<Previous Section>
<Next Section>

Chapter LV. Regulations and Distinctions1

In general, 2 wherever the state is extensive and the ruler is honourable, there laws are so strict that whatever is ordered works and whatever is prohibited stops. Therefore, the ruler of men who distinguishes between ranks and regulates bounties, makes laws severe and thereby makes the distinction strict.

Indeed, if the state is orderly, the people are safe; if affairs are confused, the country falls into peril. Who makes laws strict, hits on the true nature of mankind; who makes prohibitions lenient, misses the apparent fact. Moreover, everybody is, indeed, gifted with desperate courage. To exert desperate courage to get what one wants, is human nature. Yet everybody's likes and dislikes should be regulated by the superior. Now the people like to have profit and bounty and hate to be punished, if the superior catches their likes and dislikes and thereby holds their desperate courage under control, he will not 3 miss the realities of affairs.

However, if prohibitions are lenient and facts are missed, reward and penalty will be misused. Again, when governing the people, if you do not regard 4 conformity to law as right, you will eventually observe no law. Therefore, the science and philosophy of politics 5 should by all means emphasize the distinction between degrees of penalty and of reward.

Who governs the state, should always uphold the law. In life there are ups and downs. If any ruler goes down, it is because in regulating rewards and penalties he makes no distinction between different degrees. Who governs the state, always distinguishes between reward and punishment. Therefore, some people might regard the distinction between reward and punishment as distinction, which should not be called distinction in the strict sense.

As regards the distinction made by the clear-sighted ruler, it is the distinction between different grades of reward and of punishment. Therefore, his subjects respect laws and fear prohibitions. They try to avoid crime rather than dare to expect any reward. Hence the saying: "Without expecting penalty and reward the people attend to public affairs."

For this reason, the state at the height of order is able to take the suppression of villainy for its duty. Why? Because its law comprehends human nature and accords with the principles of government.

If so, how to get rid of delicate villainy? By making the people watch 6 one another in their hidden affairs. Then how to make them watch one another? By implicating the people of the same hamlet in one another's crime. When everyone knows that the penalty or reward will directly affect him, if the people of the same hamlet 7 fail to watch one another, they will fear they may not be able to escape the implication, and those who are evil-minded, will not be allowed to forget so many people watching them. Were such the law, everybody would mind his own doings, watch everybody else, and disclose the secrets of any culprit. For, whosoever denounces a criminal offence, is not held guilty but is given a reward; whosoever misses any culprit, is definitely censured and given the same penalty as the culprit. Were such the law, all types of culprits would be detected. If the minutest villainy is not tolerated, it is due to the system of personal denunciation and mutual implication.

Indeed, the most enlightened method of governing a state is to trust measures and not men. For this reason, the tactful state is never mistaken if it does not trust the empty fame of men. If the land within the boundary is always in order it is because measures are employed. If any falling state lets foreign soldiers walk all over its territory and can neither resist nor prevent them, it is because that state trusts men and uses no measures. Men may jeopardize their own country, but measures can invade others' countries. Therefore, the tactful state spurns words and trusts laws.

Broadly speaking, it is hard to uncover a crooked merit that appears to fulfil the promise; it is hard to disclose the feature 8 of the fault that is ornamented with beautiful words. Therefore, penalty and reward are often misled by double-dealers. What is alleged to be fulfilling the promise but is hard to uncover, is a villainous merit. Any minister's fault is hard to disclose, because its motive is missed. However, if by following reason you can not disclose the false merit and by analyzing feelings you are still deceived by the villainous motive, then can both reward and punishment have no mistake respectively?

For such reasons, false scholars establish names inside, while itinerants devise plans outside, till the stupid and the coward mix themselves with the brave and the clever. Inasmuch as the false path is customary, they are tolerated by their age. Therefore, their law does not work and their penalty affects nobody. If so, both reward and penalty have to be double-dealings. 9

Therefore, 10 concrete facts have their limits of extension, but abstract principles involve no accurate measures. The absence of such measures is due not to the law but to the abandonment of law 11 and the dependence on cleverness. If the law is abandoned and cleverness is employed, how can the appointee to office perform his duty? If duty and office are not equivalent to each other, then how can the law evade mistakes and how can penalty evade troubles? For this reason reward and punishment will be thrown into confusion and disorder, and the state policy will deviate and err, because neither penalty nor reward has any clear distinction of degree as in the difference between black 12 and white.


1. 制分.

2. Ku Kuang-ts`ê proposed 大凡 for 夫凡.

3. Wang Hsien-ch`ien proposed 宜不 for 不宜.

4. Kao Hêng proposed 以 below 不.

5. 治亂之理 literally means "the Logos of Order and Chaos", which means the science and philosophy of politics.

6. With Kao Hêng 規 means 窺.

7. Ku Kuang-ts`ê proposed 里 for 理.

8. With Lu Wên-shao 刑 and 形 were synonyms.

9. With Wang Hsien-ch`ien 容其 above 二 is superfluous.

10. With Wang 故 should be above 實.

11. With Wang Hsien-shen 法定 should be 釋法.

12. With Wang 黑 should be supplied above 白.

<Previous Section>
<Next Section>
IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia