Tschung Yung says that:

"The noble puts demands on himself; the common puts demands on others."

How can the noble get the common to be noble? He can't, because putting the demand to be noble on the common, would make him common as well, a dilemma!

So the noble can only sit and wait?

  • any idea for better tags? – draks ... Jan 1 '14 at 23:28
  • I've added a new chinese-philosophy tag; but I see now that I've made a mistake with it! – Mozibur Ullah Jan 2 '14 at 1:47
  • Nice quote. Do you know which work this is extracted from? – Mozibur Ullah Jan 2 '14 at 1:50
  • I'd say Yung is trying to define the ethics here of the noble. Yung may suppose that in a large enough mass of people, only some are noble and many are common. Its hard to tell from this. He may not be suggesting that the common ethic is reformable. But again its impossible to judge without knowing more about his work. – Mozibur Ullah Jan 2 '14 at 1:53
  • Maybe exists a third type of man, who puts demands on himself and encourages others to do the same! – Natxo Jan 2 '14 at 10:34

Compare with the following hypothetical question: "Honest men don't steal; how does one steal while remaining an honest man?" The answer is, of course, "he doesn't". Similarly, if you subscribe to the definition of a "noble man" as to "one who puts demands on himself rather than others", the demand on others, according to your definition, would make him a common man.

The above was just a syllogism; the real problem is not in the question but in the definition that wrongly assumes the false dichotomy on putting the demands on oneself or others.


I find the accepted answer a bit unsatisfying, since it doesn't address the what seems to me to be the heart of the original question: How do you have an impact on the world without putting demands on others?

There's a perfectly good answer to that question: You lead by example.

This point of view seems in line with me to the existentialist insight that you change the world through changing yourself, not through changing others (compare Frantz Fanon's concept of the "Other").


You can always flip an ontological proof around so it reaches the opposite conclusion by choosing an equally-plausible starting point that leads to a different conclusion. For example: While common men seek to elevate themselves, noble men seek to elevate others. Thus only a noble man can elevate a common man.

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