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The Art of War
Sun Tzu

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4.1-4.16 continued


[4.10] No miscalculations mean* the victories are certain, achieving victory over those who have already lost.

[4.11] Therefore, those skilled in warfare establish positions that make them invincible and do not miss opportunities to attack the enemy.

[4.12] Therefore, a victorious army first obtains conditions for victory, then seeks to do battle. A defeated army first seeks to do battle, then obtains conditions for victory.

[4.13] Those skilled in warfare cultivate the Wayand preserve the Lawtherefore, they govern victory and defeat.* 

[4.14] The factors in warfare are: First, measurement; second, quantity; third, calculation; fourth, comparison; and fifth, victory.*

[4.15] Measurements are derived from Ground, quantities are derived from measurement, calculations are derived from quantities, comparisons are derived from calculations, and victories are derived from comparisons.

[4.16] A victorious army is like a ton against an ounce; a defeated army is like an ounce against a ton! The victorious army is like pent-up waters released, bursting through a deep gorge.This is formation.



4.10 No miscalculations mean. The idea here is that proper calculations/preparations bring victory, which one needs to keep uppermost in mind, above selfish inclinations (e.g., to fight or destroy).
4.13 govern victory and defeat. They control whether they win or lose by adhering to the Way and the Law, defined on page 1.
4.14 The factors in warfare are 1) Measurement. Your physical and cultural environment, its freedoms and constraints. 2) Quantity. Your and your opponents' lists of advantages and disadvantages. 3) Calculation. The strengths and weaknesses on both sides: Which advantages augment your/your opponent's influence/the likelihood of victory? Which disadvantages diminish your/your opponent's influence/the likelihood of victory)? 4) Comparison. Weigh the two sides against each other; compare their sets of strengths and weaknesses. 5) Victory. Predict the winner. (From Huynh, Thomas, ed. The Art of War—Spirituality for Conflict, by Sun Tzu, Skylight Paths, 2008, pp. 52-53.)
The three similes illustrate the goal: to amass so many advantages, in terms of the five factors listed above, that yours is the overwhelmingly superior side in a conflict.

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