<Previous Section>
<Next Section>

4. Table of Contents of the Lun-hêng. 1

Book I.

1. Chap. I. Fêng-yü ###.

This chapter treats of the relation between officers and their sovereign. To be appreciated and successful an official must find the right prince, who understands him and puts him in the right place. One must not make the successful responsible for their success, or the unsuccessful for their failure, because not their talents, but time and circumstances are decisive.

2. Chap. II. Lei-hai ###.

The difficulties and annoyances which people have to endure come from abroad, and are not the result of their own works. Therefore they must not be blamed. Fear and good conduct have no influence on fortune or misfortune. "Fortune is what we obtain without any effort of our own, and misfortune what happens to us without our co-operation." The chief annoyances of officials at the court and in the provinces are slanderous reports of envious persons. Three kinds of calumnies are distinguished. The wise do not feel troubled about this, and lead the life which most suits them.

*3. Chap. III. Ming-lu ### (On Destiny and Fortune).

Destiny predetermines the length of man's life, and whether he shall be rich and honourable, or poor and mean. There is no correspondence between human virtue and fate. The wicked and the unintelligent are very often happy, whereas men endowed with the highest faculties and the noblest character perish in misery, as is shown by various examples from history. The knowing, therefore, do not hunt after happiness, but leave everything to Heaven, suffering with equanimity what cannot be avoided, and placidly awaiting their turn. The opinions of several philosophers holding similar views are given.

*4. Chap. IV. Ch`i-shou ### (Long Life and Vital Fluid).

There are two kinds of fate, the one determining the events of life, the other its length. The length of life depends on the quantity of the vital fluid received at birth. Accordingly the body waxes strong or weak, and a strong body lives longer than a feeble one. The normal length of human life should be a hundred years. The Classics attest that the wise emperors of the Golden Age:---Yao, Shun, Wén Wang, Wu Wang, and others all lived over hundred years.

Book II.

*5. Chap. I. Hsing-ou ### (On Chance and Luck).

Happiness and misfortune are not the outcome of man's good or bad actions, but chance and luck. Some have good luck, others bad. Good and bad fortune are not distributed in a just way, according to worth, but are mere chance. This is true of man as well as of other beings. Even Sages are often visited with misfortune.

*6. Chap. II. Ming-yi ### (What is meant by Destiny?).

The school of Mé Ti denies the existence of Destiny. Wang Ch`ung follows the authority of Confucius. There are various kinds of destinies. The length of human life is regulated by the fluid of Heaven, their wealth and honour by the effluence of the stars, with which men are imbued at their birth. Wang Ch`ung rejects the distinction of natural, concomitant, and adverse fate, but admits contingencies, chances, and incidents, which may either agree with the original fate and luck, or not. The fate of a State is always stronger than that of individuals.

*7. Chap. III. Wu-hsing ### (Unfounded Assertions).

At birth man receives the vital fluid from Heaven. This fluid determines the length of his life. There are no means to prolong its duration, as the Taoists pretend. Some examples from history are shown to be untrustworthy. At death everything ends. The vital force disperses, and the body is dissolved.

*8. Chap. IV. Shuai-hsing ### (The Forming of Characters).

There are naturally good, and there are naturally bad characters, but this difference between the qualities of low and superior men is not fundamental. The original fluid permeating all is the same. It contains the germs of the Five Virtues. Those who are endowed with copious fluids, become vrituous, those whose fluid is deficient, wicked. But by external influences, human nature can turn from good into bad, and the reverse. Bad people can be improved, and become good by instruction and good example. Therefore the State cannot dispense with instructions and laws.

*9. Chap. V. Chi-yen ### (Auspicious Portents).

Auspicious portents appear, when somebody is destined to something grand by fate, especially, when a new dynasty rises. These manifestations of fate appear either in the person's body, or as lucky signs in nature, or under the form of a halo or a glare. A great variety of instances from ancient times down to the Han dynasty are adduced in proof.

Book III.

10. Chap. I. Ou-hui ###.

Fate acts spontaneously. There are no other alien forces at work besides fate. Nobody is able to do anything against it. Human activity is of no consequence.

*11. Chap. II. Ku-hsiang ### (On Anthroposcopy).

The heavenly fate becomes visible in the body, and can be foreseen by anthroposcopy. The Classics contain examples. The physiognomists draw their conclusions from the osseous structure and from the lines of the skin. The character can also be seen from the features.

*12. Chap. III. Ch`u-ping ### (Heaven's Original Gift).

Destiny comes down upon man already in his embryonic state, not later on during his life. It becomes mind internally and body externally. This law governs all organisms. Heaven never invests virtuous emperors, because it is pleased with them, for this would be in opposition to its principle of spontaneity and inaction. Utterances of the Classics that Heaven was pleased and looked round, etc. are to be taken in a figurative sense. Heaven has no human body and no human qualities. Lucky omens are not sent by Heaven, but appear by chance.

*13. Chap. IV. Pén-hsing ### (On Original Nature).

The different theories of Chinese moralists on human nature are discussed. Shih Tse holds that human nature is partly good, partly bad, Mencius that it is originally good, but can be corrupted, Sun Tse that it is originally bad, Kao Tse that it is neither good nor bad, and that it all depends on instruction and development, Lu Chia that it is predisposed for virtue. Tung Chung Shu and Liu Hsiang distinguish between natural disposition and natural feelings. Wang Ch`ung holds that nature is sometimes good and sometimes bad, but essentially alike, being the fluid of Heaven, and adopts the Confucian distinction of average people, people above, and people below the average. The latter alone can be changed by habit.

*14. Chap. V. Wu-shih ### (The Nature of Things).

Heaven and Earth do not create man and the other things on earth intentionally. They all grow of themselves. Had Heaven produced all creatures on purpose, it would have taught them mutual love, whereas now one destroys the other. Some have explained this struggle for existence by the hypothesis that all creatures are filled with the fluid of the Five Elements, which fight together and overcome one another. Wang Ch`ung controverts this view and the symbolism connected therewith.

*15. Chap. VI. Chi-kuai ### (Miracles).

Wang Ch`ung proves by analogies that the supernatural births reported of several old legendary rulers, who are said to have been procreated by dragons or a special fluid of Heaven, are impossible. The Spirit of Heaven would not consort with a woman, for only beings of the same species pair. Saints and Sages are born like other people from their parents.

Book IV.

16. Chap. I. Shu-hsü ###.

The chapter contains a refutation of a series of wrong statements in ancient books. The assertion that Shun and died in the South is shown to be erroneous. Wang Ch`ung explodes the idea that the "Bore" at Hang-chou is caused by the angry spirit of Wu Tse Hsü, who was thrown into the Ch`ien-t`ang River, and remarks that the tide follows the phases of the moon. (Bk. IV, p. 5v.)

17. Chap. II. Pien-hsü ###.

Wang Ch`ung points out that many reports in ancient literature concerning extraordinary phenomena, not in harmony with the laws of nature, are fictitious and unreliable, e. g. the story that touched by the virtue of Duke Ching of Sung, the planet Mars shifted its place, that Heaven rewarded the Duke with 21 extra years, or that the great Diviner of Ch`i caused an earthquake.

Book V.

18. Chap. I. Yi-hsü ###.

The impossibility of some miracles and supernatural events is demonstrated, which have been handed down in ancient works, and are universally believed by the people and the literati, e. g. the birth of Pao Sse from the saliva of dragons.

19. Chap. II. Kan-hsü ###.

Wang Ch`ung contests that nature can be moved by man and deviate from its course. Various old legends are critically tested:--- the alleged appearence of ten suns in Yao's time, the report that the sun went back in his course, the wonders which happened during the captivity of Tsou Yen and Tan, Prince of Yen.

The tenor of the last four chapters all treating of unfounded assertions or figments "hsü" is very similar.

Book VI.

*20. Chap. I. Fu-hsü ### (Wrong Notions about Happiness).

Happiness is not given by Heaven as a reward for good actions, as the general belief is. The Mêhist theory that the spirits protect and help the virtuous is controverted by facts. Wang Ch`ung shows how several cases, adduced as instances of how Heaven recompensed the virtuous are illusive, and that fate is capricious and unjust.

*21. Chap. II. Huo-hsü ### (Wrong Notions on Unhappiness).

The common belief that Heaven and Earth and the spirits punish the wicked and visit them with misfortune, is erroneous, as shown by examples of virtuous men, who were unlucky, and of wicked, who flourished. All this is the result of chance and luck, fate and time.

*22. Chap. III. Lung-hsü ### (On Dragons).

The dragon is not a spirit, but has a body and lives in pools. It is not fetched by Heaven during a thunderstorm, as people believe. The different views about its shape are given:---It is represented as a snake with a horse's head, as a flying creature, as a reptile that can be mounted, and like earthworms and ants. In ancient times dragons were reared and eaten. The dragon rides on the clouds during the tempest, there being a certain sympathy between the dragon and clouds. It can expand and contract its body, and make itself invisible.

*23. Chap. IV. Lei-hsü ### (On Thunder and Lightning).

Thunder is not the expression of Heaven's anger. As a spirit it could not give a sound, nor could it kill a man with its breath. It does not laugh either. Very often the innocent are struck by lightning, and monsters like the Empress Lü Hou are spared. The pictorial representations of thunder as united drums, or as the thunderer Lei Kung, are misleading. Thunder is fire or hot air, the solar fluid Yang exploding in its conflict with the Yin fluid, lightning being the shooting forth of the air. Five arguments are given, why thunder must be fire.

Book VII.

*24. Chap. I. Tao-hsü ### (Taoist Untruths).

Man dies and can become immortal. The Taoist stories of Huang Ti and Huai Nan Tse's ascension to heaven, of the flying genius met by Lu Ao, and of Hsiang Man Tse's travel to the moon are inventions. The magicians do not possess the powers ascribed to them. The Taoist theory of prolonging life by quietism and dispassionateness, by regulating one's breath, and using medicines is untenable.

*25. Chap. II. Yü-tsêng ### (Exaggerations).

Wang Ch`ung points out a number of historical exaggerations e. g. that the embonpoint of Chieh and Chou was over a foot, that Chou had a wine-lake, from which 3,000 persons sucked like cattle, that Wên Wang could drink 3,000 bumpers of wine, and Confucius 100 gallons, and some mis-statements concerning the simplicity of Yao and Shun, and the cruelty of Shih Huang Ti, and tries to reduce them to the proper limits.

Book VIII.

*26. Chap. I. Ju-tsêng ### (Exaggerations of the Literati).

Wang Ch`ung goes on to criticise some old traditions:---on the abolition of punishments under Yao and Shun, on the wonderful shooting of Yang Yu Chi and Hsiung Ch`ü Tse, on the skill of Lu Pan, on Ching K`o's attempt upon Shih Huang Ti's life, on the miracles connected with the Nine Tripods of the Chou dynasty, etc.

27. Chap. II. Yi-tsêng ###.

People are fond of the marvellous and of exaggerations, in witness whereof passages are quoted from the Shuking, the Shiking, the Yiking, the Lun-yü, and the Ch`un-ch`iu.

Book IX.

*28. Chap. I. Wên K`ung ### (Criticisms on Confucius).

The Confucianists do not dare to criticise the Sages, although the words of the Sages are not always true and often contradictory. It is also, because they do not understand the difficult passages, and only repeat what the commentators have said. Wang Ch`ung vindicates the right to criticise even Confucius. Such criticisms are neither immoral nor irrational. They help to bring out the meaning, and lead to greater clearness. Wang Ch`ung then takes up a number of passages from the Analects for discussion, in which he discovers contradictions or other flaws, but does not criticise the system of Confucius or his theories in general.

Book X.

*29. Chap. I. Fei Han ### (Strictures on Han Fei Tse).

Han Fei Tse solely relies on rewards and punishments to govern a State. In his system there is no room for the cultivation of virtue. He despises the literati as useless, and thinks the world to be so depraved and mean, that nothing but penal law can keep it in check. Wang Ch`ung shows by some examples taken from Han Fei Tse's work that this theory is wrong. Men of letters are as useful to the State as agriculturists, warriors, and officials, for they cultivate virtue, preserve the true principles, and benefit the State by the good example they set to the other classes.

*30. Chap. II. T`se Mêng ### (Censures on Mencius).

Wang Ch`ung singles out such utterances of Mencius, in which according to his view his reasoning is defective, or which are conflicting with other dicta of the philosopher.

Book XI.

*31. Chap. I. T`an-t`ien ### (On Heaven).

The old legend of the collapse of Heaven, which was repaired by Nü Wa, when Kung Kung had knocked with his head against the "Pillar of Heaven," is controverted, as is Tsou Yen's theory of the existence of Nine Continents. Heaven is not merely air, but has a body, and the earth is a square measuring 100,000 Li in either direction.

*32. Chap. II. Shuo-jih ### (On the Sun).

A variety of astronomical questions are touched. Wang Ch`ung opposes the view that the sun disappeares in darkness during the night, that the length or shortness of the days is caused by the Yin and the Yang, that the sun rises from Fu-sang and sets in Hsi-liu, that at Yao's time ten suns appeared, that there is a raven in the sun, and a hare and a toad in the moon. Heaven is not high in the south and depressed in the north, nor like a reclining umbrella, nor does it enter into or revolve in the earth. Heaven is level like earth, and the world lying in the south-east. The sun at noon is nearer than in the morning or in the evening. Wang Ch`ung further speaks on the rotation of the sky, the sun, and the moon, on the substance of the sun and the moon, on their shape, the cause of the eclipses, meteors, and meteorological phenomena.

33. Chap. III. Ta-ning ###.

On the cunning and artful.

Book XII.

34. Chap. I. Ch`êng-t`sai ###.

The difference between scholars and officials is pointed out. Wang Ch`ung stands up for the former, and places them higher than the officials, because they are of greater importance to the State. The people however think more of the officials.

35. Chap. II. Liang-chih ###.

The same subject as treated in the preceding chapter.

36. Chap. III. Hsieh-tuan ###.

Men of letters as well as officials have their shortcomings. The former are interested in antiquity only, and neglect the present, the Ch`in and Han time. They only know the Classics, but even many questions concerning the age and the origin of the Classics they cannot answer. The officials know their business, but often cannot say, why they do a thing, since they do not possess the necessary historical knowledge.

Book XIII.

37. Chap. I. Hsiao-li ###.

The chapter treats of the faculties of the scholars and the officials, and of their energy and perseverance displayed in different departments.

38. Chap. II. Pieh-t`ung ###.

There is the same difference between the learned and the uncultivated as between the rich and the poor. Learning is a power and more important than wealth.

39. Chap. III. Ch`ao-chi ###.

There are various degrees of learning. Some remarks are made on the works of several scholars, e.g. the philosopher Yang Tse Yün and the two historians Pan.

Book XIV.

40. Chap. I. Chuang-liu ###.

Scholars do not strive for office. As for practical success they are outrivalled by the officials, who are men of business.

*41. Chap. II. Han-wên ### (On Heat and Cold).

Wang Ch`ung contests the assertion of the phenomenalists that there is a correspondence between heat and cold and the joy and anger of the sovereign. He points out that the South is the seat of heat, and the North of cold. Moreover the temperature depends on the four seasons and the 24 time-periods.

*42 Chap. III. Ch`ien-kao ### (On Reprimands).

The savants hold that Heaven reprimands a sovereign whose administration is bad, visiting him with calamities. First the causes extraordinary events. If the sovereign does not change then, he sends down misfortunes upon his people, and at last he punishes his own person. Heaven is represented like a prince governing his people. These heavenly punishments would be at variance with Heaven's virtue, which consists in spontaneity and inaction. Heaven does not act itself, it acts through man, and speaks through the mouths of the Sages, in whose hearts is ingrafted its virtue. The utterances of the Classics ascribing human qualities to Heaven are only intended to give more weight to those teachings, and to frighten the wicked and the unintelligent.

Book XV.

*43. Chap. I. Pien-tung ### (Phenomenal Changes).

Heaven influences things, but is not affected by them. All creatures being filled with the heavenly fluid, Heaven is the master, and not the servant. The Yang and the Yin move things, but are not moved. The deeds and the prayers of a tiny creature like man cannot impress the mighty fluid of Heaven, and the sobs of thousands of people cannot touch it. Heaven is too far, and its fluid shapeless without beginning or end. It never sets the laws of nature aside for man's sake.

44. Chap. II. Chao-chih ###.

(This chapter has been lost.)

45. Chap. III. Ming-yü ###.

The rain sacrifice, which during the Ch`un-ch`iu period was performed at times of drought, forms the subject of this essay. People use to pray for rain and happiness, as they implore the spirits to avert sickness and other evils. Some believe that rain is caused by the stars, others that it depends on the government of a State, others again that it comes from the mountains. The last opinion is shared by Wang Ch`ung.

46. Chap. IV. Shun-ku ###.

The chapter treats of the religious ceremonies performed to avert inundations, in which the beating of drums is very important.

Book XVI.

47. Chap. I. Luan-lung ###.

As a means to attract the rain by the sympathetic action of similar fluids Tung Chung Shu had put up a clay dragon. Wang Ch`ung attempts to demonstrate the efficacy of this procedure by 15 arguments and 4 analogies.

48. Chap. II Tsao-hu ###.

Wang Ch`ung controverts the popular belief that, when men are devoured by tigers, it is the wickedness of secretaries and minor officials which causes these disasters.

49. Chap. III. Shang-ch`ung ###.

The common belief that the eating of the grain Illegal HTML character: decimal 156