小节 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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xiǎojié 小节

Minor Principles

日常生活中的行事规范与节度。与“大节”相对,“小节”规定着不同身份的人在日常生活中所应担负的职责以及相应的行事法则。“小节”是人们在日常生活中需要持守的节度。”小节”虽然不关乎根本性的原则,但对于“小节”的疏忽与放任,也会造成德性的破坏。不过,如果能够始终持守“大节”,也可不必事事拘泥于“小节”。

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.

引例 Citation:

◎故人有厚德,无问其小节;而有大誉,无疵其小故。(《淮南子·泛论训》)

(因此,人如果有极大的美德,则不必追求其小节;如果有崇高的声誉,则不必挑剔其小错。)

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)

◎大节是也,小节是也,上君也。大节是也,小节一出焉,一入焉,中君也。大节非也,小节虽是也,吾无观其余矣。(《荀子·王制》)

(持守大节,也持守小节,是上等的君主。持守大节,小节有时持守、有时不持守,是中等的君主。不能持守大节,即使遵守小节,我也不会看他其余的行为了。)

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)

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