Chinese Idiom Stories
To Strive For Words and Struggle for Reason
During the Warring States Period, there lived in the kingdom of Sung a man named Gau Yang-ying. Gau Yang-ying loved to debate, and would find a way to quibble about even the most insignificant topics.
One day, Gau Yang-ying decided to build a house. A very experienced carpenter advised him against beginning work on it just then, saying that the wood was still wet, and therefore would be likely to crack, and later, to fall.
But Gau Yang-ying disagreed, saying, "In my experience, a house built with wet wood will not only not fall, but will be especially strong. Right now the wood is wet, but if we add a roof on top, it will hold just the same. After a while, the pressure of the bricks will decrease, and the wood will also be dry, so shouldn't the house be even stronger?"
The carpenter had no answer for this, and so had no choice but to begin work on the house. And not long after it was finished, as the carpenter had predicted, the house fell to the ground.
Thus, we can sau that a person who, like Gau Yang-ying insists on quibbling over unreasonable or insignificant things, is "striving for words and struggling for reason."