小人 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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xiǎorén 小人

Petty Man

“小人”最初用以表明人的社会身份与地位,通常指被统治者或地位低下之人。后世又以人的德行高下来界定“小人”。德行卑下者被称作“小人”(与“君子”相对),“小人”只关注和追逐个人的权力或利益,为了获取私利不惜违背道义,缺乏对“道”的理解与尊重。

The term was originally used to indicate a person’s social status, usually referring to the rulers’ subjects or those low in social ranking. Later generations also used the term to indicate one’s moral standard in a disapproving way. Those of base character were called petty men as opposed to men of virtue. A petty man only pursues his personal interests or profits, even by violating morality and righteousness; and such people have no understanding of or regard for Dao.

引例 Citations:

◎君子喻于义,小人喻于利。(《论语·里仁》)

(君子知晓并遵循义,小人知晓并追逐利。)

A man of virtue understands and observes what is morally right; while a petty man only has his eyes on and goes after what brings him personal gains. (The Analects)

◎苟安务得,所以为小人。(朱熹《论语集注》)

(苟且偷安务求得利,因此是小人。)

They are petty men because they only seek ease and comfort of the moment and pursue personal gains. (Zhu Xi: The Analects Variorum)

 

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