I want to translate 立方固奇,而立论甚正. It is a metaphor used in a taoist context.
I think I caught the drift but I am seeking confirmation by a sinologist or a Chinese person.
In my opinion, a possible translation would be :

"Some things look odd, yet they work well".

(Translation of 立方固奇,而立论甚正: "Cubes may look odd, yet they are upright."...)
Thanks in advance for your input !

3 Answers 3


the verse is from the preface of the book "石室秘錄". the chinese text project has a copy of it:


this book is about chinese medicine, not related to taoism.


i would interpret it as:

resolutely (固), the proposed prescriptions (立方) are unorthodox (奇), but (而) the rationales provided (立論) are very (甚) formal (正)

have fun :)

btw: the translation of "cube" is, very inventive :)

  • Thanks for the translation. The excerpt talked more about taoism but this part was about TCM indeed. For 立方, I searched but found nowhere its meaning for "proposed prescriptions" and always found "cube" for it. (mdbg.net/chinese/…). Would you be so kind as to let me know any English Chinese dictionary specialised in such terms for TCM terminologies ?
    – Mat
    May 15, 2018 at 8:16
  • for classical / literary chinese, meanings of characters / words are always depends on the context. no dictionaries can define / list all possible meanings. this is an example to demonstrate: chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/29690/… May 15, 2018 at 10:59
  • the meaning of "三五二八" are depended on the context. though these characters are listed in any dictionaries, none of them would give you the correct answer. May 15, 2018 at 11:00
  • last, may i ask what excerpt you have, of the mentioned verse in the question? show us the original, maybe, most likely, one can get another meaning from it :) May 15, 2018 at 11:02
  • No need to show you the excerpt. You got it right. I know each character depends on the context... But I need to know all the possible meanings first to be able to pick one. ^^ I just wondered if you knew some online chinese dictionary specialised in classical / literary texts. That would help me for future translations.
    – Mat
    May 16, 2018 at 8:02

This is a criticism from 金以谋 to 陈士铎, both are doctor of traditional Chinese medicine.

立: propose; present

方: 药方, remedy

固: definitely

奇: peculiar

而: but

论: 理论 theory

甚: indeed

正: reasonable

The remedy he presented are definitely peculiar, yet his theories are reasonable deeply.

  • Alright thanks ! I was close enough then. Would you mind telling me how you found out who that was from and how this is a criticism ? I would like to know more about it. Indeed the text was about taoism and TCM. 先谢谢了!
    – Mat
    May 14, 2018 at 15:36
  • @Mat, I googled this sentence, found a long article, it is in the last paragraph,here is the link, douban.com/note/241750689
    – sfy
    May 15, 2018 at 2:18

It is from 【石室秘錄】(序) http://www.theqi.com/cmed/oldbook/book67/b67_01.html


Basically it is a hard sale introduction to a medical book that based on supposedly rediscovered ancient text. It has nothing to do with Taoism

"立方固奇,而立論甚正" (The prescriptions are indeed unorthodox; but the theories are very formal) is just one of the many praises to the book

  • 方 means 药方 (prescription)

  • 立方 means "to prescribe prescription"

  • 固 = certainly

  • 奇 = unorthodox; surprising

  • 而 = however

  • 立論 = establish argument/ theory

  • 甚正 = quite formal/ mainstream

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