Saturday, March 26, 2011

Confucius: Returning good for evil ...

"Someone said,

'Repay an injury with a good turn'

What do you think of this saying?

The Master said, 'What, then, do you repay a good turn with? You repay an injury with straightness, but you repay a good turn with a good turn.'" - Analects, XIV.34

A footnote says that this comes from the Tao Te Ching of Laozi. I wasn't able to locate this, but it does seem like something plausible. There are several things in it that almost sounds Christian, but then there is a severe defect: Christianity has some things that appear as paradoxes, but only from an earthly perspective - not God's heavenly perspective. The Tao Te Ching praises paradoxes as an end in themselves so that A and not-A are enumerated in long lists. It is also frequently proclaimed that the way to achieve A is to pursue not-A. Confucius certainly is not of this sort, so his response to the saying probably should be taken as an attempt to make a correction.

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