Re-recognition of the Emperor’s New Clothes

Andersen’s fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in which the child who pointed out that the emperor had no clothes on his body, Andersen did not make any judgment.

Andersen just told a story: the emperor for the tailor around the deception, and finally naked out of the parade, the adult people who did not dare to make a sound, only the three-year-old child shouted the truth.

Later readers interpreted it this way: the three-year-old child was innocent, the emperor was stupid, and the adults onlookers were worldly, but cowardly. Since then, “innocence” has become the first great virtue of human nature. Only innocent people will tell the truth.

What is the difference between “Innocence” and “Naïveté”? The former lies mainly in the perception and expression of the truth, while the latter lies mainly in the ease of believing lies. It is not necessarily a good thing for a child to have both traits and for a person to have both traits as he or she enters adulthood. Liu Lou Lou possesses both, and in the Grand View Garden, is tricked by the worldly and experienced Wang Xifeng.

In Andersen’s writing, the child in the Emperor’s New Clothes is different from Cao Xueqin’s Liu Lou Lou, who is clearly a scandal, while Andersen’s little child is not.

However, in the philosophy of human nature, the opposite of “innocence” is “sophistication” (Sophistication). Sophistication is neutral. And the next level of sophistication is “Wisdom” (Wisdom). Seeing the emperor without clothes on his body and the adults on both sides of the road and remaining silent is Sophistication, but it may also be Wisdom. The reason for not making a sound could be fear and cowardice: fear of being arrested by the emperor if they speak out. But there is also another possibility: deliberate silence to keep this emperor making a fool of himself. Today the people of the city should not let him know that he has no clothes, then he will summon foreign ambassadors tomorrow without clothes as usual, and his scandal will spread outside the city.

Therefore, the emperor’s naked tour, the two sides of the silent adults, there are at least three motives: one is fear, the second is worldly, the third is the English say Cynical, the word has no proper Chinese translation, and Cynicism, of course, is worldly, but also wisdom, but this wisdom is the level of Lu Xun, not enough “Hu Shi”. With a bit of mischief, it is said to lack a bit of love.

However, the question arises: is the so-called love the greatest? Of course not. In September 2015, a news picture of a three-year-old refugee drowning in a mud bank sparked the love of Europeans, including the German chancellor. Interpreted by psychology: this child wore a red T-shirt, a pair of very cute shoes, small shorts, white complexion, and looked like a child of the middle class in Europe and the United States. This image strikes directly at the sympathy and love of countless kind people.

But such a great love is a trap that is limited to “lending a helping hand” because it is emotionally distracting, without considering the social context in which this image appears. To prevent more incidents like this from happening to children, we need to address the root of the problem: the religious conflict in Syria, Iran and Russia. “Love” is not a solution to the problem, it is only about tears and rescue.

Love is connected to innocence. And worldliness and wisdom, on the other side. The Emperor’s New Clothes is not just a fairy tale, but a philosophical subject of human nature.