Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Hsun-Tzu NULL

Confucian Philosopher and Scholar

"Rites [li] rest on three bases: heaven and earth, which are the source of all life; the ancestors, who are the source of the human race; [and] sovereigns and teachers, who are the source of government... Should any of the three be missing, either there would be no people or people would be without peace. Hence rites are to serve Heaven on high and earth below, and to honor the ancestors and elevate the sovereigns and teachers... Who holds to the rites is never confused in the midst of multifarious change; who deviates therefrom is lost. Rites - are they not the culmination of culture?"

"If there is no dull and determined effort, there will be no brilliant achievement."

"Men of all social stations live together: they are equal in their desires, yet vary in their methods; they are equal in their passions, yet different in their intelligence; that is their nature-given vitality."

"One must remember equality, yet also be aware of difference, for if the people are allowed to act as it pleases them without coming up against displeasure, if one gives rein to its desires without setting [any] limit, it becomes confused and can no longer take delight in anything."

" Man's nature is evil; goodness is the result of conscious activity. The nature of man is such that he is born with a fondness for profit. If he indulges this fondness, it will lead him into wrangling and strife, and all sense of courtesy and humility will disappear. He is born with feelings of envy and hate, and if he indulges these, they will lead him into violence and crime, and all sense of loyalty and good faith will disappear."

"When men acquire something, they never get only what they desire and nothing more; when men reject something, they never rid themselves only of what they hate and nothing more. Therefore, when men act, it must be on the basis of some scale or standard. If a balance is not properly adjusted, then heavy objects will rise in the air and men will suppose they are light, and light objects will sink down so that men suppose they are heavy. Hence men become deluded as to the true weight of the objects."

" The gentleman trains his eyes so that they desire only to see what is right, his ears so that they desire to hear only what is right, his mind so that it desires to think only what is right. When he has truly learnt to love what is right, his eyes will take greater pleasure in it than in the fine colours; his ears will take greater pleasure than in the fine sounds; his mouth will take greater pleasure than in the fine flavours; and his mind will feel keener delight than in possession of the world. When he has reached this stage, he cannot be subverted by power or the love of profit. He cannot be swayed by the masses. He cannot be moved by the world. He follows this one thing in life; he follows it in death. This is what is called constancy of virtue. "