Monday, May 20, 2013

Selections from Xunzi III

Scott Bradley


All quotes are from Xunzi: Basic Writings; Burton Watson (Columbia Univ. Press, 2003).


THE REGULATIONS OF A KING (Section 9)

"If anyone is found acting or using his talents against the good of the time, condemn him to death without mercy."

"In this way the two categories will be clearly distinguished, worthy and unworthy men will not be thrown together, and right and wrong will not be confused," (When certainty about such things attains power, tyranny has its day.)

"Where ranks are all equal, there will not be enough goods to go around; where power is equally distributed, there will be lack of unity; where there is equality among the masses, it will be impossible to employ them. The very principle of Heaven and Earth exemplifies the principle of higher and lower . . ." (Feudalism is the way.)

(Mis-)quoting the Documents: "'Equality is based on inequality.'"

Quoting an 'old text': "'The ruler is the boat and the common people are the water. It is the water that bears the boat up, and the water that capsizes it.'" (So the masses have recourse; but since this can only be seen in hindsight, any current rebellion should be suppressed. Revolution is rebellion in hindsight.)

"[T]he ruler who relies upon strength will on the contrary be reduced to weakness." (Most Daoist!)

The Confucian way: "This is what is called reviving the old."

"The tiger and leopard are fierce beasts, but the gentleman strips off their hides for his personal use. Thus, wherever the sky stretches and the earth extends, there is nothing beautiful left unfound, nothing useful left unused." (Drill, baby, drill.)

Employ "the five punishments". (Burton's note: "Tattooing of criminals, cutting off the nose, cutting off the feet, castration, and death.")

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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