A lost art?

(Washite douzezu; “harmonize but not agree”)


Cooperating, but only within reason. Making a point of getting along with others – but not when doing so would be at the cost of reason, truth, one’s individuality, or other important values. Note that this saying explicitly does not include pretending to harmonize or cooperate on the surface while while secretly resisting or resenting the need to do so as an imposition.


(wa) is often a noun indicating “peace” or “harmony.” Here it is a verb as 和す (wasu), “to make peace,” “to harmonize,” appearing in conjunctive form with the conjunctive form of the particle (tsu) – the precursor of the modern ~て conjunctive – attached. In contrast, cannot operate in isolation; it must be a prefix or, as in this case, the verb どうず (douzu), “to agree,” “to join.” This second verb appears in imperfective form with the negative particle (zu) in sentence-final form.


This is derived from another passage on the Analects, in which Confucius remarks on a saying about how “The wise man harmonizes without agreeing, and the narrow-minded person agrees without harmonizing.”

It is acceptable to render the ぜず ending as the more familiar せず (sezu).

Example sentence:


(Kojinsei wo daiji ni shiteiru Amerika de wa, washite douzezu no seikatsu ga toku ni okurinikui ka na. Douzerarenai baai, wa mo shitakunai keikou ga aru darou.)

[In America, where individuality is valued, perhaps it’s especially difficult to lead a life of cooperating without necessarily agreeing. When people don’t agree, there’s a tendency to not want to cooperate either.]

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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