Aristote. De l'âme by Aristote; A. Jannone (ed.); E. Barbotin (trad.)

By Aristote; A. Jannone (ed.); E. Barbotin (trad.)

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From the beginning of Heaven and earth down to the emperors Yao and Shun and the Xia and Shang dynasties, sages always had attained the position of emperor; their government and their care of the people derived from the working out of the dao as required by circumstances. The Duke of Zhou, in fulfilling the Virtue of kings Wen and Wu, happened to live at a time when the work of emperors and kings was complete and when one dynasty had profited from the experience of another to the point where nothing further could be added.

My reply is that they are not. Dao does not act and is so of itself; sages see what they see and cannot but do as they do. 19 Sages see what they see, and hence they cannot but do as they do. The multitude sees nothing, and so do what they do without being aware of it. [One might ask,] Which is closer to the dao? My reply is that to do as one does without being aware of it is the dao. It is not [so much] that the multitude sees nothing, but rather that the thing cannot be seen. Doing as they do of necessity is how sages accord with the dao, but it is not the dao itself.

The dao is what it is of itself; sages do what they do of necessity. [One might ask,] Are these things the same? My reply is that they are not. Dao does not act and is so of itself; sages see what they see and cannot but do as they do. 19 Sages see what they see, and hence they cannot but do as they do. The multitude sees nothing, and so do what they do without being aware of it. [One might ask,] Which is closer to the dao? My reply is that to do as one does without being aware of it is the dao.

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