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Collection « Les auteur(e)s classiques »

The Chinese Sophists (1901)
Extrait: KUNG SUN LUNG TSE : On the white horse. On the hard and white.

Une édition électronique réalisée à partir du texte d’Alfred Forke, The Chinese sophists, un article inclus dans le Journal of the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, XXXIV, Changhai 1901, pp. 1-100. Une édition réalisée par Pierre Palpant, bénévole, Paris.


KUNG SUN LUNG TSE. On the white horse

[Voir la biographie de Kung Sun Lung]

Question. — Is it possible that a white horse is no horse ?

Answer. — Yes.

Question. — How ?

Answer. — A horse denotes a shape, white a colour. Describing a colour, one does not describe a shape, therefore I say that a white horse is no horse.

Question. — There being a white horse, one cannot say that there is no horse. If one cannot say that there is no horse, can the existence of the horse be denied ? There being a white horse, one must admit that there is a horse, how can whiteness bring about the non-existence of a horse ?

Answer. — When a horse is required, yellow and black ones can all be brought, but when a white horse is wanted, there is no room for yellow and black ones. Now, let a white horse be a horse. It is but one kind of those required. Then one of those required, a white horse, would not be different from a horse. Those required do not differ. Would then yellow and black ones meet the requirement or not ? In so far as they would meet the requirement or not, they evidently exclude each other. Yellow as well as black horses are each one kind, they correspond to a call for a horse, but not to a call for a white horse. Hence it results that a white horse cannot be a horse.

Question. — A horse having colour is considered no horse. But there are no colourless horses on earth ! Are there therefore no horses on earth.

Answer. — Horses of course have colour, therefore there are white horses. If horses had no colour, there would be merely horses. But how can we single out white horses, for whiteness is no horse ?

A white horse is a horse and whiteness. Such being the case I hold that a white horse is no horse.

Question. — A horse not yet connected with whiteness, is a horse, and whiteness not yet connected with a horse, is whiteness. When horse and whiteness are combined, one speaks of a white horse, which means that they are united. If they were not, one could not give them such a name. Ergo it is not right to say that a white horse is no horse.

Counter-question (Kung Sun Lung). — If we regard a white horse as being a horse, can it be said that a white horse is a yellow horse ?

Answer. — No.

Answer (Kung Sun Lung). — The idea of a horse being different from that of a yellow horse, there must be a difference between a yellow horse and a horse. A yellow horse being different from a horse, a yellow horse cannot be a horse. If a yellow horse is no horse, to hold that a white horse is a horse, would be like flying in a lake or placing the inner and the outer coffins in different places. This would be very illogical reasoning and random talk.

Question. — If there is a white horse, one cannot say that there is no horse, viz. without white colour. In case the idea of a white horse is eliminated, then indeed one cannot speak of a horse. Should, therefore, only a horse correspond to the idea of a horse, and should a white horse not be accounted a horse, then, when we believe, that there is a horse, we could not say that this horse is a horse.

Answer. — If with white things whiteness is not emphasized but forgotten, all is right. If in reference to a white horse one speaks of whiteness, and emphasizes it, it is no whiteness.

The idea of a horse neither excludes nor includes any colour. Therefore, yellow and black ones are all welcome. The idea of a white horse excludes and includes colour. Yellow and black ones are all excluded owing to their colour. White horses alone correspond. If there is nothing that excludes, none are excluded. Ergo a white horse is no horse.

KUNG SUN LUNG TSE. On the hard and white

Question. — Are hard, white and stone three ?

Answer. — No.

Question. — Are they two ?

Answer. — Yes.

Question. — How ?

Answer. — There being no hardness, one finds whiteness, which process gives two, and there being no whiteness, one finds hardness, which gives two likewise.

Question. — Upon finding whiteness one cannot say that there is no whiteness, and on finding hardness one cannot say that there is no hardness. A stone being thus conditioned, are there not three things ?

Answer. — When seeing, one does not perceive hardness ; perceiving whiteness, one finds no hardness. When touching, one does not perceive whiteness, but hardness. In perceiving hardness one does not find whiteness.

Question. — If there were no whiteness on earth, one could not see a stone, and if there were no hardness on earth, one could not speak of a stone. The hard, the white and the stone do not exclude one another, how could the third be hidden ?

Answer. — It hides itself, not influenced by any alien agent.

Question. — Whiteness and hardness are indispensable constituents of a stone pervading each other. How do they hide themselves spontaneously ?

Answer. — One perceives whiteness, and one perceives hardness, but seeing and not seeing separate. The not seeing separates. The two do not pervade each other there being separation. That which separates, hides.

Question. — The whiteness of a stone and the hardness of a stone, seeing and not seeing are two things, and together with a stone three things. They permeate one another like width and length. And how should they not be in evidence ?

Answer. — When a thing is white, its whiteness is something indefinable, and when it is hard, its hardness is indefinable. If something unknown and indefinable is added, it cannot be inherent in the stone.

Question. — If round about the stone there is not that quality of hardness, there is no stone, and without a stone, one cannot speak of its whiteness. Those qualities which cannot be separated from the stone must have real existence, and cannot perish.

Answer. — A stone is one, hard and white are two, but as far as they are in the stone, they are either tangible or intangible, visible or invisible. The intangible separates from the tangible, the invisible hides from the visible. Who will say, that hiding is not the same as separation ?

Question. — Because the eye cannot behold hardness nor the hand grasp whiteness, one cannot urge that there is no hardness or whiteness. Their organs of perception are not the same, and cannot be interchanged. Hard and white have different spheres in the stone, how shall they separate ?

Answer. — Hardness is hardness, not through its connexion with the stone or with any other thing. That which does not own its hardness to any combination with something else, must be hard of itself. It does not harden stones, etc. but is hard. Whenever such hardness cannot be found on earth, it is hidden.

If whiteness is really not white of itself, how could it whiten stones, etc. ? If whiteness is necessarily white, it is so without causing things to be white. With yellow and black colour it is the same. As long as a stone is not provided with whiteness, one cannot speak of a hard and white stone. Hence whiteness ceases. Cessation means that it usually adheres to the objects. It is much better to follow this natural course than to connect these qualities with their objects by force in order to find out their nature.

Furthermore, when whiteness is beheld by the eye, it is seen by means of light. When it cannot be seen by light, both light and eye do not give a vision. Then the mind might still see it. But when the mind does not see it either, vision ceases.

Hardness is perceived with the hand, which knocks against something. Thus knowledge is derived through the hand and knocking. In default of such knowledge the mind does not know either. In such a case one speaks of absence of the mind. When the mind is absent, the world is left alone, and all is right.

Retour au texte de l'auteur: Jean-Marc Fontan, sociologue, UQAM Dernière mise à jour de cette page le lundi 21 janvier 2008 7:52
Par Jean-Marie Tremblay, sociologue
professeur de sociologie au Cegep de Chicoutimi.

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