Support All People by Upholding Truth and Justice
The term means to save and help all people through upholding truth and justice. Dao (道) here refers to truth and justice, and also to particular thought or doctrine. Ji (济) means relieving or helping people out of difficulties or sufferings. Tianxia (天下) refers to everything under heaven, and particularly all people. Therefore, this phrase contains two meanings. First, the value of any particular Dao depends on whether it serves the interests of the people. Second, people of virtue, and intellectuals in particular, should apply Dao they have learned to serve the people and use the ancient classics they have studied to meet present needs. Much like the idea of “studying ancient classics to meet present needs,” this notion of “supporting all people by upholding truth and justice,” represents the ultimate goal and ideal character of the traditional Chinese intellectuals in their pursuit of knowledge. It also embodies the compassion and moral standards of the traditional Chinese intellectuals as they pursue and uphold truth, care about the livelihood of the people, and take upon themselves the responsibility for the world.
Sages won’t make mistakes, for they have endless wisdom about everything under heaven and their virtues help all people in the world. (The Book of Changes)
Han Yu’s essays revitalized the style of writing that had been on the decline in the previous eight dynasties; his advocacy of Confucianism saved the people who had indulged themselves; his loyalty offended and enraged the emperor; and his courage could overawe the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. (Su Shi: Monument for the Temple of Han Yu in Chaozhou)