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Turner

The Great Learning 1-2

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[1] 大學之道、在明明德、在親民、在止於至善。

The way of great learning consists in manifesting one's bright virtue, consists in loving the people, consists in stopping in perfect goodness.

[2] 知止而后有定、

 

When you know where to stop, you have stability.

 

定而后能靜、

 

When you have stability, you can be tranquil.

 

靜而后能安、

 

When you are tranquil, you can be at ease.

 

安而后能慮、

 

When you are at ease, you can deliberate.

 

慮而后能得。

 

When you can deliberate you can attain your aims.

 

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[2] 知止而后有定、

 

When you know where to stop,

 

what does this mean?

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Taoist Texts, here are two alternate translations of that first verse:

 

"What the Great Learning teaches, is -- to illustrate illustrious virtue; to renovate the people; and to rest in the highest excellence." (http://nothingistic.org/library/confucius/learning/learning01.html)

"The Dao of great learning lies

in making bright virtue brilliant,
in making the people new,
in dwelling at the limit of the good."
So the verb seems to denote "stopping" or "resting" or "dwelling," it seems. Here is part of the commentary on the verse:
"In the Book of Poetry, it is said, "Profound was king Wan. With how bright and unceasing a feeling of reverence did he regard his resting places!" As a sovereign, he rested in benevolence. As a minister, he rested in reverence. As a son, he rested in filial piety. As a father, he rested in kindness. In communication with his subjects, he rested in good faith." (nothingistic.org - emphasis added)
Hopefully this helps!
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Hopefully this helps!

yes it does thanks a lot Turner. I will just note for what its worth: in the paragraphs that you have quoted this verb 止 seems to be absent. Its probably unimportant.

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You bet Taoist Texts.

 

I also found this diagram that might help with verses 1-2, as well as verses 3-5 which follow.

 

ch4image001.png

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You bet Taoist Texts.

 

I also found this diagram that might help with verses 1-2, as well as verses 3-5 which follow.

 

ch4image001.png

 

I wish you would put in references. I am already familiar with this site, but for most people this post would be a dead end (Though if they know how to toggle between HTML code and the HTML interpreter they would find the URL for the link.). The diagram comes from here:

 

Chapter Four of Ten Diagrams of Sage Learning by Yi T'oegye

 

From a translation and commentary by by Michael Kalton of a fascinating work that was originally written as a treatise on rulership for a Korean King. It is an excellent source for the study of several important texts and the start of it can be found here:

 

To Become a Sage

 

It is a free internet version of a book published by Columbia University Press in 1988.

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You bet Taoist Texts.

 

I also found this diagram that might help with verses 1-2, as well as verses 3-5 which follow.

just TT will do ;) This all is well and good and quite scholarly, but coming back to the departure point of this whole text: 'knowing where to stop' is a gross mistranslation. What that formulaic expression really means is 'to stop knowledge'. How big is the rift between the former and the latter is up to you to judge;).

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just TT will do ;) This all is well and good and quite scholarly, but coming back to the departure point of this whole text: 'knowing where to stop' is a gross mistranslation. What that formulaic expression really means is 'to stop knowledge'. How big is the rift between the former and the latter is up to you to judge;).

 

Ah, and isn't this the fun of translating these things!

 

To say it means "to stop knowledge" could also superimpose some limits on the meaning.

 

 

"[1] 大學之道、在明明德、在親民、在止於至善。

The way of great learning consists in manifesting one's bright virtue, consists in loving the people, consists in stopping in perfect goodness."

 

The second phrase here is also interesting in it's plurality of potential meanings.

 

在明明德 is very open for a number of ways to understand it, since ming can mean understanding, brightness, illumination, etc. So "The way of great learning consists in clearly understanding virtue" or "consists in brightly illuminating virtue" or simply "consists in brilliant/radiant virtue."

 

 

在親民、在止於至善

Consists in loving (all) people. 在Consists in 止stopping 於after 至reaching/attaining 善righteous goodness

 

I'd say stopping, here, means simply to have contentment in righteous goodness. This could include to stop trying to "figure everything out," but could also mean: stop trying to reach for further "goodness" beyond the radiant virtue of having love for "every walk of people." Be content in/with this radiant virtue and you will know stability, tranquility, and ease; thereby, all under heaven will be sustained in it's harmonious relationships of yin and yang.

 

 

There is some very obvious crossover of Daoist-Confucian influence in this text.

 

We might look for a literal linear English meaning, but I think the writers often knew that their words had meaning beyond what was written.

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I wish you would put in references. I am already familiar with this site, but for most people this post would be a dead end (Though if they know how to toggle between HTML code and the HTML interpreter they would find the URL for the link.).

 

That's a very helpful reminder. Thank you for that, and for posting the links to the source material from Kalton's page. Very good stuff!

 

just TT will do ;) This all is well and good and quite scholarly, but coming back to the departure point of this whole text: 'knowing where to stop' is a gross mistranslation. What that formulaic expression really means is 'to stop knowledge'. How big is the rift between the former and the latter is up to you to judge;).

 

:) Thanks TT. The textual analysis is way beyond me but I did enjoy Harmonious Emptiness' thoughts on it. The contentment he mentions helps to make sense of the "stopping" and shows why it might be a proper "resting" or "dwelling" space.

 

Also, the diagram shows how the steps of stability-tranquility-ease-deliberation-attainment are parts or elements of this "stopping in perfect goodness" process (or "abiding in the highest good" process, as its called in the diagram itself).

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"stopping the search for knowledge" is true too though. Really, this is what is meant by stopping the thoughts, to some degree, too. Just wanted to say good point on that..

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