence #1 and fuses them together through the notion of manufacture: to make A into C is like making B into D.  Note that here the phrase 以 X 為 Y means to “take” a physical object and “make it into” something. Sentence #3, the first question, uses the question particle 乎, while Sentence #4, the second question, uses the question particle 邪.  This may be significant.  乎 indicates a simple “yes-or-no” question, with no preference.  邪 often indicates a rhetorical question where the answer is already known.  There is a nice rhetorical touch in Master Mèng’s attack. Having asserted, in Sentence #1, the substitutability of “nature” for “willow” and “duty” for “cups and trays,” Master Gào then constructed a sentence (#2) where the second phrase is identical to the first, save for the substitutions whose validity he established in the previous sentence, 人性 by 杞柳 and 仁義 by 杯棬.  Imitating the style of his adversary, Master Mèng creates a sentence (#3) involving “willow” and “cups and trays,” and then  (in Sentence #4) performs the same substitution as that done by Master Gào in his argument.  It is a version of a reductio ad absurdum, except that rather than showing that his opponent’s argument will generate logical contradiction, he shows instead that it will produce social damage, by persuading people that benevolence and duty are harmful (as asserted in Sentence #5).  In this he seems to be accepting, without acknowledgement, a form of utilitarian standard much like that advocated by the Mohists. Sentence #5 is an “if . . . then . . .” sentence, with the “if” cause marked by the particle 如 and the “then” clause marked by the particle 則. In Sentence #6 note that the particle 而 performs the same role as the particle 以 (“[in order] to”) in Sentence #40 of Extract A of the Mòzĭ.  The 禍 in Sentence #6 is to be read as a putative verb “to regard as a calamity.”  This is what the people would be led to do by the proposition which Master Mèng has generated through the application of Master Gào’s analogistic method.

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 Sentence #7 is parallel to the phrases of Sentence #1.  Sentence #8 is two parallel “if . . . then . . .” phrases marked by the particle 則, differing only in the substitution of a single character, in this case the antonyms 東 and 西.  Sentence #9 has a long pre-posed topic cum subject marked by the particle 也.  This “subject” is not only identified with the predicate by the grammar, but also by parallel construction (人性 parallels 水; 之無分於 parallels 之無分於; 善不善 parallels 東西). The overarching grammar of this sentence is the same as in the two phrases in Sentences #1 and #7.  Master Mèng’s reply (Sentences #10-15) is once again marked by the repeated use of parallelisms.  The first phrase of Sentence #10 repeats the last phrase of Master Gào’s Sentence #9, and the second phrase of Sentence #10 simply substitutes one pair of antonyms (上,下) for another (東,西).  Sentence #11 again uses the grammatical pattern of Sentences #1, #7, and #9.  In Sentence #13 the sixteen characters following 今夫水 consist of two parallel, eight-character phrases where the structure-providing particles and modals remain constant while verbs and nouns are replaced.  Sentence #14 is built around the opposition of 性 and 勢, with the former indicating an innate pattern or tendency, while the latter refers to the tendency imposed by external circumstances.  In Sentence #15 the phrase 可使為不善 is marked as a nominal phrase by the preceding particle of modification 之.  Thus “can be caused to become bad” becomes “[people’s] possibility of being caused to become bad.”  The 其 (“their”) of the second phrase refers back to the people. One should note here the tension between this use of a water metaphor for the goodness of human nature, a use introduced by Master Gào but accepted by Master Mèng, with the latter’s more common use of “sprouts” as a metaphor for such cases. Saying that human nature is good in the same way that water flows downward suggests that becoming good is largely automatic and will happen so long as nothing interferes. In contrast, saying that human nature is good in the same way that a sprout can grow into a plant that bears fruit suggests that ethical development is a fragile process that requires cultivation of a particular kind.

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 Sentence #16 is, as noted in the translation, presented by Master Gào as a tautology based on the fact that the two characters 生 and 性 were originally identical and were still treated as such in the Yangist tradition.  謂 is marked as a noun by the preceding particle of modification 之, so it has the sense of “meaning.”  In Sentence #17 Master Mèng repeats Master Gào’s statement, marked as a topic by the particle 也, and then creates a parallel sentence by simply substituting 白 for 生/性.  In this case “white” is the paradigm of a term that means the same thing no matter what other term it is combined with. (This contrasts, for example, with “love,” which means different things when applied to a sister loving a brother or a young woman loving a handsome suitor.) Master Mèng asks this question in order to make sure that Master Gào means that “nature” refers to “life” in a univocal sense, regardless of the thing that we are talking about. Master Gào’s reply (Sentence #18) confirms that this is the case, i.e,, that his original proposition (#16) was to be understood as a tautology.  In Sentence #19 Master Mèng then asks whether the whiteness of different objects (the three phrases formed on the formula 白 X 之白 “the whiteness of white X”) are all similar (猶). In Sentence #20, once Master Gào accepts that these propositions are correct (然 “thus” or “so”), then Master Mèng, in Sentence #21, simply reverses his first step by putting 性 back in the place of 白 (and substituting animals for objects).  This demonstrates that 生 can be identified with 性 only if one is willing to grant that all living things (which are all by definition 生) have the same “nature.” Master Gào sought to prove the amoral character of human nature through a seeming tautology that identified nature with the life process itself, the vital energies, appetites and sensations that characterize any (animal) life.  Such a position obliterates any distinction between human nature and the nature of other animals.  This is not a logically impossible stance, and many thinkers have defended it.  For Master Mèng, however, it appears to be a self-refuting position, in the same manner as the “harmfulness” of benevolence and duty.  Consequently the dialogue, which appears in a book dedicated to Master Mèng’s philosophy, ends with his final question, which is here treated as a refutation of Master Gào’s position. Moreover, the argument that human nature and that of other animals was the same would probably have sounded monstrously implausible to most people of the period, since the ways of life of dogs, oxen, and humans are evidently different.

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 For one interesting interpretation of this passage, see Bryan Van Norden, Virtue Ethics and Consequentialism in Early Chinese Philosophy.

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 B.  1. I therefore say, “Master Gào’s never having understood duty is because he regards it as exterior.  2. The heart has that which it works for [literally ‘serves’] in this [i.e., duty], but do not forcibly correct it; the mind must not forget it, but it must not assist it to grow.  3. Do not be like the man of Sòng.  4. Among the men of Sòng there was one who, grieving that his sprouts did not grow, tugged at them.  5. Wearily he returned home and said to his family, ‘Today I am worn out.  6. I have helped the sprouts to grow.’  7. When his son ran to go and look at them, the sprouts were withered.  8. In the world those who do not ‘assist the sprouts to grow’ are few.”

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 The basic structure of Sentence #1 is “subject = predicate 也.”  The phrase 未嘗 indicates that something has never happened.  The 以 here means “because of, on account of.”  Because 外 is followed immediately by the object pronoun 之 (which cannot be a marker of modification because it is followed only by a particle), it must be read as a transitive verb.  Here it clearly has the putative sense “to regard it as exterior/outside.”  This refers to Master Gào’s argument in Extract A, in which duty and benevolence were imposed upon men from the outside, like turning wood into bowls and trays.  In Sentence #2 事 means “to serve” or to “work at,” and it is followed immediately by the fusion particle 焉 = 於 + 此 “in this.”  This is followed with a series of warnings about what not to do in the cultivation of virtues:  do not forcibly correct them, do not forget them, do not assist them to grow.  Having argued that men’s virtues are part of their nature, Master Mèng must avoid the two extreme positions: 1) that they can be forcibly imposed or 2) that they will develop without any interference at all.  He adopts here the metaphor of plants.  Fields must be weeded, fertilized, and plowed, but the plants must be allowed to grow at their own pace.  Hence the twin injunctions neither to force/assist nor to forget.  The story of the man of Sòng begins in Sentence #4 with an example of a frequently seen pattern: “pre-posed topic naming a group + 有  + verb phrase + 者,” which means “among the group (named in the pre-posed topic), there was someone who (did the action named in the verb phrase).”  The grammar of the story is quite simple.  Note the repeated use of the final particle 矣, which occurs in verbal sentences and, like the modern 了 le, often marks changes of state (as after the stative verbs 病 and 槁).

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 C.  1. Among the men of Qí there was one who lived in a house with one wife and one concubine.  2. Whenever their husband went out, then invariably he was satiated with wine and meat and only then returned.  3. When his wife asked with whom he ate and drank, then it was always the rich and noble.  4. His wife told his concubine, “Whenever our husband goes out, then invariably he is satiated with wine and meat and only then returns; when I ask with whom he eats and drinks, then it is always the rich and noble; but no eminent person has ever come [here].  5. I am going to spy out where our husband goes.”  6. She got up early and windingly followed [i.e., followed every twist and turn] where her husband went; throughout the entire capital city there was no one with whom he stood and talked.  7. Finally he went amidst the graves at the eastern outer city wall; he went up to those offering sacrifices and begged for their leftovers.  8. If these were insufficient, he again turned round and went to someone else.  9. This was his way of filling himself.  10. His wife returned and told his concubine, “A husband is someone one looks up to till the end of one’s days, and now he is like this!”  11. With the concubine, reviling their husband, they wept together in the central courtyard, but the husband did not yet know of this.  12. Swaggering, he came from outside and put on airs for his wife and concubine.  13. As a true gentleman regards this, the means by which men seek wealth, honor, profit, and advancement, of which their wives and concubines are not ashamed and do not weep together, are very few.

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 1 The grammar of Sentence #1 is another example of the pattern noted in Sentence #4 of Extract B.  In Sentence #1 the two characters 一 “one” function as verbs: “having one.”  The four-character phrase 一妻一妾 describes a background condition to the main verbal phrase 處室.  This is a common function of the particle 而.  In Sentence #2 the particle 則 indicates that its structure is “[when] . . . then. . .” The appearance of the particle 必 in the second phrase means that the consequence is invariable, which turns the “when” into “whenever.”  In this sentence 而後, like 然後, means “and [only] after that, and only then.”  Sentence #3 is likewise “[when] . . . then,” marked by the 則.  The Lún yŭ Extract F, Sentence #1 included the phrase 問政 “asked about government,” and here Sentence #3 has the same pattern, although the object is much longer: 所與飲食者.  This object is bracketed by the nominalizing particles 所 . . . 者 and the three characters within are verbs “[join] together with, eat, drink.”  Thus “those with whom one eats and drinks.”   The same pattern, without the 所, recurs in Sentence #6: 與立談者.  In Sentence #4, as in the earlier example from the Mòzĭ (Extract B, Sentences #2-3), the third-person narrative of Sentence #2 is immediately repeated, in the quotation, in the first person, the change entailing only the elimination of the third-person possessive pronoun 其.  The phrases between the semicolons repeat Sentence #3, only dropping the third person 其妻 (and also the 則, not a matter of voice but economy).  In Sentence #5 the phrase 良人之所之 (which serves as the object) might at first look odd because of the two 之, but word order and particles make the sense clear.  Since the final 之 is preceded by the nominalizing particle 所, it must be the verb “to go to.”  Since 所 + verb creates a noun phrase, the first 之 is the marker of modification.  Hence, literally “the what is gone to of the husband” or in natural English “the destination of the husband” or “where the husband goes.”  The repeated use in Sentences #6, #7 and #8 of 之 in the sense of “to go to” is not the most common usage, but the other possibilities are eliminated by the location in the sentence (e.g., 之 in Sentence #7 at the very beginning of the second phrase 之祭者乞其餘 cannot be the object pronoun, because it is not preceded by a verb, nor the marker of modification, because there are no characters to act as modifier).  Sentence #9–此其為饜足之道也–is the standard “subject = predicate 也” sentence, with the single character 此 as subject and the rest as predicate.  This is also a common formula.  In Sentence #10, in the phrase 良人者, the 者 marks a topic, but in this case it functions much like English quotation marks.  It signals that we are talking about the word(s) itself, so what follows is a definition of the nature of a husband.  Once again in the phrase 仰望而終身 the clause before the 而 describes the continuous background or manner of the second.  Thus one “ends one’s self,” i.e., lives out one’s life, the whole time “admiring” or “looking up to.”  In Sentence #11 the 而 works the same way. Note that in this sentence, the use of the negative 未 leads to the inversion of the verb and the object, hence 未之知 “not yet know it.” In Sentence #13 the phrase 由君子觀之, or some variation thereon, is a common formula.  It defines the point of view from which a judgment is to be made.  This pattern suggests that the author neither expects nor desires universal agreement; he is offering his judgments to men of like mind, men who will reveal their fine character by their concurrence.  The rest of Sentence #13 is a long variation of the “subject = predicate” pattern, here using the final particle 矣 rather than 也 because the predicate is verbal (stative verb) rather than nominal.  The sentence is long because there are two subjects, both ending in 者: 1) “the means by which (所以) men seek wealth, honor, profit and advancement” and 2) “that of which their wives and concubines are not ashamed and do not weep together.”  The predicate is 幾希 “few, sparse.”  The meaning of the sentence is that things that are both subject #1 and subject #2 are very few.

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 Another interesting aspect of this story is that it indicates that women share with men the capacity for a moral sense of shame. Indeed, it appears from the story that some women have a more developed sense of shame than do some men. Nonetheless, Master Mèng does not challenge the views of his society about the social superiority of men to women. (I thank Bryan Van Norden for making this point.)

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Source: https://web.stanford.edu/group/chinesetexts/cgi-bin/site/5-mengzi-%E5%AD%9F%E5%AD%90-mencius/