The Art of War - 03

exposition. His commentator is based on that of Ts’ao Kung, whose terse
sentences he contrives to expand and develop in masterly fashion.
Without Chang Yu, it is safe to say that much of Ts’ao Kung’s
commentary would have remained cloaked in its pristine obscurity and
therefore valueless. His work is not mentioned in the Sung history, the
_T’ung K’ao_, or the _Yu Hai_, but it finds a niche in the _T’ung
Chih_, which also names him as the author of the "Lives of Famous
Generals." [46]
It is rather remarkable that the last-named four should all have
flourished within so short a space of time. Ch’ao Kung-wu accounts for
it by saying: "During the early years of the Sung dynasty the Empire
enjoyed a long spell of peace, and men ceased to practice the art of
war. but when [Chao] Yuan-hao’s rebellion came [1038-42] and the
frontier generals were defeated time after time, the Court made
strenuous inquiry for men skilled in war, and military topics became
the vogue amongst all the high officials. Hence it is that the
commentators of Sun Tzŭ in our dynasty belong mainly to that period.
Besides these eleven commentators, there are several others whose work
has not come down to us. The _Sui Shu_ mentions four, namely Wang Ling
(often quoted by Tu Yu as Wang Tzŭ); Chang Tzŭ-shang; Chia Hsu of Wei;
[48] and Shen Yu of Wu. The _T’ang Shu_ adds Sun Hao, and the _T’ung
Chih_ Hsiao Chi, while the _T’u Shu_ mentions a Ming commentator, Huang
Jun-yu. It is possible that some of these may have been merely
collectors and editors of other commentaries, like Chi T’ien-pao and
Chi Hsieh, mentioned above.

Appreciations of Sun Tzŭ
Sun Tzŭ has exercised a potent fascination over the minds of some of
China’s greatest men. Among the famous generals who are known to have
studied his pages with enthusiasm may be mentioned Han Hsin (_d_. 196
B.C.), [49] Feng I (_d_. 34 A.D.), [50] Lu Meng (_d_. 219), [51] and Yo
Fei (1103-1141). [52] The opinion of Ts’ao Kung, who disputes with Han
Hsin the highest place in Chinese military annals, has already been
recorded. [53] Still more remarkable, in one way, is the testimony of
purely literary men, such as Su Hsun (the father of Su Tung-p’o), who
wrote several essays on military topics, all of which owe their chief
inspiration to Sun Tzŭ. The following short passage by him is preserved
in the _Yu Hai:_ [54]—
Sun Wu’s saying, that in war one cannot make certain of conquering,
[55] is very different indeed from what other books tell us. [56] Wu
Ch’i was a man of the same stamp as Sun Wu: they both wrote books on
war, and they are linked together in popular speech as "Sun and Wu."
But Wu Ch’i’s remarks on war are less weighty, his rules are rougher
and more crudely stated, and there is not the same unity of plan as in
Sun Tzŭ’s work, where the style is terse, but the meaning fully brought

The following is an extract from the "Impartial Judgments in the Garden
of Literature" by Cheng Hou:—
Sun Tzŭ’s 13 chapters are not only the staple and base of all military
men’s training, but also compel the most careful attention of scholars
and men of letters. His sayings are terse yet elegant, simple yet
profound, perspicuous and eminently practical. Such works as the _Lun
Yu_, the _I Ching_ and the great Commentary, [57] as well as the
writings of Mencius, Hsun K’uang and Yang Chu, all fall below the level
of Sun Tzŭ.

Chu Hsi, commenting on this, fully admits the first part of the
criticism, although he dislikes the audacious comparison with the
venerated classical works. Language of this sort, he says, "encourages
a ruler’s bent towards unrelenting warfare and reckless militarism."

Apologies for War
Accustomed as we are to think of China as the greatest peace-loving
nation on earth, we are in some danger of forgetting that her
experience of war in all its phases has also been such as no modern
State can parallel. Her long military annals stretch back to a point at
which they are lost in the mists of time. She had built the Great Wall
and was maintaining a huge standing army along her frontier centuries
before the first Roman legionary was seen on the Danube. What with the
perpetual collisions of the ancient feudal States, the grim conflicts
with Huns, Turks and other invaders after the centralization of
government, the terrific upheavals which accompanied the overthrow of
so many dynasties, besides the countless rebellions and minor
disturbances that have flamed up and flickered out again one by one, it
is hardly too much to say that the clash of arms has never ceased to
resound in one portion or another of the Empire.
No less remarkable is the succession of illustrious captains to whom
China can point with pride. As in all countries, the greatest are fond
of emerging at the most fateful crises of her history. Thus, Po Ch’i
stands out conspicuous in the period when Ch’in was entering upon her
final struggle with the remaining independent states. The stormy years
which followed the break-up of the Ch’in dynasty are illuminated by the
transcendent genius of Han Hsin. When the House of Han in turn is
tottering to its fall, the great and baleful figure of Ts’ao Ts’ao
dominates the scene. And in the establishment of the T’ang dynasty, one
of the mightiest tasks achieved by man, the superhuman energy of Li
Shih-min (afterwards the Emperor T’ai Tsung) was seconded by the
brilliant strategy of Li Ching. None of these generals need fear
comparison with the greatest names in the military history of Europe.
In spite of all this, the great body of Chinese sentiment, from Lao Tzŭ
downwards, and especially as reflected in the standard literature of
Confucianism, has been consistently pacific and intensely opposed to
militarism in any form. It is such an uncommon thing to find any of the
literati defending warfare on principle, that I have thought it worth
while to collect and translate a few passages in which the unorthodox
view is upheld. The following, by Ssu-ma Ch’ien, shows that for all his
ardent admiration of Confucius, he was yet no advocate of peace at any
Military weapons are the means used by the Sage to punish violence and
cruelty, to give peace to troublous times, to remove difficulties and
dangers, and to succour those who are in peril. Every animal with blood
in its veins and horns on its head will fight when it is attacked. How
much more so will man, who carries in his breast the faculties of love
and hatred, joy and anger! When he is pleased, a feeling of affection
springs up within him; when angry, his poisoned sting is brought into
play. That is the natural law which governs his being…. What then shall
be said of those scholars of our time, blind to all great issues, and
without any appreciation of relative values, who can only bark out
their stale formulas about "virtue" and "civilization," condemning the
use of military weapons? They will surely bring our country to
impotence and dishonour and the loss of her rightful heritage; or, at
the very least, they will bring about invasion and rebellion, sacrifice
of territory and general enfeeblement. Yet they obstinately refuse to
modify the position they have taken up. The truth is that, just as in
the family the teacher must not spare the rod, and punishments cannot
be dispensed with in the State, so military chastisement can never be
allowed to fall into abeyance in the Empire. All one can say is that
this power will be exercised wisely by some, foolishly by others, and
that among those who bear arms some will be loyal and others
rebellious. [58]

The next piece is taken from Tu Mu’s preface to his commentary on Sun

War may be defined as punishment, which is one of the functions of
government. It was the profession of Chung Yu and Jan Ch’iu, both
disciples of Confucius. Nowadays, the holding of trials and hearing of
litigation, the imprisonment of offenders and their execution by
flogging in the market-place, are all done by officials. But the
wielding of huge armies, the throwing down of fortified cities, the
hauling of women and children into captivity, and the beheading of
traitors—this is also work which is done by officials. The objects of
the rack and of military weapons are essentially the same. There is no
intrinsic difference between the punishment of flogging and cutting off
heads in war. For the lesser infractions of law, which are easily dealt
with, only a small amount of force need be employed: hence the use of
military weapons and wholesale decapitation. In both cases, however,
the end in view is to get rid of wicked people, and to give comfort and
relief to the good….
Chi-sun asked Jan Yu, saying: "Have you, Sir, acquired your military
aptitude by study, or is it innate?" Jan Yu replied: "It has been
acquired by study." [59] "How can that be so," said Chi-sun, "seeing
that you are a disciple of Confucius?" "It is a fact," replied Jan Yu;
"I was taught by Confucius. It is fitting that the great Sage should
exercise both civil and military functions, though to be sure my
instruction in the art of fighting has not yet gone very far."
Now, who the author was of this rigid distinction between the "civil"
and the "military," and the limitation of each to a separate sphere of
action, or in what year of which dynasty it was first introduced, is
more than I can say. But, at any rate, it has come about that the
members of the governing class are quite afraid of enlarging on
military topics, or do so only in a shamefaced manner. If any are bold
enough to discuss the subject, they are at once set down as eccentric
individuals of coarse and brutal propensities. This is an extraordinary
instance in which, through sheer lack of reasoning, men unhappily lose
sight of fundamental principles.
When the Duke of Chou was minister under Ch’eng Wang, he regulated
ceremonies and made music, and venerated the arts of scholarship and
learning; yet when the barbarians of the River Huai revolted, [60] he
sallied forth and chastised them. When Confucius held office under the
Duke of Lu, and a meeting was convened at Chia-ku, [61] he said: "If
pacific negotiations are in progress, warlike preparations should have
been made beforehand." He rebuked and shamed the Marquis of Ch’i, who
cowered under him and dared not proceed to violence. How can it be said
that these two great Sages had no knowledge of military matters?
We have seen that the great Chu Hsi held Sun Tzŭ in high esteem. He
also appeals to the authority of the Classics:—
Our Master Confucius, answering Duke Ling of Wei, said: "I have never
studied matters connected with armies and battalions." [62] Replying to
K’ung Wen-tzu, he said: I have not been instructed about buff-coats and
weapons." But if we turn to the meeting at Chia-ku, we find that he
used armed force against the men of Lai, so that the marquis of Ch’i
was overawed. Again, when the inhabitants of Pi revolted; he ordered
his officers to attack them, whereupon they were defeated and fled in
confusion. He once uttered the words: "If I fight, I conquer." [63] And
Jan Yu also said: "The Sage exercises both civil and military
functions." [64] Can it be a fact that Confucius never studied or
received instruction in the art of war? We can only say that he did not
specially choose matters connected with armies and fighting to be the
subject of his teaching.

Sun Hsing-yen, the editor of Sun Tzŭ, writes in similar strain:—

Confucius said: "I am unversed in military matters." [65] He also said:
"If I fight, I conquer." Confucius ordered ceremonies and regulated
music. Now war constitutes one of the five classes of State ceremonial,
[66] and must not be treated as an independent branch of study. Hence,
the words "I am unversed in" must be taken to mean that there are
things which even an inspired Teacher does not know. Those who have to
lead an army and devise stratagems, must learn the art of war. But if
one can command the services of a good general like Sun Tzŭ, who was
employed by Wu Tzŭ-hsu, there is no need to learn it oneself. Hence the
remark added by Confucius: "If I fight, I conquer."
The men of the present day, however, willfully interpret these words of
Confucius in their narrowest sense, as though he meant that books on
the art of war were not worth reading. With blind persistency, they
adduce the example of Chao Kua, who pored over his father’s books to no
purpose, [67] as a proof that all military theory is useless. Again,
seeing that books on war have to do with such things as opportunism in
designing plans, and the conversion of spies, they hold that the art is
immoral and unworthy of a sage. These people ignore the fact that the
studies of our scholars and the civil administration of our officials
also require steady application and practice before efficiency is
reached. The ancients were particularly chary of allowing mere novices
to botch their work. [68] Weapons are baneful [69] and fighting
perilous; and useless unless a general is in constant practice, he
ought not to hazard other men’s lives in battle. [70] Hence it is
essential that Sun Tzŭ’s 13 chapters should be studied.
Hsiang Liang used to instruct his nephew Chi [71] in the art of war.
Chi got a rough idea of the art in its general bearings, but would not
pursue his studies to their proper outcome, the consequence being that
he was finally defeated and overthrown. He did not realize that the
tricks and artifices of war are beyond verbal computation. Duke Hsiang
of Sung and King Yen of Hsu were brought to destruction by their
misplaced humanity. The treacherous and underhand nature of war
necessitates the use of guile and stratagem suited to the occasion.
There is a case on record of Confucius himself having violated an
extorted oath, [72] and also of his having left the Sung State in
disguise. [73] Can we then recklessly arraign Sun Tzŭ for disregarding
truth and honesty?

The following are the oldest Chinese treatises on war, after Sun Tzŭ.
The notes on each have been drawn principally from the _Ssu k’u ch’uan
shu chien ming mu lu_, ch. 9, fol. 22 sqq.
1. _Wu Tzŭ_, in 1 _chuan_ or 6 chapters. By Wu Ch’i (_d_. 381 B.C.). A
genuine work. See _Shih Chi_, ch. 65.
2. _Ssu-ma Fa_, in 1 _chuan_ or 5 chapters. Wrongly attributed to
Ssu-ma Jang-chu of the 6th century B.C. Its date, however, must be
early, as the customs of the three ancient dynasties are constantly to
be met within its pages. See _Shih Chi_, ch. 64.
The _Ssu K’u Ch’uan Shu_ (ch. 99, f. 1) remarks that the oldest three
treatises on war, _Sun Tzŭ_, _Wu Tzŭ_ and _Ssu-ma Fa_, are, generally
speaking, only concerned with things strictly military—the art of
producing, collecting, training and drilling troops, and the correct
theory with regard to measures of expediency, laying plans, transport
of goods and the handling of soldiers—in strong contrast to later
works, in which the science of war is usually blended with metaphysics,
divination and magical arts in general.
3. _Liu T’ao_, in 6 _chuan_, or 60 chapters. Attributed to Lu Wang (or
Lu Shang, also known as T’ai Kung) of the 12th century B.C. [74] But
its style does not belong to the era of the Three Dynasties. Lu Te-ming
(550-625 A.D.) mentions the work, and enumerates the headings of the
six sections so that the forgery cannot have been later than Sui
4. _Wei Liao Tzŭ_, in 5 _chuan_. Attributed to Wei Liao (4th cent.
B.C.), who studied under the famous Kuei-ku Tzŭ. The work appears to
have been originally in 31 chapters, whereas the text we possess
contains only 24. Its matter is sound enough in the main, though the
strategical devices differ considerably from those of the Warring
States period. It is been furnished with a commentary by the well-known
Sung philosopher Chang Tsai.
5. _San Lueh_ in 3 _chuan_. Attributed to Huang-shih Kung, a legendary
personage who is said to have bestowed it on Chang Liang (_d_. 187
B.C.) in an interview on a bridge. But here again, the style is not
that of works dating from the Ch’in or Han period. The Han Emperor
Kuang Wu [25-57 A.D.] apparently quotes from it in one of his
proclamations; but the passage in question may have been inserted later
on, in order to prove the genuineness of the work. We shall not be far
out if we refer it to the Northern Sung period [420-478 A.D.], or
somewhat earlier.
6. _Li Wei Kung Wen Tui_, in 3 sections. Written in the form of a
dialogue between T’ai Tsung and his great general Li Ching, it is
usually ascribed to the latter. Competent authorities consider it a
forgery, though the author was evidently well versed in the art of war.
7. _Li Ching Ping Fa_ (not to be confounded with the foregoing) is a
short treatise in 8 chapters, preserved in the T’ung Tien, but not
published separately. This fact explains its omission from the _Ssu K’u
Ch’uan Shu_.
8. _Wu Ch’i Ching_, in 1 _chuan_. Attributed to the legendary minister
Feng Hou, with exegetical notes by Kung-sun Hung of the Han dynasty
(_d_. 121 B.C.), and said to have been eulogized by the celebrated
general Ma Lung (_d_. 300 A.D.). Yet the earliest mention of it is in
the _Sung Chih_. Although a forgery, the work is well put together.
Considering the high popular estimation in which Chu-ko Liang has
always been held, it is not surprising to find more than one work on
war ascribed to his pen. Such are (1) the _Shih Liu Ts’e_ (1 _chuan_),
preserved in the _Yung Lo Ta Tien;_ (2) _Chiang Yuan_ (1 _chuan_); and
(3) _Hsin Shu_ (1 _chuan_), which steals wholesale from Sun Tzŭ. None
of these has the slightest claim to be considered genuine.
Most of the large Chinese encyclopedias contain extensive sections
devoted to the literature of war. The following references may be found
_T’ung Tien_ (circa 800 A.D.), ch. 148-162.
_T’ai P’ing Yu Lan_ (983), ch. 270-359.
_Wen Hsien Tung K’ao_ (13th cent.), ch. 221.
_Yu Hai_ (13th cent.), ch. 140, 141.
_San Ts’ai T’u Hui_ (16th cent).
_Kuang Po Wu Chih_ (1607), ch. 31, 32.
_Ch’ien Ch’io Lei Shu_ (1632), ch. 75.
_Yuan Chien Lei Han_ (1710), ch. 206-229.
_Ku Chin T’u Shu Chi Ch’eng_ (1726), section XXX, esp. ch. 81-90.
_Hsu Wen Hsien T’ung K’ao_ (1784), ch. 121-134.
_Huang Ch’ao Ching Shih Wen Pien_ (1826), ch. 76, 77.
The bibliographical sections of certain historical works also deserve
_Ch’ien Han Shu_, ch. 30.
_Sui Shu_, ch. 32-35.
_Chiu T’ang Shu_, ch. 46, 47.
_Hsin T’ang Shu_, ch. 57,60.
_Sung Shih_, ch. 202-209.
_T’ung Chih_ (circa 1150), ch. 68.
To these of course must be added the great Catalogue of the Imperial
_Ssu K’u Ch’uan Shu Tsung Mu T’i Yao_ (1790), ch. 99, 100.
1. _Shih Chi_, ch. 65.
2. He reigned from 514 to 496 B.C.
3. _Shih Chi_, ch. 130.
4. The appellation of Nang Wa.
5. _Shih Chi_, ch. 31.
6. _Shih Chi_, ch. 25.
7. The appellation of Hu Yen, mentioned in ch. 39 under the year 637.
8. Wang-tzu Ch’eng-fu, ch. 32, year 607.
9. The mistake is natural enough. Native critics refer to a work of the
Han dynasty, which says: "Ten _li_ outside the _Wu_ gate [of the city
of Wu, now Soochow in Kiangsu] there is a great mound, raised to
commemorate the entertainment of Sun Wu of Ch’i, who excelled in the
art of war, by the King of Wu."
10. "They attached strings to wood to make bows, and sharpened wood to
make arrows. The use of bows and arrows is to keep the Empire in awe."
11. The son and successor of Ho Lu. He was finally defeated and
overthrown by Kou chien, King of Yüeh, in 473 B.C. See post.
12. King Yen of Hsu, a fabulous being, of whom Sun Hsing-yen says in
his preface: "His humanity brought him to destruction."
13. The passage I have put in brackets is omitted in the _T’u Shu_, and
may be an interpolation. It was known, however to Chang Shou-chieh of
the T’ang dynasty, and appears in the _T’ai P’ing Yu Lan_.
14. Ts’ao Kung seems to be thinking of the first part of chap. II,
perhaps especially of § 8.
15. See chap. XI.
16. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that _Wu Tzŭ_, which is not in
6 chapters, has 48 assigned to it in the _Han Chih_. Likewise, the
_Chung Yung_ is credited with 49 chapters, though now only in one only.
In the case of very short works, one is tempted to think that _p’ien_
might simply mean "leaves."
17. Yeh Shih of the Sung dynasty [1151-1223].
18. He hardly deserves to be bracketed with assassins.
19. See Chapter 7, § 27 and Chapter 11, § 28.
20. See Chapter 11, § 28. Chuan Chu is the abbreviated form of his
21. I.e. Po P’ei. See ante.
22. The nucleus of this work is probably genuine, though large
additions have been made by later hands. Kuan chung died in 645 B.C.
23. See infra, beginning of INTRODUCTION.
24. I do not know what this work, unless it be the last chapter of
another work. Why that chapter should be singled out, however, is not
25. About 480 B.C.
26. That is, I suppose, the age of Wu Wang and Chou Kung.
27. In the 3rd century B.C.
28. Ssu-ma Jang-chu, whose family name was T’ien, lived in the latter
half of the 6th century B.C., and is also believed to have written a
work on war. See _Shih Chi_, ch. 64, and infra at the beginning of the
29. See Legge’s Classics, vol. V, Prolegomena p. 27. Legge thinks that
the _Tso Chuan_ must have been written in the 5th century, but not
before 424 B.C.
30. See _Mencius_ III. 1. iii. 13-20.
31. When Wu first appears in the _Ch’un Ch’iu_ in 584, it is already at
variance with its powerful neighbour. The _Ch’un Ch’iu_ first mentions
Yüeh in 537, the _Tso Chuan_ in 601.
32. This is explicitly stated in the _Tso Chuan_, XXXII, 2.
33. There is this to be said for the later period, that the feud would
tend to grow more bitter after each encounter, and thus more fully
justify the language used in XI. § 30.
34. With Wu Yuan himself the case is just the reverse:—a spurious
treatise on war has been fathered on him simply because he was a great
general. Here we have an obvious inducement to forgery. Sun Wu, on the
other hand, cannot have been widely known to fame in the 5th century.
35. From _Tso Chuan:_ "From the date of King Chao’s accession [515]
there was no year in which Ch’u was not attacked by Wu."
36. Preface ad fin: "My family comes from Lo-an, and we are really
descended from Sun Tzŭ. I am ashamed to say that I only read my
ancestor’s work from a literary point of view, without comprehending
the military technique. So long have we been enjoying the blessings of
37. Hoa-yin is about 14 miles from T’ung-kuan on the eastern border of
Shensi. The temple in question is still visited by those about the
ascent of the Western Sacred Mountain. It is mentioned in a text as
being "situated five _li_ east of the district city of Hua-yin. The
temple contains the Hua-shan tablet inscribed by the T’ang Emperor
Hsuan Tsung [713-755]."
38. See my "Catalogue of Chinese Books" (Luzac & Co., 1908), no. 40.
39. This is a discussion of 29 difficult passages in Sun Tzŭ.
40. Cf. Catalogue of the library of Fan family at Ningpo: "His
commentary is frequently obscure; it furnishes a clue, but does not
fully develop the meaning."
41. _Wen Hsien T’ung K’ao_, ch. 221.
42. It is interesting to note that M. Pelliot has recently discovered
chapters 1, 4 and 5 of this lost work in the "Grottos of the Thousand
Buddhas." See B.E.F.E.O., t. VIII, nos. 3-4, p. 525.
43. The Hsia, the Shang and the Chou. Although the last-named was
nominally existent in Sun Tzŭ’s day, it retained hardly a vestige of
power, and the old military organization had practically gone by the
board. I can suggest no other explanation of the passage.
44. See _Chou Li_, xxix. 6-10.
45. _T’ung K’ao_, ch. 221.
46. This appears to be still extant. See Wylie’s "Notes," p. 91 (new
47. _T’ung K’ao_, loc. cit.
48. A notable person in his day. His biography is given in the _San Kuo
Chih_, ch. 10.
49. See XI. § 58, note.
50. _Hou Han Shu_, ch. 17 ad init.
51. _San Kuo Chih_, ch. 54.
52. _Sung Shih_, ch. 365 ad init.
53. The few Europeans who have yet had an opportunity of acquainting
themselves with Sun Tzŭ are not behindhand in their praise. In this
connection, I may perhaps be excused for quoting from a letter from
Lord Roberts, to whom the sheets of the present work were submitted
previous to publication: "Many of Sun Wu’s maxims are perfectly
applicable to the present day, and no. 11 [in Chapter VIII] is one that
the people of this country would do well to take to heart."
54. Ch. 140.
55. See IV. § 3.
56. The allusion may be to Mencius VI. 2. ix. 2.
57. The _Tso Chuan_.
58. _Shih Chi_, ch. 25, fol. I.
59. Cf. _Shih Chi_, ch 47.
60. See _Shu Ching_, preface § 55.
61. See _Shih Chi_, ch. 47.
62. _Lun Yu_, XV. 1.
63. I failed to trace this utterance.
64. Supra.
65. Supra.
66. The other four being worship, mourning, entertainment of guests,
and festive rites. See _Shu Ching_, ii. 1. III. 8, and _Chou Li_, IX.
fol. 49.
67. See XIII. § 11, note.
68. This is a rather obscure allusion to the _Tso Chuan_, where
Tzŭ-ch’an says: "If you have a piece of beautiful brocade, you will not
employ a mere learner to make it up."
69. Cf. _Tao Te Ching_, ch. 31.
70. Sun Hsing-yen might have quoted Confucius again. See _Lun Yu_,
XIII. 29, 30.
71. Better known as Hsiang Yu [233-202 B.C.].
72. _Shih Chi_, ch. 47.
73. _Shih Chi_, ch. 38.
74. See XIII. § 27, note. Further details on T’ai Kung will be found in
the _Shih Chi_, ch. 32 ad init. Besides the tradition which makes him a
former minister of Chou Hsin, two other accounts of him are there
given, according to which he would appear to have been first raised
from a humble private station by Wen Wang.

[Ts’ao Kung, in defining the meaning of the Chinese for the title of
this chapter, says it refers to the deliberations in the temple
selected by the general for his temporary use, or as we should say, in
his tent. See. § 26.]

1. Sun Tzŭ said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.
2. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to
ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be
3. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be
taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine
the conditions obtaining in the field.
4. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The
Commander; (5) Method and discipline.
[It appears from what follows that Sun Tzŭ means by "Moral Law" a
principle of harmony, not unlike the Tao of Lao Tzŭ in its moral
aspect. One might be tempted to render it by "morale," were it not
considered as an attribute of the _ruler_ in § 13.]

5, 6. _The Moral Law_ causes the people to be in complete accord with
their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives,
undismayed by any danger.
[Tu Yu quotes Wang Tzŭ as saying: "Without constant practice, the
officers will be nervous and undecided when mustering for battle;
without constant practice, the general will be wavering and irresolute
when the crisis is at hand."]

7. _Heaven_ signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.
[The commentators, I think, make an unnecessary mystery of two words
here. Meng Shih refers to "the hard and the soft, waxing and waning" of
Heaven. Wang Hsi, however, may be right in saying that what is meant is
"the general economy of Heaven," including the five elements, the four
seasons, wind and clouds, and other phenomena.]