(Translation) 2019 朝三暮四

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Original Script



Student Translation : Hector Sanchez

[We] put under strain our intelligence by making [things] into one yet we do not know if they are [already] the same. This is called “three in the morning.” What is meant by “Three in the morning?” It means [the following:] The monkey master was giving out acorns saying: “Three in the morning. At night, four.” The crowd of monkeys was all angry. He said: “This being so, then, [let us have] four in the morning and three at night.” The crowd of monkeys was all pleased.

Words and meanings were not damaged, yet happiness and anger were [lit. became] used [by the monkey master.] [This] too is following “this.” Therefore the sage harmonizes them [the monkeys] by means of disputes and comes to rest at the [center of] Celestial Scale. This is called the “two paths.”

From the Zhuangzi, "On Making Things Equal"

  • Discussion Questions:

HS: 亦因是也: Translating the clause as “[This] too is following ‘this’” makes sense when considering the passage immediately preceding this anecdote (Zhuangzi; "On Making Things Equal," 5:) 物無非彼,物無非是。自彼則不見,自知則知之。故曰:彼出於是,是亦因彼,彼是方生之說也。 “There is nothing that is not a “that”; there is nothing that is not a “this.” One cannot see oneself as a “that,” but if one knows oneself, one knows what it is to be an other. That is why it is said, “That arises from this, and this also relies on a that.” This is the explanation of how this and that are born in the same instant.” (Eno Translation)
(YO) Good point. We hesitate between translating 是 as "(to be/say) right" and as "this" (deictic pronoun) in the Zhuangzi because it is used sometimes paired with 非 "to be not/wrong" but sometimes with 彼 "that" (as seen in line you introduced). The former is the coinage of the word 是非 'dispute'. One might consider translating 因是 "to be with/rely on agreement (i.e., saying it is right)", though I think in this case it is more likely "to follow this" as you translated. The focus of the message is nullifying disputes by agreeing with the other.
By the way, the same story appears in the Liezi 列子, as well: 宋有狙公者,愛狙,養之成群,能解狙之意;狙亦得公之心。損其家口,充狙之欲。俄而匱焉,將限其食。恐眾狙之不馴於己也,先誑之曰:「與若茅,朝三而暮四,足乎?」眾狙皆起而怒。俄而曰:「與若茅,朝四而暮三,足乎?」眾狙皆伏而喜。物之以能鄙相籠,皆猶此也。聖人以智籠群愚,亦猶狙公之以智籠眾狙也。若實不虧,使其喜怒哉!

HS: Can we take the 之 of 聖人和之以 to mean humans by extension?

HS: I added the "at the center" to 天鈞 to give a sense of being above the small, petty scale of humans, a common theme across the Zhuangzi first explored in the Peng bird passage, the opening lines of the Inner Chapters.