This term refers to norms of conduct observed in daily life. Relative to major principles, minor principles concern detailed regulations and standards of conduct and are about routine duties of people of different social status, and how exactly they should be performed. “Minor principles” are the rules that people must observe in their daily life. These principles are not of fundamental significance themselves, but negligence of them will lead to unseemly behavior. Nevertheless, as long as major principles are always observed, there is no need to get caught up in the minor ones.
A person of high moral standards should not be held accountable for failing to comply with minor principles; a person with a fine reputation should not be rebuked for minor flaws. (Huainanzi)
One who observes both major and minor principles is a superb ruler. One who observes major principles and sometimes ignores minor ones is a not-so-superb ruler. If someone fails to observe major principles, even if he observes minor ones, he should be ignored. (Xunzi)