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Accueil > Oriente > Tchoang-Tzeu : Pas de distinctions à l’intérieur du Principe

Tchoang-Tzeu : Pas de distinctions à l’intérieur du Principe

dimanche 16 novembre 2008


II-D. — Parmi les anciens, les uns pensaient que, à l’origine, il n’y eut rien de préexistant. C’est là une position extrême. — D’autres pensèrent qu’il y eut quelque chose? de préexistant. C’est là la position extrême opposée. — D’autres enfin pensèrent qu’il y eut quelque chose d’indistinct, de non différencié. C’est là la position moyenne, la vraie. — Cet être primordial non différencié, c’est la norme. Quand on imagina les distinctions, on ruina sa notion. Après les distinctions, vinrent les arts et les goûts, impressions et préférences subjectives qui ne peuvent ni se définir ni s’enseigner. Ainsi les trois artistes, Tchao-wenn, Cheu-k’oang, Hoei-tzeu, aimaient leur musique, puisque c’était leur musique, qu’ils trouvaient différente de celle des autres, et supérieure, bien entendu. Eh bien ! ils ne purent jamais définir en quoi consistaient cette différence et cette supériorié ; ils ne purent jamais enseigner à leurs propres fils à jouer comme eux. Car le subjectif ne se définit ni ne s’enseigne. Le Sage dédaigne ces vanités, se tient dans la demi-obscurité de la vision synthétique, se contente du bon sens pratique.

Burton Watson

The understanding of the men of ancient times went a long way. How far did it go ? To the point where some of them believed that things have never existed—so far, to the end, where nothing can be added. Those at the next stage thought that things exist but recognized no boundaries among them. Those at the next stage thought there were boundaries but recognized no right and wrong. Because right and wrong appeared, the Way was injured, and because the Way was injured, love became complete. But do such things as completion and injury really exist, or do they not ?

There is such a thing as completion and injury—Mr. Chao playing the lute is an example. There is such a thing as no completion and no injury—Mr. Chao not playing the lute is an example. [1] Chao Wen played the lute ; Music Master K’uang waved his baton ; Hui Tzu leaned on his desk. The knowledge? of these three was close to perfection. All were masters, and therefore their names have been handed down to later ages. Only in their likes they were different from him [the true sage]. What they liked, they tried to make clear. What he is not clear about, they tried to make clear, and so they ended in the foolishness of "hard" and "white." [2] Their sons, too, devoted all their lives to their fathers’ [3] theories, but till their death never reached any completion. Can these men be said to have attained completion ? If so, then so have all the rest of us. Or can they not be said to have attained completion ? If so, then neither we nor anything else have ever attained it. The torch of chaos and doubt—this is what the sage steers by. [4] So he does not use things but relegates all to the constant. This is what it means to use clarity.


[1Chao Wen was a famous lute (ch’in) player. But the best music he could play (i.e., complete) was only a pale and partial reflection of the ideal music, which was thereby injured and impaired, just as the unity of the Way was injured by the appearance of love—i.e., man’s likes and dislikes. Hence, when Mr. Chao refrained from playing the lute, there was neither completion nor injury.

[2The logicians Hui Tzu and Kung-sun Lung spent much time discussing the relationship between attributes such as "hard" and "white" and the thing to which they pertain.

[3Following Yu-lan Fung and Fukunaga I read fu instead of well.

[4He accepts things as they are, though to the ordinary person attempting to establish values they appear chaotic and doubtful and in need of clarification.