(Translation) 金時習 名分說

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Introduction

Among his contemporaries, Kim Sisŭp (金時習, RR: Kim Siseup; 1435 – 1493) was often remembered as a Buddhist monk, if not an eccentric hermit, who had an extraordinary talent for poetry.1 This understanding of Kim could derive from a well-known anecdote about him. The Biography of Kim Sisŭp written by Yi I (李珥; 1536 – 1584) describes him wailing and weeping for three days and turned Buddhist after burning all his books when he heard that Grand Prince Suyang (首陽大君; later King Sejo, 世祖; 1417 – 1468) usurped the throne of the rightful child king, Tanjong (RR: Danjong; 1441 – 1457) in 1455.

This image of Kim, however, changed dramatically as the collection of Kim’s works was published by King Chungjong’s (RR: Jungjong; r. 1506 – 1544) order in 1521. Those government officials who participated in the publication predominantly described Kim as a high-minded Confucian scholar and interpreted his involvement in Buddhism as a protest to King Sejo’s usurpation of the throne. “On Titles and Distinctions,” which was compiled in the collection, may be the best example that reveals Kim’s image as a Confucian scholar in protest, as it subtly but unmistakably criticizes the usurpers in King Sejo’s regime who violated the foremost Confucian order mandated between the ruler and the ruled. Indeed, the usurpation of the rightful king must have been an act that shook the foundation of the Confucian society such as Chosŏn (RR: Joseon) kingdom.

Kim Sisŭp made his point clear by repeatedly emphasizing the importance of one’s distinctions assigned to the denominations in several articles throughout the collection. For example, in “On the Great Absolute (Taiji shuo),” he cries out for the moral duty that man ought to do (Sollen), which meant to observe one’s titles and distinctions.2 In “The Biography of Yurang,” moreover, Kim states that, with all the difficulties, I try to humiliate those who have two minds toward their sovereign.3 “On Titles and Distinctions,” which is presented below, articulates Kim’s criticism against King Sejo’s regime at its full length.


1 Ki-young Um, “A Study of the Recognition for Kim Siseup (金時習) in 16th Century of Joseon Dynasty,” Minjok munhaksa yeon’gu 69 (2009): 63-64.

2 Yong Gon Kim, “The Formation Process of Kim Siseup’s Political Ideas: His Conditions and Responses toward the Establishment of Moral Politics,” Hanguk hakbo 18 (1980): 48.

3 Kim, “The Formation Process,” 50.

Original Script

Classical Chinese English

名分之於人。大矣哉。易曰。天尊地卑。乾坤定矣。高下以陳。貴賤位矣。言名分之不可僭也。何謂名。天子諸侯公卿大夫士庶人是也。何謂分。上下尊卑貴賤是也。旣有名分矣。又無禮節之。則紀綱法度。不能自守。名分之實。徒爲虛器。而莫之馭矣。

是以。天子制諸侯。諸侯制卿大夫。卿大夫治士庶人。貴以馭賤。賤以承貴。上之使下。猶頭目之運手足。下之事上。如枝葉之衛本根。然後上下相資。本末相持。以之爲國而國自治。以之爲家而家自齊。由是而君君臣臣。父父子子。夫夫婦婦。長長幼幼。而百令順矣。衛君待孔子而爲政。必先正名。以謂名不正則言不順。言不順則事不成。事不成則民無所措手足。

易曰。大君有命。開國承家。小人勿用。言名之不可濫也。易曰。上天下澤。履。君子以辨上下。定民志。言分之不可陵也。天地定名分。聖人修名分。古今史典正名分。不許繁纓。謹名分也。

狗尾續貂。則混名分也。狩于河陽。傷名分之誤也。侯以不義。則違名分之實矣。王人雖微。列於諸侯之上。辨之微也。吳楚之君。不預衣裳之列。防其漸也。不書卽位。罪其專也。王不稱天。貶其謬也。春秋始於隱公。史編起於三晉。可以見聖賢造端托始謹嚴之微旨。而名分之定于一。不可造次顚沛因循苟且。以故爲舛錯也。

Great are the titles and distinctions to people! The Book of Change states,“The Heaven is venerable and the Earth is base,1 the cosmos has been settled [this way]. The higher and lower are displayed, the noble and humble have their places [to be at]”, meaning that the titles and distinctions cannot be overstepped. What are the “titles”? They are [the titles of] the Son of Heaven, feudal lords, marquises, ministers, senior officials, functionaries, commoners. What are the “distinctions”? They are [the statutes] high and low, venerable and base, noble and humble. If you possess the titles and distinctions but do not regulate it with rituals, then the discipline and law cannot be preserved. The heart of titles and distinctions would [then] vainly become an empty vessel and no one would command it.

Consequently, the Son of the Heaven rules over feudal lords, feudal lords rule over ministers and senior officials, ministers and senior officials control functionaries and commoners. The noble, as noble, command the humble. The humble, as humble, follow [the command of] the noble. The fact that the upper command the lower is similar to the head and eyes moving the hands and feet. The fact that the lower serve the upper is like the branches and leaves protecting the roots. Thereafter, the upper and lower support one another, the roots and twigs maintain one another: if you apply these [methods] to a country, the country will be naturally governed, if you apply these [methods] to a family, the family will be naturally put into order. If you go through these means, then the sovereign will be like the sovereign, the subject will be like the subject, the father will be like the father, the son will be like the son, the husband will be like the husband, the wife will be like the wife, the elder will be like the elder, the younger will be like the younger, and they will obey to a hundred orders. The sovereign of Wei awaits Confucius to lead policies. It must first have a correct title. By so saying, if the titles are not correct, the language will not follow [the reality of things]. If the language is not following [the reality of things], the things are not realized. If the things are not realized, the people will not know what to do with [their] hands and feet.

The Book of Change states, “The great sovereign possesses the Mandate.2 He establishes a state and carries on his family. He should not use petty people”, meaning that the titles cannot be overstepped. The Book of Change states, “Up in the Heaven and low in the pond,3 a gentleman will make a difference between the upper and the lower, pacify people’s minds and pacify people's minds", meaning that the titles cannot be violated. The Heaven and Earth set the titles and distinctions. The sages cultivate the titles and distinctions. Then and now, historians have been [in charge of] rectifying the denominations and distinctions. They do not approve [the meaning of] decorative tassels.4 The titles and distinctions are cautious.

Replacing the marten’s tail by a dog’s tail would lead the titles and distinctions to confusion. It was wrong for the feudal lords to have hunted in Heyang because they ruined the titles and distinctions. If they become non-righteous, then it violates the practical meanings of the titles and distinctions. Even if the person of the king is weak, he still ranks above the feudal lords and is distinguished as weak. The sovereigns of Wu and Chu used to not attend the morning session with their correct garments on.5 We should stop these things from happening again. It was wrong for the them to ascend the throne without recording it. If the king is not addressed as the Heaven, then it is tantamount to belittle him, and this is wrong. At the beginning of the Springs and Autumns, Lu Yingong compiled history books and, by doing so, established [the history of] the Three Jin.6 By showing the subtle will, which is solemn and rigorous, of which the Sages have started, Lu Yingong settled the titles and distinctions into one. We should not follow those cases below standards no matter how shortly, because it would confuse [the titles and distinctions].


1 天命, the Mandate of Heaven.

2 James Legge translates this as “heaven (conceived of as) honorable, and earth (conceived of as) mean”.

3 This is a reference to li (離; ☲), one of the 64 hexagrams.

4 Decorations that feudal lords would attach to their horses.

5 Wu (吳; 11th century BCE - 473 BCE) and Chu (楚; 1030 - 223 BCE) were two of the main kingdoms during the Springs and Autumns period (771 – 476 BCE).

6 Lu Yingong (魯隱公; ? - 712 BCE), the 14th king of the Lu state (1042 - 249 BCE). San Jin (三晋, the "Three Jins"), that is the partition of Jin between three families, becoming the new Zhao (趙; 403 - 222 BCE), Wei (魏; 403 - 225 BCE), and Han (韓; 403 - 230 BCE) dynasties.

Discussion Questions

  1. In which year Kim Sisûp's original text was written?
  2. How was Kim Sisûp related to other literati during Sejong's reign? Did the defenders and critics of Sejong's rule (or simply the political status quo during Sejong's rule) use clashing philosophical arguments or frameworks to bolster their respective cases, or did they generally agree on the philosophical underpinnings, and disagree only on the immediate facts?
  3. Why was Kim Sisûp's writings put into a collection? Where was the later preserved? Who were his audience before and after his texts were collected?
  4. Why did he write this piece? Is it possible that Kim wrote this piece for personal ambition? For self-congratulatory purpose? How was this piece compared to other writings of Kim, in terms of literary style and content?
  5. Can this text on 名分 be considered a pamphlet against prince Suyang who took his nephew's (Tanjong) throne after a coup d'Etat?

Further Readings

  • Kim Jin-Bong [김진봉] (2016). Maewôldang Kim Sisûp-ûi Chôngch'isasang-e kwanhan yôngu [매월당 김시습의 정치사상에 관한 연구 = A Study on the Political Ideas of Maewoldang Kim Si-seup], Ph.D. dissertation in Philosophy, Ethics and Culture under Jeong Gyeong-Hwan [정경환]'s supervision, Pusan: Dong-Eui University, 196 p.

References

1. 司馬光, <<資治通鑑>>卷第一 https://ctext.org/wiki.pl?if=gb&chapter=579652

2. 김시습 in 한국민족대백과사전(Encyclopedia of Korean Culture, in Korean). http://encykorea.aks.ac.kr/Contents/Index?contents_id=E0009666

Translation

(sample) : Jaeyoon Song


  • Discussion Questions:


Student 1 : Yishu Ma


What the title and distinction mean to people really matters. The Book of Change says, "The sky is superior and the earth is inferior. Thus has the universe been fixed, have the superiority and inferiority been set, and have the high and low status of people been posited. This book claims that the title and distinction shouldn't be overstepped by people. What is called as the title are the son of heaven, the dukes, the ministers, the senior officials, and the common people. What is called as the distinction are the high and low status, superiors and inferiors, superiority and inferiority. Now that there are titles and the distinction, but there are no rituals to regulate them. Thereupon, the rules and standards cannot be protected. The fact of the titles and distinction is in vain as empty vessels. And no one could control them.


狗尾續貂,則混名份也。 Translation: Using a dog's tail to replace a sable's fur, thus makes the title and distinction disordered.

a. Jin shu [晉書·趙王倫傳]:“每朝會,貂蟬盈坐,時人為之諺曰:‘貂不足,狗尾續。’ ” "貂不足,狗尾續" here refers to a satire on the king who employed the unvirtuous people as officials.

b. Youxue qionglin [幼學瓊林·卷四·鳥獸類] :“美惡不稱, 謂之狗尾續貂。” "狗尾續貂" means that using a dog's tail to replace a sable's fur is not beautiful. It uses a metaphor of birds to illustrate this point.

c. Wudeng huiyuan [五燈會元·普覺禪師]:“這一個,那一個,更一個,若是明眼人,何須重說教,徑山今日不免狗尾續貂。" "狗尾續貂" in this sentence means that there is no need for expounding something mechanically because that would be useless and meaningless.

Q: Why did the writer imitate Sima Guang's work? In other words, why Sima Guang and Zizhi tongjian [資治通鑑]?Were there any intellectual or socio-political backgrounds during the 15th century can provide the reasons?

Student 2 : Samuel Sai Hay Chan 陳世熙 진세희


Great are title and distinction to people. The Book of Change states, “The heaven is supreme, and the earth is humble. Thus are they destined to be. Things high and low correspond to nobility and humility." Therefore, title and distinction must not to be subverted. What is “title”? It is the titles of the Son of Heaven, Dukes, Marquis, and Grand master. What is “distinction”? It is the distinction between the high and low, the respected and scorned, and the noble and humble. If you have title and distinction but do not realize them with rituals, the institution and laws [of the state] cannot be preserved. The reality of title and distinction becomes empty vessel. In that case, society can no longer be governed.

---

Hunting at Heyang was a wrongdoing that impaired the integrity of title and distinction.

Footnote: This is a reference from the Zuo Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals: Xigong [春秋左傳: 僖公] 28.1. Kim was referring to an incident during the Age of Spring and Autumn in which the Duke of Jin illegitimately invoked the name of King Zhou, the Son of Heaven at the time, to call a meeting at Heyang, a place that the King frequented for his hunting activities. The incident became a staple example to criticize anyone who illegitimately invoked a title that was out of his or her social position. Similar reference to the incident is found in The School Sayings of Confucius: Quli Zigong Wen [孔子家語: 曲禮子貢問 ] 1, in which Confucius commented that, “[the incident was one in which] a minister summoned the king. [Such minster was so audacious that] he could not be taught.


Questions

Where did he publish his work? Who were his audience? What was the exact year the piece was written? How was this piece circulated? Was it commercially exchanged?

Why did he write this piece? In what historical context was this piece written (against coup d’état, natural disasters?) Is it possible that Kim wrote this piece for personal ambition? For self-congratulatory purpose?

How was this piece compared to other writings of Kim, in terms of literary style and content?

Student 3 : Younès M'Ghari


Grands sont les dénominations et statuts pour les Hommes. Le Livre des transformations dit : "Le Ciel est vénérable et la Terre est basse2, le Cosmos a [ainsi] été établi. Ce qui est supérieur et ce qui est inférieur ont été disposés, le noble et l'humble ont leur place", ce qui veut dire que les dénominations et les statuts ne peuvent être violés. Que nomme-t-on les "dénominations" ? Ce sont [les appellations] Fils du Ciel, seigneur, marquis, ministre, haut fonctionnaire, bureaucrate, roturier. Que nomme-t-on les "statuts" ? Ce sont [les distinctions entre] supérieur et inférieur, vénérable et bas, noble et humble. En possédant les dénominations et statuts mais en ne les régulant pas par les rituels, la discipline et la loi ne peut être préservées ; le cœur des dénominations et statuts deviendraient [alors] vainement un objet vide et personne ne le maîtriserait.

Par conséquent, le Fils du Ciel contrôle les seigneurs, les seigneurs contrôlent les ministres et hauts fonctionnaires, les ministres et hauts fonctionnaires gouvernent les bureaucrates et roturiers. Les nobles, en tant que nobles, dirigent les humbles. Les humbles, en tant qu'humbles, suivent les [ordres des] nobles. Le fait que les supérieurs commandent les inférieurs, est similaire à la tête et aux yeux qui mettent en mouvement les mains et les pieds. Le fait que les inférieurs servent les supérieurs, est comme les branches [d'arbre] qui protègent les feuilles et les racines. [Ainsi,] Par la suite, les supérieurs et les inférieurs se soutiennent mutuellement, les racines et les extrémités [des arbres] se maintiennent mutuellement. Par cela, [appliqué] au pays, le pays se gouverne naturellement. Par cela, [appliqué] à la famille, la famille est mise en ordre naturellement. En suivant ce [raisonnement], le souverain agit comme un souverain, le sujet agit comme un sujet, le père agit comme un père, le fils agit comme un fils, le mari agit comme un mari, l'épouse agit comme une épouse, l'aîné agit comme un aîné, le cadet agit comme un cadet, et ils obéissent à une centaine d'ordres. Si le souverain de Wei attend Confucius pour appliquer ses politiques, il doit d'abord corriger les dénominations. C'est-à-dire que si les dénominations ne sont pas correctes, la langue ne suivra pas [la réalité des choses], si la langue ne suit pas [la réalité des choses], les choses ne seront pas réalisées. Si les choses ne sont pas réalisées, le peuple ne saura pas que faire de ses mains et pieds.

Le Livre des transformations dit: "[Quand] Le Grand Souverain est en possession du Mandat1, il établit un Etat et perpétue [l'existence de] sa famille. Il ne doit pas employer de personne [de] faible [valeur]", ce qui veut dire que les dénominations ne peuvent être bafouées. Le Livre des transformations dit: "Le ciel en haut, le bassin en bas3; un

上天下澤。履。君子以辨上下。定民志。言分之不可陵也。天地定名分。聖人修名分。古今史典正名分。不許繁纓。謹名分也。

“Up in the Heaven and low in the pond3, a gentleman will make a difference between the upper and the lower, pacify people’s minds and pacify people's minds", meaning that the titles cannot be violated. The Heaven and Earth set the titles and distinctions. The sages cultivate the titles and distinctions. Then and now, historians have been [in charge of] rectifying the denominations and distinctions. They do not approve [the meaning of] decorative tassels4. The titles and distinctions are cautious.

Replacing the marten’s tail by a dog’s tail would lead the titles and distinctions to confusion. It was wrong for the feudal lords to have hunted in Heyang because they ruined the titles and distinctions. If they become non-righteous, then it violates the practical meanings of the titles and distinctions. Even if the person of the king is weak, he still ranks above the feudal lords and is distinguished as weak. The sovereigns of Wu and Chu5 used to not attend the morning session with their correct garments on. We should stop these things from happening again. It was wrong for the them to ascend the throne without recording it. If the king is not addressed as the Heaven, then it is tantamount to belittle him, and this is wrong. At the beginning of the Springs and Autumns, Lu Yingong 6 compiled history books and, by doing so, established [the history of] the Three Jin7. By showing the subtle will, which is solemn and rigorous, of which the Sages have started, Lu Yingong settled the titles and distinctions into one. We should not follow those cases below standards no matter how shortly, because it would confuse [the titles and distinctions].


1 天命, le Mandat du Ciel.

2 James Legge traduit en anglais cette expression par “heaven (conceived of as) honorable, and earth (conceived of as) mean”.

3 Référence à li (離; ☲), un des 64 hexagrammes.

4 Décorations que les seigneurs attachaient à leur chevaux.

5 Wu (吳; 11ème siècle av. J.-C. - 473 av. J.-C.) and Chu (楚; 11ème siècle 1030 av. J.-C. - 223 av. J.-C.) were two of the main kingdoms during the Springs and Autumns period (771 – 476 av. J.-C.).

6 Lu Yingong (魯隱公; ? - 712 av. J.-C.), le 14ème roi de l'Etat de Lu (1042 - 249 av. J.-C.).

7 San Jin (三晋, the "Three Jins"), that is the partition of Jin between three families, becoming the new Zhao (趙; 403 - 222 av. J.-C.), Wei (魏; 403 - 225 av. J.-C.), and Han (韓; 403 - 230 av. J.-C.) dynasties.


Questions:

- What year was this manuscript written in?

- Is this manuscript the original one? If so, why is located in these volume and pages? If not, who compiled it and for what purpose (his family, to preserve the integrality of his writings)?

- Was it written in answer to (or to prevent) Sejo's coup d'Etat?

- Who was this long text addressed to? Other scholars? The court?

- Is it a compilation of several texts written at different times and discussing all sorts of topics?

- If it was a pamphlet, how and where could it safely be preserved?

Student 4 : King Kwong Wong


As to titles and distinctions to people, it is of great importance. The Book of Change states, "The Heaven is lofty and the Earth is base, thus the Qian and Kun are destined. Put the hgh and low on display, the noble and ignoble ones thus had their places accordingly." This means that one cannot overstep the meaning of our titles and distinctions. What are titles? They are the Son of Heaven, his vassals, his ministers, his soldiers, and his subjects. What are distinctions? They are the high and low, the lofty and base, and the noble and ignoble. If there are titles and distinctions, but without ritual to regulate them, then the law and statuates will not be able to maintain themselves. The heart of titles and distinctions, in vein becomes empty vessel. And there is no way one can control it.

王人雖微。列於諸侯之上。辨之微也。 Although the person of the king was small, the king was listed above all of his vassals. Their distinction is subtle.

This refers to Sima Guang's comments in 資治通鑑 卷第一 "《春秋》抑諸侯,尊周室,王人雖微,序於諸侯之上,以是見聖人於君臣之際,未嘗不惓惓也。"

DIscussion questions: Why did Kim SIsŭp consider titles and distinctions such important matters that he wrote an essay about them?

Student 5 : (신동조)


To man, the titles and duties (mingfen) are important. It is stated in the Book of Change that Heaven is honorable and the Earth is lowly. The two are settled.... The seriousness of mingfen cannot be overstated. How do we discuss ming? This is of the relationship between emperors, lords, high officials, men of noble, and lowly men. How do we discuss fen? This is of the relationship between the high and the low, the honorable and the vulgar, the precious and the base. If you don't control it even after having ming, then you cannot maintain discipline and regulations, the heart of ming and fen. Then everything goes useless. Nobody can control it after all.

吳楚之君。不預衣裳之列。防其漸也。 The princes of Wu and Chu did not wear the dresses in accordance with their ranks. We should keep this custom from spreading.

Q. Why dose he talk about titles and distinctions at this particular time period? How is it related to the political situations in the Joseon dynasty?

Student 6 : (Stacey Lui)


Titles and distinction are of great importance to people. The Book of Changes states: []. This means we cannot overstep the limits of titles and distinction. What do we refer to as titles? This includes emperors, feudal lords, ministers, grand marquis, warriors and the common people. What do we refer to as distinction? This includes high and low, the venerable and vulgar, the precious and disparaged. If there are only titles and distinction, without rituals to regulate them, then discipline and structures cannot be governed. Titles and distinction, in reality, will become empty vessels and no-one will be able to control them.


不書卽位。罪其專也。 Not writing of ascending the throne is to criticise the usurper of the throne.

Zuoshi Chunqiu 左氏春秋 1.3: 元年,春,王周正月,不書即位,攝也。

Discussion: From where do these ideas of social distinction originate and until when were they upheld on the Korean peninsula? Was this system of hierarchy effective in maintaining an orderly state?

Student 7 : Russell Guilbault


Among people, title and distinction is a great matter. The Yijing says: "Heaven is venerable and the earth is base. Thus are gan and kun settled. The higher and lower are displayed [?]; thus the noble and mean have their places." It is speaking of the impossibility of overstepping title and distinction. What is title? It is: Son of Heaven, lord, duke, marquis, minister, soldier, commoner. What is distinction? It is upper and lower, venerable and base, noble and mean. If one only has title and distinction, but does not control it with ritual, then one cannot protect discipline and regulations by oneself. This is the essence of title and distinction; in vain it becomes an empty vessel, and nobody can control it.

Student 8 : Q


Titles and Social Distinctions are of great importance to people. [Legge's translation will be used.] This is to say that the boundaries established by Titles and Social Distinctions cannot be violated. Then, what does "Titles" mean here? It refers to titles in the sense of "emperors," "feudal lords," "officials," "grand masters," and "commoners." In the same sense, "Social Disticntions" refers to "high or low," "noble or lowly," and "lofty or base." If

春秋始於隱公 Spring and Autumn Annals begins with Duke of Yin in the state of Lu.

Regarding the parts where Kim's allusions to classical texts are nearly identical, would this encourage us to consider the identity of the texts or should we try to find, first, possible differences that may result in different translations?

Student 9 : (Write your name)


Student 10 : (Write your name)


Student 11 : YeonJae Ra


名分之於人。大矣哉。易曰。天尊地卑。乾坤定矣。高下以陳。貴賤位矣。言名分之不可僭也。何謂名。天子諸侯公卿大夫士庶人是也。何謂分。上下尊卑貴賤是也。旣有名分矣。又無禮節之。則紀綱法度。不能自守。名分之實。徒爲虛器。而莫之馭矣。

To people, names and distinction is great (thing). The book of changes says, “The heaven is high and the earth is low. Thus 乾(heaven) and 坤(earth) is set. As the high and the low are arranged, the noble and the humble also placed.” This is saying that ‘names and distinction, those could be not overplaced.’ What is the name? It is the emperor, the lord, the duke, the minister, the Kyŏngdaebu, the common. What is the distinction? It is up and down, high and low, noble and humble. Originally there is names, also there is no rituals to restrain itself. It means disciplines and rules. It could not be self protected. The core of names and distinction, in vain changes to empty vessel, it could not be controlled.


Q. Why this article ‘名分說’ is written as the form of “說”? (Why the editor of <梅月堂文集> put ‘名分說’ in the third order among 人才, 生財, 名分, 常變, 神鬼, 生死, 易, 太極, 契仁)

Student 12 : Wonhee Cho 趙元熙


"Titles" and "distinction," these are paramount to people. 易曰... This means that titles and distinction cannot be violated. What do "titles" refer to? The Son of Heaven, Dukes, Ministers, Scholars, commoners, these are the examples of "titles. What does "distinction" refer to? Upper and lower, respected and vulgar, noble and debased are examples of 'distinction." If there are only "titles" and "distinctions," but not regulated by proper conduct (li 禮), then moral standards and laws cannot protect themselves. The core of "titles" and "distinctions" will become empty vessels, and there will be no way to reign it (i.e., the core of "titles" and "distinctions.")