Mencius. Book IV: Lî Lâu. Part II. Chapter XXVI.

Legge's summary: How knowledge ought to be pursued by the careful study of phenomena.

1. Mencius said, 'All who speak about the natures of things, have in fact only their phenomena to reason from, and the value of a phenomenon is in its being natural.

2. 'What I dislike in your wise men is their boring out their conclusions. If those wise men would only act as Yü did when he conveyed away the waters, there would be nothing to dislike in their wisdom. The manner in which Yü conveyed away the waters was by doing what gave him no trouble. If your wise men would also do that which gave them no trouble, their knowledge would also be great.

3. 'There is heaven so high; there are the stars so distant. If we have investigated their phenomena, we may, while sitting in our places, go back to the solstice of a thousand years ago.'

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Translated by James Legge, published in 1861 and revised for publication in 1895. Prepared as etext by Stephen R. McIntyre. Noded by schist. Please msg schist if you have suggestions for useful hard-links.