and the cocks and dogs of one could be heard in the other, yet the people grew old and died without ever interchanging visits.
In those days, government was indeed perfect. But nowadays any one can excite the people by saying, "In such and such a place there is a Sage."
Immediately they put together a few provisions and hurry off, neglecting their parents at home and their master's business abroad, filing in unbroken line through territories of Princes, with a string of carts and carriages a thousand li in length. Such is the evil effect of an exaggerated desire for knowledge among our rulers. And if rulers aim at knowledge and neglect Tao, the empire will be overwhelmed in confusion.
How can it be shown that this is so?—Bows and cross-bows and hand-nets and harpoon-arrows, involve much knowledge in their use; but they carry confusion among the birds of the air. Hooks and bait and nets and traps, involve much knowledge in their use; but they carry confusion among the fishes of the deep. Fences and nets and snares, involve much knowledge in their use; but they carry confusion among the beasts of the field. In the same way the sophistical fallacies of the hard and white and the like and the unlike of schoolmen involve much knowledge of argument; but they overwhelm the world in doubt.
Therefore it is that whenever there is great confusion, love of knowledge is ever at the bottom of it. For all men strive to grasp what they do