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Blog post: Who is the ‘superior man’?

hilary

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Who is the ‘superior man’?

feet of a hill-walker on rocky ground
The person who emailed me this question found the expression ‘superior man’ quite off-putting. I can see why: arranging half of humanity into superiors and inferiors, inviting the reader to identify not just as a good person but as someone better than the rest… none of this feels sympathetic to me, either.

And, I would argue, it’s not quite what the Yijing says.

*pause for translation*


‘Superior man’ is how the Wilhelm/Baynes I Ching translates junzi 君子. Bradford Hatcher’s translation is more direct: ‘noble young one’. Zi means ‘child’ (and is gender neutral); jun breaks down into ‘voice’ and ‘governing, controlling’, and means a sovereign or noble – someone with authority over others.

Undoubtedly, the junzi makes a perfect screen onto which we can project our own ideas: for Wilhelm, superiors and inferiors (‘inferior men’ is his translation for xiao ren, ‘small people’); for Karcher, mostly individual choices in the moment (for me, too); for Carol Anthony, the ‘true self’ as opposed to the ‘ego’.

Varieties of ‘noble one’


In the Yijing itself, there are actually two distinct versions of the junzi: the one in the original Zhouyi text, and the one in the Daxiang, the Image, who epitomises the best response to the energies of the component trigrams. Here he is in the Image of Hexagram 33, Retreat, setting boundaries with mountain, inspiring respect with heaven:

‘Below heaven is the mountain: Retreat.
A noble one keeps small people at a distance,
Not with hatred, but through respect.’

Almost all the Image texts feature this noble one, with just a handful of exceptions. I believe she’s a development, and perhaps a simplification, of the noble one in the Zhouyi.

Here’s the Zhouyi’s noble one, in 33.4:

‘Loving retreat.
Noble one, good fortune.
Small people, blocked.’

I think it’s important to understand that this junzi is not just a cipher to represent the best response; he has his own story arc and evolves through the Sequence of hexagrams.

Let’s see how he gets on in a time of Retreat…

The noble one’s retreat

The story so far


By the time they reach Retreat, noble young ones have learned that their vast creative drive (1.3) is in need of guidance (2.0, 3.3) and is better not just given free rein (9.6). Besides, sometimes circumstances are such that no amount of the noble one’s constancy can accomplish anything (12.0) – though when circumstances do align, it’s important to commit yourself, be true and complete the work at hand (13.0, 15.0.1.3).

Now the focus shifts to vision and insight – and this is where the junzi is first contrasted with small people, in questions of insight. If a noble one can see differently (20.1.5.6), they’ll have a different interpretation of the situation, and a fresh response (23.6).

33.4…


What happens next, in 33.4?

‘Loving retreat.
Noble one, good fortune.
Small people, blocked.’

This particular retreat is 好 hao, ‘good’, which also means ‘to love’. The character originally shows a woman and child – the same ‘child’ character as the zi in junzi. So there’s something like a paradox in this line: retreat means moving away, but hao means ultimate closeness.

Hexagram 33 line 4 changes to 53, Gradual Development – the hexagram for the woman’s marriage. This is how Retreat can accomplish Gradual Development – integrate, marry, come home, create connection and belonging – by retreating towards connection.

In practice, in readings, this is typically retreat from a position you are holding. It’s often a retreat from argument towards friendship, sometimes a retreat towards connection with yourself.

Small people, though, are ‘blocked’. That’s the same word as the name of Hexagram 12, Blocked, the hexagram where ‘noble one’s constancy bears no fruit.’ Back then, the circumstances simply meant the noble one couldn’t win – but here, it’s more a matter of perspective and approach.

…with its paired line, 34.3


The paired line, 34.3 – which is in essence the same line, seen from the opposite perspective…

versus​

– further explains the contrast between noble one and small people:

‘Small people use vigour,
Noble one uses a net.
Constancy: danger.
The ram butts a hedge,
Entangles his horns.’

(This is one of those line pairs you can read fluently, straight through, as a single story.)

When you’re Blocked, your best efforts will get you nowhere – which is exactly the experience of the ram in the hedge: ‘using vigour’, like the small people, only to find the hedge is more vigorous than he is.

And that, I think, is also the small person’s experience of ‘loving retreat’. They can see only two possibilities: either you win through, or else you’re blocked, you retreat, you failed. The noble one can see other interpretations, and hence find other approaches, like the net.

It’s worth noticing that 34.3 doesn’t explicitly identify the small people with the ram. However, I do think it’s implicit. The net is an adaptive strategy: something to be positioned in the right time and the right place. That contrasts with constancy – sticking loyally to the one thing you know – which is dangerous here. And also, the hedge works very much like a net.

As 33.4 changes to 53, so 34.3 points you to Hexagram 54, the Marrying Maiden. That’s the marriage of a girl in a weak position, someone who has no control over her situation. It’s the perfect backdrop for the moment when the ram first discovers that he’s not the strongest force after all. The noble one, aware by now that she must adapt her creative energy to the circumstances, will use the net with that in mind.

Embracing imperfection


To soak in more of the atmosphere, it helps to visit the last two lines in this ‘pathway’: 53.4 and 54.3, which point back towards 33 and 34 respectively:

‘Wild geese gradually progress to the trees.
Maybe find a flat branch.
No mistake.’

‘Marrying maiden waiting,
Turns it round and marries as second wife.’

Neither of these is about an ideal situation; both are about seeing the possibilities in something that’s awkward and imperfect – but still enough for now, ‘not a mistake’. The noble one has the insight to recognise that this isn’t the same as being blocked.

So who is the junzi?


Someone with great creative drive, who learns to combine insight with imagination to see beyond the obvious. From here on, through 36.1, 40.5, 43.3 and 49.6, she needs to deal with more difficulty and awkwardness. Though sometimes at odds with the prevailing climate, she’ll navigate increasingly by inner guidance and become steadily more influential.

For more on the noble one, and how to apply the concept in readings, see the Language of Change Yijing glossary – available for free inside the Resonance Journal.

feet of a hill-walker on rocky ground
 

bradford

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Maybe the two things that best define Junzi for me are:
Jun implies nobility, having advantages at an early age, especially mentors and tutors. But like Thomas Jefferson wrote, there exists a natural aristocracy, characterized by virtuee and talent, rather than inherited wealth. So the implication is one of much potential, perhaps with some implication that its development will be followed by some form of noblesse oblige, some urge to repay one's gifts, to give something back out of gratitude or largesss of spirit. The second part is the Zi, youth, the fact of still having much growing to do. To me, this shines a pretty harsh light on the later Confucian understanding the "Superior Man." It just makes it look pretentious as hell, and counterproductive of all the growing and growing up that we all still have to do.
 

my_key

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Somewhere I have read that Wilhelm's original German translation gives an equivalent of 'noble one', or similar, and it was only in the subsequent English translation that the term 'superior one' came to the fore. Having never read the original German version and being neither a fluent German nor Chinese speaker I cannot vouch for the truth in this.

One image for me of junzi, though, is one of an active seeker of power and virtue. Searching for ways to better live life, on a personal and relational basis, through developing more highly refined qualities of character while, most importantly, keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground. A high-calibre journeyman treading the road less travelled: looking to realise their full potential.

Jun implies nobility, having advantages at an early age, especially mentors and tutors. But like Thomas Jefferson wrote, there exists a natural aristocracy, characterized by virtuee and talent, rather than inherited wealth. So the implication is one of much potential, perhaps with some implication that its development will be followed by some form of noblesse oblige, some urge to repay one's gifts, to give something back out of gratitude or largesss of spirit. The second part is the Zi, youth, the fact of still having much growing to do. To me, this shines a pretty harsh light on the later Confucian understanding the "Superior Man." It just makes it look pretentious as hell, and counterproductive of all the growing and growing up that we all still have to do.

This outline story is akin to that of Siddhārtha Gautama. Born into priviledge and wealth. One day, he becomes exposed to the stark horrors of the world. Then acting on his own authority he sets off to find a different truth of how to be in the world. Years of learning his craft and one bodhi tree later he completed the ultimate growing up experience.

I'd agree with Bradford, the Confucians did muddy the waters a bit with their understanding of 'Superior Man". Maybe if they'd been privvy to there own set of Great Lakes and had named one Lake Superior they'd have seen a different perspective. Yes, it is the largest by surface area and also the deepest. Using empirical statistics it is deemed as the greatest of the Great Lakes. However, when all things are said and done, all comparisons made, it is just a lake named Lake Superior.
 

Liselle

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Thanks, Hilary and Bradford, for the more complete and useful ways of looking at this, but I'm not sure the "superior/inferior" idea is always wrong. Sometimes (er, often) I do indeed behave in ways that are recognizably inferior. Not that I enjoy hearing it, of course :rant:. But it doesn't make it not true.
 
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Trojina

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Undoubtedly, the junzi makes a perfect screen onto which we can project our own ideas: for Wilhelm, superiors and inferiors (‘inferior men’ is his translation for xiao ren, ‘small people’); for Karcher, mostly individual choices in the moment (for me, too); for Carol Anthony, the ‘true self’ as opposed to the ‘ego’.

Yes always been a bit too much of a projection screen I feel in the sense that people will tend to create in their minds an ideal perfect person ( thank you for using 'she' occasionally) who isn't them. In doing so I think they can be like the woman in 4.3

'Don't take this woman.
She sees a man of bronze and there is no self.
No direction bears fruit.'

Whoever the 'noble one'/superior man is she isn't locked up somewhere in a list of ideal qualities, this is to do with awareness, greater or smaller, big view or small view. It does seem to me as you have said elsewhere we do need our small person as in 12.2 for example, to just get on with things without always looking to the bigger purpose. I had a new view of my great person in reading old diaries recently. There would be parts that stood out as almost another person with a whole panoramic view of my life 20.5 style and then there'd be details about daily occurrences and they did stand apart from each other and both were needed of course.


One confusion I have is I had always half thought small people xiao ren, weren't necessarily bad people, 'fei ren' - they aren't are they ? Small people or your 'small person' is not bad in itself. One could say small person is lesser because it may be thinking about what food to buy rather than 'where is my life headed ?' but both noble one and small person are needed.

:paperbag: I always had a slight confusion between 'noble one' and 'superior man' but they are one and the same thing and 'superior man' is just Wilhelm. That's how influential Wilhelm is that the 'superior man' sticks so firmly in my head as a separate entity from 'noble one' or 'junzi' when they are the same thing.
 

Liselle

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I always had a slight confusion between 'noble one' and 'superior man' but they are one and the same thing
I think that's right. It's all just different translations and interpretations of the same thing, just like with many other words and phrases in the I Ching, and with (I assume?) translation in general. There's always going to be several possible options.

(Hilary's new mini-course on using multiple translations:
https://www.onlineclarity.co.uk/c/c/working-with-multiple-translations/ )

Example: the word oui in French. It means "yes." But, if someone was translating a novel, and the character said "Oui," how should that be translated into English? "Yes"? "Yeah"? "Yep"? They all generally mean the same thing, but English speakers know there's a difference, and which one is picked will affect how we see the scene and the character.

In the case of junzi, it could be they're all right at different times. I do think there are times when inferior/superior, in all its harshness, is exactly correct. And Hilary often points out that "small person" can mean someone who doesn't have a lot of power or imagination - as you say, Trojina, sometimes that's exactly what's called for. "Great person" power should not be brought to bear in every situation, and a lot of things don't require imagination. It might actually make things worse at times.
 
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Freedda

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Who is the ‘superior man’?

The person who emailed me this question found the expression ‘superior man’ quite off-putting. I can see why: arranging half of humanity into superiors and inferiors, inviting the reader to identify not just as a good person but as someone better than the rest… none of this feels sympathetic to me, either.
Not wanting to raise the thorny topic of math and probabilities again - but I'd suggest that we're not even talking about half of humanity: because the text is about 'men' we really only might have a percentage of men whom might be 'superior' - unless you equate superior with all of the male half of the species - which is truely off-putting (even for me)! :devilish:

But then again, I don't think changing this superior whatever into a woman, or person (not gender-specfic), or being (non-human specifc) really helps at all either.

I've never been particularly bothered by the expression - either the 'man' part or the 'superior' part. For me, what is superior here is not the person, but the action / advice / attitude that the Yi is recommending (or by example, is not advising). It is this that makes us - any of us regardless of our station in life - 'superior' - and that doesn't really give me any heartburn. It is simply to follow advice or take actions that would be good, helpful, friendly, advisable - or even what we might call superior.

And because we're always learning (and making our necessary mistakes) we are also young and noble in doing this.

:zen:

Best, David.
 
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hilary

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Yes always been a bit too much of a projection screen I feel in the sense that people will tend to create in their minds an ideal perfect person ( thank you for using 'she' occasionally) who isn't them. In doing so I think they can be like the woman in 4.3

'Don't take this woman.
She sees a man of bronze and there is no self.
No direction bears fruit.'

Whoever the 'noble one'/superior man is she isn't locked up somewhere in a list of ideal qualities, this is to do with awareness, greater or smaller, big view or small view. It does seem to me as you have said elsewhere we do need our small person as in 12.2 for example, to just get on with things without always looking to the bigger purpose. I had a new view of my great person in reading old diaries recently. There would be parts that stood out as almost another person with a whole panoramic view of my life 20.5 style and then there'd be details about daily occurrences and they did stand apart from each other and both were needed of course.


One confusion I have is I had always half thought small people xiao ren, weren't necessarily bad people, 'fei ren' - they aren't are they ? Small people or your 'small person' is not bad in itself. One could say small person is lesser because it may be thinking about what food to buy rather than 'where is my life headed ?' but both noble one and small person are needed.

:paperbag: I always had a slight confusion between 'noble one' and 'superior man' but they are one and the same thing and 'superior man' is just Wilhelm. That's how influential Wilhelm is that the 'superior man' sticks so firmly in my head as a separate entity from 'noble one' or 'junzi' when they are the same thing.
I don't think of small people as necessarily bad, no. But looking through for this post, it seems that when the distinction is between junzi and small people, you do always want to try for the junzi's approach.

Example: the word oui in French. It means "yes." But, if someone was translating a novel, and the character said "Oui," how should that be translated into English? "Yes"? "Yeah"? "Yep"? They all generally mean the same thing, but English speakers know there's a difference, and which one is picked will affect how we see the scene and the character.
You might have 'yes' for 'oui' and 'yeah' for 'ouai', but I'm not sure about 'yep'...
In the case of junzi, it could be they're all right at different times. I do think there are times when inferior/superior, in all its harshness, is exactly correct. And Hilary often points out that "small person" can mean someone who doesn't have a lot of power or imagination - as you say, Trojina, sometimes that's exactly what's called for. "Great person" power should not be brought to bear in every situation, and a lot of things don't require imagination. It might actually make things worse at times.
Yes, good points. Though, again, junzi and great person are unrelated.

Small person vs junzi: 23.6, 33.4, 34.3, 40.5 and 49.6. Small person vs great person: 12.2, plus prince in 14.3. I think those are the only direct comparisons.
 

Trojina

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I don't think of small people as necessarily bad, no. But looking through for this post, it seems that when the distinction is between junzi and small people, you do always want to try for the junzi's approach.

...though I have often seen you say that sometimes taking the small person role isn't a bad thing. You've said it about 12.2 and other lines if I could but remember. Not trying to catch you out but wondering if you have changed your mind about this ?


Yes, good points. Though, again, junzi and great person are unrelated.

Ah the great person, that is whom I was also getting muddled with 'superior man'. The great person is in 39.6 for example, so who is he ?

'Going on limping; coming back, mastery.
Good fortune.
Harvest in seeing the great person.'
 

Trojina

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Not wanting to raise the thorny topic of math and probabilities again - but I'd suggest that we're not even talking about half of humanity: because the text is about 'men' we really only might have a percentage of men whom might be 'superior' - unless you equate superior with all of the male half of the species - which is truely off-putting (even for me)! :devilish:

But then again, I don't think changing this superior whatever into a woman, or person (not gender-specfic), or being (non-human specifc) really helps at all either.

I've never been particularly bothered by the expression - either the 'man' part or the 'superior' part. For me, what is superior here is not the person, but the action / advice / attitude that the Yi is recommending (or by example, is not advising). It is this that makes us - any of us regardless of our station in life - 'superior' - and that doesn't really give me any heartburn. It is simply to follow advice or take actions that would be good, helpful, friendly, advisable - or even what we might call superior.

And because we're always learning (and making our necessary mistakes) we are also young and noble in doing this.

:zen: But then again, maybe that's just my superior, entitle, male ego talking!

Best, David.

It's unfortunate you have misinterpreted the post in order to make out it's to do with political correctness gone mad - or some such. You are making quite a to do about this, which is factual


‘Superior man’ is how the Wilhelm/Baynes I Ching translates junzi 君子. Bradford Hatcher’s translation is more direct: ‘noble young one’. Zi means ‘child’ (and is gender neutral); jun breaks down into ‘voice’ and ‘governing, controlling’, and means a sovereign or noble – someone with authority over others.

So all Hilary has said 'Zi means child and is gender neutral'. She then used the pronoun 'she'

Almost all the Image texts feature this noble one, with just a handful of exceptions. I believe she’s a development, and perhaps a simplification, of the noble one in the Zhouyi.

...I think it's great to read 'she' and yes it makes a huge amount of difference to me as a female reader.

But you know the post did not centre on that but it's all you seemed to have picked up on.
 

hilary

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Not wanting to raise the thorny topic of math and probabilities again - but I'd suggest that we're not even talking about half of humanity: because the text is about 'men' we really only might have a percentage of men whom might be 'superior' - unless you equate superior with all of the male half of the species - which is truely off-putting (even for me)! :devilish:
Oh splendid, let's avoid the controversial topic of probabilities and talk about sexism instead, that should calm everything down nicely! :rolleyes:

(Crossing posts with Trojina.)

...For me, what is superior here is not the person, but the action / advice / attitude that the Yi is recommending (or by example, is not advising).
Perfectly put. Less 'which kind of person are you?' and more 'who will you be today?'

have often seen you say that sometimes taking the small person role isn't a bad thing. You've said it about 12.2 and other lines if I could but remember. Not trying to catch you out but wondering if you have changed your mind about this ?
I think sometimes you find you just are the small person, if you think about it, so that's that - not a moral choice at all.

Small people contrasted with junzi, though...
23.6
'A ripe fruit uneaten.
Noble one gets a cart,
Small people strip their huts.'

33.4
'Loving retreat.
Noble one, good fortune.
Small people, blocked.'

34.3
'Small people use vigour,
Noble one uses a net.
Constancy: danger.
The ram butts a hedge,
Entangles his horns.'

49.6
'Noble one transforms as a leopard,
Small people radically change their faces.
Setting out to bring order: pitfall.
Settling with constancy: good fortune.'

...can you imagine getting any of those lines and thinking, 'OK, today I'm the small person, and that's not a problem'? I mean, I might recognise that I've just misused strength or found myself blocked or made only a superficial change or self-sabotaged or whatever, but the point of each line seems to be, '...so now you know, be more like the noble one instead.'

Whereas in
'Embracing the charge.
Small people, good fortune.
Great people, blocked. Creating success.'
and
'A prince makes a summer offering [heng] to the son of heaven.
Small people are in no way capable of this.'
it seems quite reasonable to look at one of those and say, 'OK, I'm the small one this time.'


Ah the great person, that is whom I was also getting muddled with 'superior man'. The great person is in 39.6 for example, so who is he ?

'Going on limping; coming back, mastery.
Good fortune.
Harvest in seeing the great person.'
I recommend opening your Resonance Journal and turning to the Glossary (or going to Help > Language of Change pdf).
 

hilary

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...sorry, meant to include a quotation:
Great people may be powerful in general, but their most important power is that they see more. They stand at the centre – in the six occurrences of ‘great person’ in moving line texts, five are in lines 2 or 5, the trigrams’ centres – and from this hub their awareness reaches out to encompass the whole situation. The great person can see the longer term and larger possibilities. It’s often ‘fruitful to see great people’ at a time when immediate struggles monopolise your attention, to get the benefit of that higher perspective.
 

Trojina

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The 'great person' never meant anything to me in actual readings at all. Looking at your descriptions won't change that. Looking at the glossary doesn't mean I can locate your description of the great man in any of my real life readings, ever, so the question remains at least in my own head.
 
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Freedda

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Oh splendid, let's avoid the controversial topic of probabilities and talk about sexism instead, that should calm everything down nicely! :rolleyes:
Perhaps so, but this thread is about the 'superior man' and isn't some or many people's objections to the language of the Yi because of it's supposed inherent 'sexism'? And so, should we avoid that at all costs in discussing the 'superior man' - for the sake of keeping the peace?

The point I was making is that for me, this expression is about what people do, and that is what determines if they are or are not superior - and it applies to everyone regardless of sex or gender (or class, or inherited status, etc.).

D.
 

Trojina

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Perhaps so, but this thread is about the 'superior man' and isn't some or many people's objections to the language of the Yi because of it's supposed inherent 'sexism'? And so, should we avoid that at all costs in discussing the 'superior man' - for the sake of keeping the peace?

The point I was making is that for me, this expression is about what people do, and that is what determines if they are or are not superior - and it applies to everyone regardless of sex or gender (or class, or inherited status, etc.).

D.

I think you are making the blog post about something it isn't.

But you are saying is 'oh it doesn't matter what superior man is called it's all just people' - well maybe it is to you but actually on the receiving end as a female it makes a difference. Not that this thread is about this in any way at all, just saying

This reminds me of how vicars will say that God is genderless or contains all genders and so we call him 'he' just for simplicity but actually when the word 'she' is used for God it's completely revolutionary, it changes everything because if one is never included and is used to being never included even though hearing 'oh 'man' covers all people' it actually doesn't. On a subtle level that has a huge impact over time the female aspect of God is simply not presented by calling God 'he' all the time. And if it doesn't matter and the 'superior man' or 'god' is not gender specific then why does it matter to use the pronoun 'she' ?


Ought not to continue conversation, I don't want to and it's off topic and I think you've missed the point of the blog but did want to point out that actually all this stuff about 'he' being inclusive of all does have an impact, a 57ish impact and one can tell what an impact it has simply by how radical the occasional use of 'she' for 'noble one' is.
 
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Freedda

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I think you are making the blog post about something it isn't.
I have not misinterpreted, nor confused the topic, nor missed the point, nor made this thread about anything else.

The topic of the post is about the 'superior man' and about how one person found that off-putting. I simply picked up on that and discussed 1) another aspect of this expression that people might find offensive, and 2) gave my own take on how I understand this expression.

And if any of what I've done is going a bit afield (and I don' think it is), so be it, My understanding is that this forum and this thread are about a free exchange of ideas, and I have been told by Hilary and others that 'going off-topic' is often what happens here and I gather it is even to be encouraged.

If you disagree with my understanding of the 'superior man,' than you are of course free to offer your own understading - and I hope you do that without putting down what I'm saying, or of accusing me of misrepresentation, or of being 'off topic', which is how this seems.

D.
 
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Liselle

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You might have 'yes' for 'oui' and 'yeah' for 'ouai', but I'm not sure about 'yep'...
Ah. I never learned "ouai" - my last decent exposure to French was long ago in high school...

Though, again, junzi and great person are unrelated.
...and I completely missed that, or never knew it, or something. Sorry. Must read more carefully.
 
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Liselle

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"Ouai" is pronounced a lot like "way" in English, whereas "oui" is pronounced like "wee."

https://www.howtopronounce.com/french/ouai/

(This really has nothing to do with Hilary's blog, but since I foolishly brought it up, there it is.)
 
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moss elk

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I think the jun zi is someone on the path to become the great man.
They just haven't made the accomplishments yet.


Can anyone offer good definitions for
Xiao Ren and Fei Ren next?

I've experienced a Fei Ren (as in 8.3) in person, the words that come to mind for me are: lousy and awful and somewhat deranged.
 
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Freedda

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I think the jun zi is someone on the path to become the great man. They just haven't made the accomplishments yet.
Do you think it could also be someone who does the best they can and acts in the most noble way in a particular situation (which the Yi is pointing them towards)?

Best, D.
 

moss elk

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Do you think it could also be someone who does the best they can and acts in the most noble way in a particular situation (which the Yi is pointing them towards)?

Best, D.

Yes, I do.
 

hilary

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The 'great person' never meant anything to me in actual readings at all. Looking at your descriptions won't change that. Looking at the glossary doesn't mean I can locate your description of the great man in any of my real life readings, ever, so the question remains at least in my own head.
Well, let us know when the answer appears in your head. (I find trawling through all the occurrences of a concept in readings helps.)
Brief excursus...
I think you are making the blog post about something it isn't.
True.
I have been told by Hilary and others that 'going off-topic' is often what happens here and I gather it is even to be encouraged.
Also true. But on this occasion I appreciate the opportunities to get back on topic, so let's do that. (After all, 'superior man' is not Yi's language, it's Wilhelm's language. It's a great shame when that gets in the way of people's connection with the oracle as a whole.)
Can anyone offer good definitions for
Xiao Ren and Fei Ren next?
I had a go at 'small people' in Language of Change. The fei ren only appear in 12.0 and 8.3, which makes it hard to generalise. I think there's an element of 'not quite real people at all' to it - not your kind of people, with motivations you can't recognise or empathise with, beyond the pale, something you can't relate to. But as I said, that's inseparable from the context, which has a lot to do with the need to connect and relate.

A quick visit to the Book of Songs reveals exactly one instance of fei ren there, in Song 204. Legge's translation: 'Were not my forefathers men? How can they endure that I should be thus?' 'Were they not men?' is a translation of 'were they fei ren?' Waley, who tends to be more literary and less literal, has 'Have our ancestors no compassion?'

That's just one instance, but it does fit with the idea of not relating, not connecting. In readings, that could be a genuine sociopath, but I think sometimes it's a lot less absolute: someone you can't connect with.

Can someone (eg Trojina...) remember the reading with 8.3 and a cat?
 

my_key

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‘Superior man’ is how the Wilhelm/Baynes I Ching translates junzi 君子. Bradford Hatcher’s translation is more direct: ‘noble young one’. Zi means ‘child’ (and is gender neutral); jun breaks down into ‘voice’ and ‘governing, controlling’, and means a sovereign or noble – someone with authority over others.

Undoubtedly, the junzi makes a perfect screen onto which we can project our own ideas: for Wilhelm, superiors and inferiors (‘inferior men’ is his translation for xiao ren, ‘small people’); for Karcher, mostly individual choices in the moment (for me, too); for Carol Anthony, the ‘true self’ as opposed to the ‘ego’.
In the modern world way of thinking superior is more often than not assigned as meaning a comparative quality, i.e better than, however looking into the roots of the word it has meanings of 'higher' or 'upper' or 'situated above' within a context relating to location or position. This has been retained in medical terminology today where the head would be considered superior to the feet and similarly the feet are inferior to the head, by virtue of their position in the body. Nothing here is commenting on whether the head is better than the feet or the feet are worse than the head.

It's like in a hexagram, the position of line 6 is superior and the position of line 1 is inferior. Both lines are equally accepted with respect to their content, but are located at different positions in the change process of that hexagram. The each have a position and a specific role to play, neither role is greater or lesser than the other.

Wilhelm's use of superior man also brings in the sexist card, which I think again muddies many a water. If he'd stuck to 'noble one' or 'superior one' then it would keep modern day interpretations of I Ching more on the middle path. At the time of him going to press I would expect that the use of 'man' was totally acceptable. Things these days have changed, thank goodness. I have always read this term (man) as being more akin to a universal representation (like in manslaughter), with a meaning more of mankind rather than a masculine individual.

So maybe 'Superior Man' relates to a position that is taken up within mankind with respect to the power and virture that is held by the junzi, how it is being exhibited and the way it is being used. That position will be situated above that of the 'small people' and the 'unpeople', who have not yet opened so widely, or are yet to find the power and virtue goody bag. Their position is below that of the position of the 'Superior Man'.

On the learning ladder the positions held could be 'unpeople'- unconsciously incompetent; 'small people' - consciously incompetent; 'superior man' - consciously competent and, depending on maturity levels of the 'young one', ranging on up into unconscious competence and the high octane use of self reflection.

The roots of the word noble are interesting to follow too. Today it can mean illustrious, of high birth or of high rank ( per Bradfords post "there exists a natural aristocracy, characterized by virtue and talent, rather than inherited wealth") and then back in the day of latin usage it was close to meaning superior, However, earlier still it has origins in spin offs of 'gno', as in gnostic, which carries a meaning of 'to know'. To know = to be conscious of or to be aware.

So the noble attribute that the junzi wields is awareness. Her position above 'small people' is possible because she is conscious of what is happening around her and within her and armed with that knowledge she is able to choose to pull the right tools out of the tool box at the right time as she walks through life. She responds to situations under the auspice of her own authority rather than mindlessly reacting or shooting from the hip.

Good Luck
 
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my_key

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Perhaps not the reading with the cat that was being talked about above but it carries some 8.3 ishness.

The moral of 8.3 appears to be " Even keeping a wise fish in your pot will not protect you from the consequences of the wrong Cat being in your house"

Enjoy

Extract from "The Cat in the Hat" - Dr Seuss

Then he fell on his head!
He came down with a bump from up there on the ball.
And Sally and I, We saw ALL the things fall!
And our fish came down, too. He fell into a pot!
He said, “Do I like this? Oh, no! I do not.
This is not a good game,” Said our fish as he lit.
“No, I do not like it, Not one little bit!”
“Now look what you did!” Said the fish to the cat.
“Now look at this house! Look at this! Look at that!
You sank our toy ship, Sank it deep in the cake.
You shook up our house And you bent our new rake.
You SHOULD NOT be here when our mother is not.
You get out of this house!” Said the fish in the pot.
“But I like it here. Oh, I like it a lot!”
Said the Cat in the Hat To the fish in the pot.
“I will NOT go away. I do NOT wish to go!
And so,” said the Cat in the Hat, “So so so...
I will show you Another good game that I know!”
And then he ran out. And then, fast as a fox,
The Cat in the Hat Came back in with a box.
A big red wood box. It was shut with a hook.
“Now look at this trick,” Said the cat. “Take a look!”
Then he got up on top With a tip of his hat.
“I call this game FUN IN A BOX,” Said the cat.
“In this box are two things I will show to you now.
You will like these two things,” Said the cat with a bow.
“I will pick up the hook. You will see something new.
Two things. And I call them Thing One and Thing Two.
These things will not bite you. They want to have fun.”
Then, out of the box Came Thing Two and Thing One!
And they ran to us fast. They said, “How do you do?
Would you like to shake hands With Thing One and Thing Two?”
And Sally and I Did now know what to do.
So we had to shake hands With Thing One and Thing Two.
We shook their two hands. But our fish said, “No! No!
Those Things should not be In this house! Make them go!
“They should not be here When your mother is not!
Put them out! Put them out!” Said the fish in the pot.
 

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Trojina

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No, I have the idea it was quite a philosophical/whimsical question about what it was like to be a cat. 8.3 was the answer and what a perfect answer it was, a cat is not a person. I could be wrong about the question, maybe I will try to find the thread, but in any case it wasn't a deranged cat.

I think you way over emphasisze the idea people in 8.3 as so bad - if you knew who I had cast this line about you might change your mind. Sure it can be bad people but also literally 'non people' and more specifically 'not people like you' .

I've written many examples of receiving 8.3 in wikiwing. I've had 8.3 as systems that don't even involve people. I've had 8.3 for people who are literally like another species to me but not evil people.


I've experienced a Fei Ren (as in 8.3) in person, the words that come to mind for me are: lousy and awful and somewhat deranged.


I believe in your experience but I think in the past you have kind of dismissed all other experiences of this line due to the impact of your own experiences. But you have to realize this line can have many manifestations, such as the wonderful cat answer and my own experiences fully described in wikiwing.


Personally I think trying to describe either the 'superior man' or the 'junzi/noble one' or 'fei ren' is a limiting exercise because they aren't just that description.
 

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