君子不器 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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jūnzǐ-bùqì 君子不器

A Gentleman Is Not an Implement.

君子不能像某种器物一样,只限于特定的形态和功能。出自《论语·为政》。孔子(前551—前479)原话有两层含义:其一,每种器物都有自己特定的形态和功用,但君子的目标不能囿于具体的器物形态或仅限于某一方面的功用,而是通达其基本原理,尽可能成为通才;其二,君子不能满足于制作器物这样的一技之长,而是致力于事物基本规律的探究也即超越有形的器物而去把握无形的“道”。后世学者主要发挥后一含义。“君子不器”在当今仍有普适意义,即君子不应拘于本职事务的处理,而应有全局观念,致力于对基本原则和普遍规律的体认与遵循。

A true gentleman is not like an implement that has a fixed form and its operation subject to its properties. This term originates from The Analects by Confucius (551-479 BC). What Confucius meant was: first, an implement has its fixed form and properties. However, a gentleman’s vision should not be limited by its form and properties; instead he should know all their basic functions and be a man of broad knowledge. Second, a gentleman should not stop at knowing only one type of skill for making implements. Instead he should explore all basic rules governing the operation of things, i.e., he should see beyond tangible things and master their intangible rules of operation. This perspective was accepted and further developed by later scholars. The concept still applies today. That is to say, one should not be satisfied in fulfilling his own duties only but should bear in mind the big picture, and better understand and abide by basic principles and universal laws.

引例 Citations:

◎子夏曰:“百工居肆以成其事,君子学以致其道。”(《论语·子张》)

(子夏说:“各行各业的工匠在作坊里来完成自己的工作,君子通过学习来掌握普遍的道。”)

Zixia said: “All craftsmen accomplish their tasks by working hard in their workshops. A gentleman should master universal laws by assiduous study.” (The Analects)

◎君子曰:“大德不官,大道不器,大信不约,大时不齐。”察于此四者,可以有志于学[本]矣。(《礼记·学记》)

(君子说:“有很高德行的人,不限于担任一种官职;普遍的道理,不只适用于一件事物;最高的诚信,不限于誓约;天的四季变化,也无须整齐划一。”察知这四种情况,就可以有志于把握住根本的规律了。)

The gentleman said: “A man of high virtue will not be limited to work at one official position. A universal truth does not apply only to one thing. Good faith does not require making pledges. Changes of seasons do not follow the same pattern.” One who is fully aware of these four rules will be able to master fundamental laws. (The Book of Rites)

◎农精于田而不可以为田师,贾(ɡǔ)精于市而不可以为市师,工精于器而不可以为器师……精于物者以物物,精于道者兼物物。(《荀子·解蔽》)

(农人精于种田但当不了管理农业的官员,商人精于生意但当不了管理市场的官员,工匠精于制作器物但当不了管理制造业的官员……精通某一具体事物的人只能治理某一事物,而精通普遍规律的人却能治理一切事物。)

A good farmer may not be able to work as an agricultural management official. A clever businessman may not be able to work as a market management official. An experienced craftsman may not be able to serve as a manager of the manufacturing trade… One who excels in the operation of one specific thing may operate well that thing only. One who excels in universal laws is able to manage all things. (Xunzi)

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