(Translation) 2019 虛實

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Original Script

孫子曰:凡先處戰地而待敵者佚,後處戰地而趨戰者勞。故善戰者,致人而不致於人。 能使敵自至者,利之也;能使敵不得至者,害之也。故敵佚能勞之,飽能饑之,安能動之。出其所不趨,趨其所不意。行千里而不勞者,行於無人之地也。攻而必取者,攻其所不守也;守而必固者,守其所不攻也。故善攻者,敵不知其所守;善守者,敵不知其所攻。微乎微乎,至於無形;神乎神乎,至於無聲,故能為敵之司命。進而不可禦者,沖其虛也;退而不可追者,速而不可及也。《孫子兵法. 第六》


Student Translation : Hector Sanchez

Sunzi said: “In all cases, those who first settle in the battlefield and wait for their enemies are at ease and those who later settle in the battlefield and hasten to wage war are fatigued. Therefore, those who are good at waging war command others and are not commanded by others. Those who can make their enemies come, entice them. Those who can make their enemies not come, harm them. Thus, when the enemy is at ease, it can be fatigued.[*] When it is full, it can be starved. When it feels safe, it can be moved. Move to a place which they cannot reach. Reach a place that they have not thought of. Those who travel a thousand li and are not fatigued travel to the land of no one.

"Those who attack and always take [the spoils,] attack that which they [the enemy] do not guard. Those who guard and always solidify [their defenses,] guard that which they do not attack.

"Thus, as for those who are good at attacking, their enemies do not know what they guard. As for those who are good at guarding, their enemies do not know what they attack. With minuteness, they arrive at lacking form.[**] With supernaturality, they arrive at becoming without sound. Therefore, they can become the ministers of their enemy’s fate. Those who move forward and cannot be defended against, hit their emptiness. Those who retreat and cannot be pursued, are fast cannot be reached."

  • Discussion Questions:

[*]HS: Note that I have change the original into the passive. I can’t quite figure out if the subject is the reader or “those who can…”
(YO) Either is possible, right? The subject can be those who are good at waging war (and that would be those who can make the enemy come or not come); but it can also be the reader--starting the discourse anew.
[**]HS: The passage I referred to in class comes from the first verse of the “Virtue” 德 (Ch. ) section of the Laozi. 上德不德,是以有德 (Laozi 38:) "Superior Virtue is not virtuous, therefore it has virtue," in which the author of the Laozi distinguishes superior virtue (the virtue associated with the dao) from the phony virtue of Confucians. I think the use of equivocation in both texts might give us a hint regarding the time of publication of the Sunzi as well as its philosophical orientations.
(YO) Good thinking. That is basically how we research on textual and intellectual histories. One issue I can think of is that we have to assume that Laozi (and Sunzi, as well) was one coherent work that was created at once and has stayed as one in the form we have now. The textual histories of the two works is quite complicated and there is a good chance that they had been in different forms or even disparate writings for some time before they became the forms as we have them now.