The tendency of the world is to acquire hardness and strength, but in this
chapter the sage warns us to beware of these qualities, and rather remain tender and weak. The people should scarcely know that weapons exist.
On the authority of Professor Giles the last section of this chapter should read "Fishes can not be taken away from the water. The instruments of government can not be delegated to others." Huai Nan Tze tells a story of a sovereign who lost his throne by transferring the power of punishment to his minister. (See Emendations and Comments to Lao-Tze's Tao-Teh-King, second issue, pages xvi-xvii.)
Lao-tze regarded acquaintance with weapons as an unnatural condition which would prove fatal to the people, just as fish must die when they are removed from their natural element, the water.