Dalrympian Confucianism

analectsDalrymple draws attention to Analects 13.3:

子路曰。衞君待子而爲政、子將奚先 子曰。必也正名乎。子路曰。有是哉。子之迂也 奚其正 子曰。野哉、由也 君子於其所不知、蓋闕如也。名不正、則言不訓。言不訓、則事不成。事不成、則禮樂不興。禮樂不興、則刑罰不中。刑罰不中、則民無所措手足。故君子名之必可 言也、言之必可行也。君子於其言、無所苟而已矣。。

Here, Dalrymple explains, Confucius pointed to

the political dangers of saying what is not meant. If language is the medium of thought, then loose language undermines proper thought.

Leys renders the chapter thus:

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 19.07.39Zilu asked: ‘If the ruler of Wei were to entrust you with the government of the country, what would be your first initiative?’

The Master said: ‘It would certainly be to rectify the names.’

Zilu said: ‘Really? Isn’t this a little farfetched? What is this rectification for?’

The Master said: ‘How boorish can you get! Whereupon a gentleman is incompetent, thereupon he should remain silent. If the names are not correct, language is without an object. When language is without an object, no affair can be effected. When no affair can be effected, rites and music wither. When rites and music wither, punishments and penalties miss their target. When punishments and penalties miss their target, the people do not know where they stand.

‘Therefore, whatever a gentleman conceives of, he must be able to say; and whatever he says, he must be able to do. In the matter of language, a gentleman leaves nothing to chance.’

 

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