The Six Distortions (from the Analects)

From the Analects, 17.6:







Confucius once asked Zhòng Yóu (仲由) if he had heard of  “the six words and the six distortions”. Yóu said he had not. The Master then explained as follows:

The “six words” (六言) are: 仁 (kindness), 知 (wisdom), 信 (reliability), 直 (honesty), 勇 (courage), and 剛 (steadfastness).

The “six distortions” (六蔽) are: 愚 (sentimentality), 蕩 (dilettantism), 賊 (restriction), 絞 (rudeness), 亂 (disruptiveness), 狂 (arrogance).

In each case, if one only “loves” (好) the “word” (言), but one does “not love” (不好) “learning” (學), then “it” (其) becomes “distorted” (蔽) into something else. That is, courage without learning is distorted into disruptiveness, or steadfastness without learning is distorted into arrogance, for examples.

So, what is this “learning”? It sounds rather important, doesn’t it?

A picture of Zhòng Yóu reading under the moonlight by  Yoshitoshi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


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