Page:Sun Tzu on The art of war.djvu/45

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Introduction

Sun Wu’s saying, that in war one cannot make certain of conquering,[1] is very different indeed from what other books tell us.[2] Wu Ch‘i was a man of the same stamp as Sun Wu: they both wrote books on war, and they are linked together in popular speech as “Sun and Wu.” But Wu Ch‘i’s remarks on war are less weighty, his rules are rougher and more crudely stated, and there is not the same unity of plan as in Sun Tzŭ's work, where the style is terse, but the meaning fully brought out.[3]

The 性理彚要, ch. 17, contains the following extract from the 藝圃折衷 “Impartial Judgments in the Garden Of Literature” by 鄭厚 Chêng Hou: —

Sun Tzŭ’s 13 chapters are not only the staple and base of all military men’s training, but also compel the most careful attention of scholars and men of letters. His sayings are terse yet elegant, simple yet profound, perspicuous and eminently practical. Such works as the Lun Yü, the I Ching and the great Commentary,[4] as well as the writings of Mencius, Hsün K‘uang and Yang Chu, all fall below the level of Sun Tzŭ.[5]

Chu Hsi, commenting on this, fully admits the first part of the criticism, although he dislikes the audacious comparison with the venerated classical works. Language of this sort, he says, “encourages a ruler’s bent towards unrelenting warfare and reckless militarism.”[6]

Apologies for War.

Accustomed as we are to think of China as the greatest peace-loving nation on earth, we are in some danger of


  1. See IV. § 3.
  2. The allusion may be to Mencius VI. 2. ix. 2: 戰必克
  3. 武用兵不能必克與書所言遠甚吳起與武一體之人皆著書言兵世稱之曰孫吳然而起之言兵也輕法制草略無所統紀不若武之書詞約而義盡.
  4. The Tso Chuan.
  5. 孫子十三篇不惟武人之根本文士亦當盡心焉其詞約而縟易而深暢而可用論語易大傳之流孟荀楊著書皆不及也.
  6. 是啟人君窮兵黷武之心.