in order to express abstract ideas of degree. The T‘u Shu, however, omits 敗.
I say then that victory can be achieved.
Alas for these brave words! The long feud between the two states ended in 473 B.C. with the total defeat of Wu by 勾踐 Kou Chien and its incorporation in Yüeh. This was doubtless long after Sun Tzŭ’s death. With his present assertion compare IV. § 4: 勝可知而不可爲 (which is the obviously mistaken reading of the Yü Lan here). Chang Yü is the only one to point out the seeming discrepancy, which he thus goes on to explain: “In the chapter on Tactical Dispositions it is said, ‘One may know how to conquer without being able to do it,’ whereas here we have the statement that ‘victory can be achieved.’ The explanation is, that in the former chapter, where the offensive and defensive are under discussion, is said that if the enemy is fully prepared, one cannot make certain of beating him. But the present passage refers particularly to the soldiers of Yüeh who, according to Sun Tzŭ’s calculations, will be kept in ignorance of the time and place of the impending struggle. That is why he says here that victory can be achieved.”
22. Though the enemy be stronger in numbers, we may prevent him from fighting.
Capt. Calthrop quite unwarrantably translates: “If the enemy be many in number, prevent him,” etc.
Scheme so as to discover his plans and the likelihood of their success.
This is the first of four similarly constructed sentences, all of which present decided difficulties. Chang Yü explains 知得失之計 as 知其計之得失. This is perhaps the best way of taking the words, though Chia Lin, referring 計 to ourselves and not the enemy, offers the alternative of 我得彼失之計皆先知也 “Know beforehand all plans conducive to our success and to the enemy’s failure.”
23. Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity.
Instead of 作, the T‘ung Tien, Yü Lan, and also Li Ch‘üan’s text have 候, which the latter explains as “the observation of omens,” and Chia Lin simply as “watching and waiting.” 作 is defined by Tu Mu