Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all

I don't understand what the last line how much more no calculation at all means.

  • The text seems old fashion. What is the source of the quote? Remember always to tell us the source of any English text you quote.
    – James K
    Oct 31, 2021 at 6:15
  • Oh it's Sun Tzu, so it's not even orginally English, but classical Chinese. I wonder who and when this translation comes from. The orginal is "夫未戰而廟算勝者得算多也未戰而廟算不勝者得算少也多算勝少算不勝而況於無算乎吾以此觀之勝負見矣" Perhaps that makes things clearer.
    – James K
    Oct 31, 2021 at 6:26

1 Answer 1


It is a bit of (deliberate) old fashioned writing. It seems that the translator (in 1910) felt it appropriate to make the text sound "old".

It says if the General (ie war commander) makes many "calculations" (ie detailed war plans) that general will win. And if the General makes few calculations, they will lose. It then asks rhetorically if making no calculations is worse than making a few. "If making too few calculations leads to defeat, How much worse is it then to make no calculations at all?"

The implied answer is "much worse!" So Sun Tzu is telling the reader to go to their temple (a literal temple: a building for worship) and work out detailed plans before going to war.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .