知其不可而為

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Chinese[edit]

to know; to be aware
 
his; her; its; theirs; that; such; it (refers to sth preceding it)
cannot
 
and; as well as; but (not); yet (not); (shows causal relation); (shows change of state); (shows contrast)
 
because of; for; to; act as; take...to be; to be; to do; to serve as; to become
trad. (知其不可而為) 不可
simp. (知其不可而为) 不可

Etymology[edit]

The Analects:

子路宿石門晨門:「奚自?」子路:「。」:「知其不可而為?」 [Classical Chinese, trad.][▼ expand/hide]
子路宿石门晨门:“奚自?”子路:“。”:“知其不可而为?” [Classical Chinese, simp.]
From: The Analects of Confucius, circa 475 – 221 BCE, translated based on James Legge's version
Zǐlù sù yú Shímén. Chénmén yuē: “Xīzì?” Zǐlù yuē: “Zì Kǒng shì.” Yuē: “Shì zhī qí bùkě ér wéi zhī zhě yú?” [Pinyin]
Zilu spent the night at Shimen.
(In the morning) the gatekeeper asked him, “Where do you come from?”
Zilu said, “I come from (the house of) Mr. Kong.”
(The gate keeper) responded, “Is he (not) the one who knows the futility (of doing something) yet does it anyway.”[1]

Note:

  1. ^ Mr. Kong (Confucius) was advocating morality during a time of chaos (a futile undertaking).

Pronunciation[edit]


Idiom[edit]

知其不可而為

  1. to (stubbornly) do something even though you know it is impossible; to understand the difficulty of a feat but to attempt it anyway because it is the right thing to do (e.g. strive to eliminate world hunger)

Synonyms[edit]