人 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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rén 人

Human Being; Humanity

“人”字自创生时起,即被注入了中华人文精神。字形上像人侧身垂手侍立,含谦逊之意。因为人懂得思考,明白个体力量的不足,需要与他人合作。古代思想家认为,人是与天、地并立的生命存在(合称“三才”),人是天地的心灵、宇宙之精华,因此最为尊贵。中国古人的许多思想尤其是政治、伦理思想,都基于“人”提出故而闪耀着人文的光辉。

The Chinese character for human being (人) has been imbued with Chinese humanistic spirit since it was created. In its ancient form, it resembled a man standing with his body slightly bending forward, his hands on his sides, looking modest and polite. Because humans have the ability to think, they understand that an individual is too weak to survive alone and, therefore, they need to cooperate with each other. Ancient Chinese thinkers believed that human beings were one of the three major components of the universe, the other two being heaven and earth. Humanity was the soul of the world; therefore, human beings were the most distinguished among all things. Many ancient concepts, particularly in the political and ethical spheres, were based on this humanistic spirit.

引例 Citation:

◎故人者,其天地之德,阴阳之交,鬼神之会,五行之秀气也。……故人者,天地之心也,五行之端也。(《礼记·礼运》)

(所以说,人具有得自天地的秉性,是阴阳二气交合、形体和精神结合的产物,凝聚着金、木、水、火、土五行的精华。……所以说,人是天地的心灵,是由五行构成的万物之首。)

So human beings possess attributes bestowed by heaven and earth. It is an integration of yin and yang, a combination of form and spirit, embodying the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire and soil… Therefore, humanity represents the soul of the world, ranking the first among all things composed of five elements. (The Book of Rites)

◎天生万物,唯人为贵。(《列子·天瑞》)

(自然生成的万事万物,只有人是最尊贵的。)

Among all natural things, human beings are the most distinguished. (Liezi)

◎人,天地之性最贵者也。(许慎《说文解字》)

(人是天地万物之中秉性最为尊贵的。)

Human nature is the most distinguished among all things between heaven and earth. (Xu Shen: Explanation of Script and Elucidation of Characters)

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