Interests / Gain

Gain means all factors conducive to the survival and development of individuals and groups. The ancients often contrasted gain with righteousness. There is private and public gain. The former is related to individuals, their families or special groups, and consists of such things as goods, money, reputation, power and status. When personal interests clash with the interests of others, people tend to achieve gains for themselves at the expense of other people’s interests. Public gain is shared by everyone in society and mainly means a large population, abundant property, good public order and high moral standards. Proceeding from different perspectives and viewpoints, ancient China’s schools of thought had conspicuous differences in their interests and attitudes in regard to gain.


The King said: “Sir, you have come here despite a thousand-li-long distance. You must surely have something from which my kingdom stands to gain?” Mencius answered: “Your Majesty, why must you speak of ‘gain’? There is also love for others and righteousness that I have to speak of. If Your Majesty say, ‘how can I provide gains for my country?’ then high officials will say: ‘How can I provide gains for my family?’ and the gentlemen and commoners will say: ‘How can I provide gains for myself?’ Consequently superiors and inferiors will contend with each other for gains, and the state will be in danger.”


Without exception, all the ancient kings, dukes, and great men who ruled countries would wish their states to be wealthy, their people to be numerous and penalties and administration to be well ordered.