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weather: cold & wet
outside: 7.8°C
mood: brooding
Excerpt from the Foreword of the Tao Teh Ching translated by John C. H. Wu:

Both Confucianism and Taoism complement each other, however incompatible they seem at first sight to be. The former places a man in his proper relation to his fellow-men, the latter in proper relation to nature. A third philosphy, Buddhism, though introduced from India, deals with the problem of human suffering and with man's ultimate destiny. These three inheritances ... have moulded the thinking not only of the Chinese people but of all Eastern Asia. There is truth, then, in the common saying that every Chinese wears a Confucian cap, a Taoist robe and Buddhist sandals.

Whereas Confucius counseled his people to labor untiringly for the welfare and dignity of man in society, Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu on the other hand cautioned them against excessive interference. In their view, the urge to change what by nature is already good only increases the sum-total of human unhappiness. These two urges: on the one hand, to do something, and on the other hand, not to do too much, are forever contending in our natures. The man who can maintain a just balance between them is on the road to social and intellectual maturity.

Arthur W. Hummel,
Former Head, Division of Orientalia
Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

I bought it because it has the 道德經 text in Traditional characters alongside Dr. Wu's English translation.


Nov. 3rd, 2005 04:03 am (UTC)
Re: my two cents...
when I put it side by side with the translation, I can almost persuade myself that I partly get it =)) (Hanzi Bar plugin for FireFox comes in handy, too.)

But I'm sure it's totally worth the effort. Maybe you can recommend a primer on 文言? (the structure of the sentences seems so weird my head hurts. seems like even a bit of an explanation would go a long way)

So, what would be a good translation of the "punch line"?

The Russian translation that I have says something like "How can you free someone how's been punished by heaven itself?"

bride, sorry for this intrusion ;) I hope it's not too inappropriate.

Nov. 3rd, 2005 04:05 am (UTC)
Re: my two cents...
> how's been

that is, "who's been".
Nov. 3rd, 2005 04:08 am (UTC)
Re: my two cents...
It's quite alright. I'm sitting here in complete fascination =)
Nov. 3rd, 2005 05:30 am (UTC)
Re: my two cents...
As with Chinese in general, there aren't that many good teaching materials. Shaddick had a series of readers that were pretty good, but are kind of dated now (they use Wade-Giles, etc.). BLCU has some textbooks, but they're only so-so.

The Russian translation is pretty accurate, but remember, the guy saying this has been hobbled - mutilated by having his toes cut off - for some unspecified past crime; that's why Confucius rejects him. Where No-Toes is impeded in his movement because of a punishment inflicted upon him by men, Confucius is impeded in his thought because of a punishment inflicted upon him by Heaven. I think Mair actually translates No-Toes' last line as "Heaven is hobbling him."


The Bride of the First House

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