Chinese Philosophical Texts

8. HÁN FĒIZĬ 韓非子


2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 1.  W. K. Liao, tr., Han Fei Tzu, 2 vols. (London: Arthur Probsthain, 1938, 1959)
2.  Burton Watson, tr., Han Fei Tzu: Basic Writings (New York: Columbia University, 1964)

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.  今境內之民皆言治。

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 2.  藏商管之法者,家有之,而國愈貧。

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 3.  言耕者衆,執耒者寡也。

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 4.  境內皆言兵。

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 5.  藏孫吳之書者,家有之,而兵愈弱。

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 6.  言戰者多,被甲者少也。

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 7.  故明主用其力,不聽其言。

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 8.  賞其功必禁無用。

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 9.  故民盡死力以從其上。

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 10.  夫耕之用力也,勞,而民為之者,曰:可得以富也。

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 11. 戰之為事也,危,而民為之者,曰:可得以貴也。

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 12.  今修文學,習言談,則無耕之勞而有富之實,無戰之危而有貴之尊。

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 13.  則人孰不為邪?

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 14.  是以百人事智,而一人用力。

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 15.  事智者衆,則法敗。

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 16.  用力者寡,則國貧。

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 17.  此世之所以亂。

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 18.  故明主之國無書簡之文,以法為教。

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 19.  無先王之語,以吏為師。

jìng boundary, frontier
cáng to store up; to hide
zàng a storage, a warehouse
shāng (here) Lord Shāng
guăn (here) Master Guăn, Guăn Zhòng 管仲
jiā household, family; philosophical school
pín poor
gēng to plow; agriculture
zhí to grasp, to hold
lěi a plow
sūn (here) Master Sūn, Sūn Wŭ 孫武
(here) Master Wú, Wú Qǐ 吳起 (“author” of a military treatise)
shū writing; document
ruò weak; young
bèi to cover, to spread; to wear; a quilt; marker of passive voice (see “Particles and Grammar”)
jiă armor; (finger)nails; first; to excel
tīng to listen; to obey
shăng to reward; to appreciate; award for merit
gōng merit, achievement
jìn to prohibit, to forbid; prohibition, taboo
死力 sǐ lì utmost exertion, all one’s might (In both literary and vernacular Chinese, “dead/death” can be used to indicate the “utmost” or “extreme,” as in the English phrases “dead tired” or “dead certain.”)
láo to toil, to do manual labor; laborious, hard
lào to bring gifts to an army in the field
wéi dangerous; peril
guì noble; esteemed; valuable
xiū to cultivate; to study; to repair; long, extended
wén writing, meaningful pattern; culture, civilization
tán to discuss, to talk about
shí fruit; full; fullness; reality; substance; really
zūn to respect, to honor
shú question particle “which one (of several)” (see “Particles and Grammar”)
shì world; generation
luàn chaos, disorder
jiăn strip of bamboo or wood; simple; to select
jiào teaching, doctrine; to teach
先王 xiān wáng the earlier kings
talk, speech
officials, minor officials

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 B.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 1.  故曰:勢治者則不可亂,而勢亂者則不可治也。

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 2.  此自然之勢也,非人之所得設也。

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 3.  若吾所言,謂人之所得勢也而已矣,賢何事焉?

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 4.  何以明其然?

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 5.  客曰:人有鬻矛與盾者。

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 6.  譽其盾之堅,物莫能陷也。

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 7.  俄而又譽其矛曰:吾矛之利,物無不陷也。

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 8.  人應之曰:以子之矛陷子之盾,何如?

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 9.  其人弗能應也。

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 10. 以為不可陷之盾與無不陷之矛為名,不可兩立也。

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 11. 夫賢之為道也,不可禁,而勢之為道也,無不禁。

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 12. 以不可禁之賢與無不禁之勢,此矛盾之說也。

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 13. 夫賢勢之不相容亦明矣。

shì (here) the “power-base” (see Graham, pp. 278-82, where this technical usage is distinguished from the conventional sense of “force of circumstances”)
自然 zì rán that which is so of itself; spontaneous; nature
shè to set up, to establish; to provide; if, supposing
guest; interlocutor; retainer
to sell
máo a lance, a spear
dùn a shield
to praise
jiān solid, firm; resolute, steadfast; strength; armor; a citadel
xiàn to break through; to injure; to collapse; to trap; a trap
(here) sharpness; sharp
yìng to respond; to face
何如 hé rú what (would it be) like; how about; what do you think
xīang (here) mutually
róng to allow; to contain; a person’s looks or appearance

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 成語 : (自相)矛盾 (self-)contradictory

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0  

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 C.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 1.  然則今有美堯舜湯武禹之道於當今之世者,必為新聖笑矣。

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 2.  是以聖人不期修古,不法常可。

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 3.  論世之事,因為之備。

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 4.  宋人有耕者。

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 5.  田中有株,兔走觸株,折頸而死。

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 6.  因釋期耒而守株,冀復得兔。

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 7.  兔不可復得,而身為宋國笑。

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 8.  今欲以先王政,治當世之民,皆守株之類。

měi beautiful, excellent; to praise
yáo Yáo, the sage king
shùn Shùn, the sage king
tāng Tāng, founder of the Shāng dynasty
King Wŭ, founder of the Zhōu dynasty
Yŭ, founder of the Xià dynasty
wéi (here) marks agent in a passive sentence (see “Particles and Grammar”)
xīn new
xiào to laugh; to smile
to fix  (as a definition or truth, see index entry in Graham ‘Fixing ahead’), to fix a time; to hope, to expect; a period of time
one year; a one-year mourning period
xiū (here) long, distant
yīn (here) to follow; consequently
bèi to provide for, to prepare against; all
zhū a stump
a rabbit
chù to run against; to come into contact with
zhé to break, to snap off
jǐng a neck
shì to undo, to release; to explain, to elucidate
shŏu to keep, to guard; to keep close to; to maintain; to garrison
to hope
shēn self; body

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 成語 : 守株待 (dài “await”) 兔 stupid and unimaginative in doing things; to hope for gain without effort

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 株守成法 to blindly cling to established precedent, to resist change

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 D.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 1.  魯穆公使衆公子。

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 2.  或宦於晉,或宦於荊。

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 3.  犁渠曰:假人於越而救溺子,越人雖善游,子必不生矣。

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 4.  失火而取水於海,海水雖多,火必不滅矣。

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 5.  遠水不救近火也。

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 6.  今晉與荊雖強,而齊近魯。

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 7.  患其不救乎?

魯穆公 lŭ mù gōng Duke Mù of Lŭ (a state in southern Shāndōng)
huò some; perhaps
huàn an official (here they are actually hostages)
jìn Jìn (name of a state)
jīng Jīng (alternative name of the state of 楚 Chŭ)
犁渠 lí qú Lí Qú (personal name)
jiă to borrow; to make use of; false, imitation; falsehood; if, supposing; conditional
yuè Yuè (name of a state in the far southeast of China)
jiù to save, to rescue
to drown
suī even if; even though
yóu to swim
shī to lose; a mistake; a failure
失火 shī huǒ to catch fire
to take; to select
miè to extinguish; to destroy
qiáng strong; to force
Qí (name of a state in Shāndōng, adjacent to Lŭ)
huàn disaster; to regard as a disaster

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 成語:  遠水難 (nán “difficult”) 救近火 or 遠水救不了近火  Water from afar cannot quench a nearby fire.


61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 a.  Major Particles

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 1.  被 bèi

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 This was originally a verb meaning “to cover” or “to spread.”  In the late Warring States period it began to replace 見 jiàn (see Sūnzĭ, Major Particles #3) as the marker of the passive voice.  Thus one would write 被殺 “was killed” or 被傷 “was harmed.”

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 2.  孰 shú

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 This is a question particle that means “which one (of several).”  It can function as an independent subject (“Which one  . . . ?”) or come after nouns (“Of these, which . . . ?”)  An example of the latter is 父子孰高 “Which one is taller, the father or the son?”  An example of the former is 孰是孰非 “Which is right and which wrong?”  It could also appear in more elaborate sentences, such as 此兩法也,孰勝孰敗明矣 “Of these two methods, it is clear which one wins and which loses,” or 齊人與楚人戰,則王以為孰勝 “If the men of Qí fight the men of Chŭ, which (side) does your majesty think will win?”

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 3.  得

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 This character has previously appeared as the verb “to get, to obtain.”  When followed by another verb, it functions as a modal meaning “to be able to, can.”  This meaning probably derives from the sense of “get the opportunity to (verb).”  Thus our extracts include the phrases 不得不事, which would be the equivalent of 不可不事 “cannot not serve, i.e., must serve,” and 人之所得設 “that which men can set up.”

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 4.  為 wéi

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 As was noted in the Sūnzĭ Grammar Notes #2, from the fourth and third centuries B.C. it became common to indicate the agent of a passive sentence with the character 為 in its sense of “to play the role of, to do, to be.”  The verb was often, but not always, nominalized by the inclusion of the character 所.  Thus the pattern was “Subject + 為 + agent + (所) + verb.”  The extracts include the phrases 必為新聖笑 (Extract C, Sentence #1) “certainly be laughed at by the new sages,” and 身為宋國笑 (Extract C, Sentence #7) “he himself was laughed at by the (whole) state of Sòng.”  An example of the use of 所 in this pattern is 為獸所食 “(subject) was eaten by wild beasts.”


71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 A.  1. Now the people within the borders all speak of social order. 2. As for those who have collected (literally “stored”) the models/methods of Lord Shāng and Guăn Zhòng [i.e., legalist writings on the state], every household has them, but the state grows poorer.  3. [This is because] those who speak of plowing [i.e., agriculture] are numerous, but those who grasp a plow are few.  4. Those within the boundaries all speak of military affairs.  5. As for those who have collected the writings of Sūn Wŭ and Wú Qǐ [i.e., military treatises], every household has them, but the armies grow weaker. 6. [This is because] those who speak of warfare are numerous, but those who wear armor are few. 7. Therefore an enlightened ruler uses their strength, but does not listen to their words. 8. He rewards their achievements, but invariably prohibits the useless. 9. Therefore the people will totally exhaust all their energy in order to obey their superiors. 10. The use of [physical] strength in agriculture is wearying, but the fact that people do it [is because] they say, “One can gain so as to become rich.”  11. Serving in war is dangerous, but the fact that people do it [is because] they say, “One can gain so as to become noble.”  12. Now if they cultivate literary studies and practice [fine] speech, then without the toil of agriculture they will have the fruit of wealth; without the danger of warfare they will have the honor of nobility. 13. Then who would not act thus? 14. Therefore a hundred men will work at wisdom, while [only] one uses his physical strength. 15. If those working at wisdom are numerous, then the laws are ruined. 16. If those using their strength are few, then the state becomes poor. 17. This is the means by which the world/age is thrown into chaos. 18.Therefore the state of the enlightened ruler has no writings on [silk] documents or bamboo strips, but takes the law as its teaching. 19.  It has no words of the former kings, but takes the officials to be their teachers.

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 This passage begins with 今, and it is worth noting that, as in many texts from the period, this character signals that the author is about to criticize current practice.  Sentences #1-6 consist of two elaborate arguments that are exactly parallel (with one exception to be noted).  The arguments are devoted to agriculture and warfare, the two bases of the state advocated in the Hán Fēizĭ and the Shāng Jūn shū.  You will find throughout the Hán Fēizĭ a great elegance and skill in argument and exposition.  This is a typical example.  Note that the 治 of Sentence #1 is parallel to the 兵 at the end of Sentence #4.  Since the failure of 治 is marked by the poverty due to the shortage of farmers (in Sentence #3), the argument essentially equates proper government and social order with the encouragement of agriculture.  In Sentence #2 the phrase preceding 者 could again be read three ways: a) collecting the works of Shāng and Guăn, b) those who collect the works of Shāng and Guăn, c) what “collecting the works of Shāng and Guăn” means.  However, since the next phrase states that the households have them, the correct reading must be (b).  In English one might be able to say “has it,” where the “it” meant “collecting,” but the Chinese 有 cannot refer to the possession, as opposed to the existence, of an action.  The 家 here would best be read as an adverb, “by the household [as in ‘by the pound’].”  This would indicate that every household had one, thus reinforcing the 皆 in Sentence #1.  To read 家 as a subject would be weaker, because it would not indicate universality.  The choice of the verb 貧 as the negative result of studying the legalist texts indicates that the purpose of 治, identified with the encouragement of agriculture, is to generate wealth (as in the slogan 富國強兵).  The fact that the character 法 in Sentence #2 is paralleled by 書 in Sentence #5 shows that the word here refers to texts, as in 兵法.  Sentence #3 consists of two parallel, four-character phrases.  The second characters in each phrase (耕 and 耒) are near synonyms, the third characters identical, and the fourth characters (衆 and 寡) exact opposites.  Hence the structure of the sentence is built around the neat opposition of 言 and 執, highlighting the passage’s denunciation of empty words and insistence on the need for physical action.  The 也 here might serve simply to mark the break between the first full argument and the parallel second, which also ends with 也 (see Sentence #6).  However, there is also here what could be described as an expanded subject = predicate structure.  The argument entails that the situation described in the passage up to the character 貧 in Sentence #2 is equal to/produced by the situation described in the eight characters immediately preceding the 也 in Sentence #3.  This same structure of identity/causation also figures in the parallel argument (Sentences #4-6).  In Sentence #4 the 境內之民 of Sentence #1 is abbreviated to 境內.  This abbreviation is possible because it is the only duplicated phrase (except 家有之, which is too short to abbreviate), and economy is a stylistic virtue.  Note how the author systematically reduces repetition by plugging in synonyms: 書 (#5) for 法 (#2), 多 (#6) for 衆 (#3), and 少 (#6) for 寡 (#3).  This is also a feature of good style. The subject of Sentence #7 (明主) is also the understood subject of Sentence #8.  In both sentences, the subject applies across two predicates, both of which are composed of parallel, three-character phrases divided by opposed particles (不 in Sentence #7 and 必 in Sentence #8).  Thus Sentence #7 states that the subject does A and does not do B, reiterating the opposition between action and speech.  Sentence #8 states that when the subject does A, he invariably does B, a positive injunction.  The parallelism of the two sentences equates 其言 in Sentence #7 with 無用 in Sentence #8, once again marking the perceived uselessness of mere words. In Sentences #7-8 the four phrases after 明主 are “bracketed” by the recurring character 用.  Sentence #9 begins with the linking 故, followed by the subject 民, which parallels 明主 (Sentence #7), which also followed 故.  The predicate again consists of two three-character phrases, in this case linked by 以 “in order to.”  The use of 死 as an intensifying adjective is worth noting.  Sentences #10-11 again present parallel arguments on the twin themes of agriculture and warfare.  The first 也 in both sentences marks a pre-posed topic, while the 者 nominalizes the phrase “the fact that the people do (為) it.”  The structure of these parallel arguments is like that of Sentences #1-6.  Everything up to 者 describes a situation, and the phrase preceding the final 也 gives the reason/identity.  The only difference is the addition of the 曰.  This makes the “reason” a quotation, in which the people themselves are invoked to answer the paradox and the implicit question posed in the first part of each sentence.  The use in Sentence #11 of 為事 “performing a service” as the nominalized verb applied to warfare echoes the old account of warfare as the 大事 “great affair” of the state, and the opening line of the Sūnzĭ (Extract A, Sentence #1).  Note that agriculture leads to wealth, while warfare leads to nobility, i.e., the titles gained through military service.  Sentence #12 begins with 今, which again signals the folly of present practice.  Sentences #12-13 form a large “if/when . . . then. . .” unit, in which #12 functions as the “if/when” and #13 as the “then,” as marked by the initial 則.  Sentence #12 itself is a smaller “if/when . . . then. . .” unit, in which the “if” consists of two parallel, three-character phrases (修文學, 習言談) which indicate the written and oral aspects of literary pursuits.  The “then” (again marked by 則) consists of two parallel phrases, both of which consist of two four-character phrases linked by 而.  The two parallel phrases (無耕之勞 and 無戰之危) that precede each 而 both consist of 無 in the first position, 之 in the third position, in position two the two activities (耕 and 戰), and in position four their two unpleasant aspects (勞 and 危).  The two second phrases (有富之實 and 有貴之尊) oppose 有 to 無, keep the 之, insert the positive result (富 and 貴) of the activity in place of the activity itself, and introduce positive consequences (實 and 尊) in place of the unpleasant aspects.  The positive consequence of agriculture is appropriately 實, literally “fruit,” with the figurative extensions “substance, reality.”  The positive consequence of war is 尊, a synonym of 貴.  These second parallel phrases are awkward when translated into English, but they give an air of almost mathematical certainty to the exposition in Chinese.  The 則 at the beginning of Sentence #13 indicates that all that has preceded it (Sentence #12) is an “if,” and the “then” is the rhetorical question (marked by the particle 邪).  The 人 is a pre-posed topic, with the interrogative pronoun (孰) as the subject. Sentence #14 begins with 是以 “therefore” and consists of two parallel, four-character phrases contrasting the number of people engaged in mental activities (百) with those engaged in physical labor (一). Sentences #15-16 take the second half of each of the two four-character phrases of #14 (事智 and 用力) and turn them into “if” clauses followed by two parallel “then” clauses.  Sentence #17 is the familiar 此 “this” as subject = predicate (世之所以亂). In Sentences #18-19 the passage closes in a storm of four-character phrases, with only the connective 故 and the two parallel characters 無 lying outside this rhythm.  The two predicates (以法為教 and 以吏為師) are exactly parallel.  The parallel 文 (Sentence #18) and 語 (Sentence #19) echo the written/oral pairing that followed 今 in Sentence #12.  It is noteworthy that 文 leads to 教 (Sentence #18) while 語 leads to 師 (Sentence #19), giving through simple parallelism an epitome of the teaching situation.

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 This passage articulates the legalist position that agriculture and warfare are the keys to state power and hence must be the sole activity rewarded by the state.  It focuses on the particular menace presented by the tendency of states in this period to patronize scholars, and consequently denounces the rewarding of any intellectual activity, including even the study of “legalist” works.  This leads to the doctrine of “eliminating language,” or rather of reserving language and education for the documents that are necessary for state power.  It also focuses on the need to manipulate people through rewards, which along with punishments formed the “two handles” by which the ruler could control his subjects.

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 B.  1. Therefore I say, “In cases where the power-base is regulated, there cannot be disorder, and in cases where the power-base is disordered, there cannot be order. 2. This is the natural tendency of things, it is not something men are able to establish.  3. If it is as I said, then this means that it is a case of the power-base obtained by people, and that is all; how could moral worth serve in this? 4. How do I prove it is so?”  5. A guest said, “Among men, there was one who sold a lance and shield.  6. Praising the hardness of his shield, there was nothing that could pierce it. 7. Immediately he likewise praised his lance saying, ‘As for the sharpness of my lance, there is nothing that it cannot pierce.’ 8. Another answered him saying, ‘Using your lance to pierce your shield, how would that be?’  9. That man was unable to answer him. 10. I think that the appellations ‘unpierceable shield’ and ‘all-piercing lance’ cannot both [simultaneously] work [literally ‘be established’].”  11. It is the nature of the Way of the morally worthy that it cannot impose prohibitions, but it is the nature of the Way of the power-base that there is nothing it cannot prohibit.  12. To use both a ‘non-prohibiting moral worth’ and an ‘all-prohibiting power-base,’ this is what [the story of] the ‘lance and shield’ discusses. 13. The mutual incompatibility of moral worth and the power-base is indeed clear.

75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 Sentence #1 consists of two parallel phrases, identical except for the inversion of the antonyms 治 and 亂.  Sentence #2 is a “subject 此 = predicate1 也, it is not (非) predicate2 也.”  This pattern is fairly common, sometimes with the negative first, sometimes with the positive.  It allows the author to make a statement of fact with a balanced, often parallel structure.  Note the opposition here between what is natural or spontaneous (自然) and what is created by men.  The meaning of 勢 in Sentence #2 is the broader sense of “force of circumstances” or “the way things proceed,” but it is interesting to note how the author justifies his political theory through extending the meaning of the term that defines it.  Modern readers might argue that he is using multiple senses of the same term to slip in an unexamined natural sanction for his own theories, but one could reply that 勢 is the same word and that speaking of “two” definitions imposes distinctions not made in the period.  The phrase 所得設 is a modal verb phrase 得設 “able to establish” nominalized with a passive sense by the 所, hence “that which can be established.”  In Sentence #3 the initial 若 indicates an “if…then…” sentence, while 謂 means “means.” The 所得勢 is parallel to 所得設 (in Sentence #2) but here the 得 has its original verbal sense of “to get, to obtain,” thus “the power-base that is obtained.”  而已 (矣) is the standard formula meaning “and that is all.” The final 焉 is the fusion of 於 + 此, hence literally, “moral worth what/how serve in this?”  In short, order or disorder is controlled by the “power-base” and moral worth is irrelevant.  Sentence #4 uses the standard phrase 何以 “by means of what” to ask “how.”  明 is a transitive verb “to make clear,” thus “to prove.”  The object is 其然, literally “the being thus/right of it,” where “it” refers to the argument that the author has just made.  In Sentence #5 the placing of the parable in the mouth of a retainer/guest/interlocutor is worth noting.  The first sentence of the parable is the familiar “among A 有 there was one who B 者.”  In Sentence #6, the second half appears to be a quote, but it is not explicitly indicated.  In Sentence #7, however, the quote is clearly indicated and one should probably retroactively apply it by parallelism.  It is also interesting that the pre-posed topic in the quote (吾矛之利) is parallel to the object of the first phrase of Sentence #6 (其盾之堅).  It is almost as though the author suppressed the quote in the first sentence so that he could achieve parallelism without repetition by changing “person” between sentences.  The second half of the quote in Sentence #7 is exactly parallel to the second half of Sentence #6 with 物 as a pre-posed topic in both.  Sentence #8 follows the sentence pattern: describe an action/situation + 何如.  Usually this is a way of making a suggestion and asking whether the interlocutor thinks it a good idea, but here he is actually asking what the result would be.  The description of the action consists of two verbs (以 and 陷) with parallel, three-character objects. Note that having appeared in the third person in Sentence #6 (“his…”) and first person in Sentence #7 (“my…”), the sword and shield figure in the second person in Sentence #8 (“your…”).  In Sentence #9 the use of 其人 serves to distinguish the vendor from his interlocutor, who was identified only as 人.  The negative 弗 works like a fusion of 不 + 之, i.e., the object is implied, thus “could not answer him [or “it,” i.e., the question].”  We have here a duel in which the interlocutor 應之 (Sentence #8), but the vendor cannot in turn 應之 (Sentence #9). Sentence #10 begins with 以為 “I think.” The two object-names (不可陷之盾 and 無不陷之矛) are parallel phrases in which the second phrase becomes the opposite of the first through the doubling of the negative. They are “acting as names” 為名, i.e., appellations. Since they are opposites, they 不可兩立, “cannot both be established,” i.e., exist.  Sentence #11 consists of two parallel phrases linked by 而.  Each half has a parallel pre-posed topic marked by 也, and parallel, three-character predicates which stand in the same opposition as that of the lance and shield in Sentence #10.  Graham translates this sentence, “The Way of the Worthy may not be forbidden, yet it is the Way of Power[-base] to forbid anything.”  Since 禁 is normally a transitive verb with no object here, it is not impossible to read it as a passive voice.  However, I reject this reading for two reasons.  First, the author of this passage would not argue that the “Way of the Worthy” cannot be forbidden, since he is arguing precisely that it should be forbidden.  Moreover, according to some passages in the Shāng Jūn shū it had been done away with.  Second, and more important, a passage in the Shāng Jūn shū, to which the Hán Fēizĭ is intellectually tied, argues that the weakness of the rule of the Worthy was that it lacked “regulations,” and that these regulations were introduced by creating “prohibitions” 禁 enforced by officials.  In its historical account of the necessary replacement of 上賢 “placing the worthy in authority” by 貴貴 “honoring the noble,” the Shāng Jūn shū (Excerpt A, Sentences #10 and #18) asserted as historical fact the logical incompatibility posited here by the Hán Fēizĭ.  In short, the inability of the Worthy to 禁, because they would not inflict mutilating punishments, appears as a standard legalist critique in this period, so it is almost certain that this is the meaning intended by the author of this passage. The phrase following 以 in Sentence #12 is a pre-posed topic which is then recapitulated in the character 此, which functions again as the subject of a “subject = predicate 也” structure. The phrase 此 . . . 之說 appears to mean the same as 此 . . . 之謂, a formula used regularly in the Xúnzĭ after a philosophical explanation is given for a line quoted from the Poetry or the Documents.  In Sentence #13, introduced as a general maxim by the 夫, everything prior to 亦 is the subject, and 明 is the predicate.  明 is a verb, so it takes the final particle 矣.  The core of the subject is the 不相容, which is nominalized by the preceding 之, hence “the mutual incompatibility.”  亦 is the intensifying adverb, “indeed.”

76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 C.  1. Now at present there are those who praise the Way of Yáo, Shùn, Tāng, Wŭ, and Yŭ to the present age, and they will certainly be laughed at by the new sages. 2. Therefore the sage does not fix high antiquity as truth, and he takes as model no constant “ought.”  3. He assesses the affairs of the age and following [his assessments] provides for them [the affairs].  4. Among the men of Sòng there was one plowing.  5. In the field there was a stump; a rabbit ran and collided with the stump; having broken its neck, it died.  6. Consequently [the man of Sòng] set down his plow and kept watch by the stump, hoping to again obtain a rabbit.  7. A rabbit could not be again obtained, and he himself was laughed at by the whole state of Sòng.  8. Now those who want to use the policies of the former kings to govern the people of the present age are all in the same category as “keeping watch by the stump.”

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 Sentence #1 is a simple existential proposition marked by 有 “there are,” and everything up to the 必 simply tells us what “there is.”  This long phrase nominalized by 者 functions as the understood subject of what follows the comma. In this long phrase 美 is the verb, 道 is the object, the five names preceding the first 之 modify the object, 於 functions as a preposition marking an indirect object 世, which is itself modified by the two characters 當今 preceding the second 之.  The 為 in the predicate indicates passive voice, so the character 笑 could have been preceded by a 所.  However, particles are always optional, and this one was probably omitted for reasons of economy and the four-character rhythm (which already appeared in the phrase 當今之世, and will figure in both predicates in Sentence #2 and beyond).  Note also that once again the character 今 is linked to contemporary errors.  In Sentence #2 是以 is the connective “by means of this,” i.e., “therefore,” 聖人 is the subject, and there are two four-character predicates.  Both predicates consist of 不 + verb + adjective + noun, where the adjective and noun form the object.  Sentence #3 consists of two four-character phrases that are not really parallel, but look as though they are because of the 之 in the third position. However, the 之 in the first phrase is the marker of modification followed by a noun, while the one in the second phrase is the object pronoun followed by a verb.  Sentence #4 follows the formula “group + 有 + phrase + 者” “among [group] there was one who [phrased].”  Sentence #5 consists of three four-character phrases in succession, which give a simple narrative.  Sentence #6 continues the narrative, and has another four-character phrase (冀復得兔).  Its understood subject is the man of Sòng.  Sentence #7 consists of two five-character phrases linked by 而.  Both phrases consist of a one-character subject followed by a four-character predicate.  In the second predicate the 為 again marks a passive voice.  Sentence #8 again introduces error with the character 今.  It takes the form of modal verb (欲) + four-character phrase + main verb (治) + four-character phrase (end of subject) = 皆 + four-character phrase.  The last two four-character phrases are parallel.

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 This passage is a parable on the standard legalist doctrine that times change and the practices of government must change to meet the times.  The 成語 derived from this story preserved this idea in later Chinese.  It is also worth noting that many late Warring States texts–Hán Fēizĭ, Zhàn guó cè, Yànzĭ chūn qiū, Lǚ shì chūn qiū–contain large numbers of such anecdotes.

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 D.  1. Duke Mù of Lŭ dispatched his numerous sons. 2. Some became “officials” in Jìn, some became “officials” in Jīng [Chŭ].  3. Lí Qú said, “If, making use of a man from Yuè, one [sought to] save a drowning child, even though the men of Yuè are skillful swimmers, the child would certainly not survive.  4. If a fire broke loose and you fetched water from the sea, even though there is an abundance of seawater, the fire would certainly not be extinguished.  5. Distant water cannot put out a nearby fire. 6. Now although Jìn and Jīng [Chŭ] are the most powerful, Qí is nearest Lŭ. 7. Could you regard their [Jìn and Jīng] not saving you as a calamity [i.e., ‘an act of God’]?”

80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 Sentence #1 consists simply of a three-character subject, a verb, and a three-character object.  Sentence #2 consists of two parallel, four-character phrases.  The subjects of these phrases, the two 或, refer back to the object of Sentence #1.  There is no real rhythmic pattern to Sentence #3, which has an implicit “if . . . then certainly . . .” structure marked by the character 必.  The “if” element consists of two phrases linked by 而, and the two objects of these phrases (人 and 子) become the subjects of their corresponding phrases in the “then” element.  Sentence #4 follows the same basic structure and is essentially parallel in its “then” element to the “then” element of Sentence #3, but it lacks the neat transformation of object into subject.  It does, however, feature three consecutive, four-character phrases.  Sentence #5, which evolves into the vernacular 成語, depends on the parallel opposition of subject and object, with “distant” set against “nearby” and “water” against “fire.”  In Sentence #6 the sense indicates that the stative verbs (強 and 近) are comparative, as they still often are in vernacular Chinese.  The reading of Sentence #7 hinges on the sense of 患 as a calamity that is beyond one’s control.  The ruler could not 患 (“regard as a calamity”) a disaster that he himself had brought about.  The character 其 clearly refers to Jìn and Jīng (Chŭ), because they are 遠 and hence, like the water of what became the 成語, they 不救.

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