崇本息末 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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chóngběn-xīmò 崇本息末

Revere the Fundamental and Dismiss the Specific

尊崇“本”以止息“末”,是对待“本”“末”关系的一种方式。王弼在解释老子思想时提出了“崇本息末”的思想,与“崇本举末”相对。这里的“本”指无形、无名者,即“道”;“末”指人为造作的各种形、名。“崇本息末”即是要发挥“道”或“无”的作用以实现万物的自然,同时止息对人为造作的各种形名之物的追逐。在政治领域,“崇本”特指君主以“道”为依据,施行无为之治。君主通过“崇本”,止息有关道德、礼法的教化以及各种浮华、虚伪的言行。

This term deals with the relationship between the fundamental and the specific. In interpreting Laozi, Wang Bi put forth the idea of “revering the fundamental and dismissing the specific,” as opposed to the idea of “revering the fundamental and keeping the specific unchanged.” The fundamental here means Dao which is shapeless and nameless, while the specific refers to man-made things in various forms and names. The term “revere the fundamental and dismiss the specific” is meant to give full rein to Dao and void so as to maintain the inherent nature of all things and at the same time stop the pursuit of all kinds of man-made things in various forms and names. Politically, “revere the fundamental” means that a sovereign should govern on the basis of Dao and do nothing that goes against nature. At the same time, he should dismiss the rigid inculcation of moral values and rules and stop all false and pretentious rhetoric and behaviors.

引例 Citation:

◎故见素朴以绝圣智,寡私欲以弃巧利,皆崇本以息末之谓也。(王弼《老子指略》)

(因此呈现素朴的言行以杜绝圣、智的运用,减少对私欲的追求以摒弃巧、利的诱惑,这都是所说的“崇本息末”。)

Saying simple ideas and doing practical deeds rather than following sagacity and dogma, rejecting the pursuit of selfishness and resisting the temptation of trickery and vanity: this is what revering the fundamental and dismissing the specific is about. (Wang Bi: An Outline of Laozi)

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