Anon4

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Human Evil and Muddled Thinking

Confucius on the Rectification of Names written some 2500 years ago.

"Tzu-lu asked 'If the Lord of Wei entrusts the government to you, what will you do first?"

"Correct names, surely!" the Master said.

"How can you stray so far from the point! What would that correct?"

"Tzu-lu, you are a boor. On matters of which he is ignorant a gentleman expresses no opinion. If names are incorrect, it is impossible to speak. When it is impossible to speak, work is not done. When work is not done, society breaks down and punishment is misapplied. When punishment is misapplied, the people do not know how to act. Therefore what the gentleman names is sure to be accurate, and what he says is sure to be actionable. It is simply that the gentleman is never careless in what he says."

Analects 13/3. Adaptation of A.C. Graham's translation in Disputers of the Tao.