Monday, September 30, 2013

491: Daoism continued

Lao-Tze and Zhuangzi later (3rd century BC.), developed the concept of the Dao. The Dao denotes something that is both the source and the driving force behind everything that exists.

 It is ultimately ineffable: "The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao."

It is a model for humanity, the enumeration of all things, which exist and change. The Tao is the way of the universe. 

The world turns in endless cycles of change and variety, constantly increasing and then decreasing again, expanding and shrinking. Within this universal cycles are differences and contradictions.

The yin-yang symbol expresses the dualistic but balanced principles of Tao. The yin is the dark side, the breath that formed the earth. 

The yang is the bright side, the breath that formed the heavens. The interaction between the two can be seen in the universe: 

male and female, hot and cold, rich and poor, light and dark, good and evil. This principle is by Lao-Tsze explained as follows: "The Tao brought the One, the One brought the Two."

Taoism has developed from a rigorous ethical philosophy to a popular religion. During the course of the centuries 

According to Taoism everything is in perfect harmony that is not static, but in constant change. The balance changes and still nothing can exist without its opposite. 

Who goes with the flow of change can become the perfect man. Another important theme is the immortality of man. 

Using magic and alchemy are attempts to achieve this goal. Living in harmony with nature was the original ideal. 

The classic Taoist scholar withdrew back of human society and lived as a hermit in the wilderness  as pictured in many prints.

As I said before: "The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao." Thence all I say here is not THE DAO, but what I can say, is, that for me it fits into a pattern of human behavior.

Ancient writings mainly about ethical matters and metaphysics and about how we have to live form the basis of the organization of a society and a way to keep it under control.

Certain individuals come forward with the claim, that they much better than the general population KNOW what the meaning of the ancient writings are.

One way or another they gain a higher status in the community and so on. An institutionalized religion is born. In Western culture we see exactly the same processes.

Is Daoism a religion or a philosophy? Both I would say, but for a philosopher this question is actually irrelevant. 

Philosophically interesting is how Ancient China dealt with moral questions, ethics and metaphysics. It is interesting to study its historical development and we can compare it with our own history of ideas.

However, through time Daoism also has become a religion, but that kind of Daoism has may faces and can not be defined in terms of a single organized religion.

Both aspects of what began more than 2500 years ago still play a role in our world. Do a Google search in the term "Taoism" and in less than 0.34  seconds you get 3.550.000 hits. And when you switch to "Images" you get the most beautiful pictures.

Thank you……

The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you……
[13:23] xtc yonimyxtc: interesting.
[13:23] xtc yonimyxtc: ty
[13:23] Gemma Allen: i looked at the wiki philosophy article
[13:23] herman Bergson: The floor is yours :-)
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:23] Gemma Allen: and found it is very compllex!
[13:23] herman Bergson: And what did you learn Gemma?
[13:24] Gemma Allen: from what the person was saying last week that you just did it or not
[13:24] Gemma AllenGemma Allen GIGGLES!!
[13:24] Gemma Allen: ...LOL...
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: the yin and yang stuff i understand 100 % at least
[13:24] Gemma Allen: i thought it would be very simple
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: that's the most familiar thing with this i guess
[13:24] Gemma Allen: I had to leave early so don't know how that was resolved
[13:24] Gemma Allen: i did not check the blog
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: that they are opposites balancing each other out
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita...this yin - yang thinking is also familiar to us....
[13:25] Gemma Allen: one thing i got is they recommend just live naturally
[13:25] herman Bergson: we love to think binary...
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: just like computers
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:25] xtc yonimyxtc: i also find it interesting that all people who practice eastern 'philosophy' and eastern 'religions' are, but for the influence of the west, still generally cruel.
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: not really maybe
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: :9
[13:25] Bejiita Imako:
[13:25] Gemma Allen: that is a major part of the philosophy
[13:26] herman Bergson: In a way Gemma it makes me think of Rousseau....the back to nature idea....
[13:26] Gemma Allen: cruel??
[13:26] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:26] Gemma Allen: ah
[13:26] Gemma Allen: and does contain the yin yang balance
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes XTC...what do you mean by 'cruel'?
[13:27] Gemma Allen: was going to ask that too
[13:27] Gemma Allen: most buddhists are very peaceful most i say
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:27] Gemma Allen: there are radicals everywhere
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: see no cruelty in general here
[13:28] herman Bergson: yes even among buddhist monks :-)
[13:28] Gemma Allen: yep
[13:28] herman Bergson: pretty amazing tho
[13:29] Gemma Allen: xtc not seeing all your typing
[13:29] herman Bergson looks at xtc
[13:29] Gemma Allen: not arriving
[[13:29] xtc yonimyxtc: i have read many books lately, e. g. 'oil lamps for china' 'anna and the king' 'footsteps in india' which were all written about life in those places generally in the last 100 - 125 years and the cruelty they observed traumatized my senses - i understand from current news reports, it is still happening
[13:29] herman Bergson: I kpet on typing myself a sec ago while I wasn't at all
[13:30] Gemma Allen: ah i see
[13:30] ἀρετή: the cruelty is happening...
[13:30] herman Bergson: ahh....interesting observation....Xtc
[13:30] ἀρετή:
[13:30] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:30] Gemma Allen: in india now there is a lot of cruelty
[13:30] xtc yonimyxtc: *as a cultural thing rather than via individuals who are mentally disabled
[13:31] Umae Ying: could it be that there are people who live a life which believes in good... but that, like here, there are MANY corrupt people
[13:31] Gemma Allen: for example the treatment of women by some
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:31] Umae Ying: and one might choose to judge or write about either group
[13:31] herman Bergson: Maybe there is an answer to it....
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: like in saudi arabia where they are looked upon as objects woth no rights
[13:31] Gemma Allen: it is true cant blame the philosophy for those who do NOT practice it
[13:31] xtc yonimyxtc: corruption does not necessarily equally physical cruelty
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: that's cruelty id say
[13:32] herman Bergson: our culture is highly individualistic.....
[13:32] Gemma Allen: that is the problem
[13:32] herman Bergson: the number one here is the individual....
[13:32] xtc yonimyxtc: the majority of people in the east and middle east are not atheists
[13:32] Gemma Allen: no they are not
[13:32] herman Bergson: That is not the case in Chinese culture for instance
[13:33] Umae Ying: as Gemma said... the ones who do not practice the philosophy
[13:33] herman Bergson: the system transcends the individual....
[13:33] xtc yonimyxtc: actually, their lives are in mortal danger if they admit to atheism
[13:33] Umae Ying: that does not mean that the good ones do not exist
[13:33] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:33] Gemma Allen: true some places
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:33] ἀρετή: could it be that it comes down to a lack of balance.. like that advocated in Taoism?
[13:33] xtc yonimyxtc: *even atheism of philosophical views held by the ppl in power
[13:33] herman Bergson: Therefor the individual has to subjugate to the system or die
[13:34] herman Bergson: to put it bluntly
[13:34] Gemma Allen: true
[13:34] Gemma Allen: or go to prison for a long time
[13:34] Umae Ying: in many cases you get extremists... who "lay down the law" within a philosophy or religion... distorting it
[13:34] xtc yonimyxtc: yes, professor Bergson, exactly
[13:34] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:34] Gemma Allen: to that too
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:34] Gemma Allen: but we are trying to look at the basic philosophy
[13:35] Gemma Allen: or the way it should be
[13:35] herman Bergson: You could see that principle rule under Stalin for instance clearly....
[13:35] xtc yonimyxtc: yes
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:35] herman Bergson: the individual life doesn't count....the community does...the system does
[13:35] Gemma Allen: look at some of the african nations now
[13:35] herman Bergson: and confucianism is like that....
[13:36] herman Bergson: in that sense Daoism was a counter movement...
[13:36] Gemma Allen: that is why we have such a hard time looking at eastern religions
[13:36] Gemma Allen: we look from our perspective all the time
[13:36] Corronach: exactly, Gemma
[13:36] herman Bergson: To me they show the same characteristics as western religions to me Gemma
[13:37] Gemma Allen: they do in some ways
[13:37] herman Bergson: If you look from a behavioral point of view, in my opinion , the Chinese didn't act different from us in the West
[13:37] Gemma Allen: but the practices are different
[13:37] Gemma Allen: you think not??
[13:38] Gemma Allen: the belief in the ancestors ??
[13:38] Gemma Allen: so strong in every day life?
[13:38] herman Bergson: What becomes the dominant philosophy or religion is an arbitrary matter influenced by all kinds of cultural aspects of a society
[13:38] ἀρετή: all the western influence :)
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: indeed the tricky think here is that we look from our view right into another and then we have a hard time understanding
[13:39] Umae Ying: someone mentioned the treatment of women... Schopenhaur wrote his view of women and it sounded not too distant from the views of those who repress them today
[13:39] ἀρετή: I'm starting to the think the west knows more about eastern philosophies.. and the east.. the western views..
[13:39] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:39] Gemma Allen: lol
[13:39] ἀρετή: -the
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:39] herman Bergson: Nice point Umae :-))
[13:39] herman Bergson: But not really correct I would say
[13:40] xtc yonimyxtc: i read somewhere recently, that the sexual act of a man who follows taoism is considered by him to be a form of 'food' for his body and if his partner does, or can not 'full-fill' him, it is the partners energy who's lacking thus the need for concubines in the ancient and not so ancient times
[13:40] herman Bergson: In case of Schopenhauer we talk about the psychological constitution of an individual...
[13:40] Umae Ying: and the way the white man treated the native americans...
[13:40] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:40] Gemma Allen: good excuse
[13:40] Umae Ying: not everyone was cruel
[13:41] Bejiita Imako:
[13:41] herman Bergson: in case of Indian or Muslim culture we talk about a whole society...a culture
[13:41] Gemma Allen: right
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: yes¨
[13:41] xtc yonimyxtc: not 'indian' rather hindu or sihks
[13:42] herman Bergson: ok xtc..indeed
[13:42] xtc yonimyxtc: as there are many muslims in india
[13:42] Umae Ying: i believe Schopenhauer represented the view of some/many of his contemporaries
[13:42] xtc yonimyxtc: and pockets of christianity from st paul who went to the southwest of india
[13:43] herman Bergson: true xtc...
[13:43] Umae Ying: my in laws did not believe women should have an education...
[13:43] herman Bergson: IN that respect iIndia is a divers country...
[13:44] Umae Ying: german
[13:44] Gemma Allen: well they are not alone
[13:44] xtc yonimyxtc: granted, the hindu culture, or religion if you like, encompasses the majority of india
[13:44] Gemma Allen: even now
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: hinduism is what you think about of india
[13:44] herman Bergson: that is why I used the ter 'Indian culture'
[13:44] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:45] Gemma Allen: when you look at each country west or east there seems to be a minority sthat is hardly accepted
[13:45] Gemma Allen: anywhere
[13:45] herman Bergson: The big question we have seen the first movements of chinses it so different from ours?
[13:45] Gemma Allen: well
[13:46] Gemma Allen: aspects of it no
[13:46] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:46] Gemma Allen: other aspects
[13:46] herman Bergson: That is my feeling too Gemma....
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: the concepts and views are different but have an analogy on our culture i think
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: in some way
[13:46] Gemma Allen: right
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: its just a different view
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: way different
[13:47] Umae Ying: human beings seem to come up with similar questions... no matter where they are... do they answer them
[13:47] herman Bergson: indeed Umae
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:47] Gemma Allen: one thing i have learned in this class
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: very true
[13:47] ἀρετή: by looking outward...
[13:47] Gemma Allen: there are always more questions than answers ever
[13:47] Gemma Allen: one leads to another
[13:48] herman Bergson: Let me give you one example, which at least puzzles me but which is so common in any religion
[13:48] xtc yonimyxtc: i take exception to that comment about how the white men treated the aboriginals of north america - i can cite many books that point out the majority of it was in self-defense. i don't wish to discuss this, only to point out that i take exception to that comment
[13:48] herman Bergson: Lao-Tze is quoted: "The Dao that can be told of is not the eternal Dao."
[13:48] Umae Ying: death
[13:49] Gemma Allen: oh dear better not i see both
[13:49] Gemma Allen: and it still continues today
[13:49] herman Bergson: Let's stick to the subject :-))
[13:49] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:49] Gemma Allen: lol
[13:49] herman Bergson: That quote gives me the creeps in a way....
[13:50] herman Bergson: there is some one saying that on the one hand you can talk about the Dao, but it is NOT the real thing.....
[13:50] Gemma Allen: well brings me back t o the avatar last week
[13:50] xtc yonimyxtc: i agree, lets stick to the subject.
[13:50] Gemma Allen: who insisted it just IS
[13:50] Gemma Allen: inside
[13:50] herman Bergson: Then tell me...1. how can you know the real thing and 2. if you can why cant you talk about it?
[13:51] xtc yonimyxtc: :-)
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: hmmm
[13:51] Gemma Allen: i have no idea
[13:51] herman Bergson: Time and again we run into people who claim to know more than we know....and we have no means at all to verify that knowledge
[13:52] Gemma Allen GIGGLES!!
[13:52] Gemma Allen: ...LOL...
[13:52] herman Bergson: That is my problem with mysticism....
[13:52] herman Bergson: And the worst thing is...
[13:52] Gemma Allen: ah well as you have said it is a matter of BELIEVING
[13:53] Gemma Allen: they believe and that is the PROOF
[13:53] Gemma Allen: for them
[13:53] herman Bergson: when you say...all you say is bull.. you are called a heretic or even burned:-))
[13:53] herman Bergson: But that is scary Gemma....
[13:53] Umae Ying: there are many things we cannot use words for... except to get close to it... it is like this or like that... but cannot be explicit
[13:53] Gemma Allen: live with it
[13:53] xtc yonimyxtc: professor! burned?
[13:53] Umae Ying: that is what art is for
[13:53] ἀρετή: sunsets...
[13:53] herman Bergson: Because they believe the wear a bomb vest and blow themselves up for instance
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: interesting
[13:53] Bejiita Imako:
[13:54] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:54] Gemma Allen: looks at the terrorists in the mall last week
[13:54] Gemma Allen: amazing
[13:54] xtc yonimyxtc: have we not progressed from such barbarianisms?
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: indeed, , those guys are nuts
[13:54] Gemma Allen: well even buddhist monks burn themselves
[13:54] Gemma Allen: i portest
[13:54] Gemma Allen: in *
[13:54] xtc yonimyxtc: o! sorry, i thought u were speaking of witches
[13:55] herman Bergson: witches were only a European problem xtc :-)
[13:55] Gemma Allen: and usa
[13:55] herman Bergson: But heretics were burned on the stake here too :-)
[13:55] Umae Ying: i ran into witchcraft in Africa
[13:55] Gemma Allen: witches burned not far from UCONN Herman
[13:55] Umae Ying: and among the Navajo
[13:55] xtc yonimyxtc: we have grown being burnings at the stake in the west, i believe
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: hope so
[13:56] herman Bergson: We don't do that anymore , no :-)
[13:56] Gemma Allen: just blow up entire places
[13:56] herman Bergson: What you mean is religion Umae....
[13:56] Gemma Allen: where the "witches" might be
[13:57] Umae Ying: or a con
[13:57] herman Bergson: witches were anti religious...
[13:57] xtc yonimyxtc: who does, Gemma?
[13:57] Umae Ying: seemed like a con to me
[13:57] Umae Ying: in africa
[13:57] Umae Ying: believed among the Navajo
[13:57] xtc yonimyxtc: human behavior and taoism...
[13:58] Gemma Allen: depending on where you are
[13:58] xtc yonimyxtc: afk...
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:58] herman Bergson: yes xtc...and it doesn't differ that much from what we have seen in our cultural history
[13:58] Umae Ying: i think of european "witches" as being individualistic... non-conformists.. among people who required conformity
[13:58] Gemma Allen: the iraqi think the other part of the culture nto in their religion philosophy are
[13:59] Umae Ying: not all... different places different witches
[13:59] Umae Ying: in europe
[13:59] Gemma Allen: the same in aphganistan
[13:59] Gemma Allen: the same in africa
[13:59] Gemma Allen: different countries and cultures
[13:59] Gemma Allen: have their version of witches
[13:59] herman Bergson: We'll come to arabic philosophy in coming lectures Gemma :-)
[13:59] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[14:06] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your good discussion...
[14:06] Gemma Allen: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[14:06] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[14:06] Bejiita Imako:
[14:06] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[14:06] Corronach: Thank you
[14:06] Gemma Allen: Bye, Bye   
[14:06] Bejiita Imako: good as always
[14:06] Bejiita Imako:
[14:06] ἀρετή: Thanks

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

490: Daoism continued

When in the IEP R. Littlejohn of Belmont University writes "The Daodejing (Tao-Te-Ching) teaches that humans cannot fathom the Dao, because any name we give to it cannot capture it. It is beyond what we can conceive (ch.1)", I am puzzled.

Is this  similar to counting from one to endless, where we are unable to fathom endlessness, or asking where exactly the Universe is positioned, loosing all understanding of space and time there? You can meditate on such questions for hours.

Mysticism, religion or philosophy, what are we dealing with here? Several times I have read that we should not apply our western philosophical concepts to Chinese thinking.

Then I wonder, what concepts Chinese thinkers use, being equipped with the same tools we have: the brain. Let me put it this way, for me to understand Daoism, I place it in the context of human behavior.

And there I see that whatever concepts are used, a certain way of thinking leads to the same behavior, whether it is in Western Culture or non Western culture.

We can not fathom the Dao, it is said, but those who "WU WEI" may, may become a sage, a master. Wu wei is a difficult notion to translate. 

Yet, it is generally agreed that the traditional rendering of it as “nonaction” or “no action” is incorrect. Those who wu wei do act. 

Daoism is not a philosophy of “doing nothing.” Wu wei means something like “act naturally,” “effortless action,” or “nonwillful action.” The point is that there is no need for human tampering with the flow of reality. Go with the flow.

So what is the image of the ideal person, the sage.
"…the sage manages affairs without doing anything, and conveys his instructions without the use of speech." (DDJ, ch.2) That is Wu wei.

In this respect, they are like newborn infants, who move naturally, without planning and reliance on the structures given to them by others (ch. 15). 

In the Daodejing it is said, that sages empty themselves, becoming void of pretense. Sages concentrate their internal energies (qi). 

They clean their vision (ch. 10). They manifest plainness and become like uncarved wood (pu) (ch. 19). They live naturally and free from desires given by men (ch. 37) They settle themselves and know how to be content (ch. 46). 

That is what I mean with focusing on human behavior. The Daoist sage behaves apparently just like an Indian yogi or a classic christian monk.

It seems, that for some reason the human being tends to distance himself from its biological and cultural realities to achieve something spiritual.

The effortlessness (Wu wei) of the Daoist contemplative was modified by the use of techniques of meditation, such as controlled breathing, analogous to those employed in Indian yoga. 

The Daoist aim of an immediate, intuitive, inner illumination was sufficiently close to the aim of Buddhist meditation for it to be natural that the two streams of religion should influence each other in the period after Buddhism’s arrival in China.

The term Dao means a road, and is often translated as “the Way.” This is because sometimes Dao is used as a noun (that is, “the dao”) and other times as a verb (i.e. daoing). 

Dao is the process of reality itself, the way things come together, while still transforming. All this reflects the deep seated Chinese belief that change is the most basic character of things.

In the Ji Ching the patterns of this change are symbolized by figures standing for 64 relations of correlative forces and known as the hexagrams. Dao is the alteration of these forces, most often simply stated as yin and yang.

These are only a few initial remarks. Next lecture we'll look into Daoism some more.

Thank you. ^_^

The Discussion

[13:18] Nectanebus claps
[13:19] Nectanebus: Very interesting
[13:19] Gemma Allen: i need to read more on it
[13:19] xtc yonimyxtc: thank you, professor bergson :-)
[13:19] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks...the floor is yours :-))
[13:19] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T  * ::::::::::
[13:19] Bejiita Imako: hmm this gets more and mire interesting for sure
[13:20] Nectanebus: You were contrasting the Daoist method with the meditation of Buddhists, not saying that Doaists meditate as Buddhists do
[13:21] herman Bergson: Of course there are differences between buddhism and daoism....
[13:21] Gemma Allen: but some similarities tho
[13:21] herman Bergson: But keep one thing clear in mind....
[13:21] Gemma Allen: right it is a way of life
[13:22] herman Bergson: this project is not meant to tell you what Daoism exactly is or means....
[13:22] herman Bergson: It just offers you a start for personal investigation and research on the subject
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: at least it gives some insight in the subject
[13:23] Nectanebus: The part about "spirituality" reminds me of Zizek and his ideas on relation of fantasy and reality in "Pervert's Guide to Cinema".
[13:23] Gemma Allen: well to understand it must be learned something about it
[13:23] herman Bergson: Let me put it this way.....
[13:23] Nectanebus: To come to a realization of something, one must study it. Not everyone reaches satori through a slap in the face
[13:24] Nectanebus: And Enlightenmet is something kinda of misrepresented in general, I've found
[13:25] Gemma Allen: sorrry to leave early rl is calling
[13:25] Oceane: have a great day Gemma
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: cu Gemma
[13:27] Corronach: the lesson, i mean. i understand from what Herman said, that it is a state of being.
[13:40] Qwark Allen: if its a way of thinking we can learn it
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: yes to really understand something you must experience it
[13:41] xtc yonimyxtc: human behaviour, yes
[13:41] herman Bergson: You are nor born, according to the Daodejingm as a sage....
[13:42] herman Bergson: It needs a lot of practice, learning and study to get that far
[1[13:43] herman Bergson: I leave it to all of you individually to get to your own opinion on this point of view
[13:44] herman Bergson: I certainly would advice you to read the article in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy to begin with
[13:44] Qwark Allen: the true way of thinking is buddhism, but that is to another lecture
[13:45] herman Bergson: So there is a lot of literature and interpretations available
[13:51] Corronach: herman i noticed in your talk you compared the daoist with a newborn child. this made me wonder about the sustainability of it. newborns are unable to meet their biological needs for food, etc. how can a daoist live without being dependent on others?
[13:51] Corronach: and if everyone wanted to be such a way, no one would be left to ensure survival at whatever level.
[13:51] xtc yonimyxtc: very good question, corronach
[13:51] Corronach: am i taking that too far?
[13:52] herman Bergson: That is the problem with Chinese philosophy Corronach.....
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:52] herman Bergson: it talks in analogies and metaphors....
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: hmm thats interesting indeed
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: is¨
[13:52] Corronach: i'm quite community minded. i think that it is not an interdependent, but rather a dependent way of being which could be problematic.
[13:52] herman Bergson: not in the logical we we prefer to discuss issues
[13:53] Nectanebus: indirect instead of direct, almost?
[13:53] Corronach: maybe that's why i struggle to get my brain around it.
[13:54] Corronach: i realise i operate under a constructed morality and value system; however, i feel that is more important than pure selfishness
[13:54] Corronach: i guess i see it as to simply "be" incurs a sort of disregard for one's surroundings, for other people.
[13:55] Nectanebus: Good point, darling!
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: all heavy metals are
[1[13:55] herman Bergson: As I said Corronach.....daoist as a behavior resembles that of monks and yogis...
[13:55] Nectanebus: In as of the heremitude and such
[13:56] Corronach: that makes sense. i suppose my response would be that not everyone should be a monk or a yogi. :)
[13:56] Nectanebus: Almost denying the real for the transcendental, which can be dangerous
[13:56] herman Bergson: It seems to be in our system, yes nectanebus
[13:56] herman Bergson: I explicitly refer to it as behavior to make you wonder about how this behavior can exist
[1[13:57] Corronach: herman, that makes sense. i understood what you said about it being a state of being, but in being something, you ultimately *do* something.
[13:58] herman Bergson: yes indeed Corronach....
[13:58] herman Bergson: even when you burry yourself under a stone for are showing observable behavior :-)
[13:58] Nectanebus: Yup
[13:58] Corronach: exactly
[13:59] Nectanebus: Hence the problem
[13:59] herman Bergson: And from what we DO, we learn who and what we are
[13:59] Corronach: actually i don't think it's really possible to separate "being" from "doing"
[14:00] herman Bergson: When we discuss "being" and "doing" we run into a semantical discussion
[14:00] Nectanebus: I could go all day on semantics, I love splitting hairs haha
[14:00] Corronach: yes, i realize that may stray slightly off topic too.
[14:00] herman Bergson: Besides that it makes me think of Sartre
[14:00] Nectanebus: How so?
[14:01] herman Bergson: For him there was no"being" as such...all was "doing"
[14:01] herman Bergson: making choices....
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: ok
[14:01] Nectanebus: Ah, ok
[14:01] Nectanebus: I've only read "Nausea" and some quotes. Although I've read Nausea too many times...must be the misanthropy haha
[14:02] Bejiita Imako:
[14:02] herman Bergson: But some of these religious ideas seem to have a tendency to propagate a kind of "being" which disconnects you from any responsibility
[14:02] Nectanebus: Hence the prolbem of just "being" resulting in others having to look after you
[14:02] Corronach: yes, i think that's what i am seeing :)
[14:02] Nectanebus: Yeah
[14:02] Nectanebus: Today's a good example of that
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: ok
[14:03] herman Bergson: even an atom is not just there...being....
[14:03] herman Bergson: it behaves in interaction with its environment....
[14:05] OceaneOceane thanks herman for a nice discussion and wishes everyone a calm and pleasant day, night - good bye
[14:05] Corronach: take care Oceane
[14:05] herman Bergson: Bye Oceane ...
[14:05] Bejiita Imako: bye Oceaine
[14:06] Nectanebus: What is koan?
[14:06] Nectanebus: haha
[14:06] herman Bergson: Well...
[14:06] Corronach: the daoism you've spoken about, herman, reminds me of concepts i've learned in meditation. i assume there is an influence there?
[14:06] Corronach: okay herman, sorry :)
[14:07] herman Bergson: There certainly is an influence there Corronach....
[14:07] Corronach whispers: it's been an hour. :)
[14:07] xtc yonimyxtc: byby oceane
[14:07] herman Bergson: Daoism has also become known in the US and Eurpoe...
[14:07] herman Bergson: lots of books on the subject...
[14:07] Nectanebus: Anywho, I've got to become a tree
[14:07] Bejiita Imako: ah
[14:07] Nectanebus: I'll see you al around
[14:07] Corronach: herman, thank you for the talk
[14:07] Bejiita Imako: interesting subject this
[14:08] herman Bergson: We'll continue the issue in the next lecture.
[14:08] herman Bergson: Nice tree Nectanebus...
[14:08] Corronach: i'll be a tree now too
[14:08] Bejiita Imako: gotta run
[14:08] herman Bergson: Thank you all for the vivid discussion and exchange of ideas :-))
[14:08] Bejiita Imako: cu Herman
[14:08] herman Bergson: It was a pleasue
[14:09] xtc yonimyxtc: i'll just be me
[14:09] Corronach: thank you Herman
[14:09] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[14:09] xtc yonimyxtc: byby, sweet Souls

Friday, September 20, 2013

489: How to understand Daoism

After briefly reviewing various modern understandings and interpretations of Tao, we find countless divergent theories. This raises many questions: 

Is Tao metaphysical in the traditional sense? 
Is it cosmic or ontic? 
Transcendent or immanent? 
Substance or principle? 
Matter or idea? 
Objective or normative? 
Mysterious or natural? 
Entity or symbol? 
Reality or vision? 
Humanistic or naturalist? 
Religious or philosophical? 
Among all these different and opposing positions, each side has its supporters. This fact suggests that none of our modern Western philosophical concepts is a good match for Lao Zi’s Tao,
though each one may be apt or suitable for specific aspects – and that to certain degrees, as Xiaogan Liu, whom I referred to in my previous lecture, writes.

This puts me philosophically is a difficult position, if you only recall my previous projects on the philosophy of mind and the importance of neurobiological phenomena to understand the mind.

Do I lack the language to speak about Chinese thought and in particular Taoism? Maybe, maybe not. To understand our philosophical position here, we can ask the question:

This way of thinking, this way of using language, is this unique for Taoism? The answer is simply NO. It has been with us from the very beginning of mankind. We even can give is a name: Mysticism.

Mystical experience is a major form of religious experience, but hard to define.  Some of the definitions of mysticism advanced by Western writers are:

“Mysticism is the immediate feeling of the unity of the self with God”,  “Mysticism is that attitude of mind in which all relations are swallowed up in the relation of the soul to God”; 

“True mysticism is the consciousness  that everything that we experience is an element and only an element in fact, i.e. that in being what it is, it is symbolic of something else” 

Clearly these definitions ascribe religious and philosophical interpretation to the phenomenon of mysticism,

but they don't cover all mystical theories. Buddhism, for instance, has no god in its metaphysical interpretation of man and reality.

You could recognize two kinds of mystics. On the one hand you have those who claim to make an immediate contact with the Transcendent,

which means  making contact with something that is beyond simple sensory experience. Examples of this are Old Testament prophets or Muhammad.

The other kind of mystics are those who claim to speak based on an inner illumination. Names here are for instance Meister Eckhart and Buddha.

Mystics of the second kind  feel that their experience is somehow timeless, that it involves an apprehension of the transcendent (of some thing, state, or person lying beyond the realm of things), that it gives them bliss or serenity, and that it normally is achieved by self-mastery and contemplation.

Within our philosophical context, which is outlined by a number of my previous projects, we can study Taoism, because it has been a historical phenomenon, that had an influence on Chinese culture and still exists, also in our culture.

but it leaves me with one nagging question. All these theories are based on very old books, Old testament, Koran, Tao-T-Jing, I-Ching and so on.

Why aren't there any mystics today anymore? Why did they only exist in those old days?

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Routledge History of World Philosophies, vol 3, History of Chinese Philosophy (2009)
An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy - Karyn L. Lai, Oxford 2008
Chinese Philosophy, P. Carus, 1902
A Brief History of chinese Philosophy. D.T. Suzuki, 1914

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you :-))
[13:22] herman Bergson: You seem mystified :-))
[13:22] Corronach: no. :)
[13:22] Corronach: i'm surprised you think there aren't any mystics today.
[13:22] .: Beertje :.: yes I often wondered that too..why are there no such people these days
[13:22] Corronach: i seem to meet a lot of people who believe they are "mystics"
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:22] Corronach: the difficulty, i think, is the terminology
[13:23] herman Bergson: Oh yes Corronach
[13:23] Corronach: to be a mystic, i think, seems to be a very subjective experience.
[13:23] Corronach: you don't really test people if they tell you they have had a particular spiritual experience, for example
[13:23] Corronach: you can't really know whether they are a mystic or not.
[13:23] Corronach: so anyone can take that title.
[13:23] herman Bergson: There are two issues here related to your remark Corronach...
[13:24] oola Neruda: and if they do... they are often ostracized or considered "incorrect"....
[13:24] oola Neruda: a fanatic
[13:24] herman Bergson: mystic al experiences as pure subject experiences...ok....but if you take the Tao Te Jing, the bible the koran....
[13:24] Corronach: that's true oola, or branded with "mental health issues" and thus the spirituality of their experience is minimized.
[13:24] herman Bergson: they are based on such experiences and have great social impact..also historically
[13:25] oola Neruda: nods
[13:25] herman Bergson: the second thing is....
[13:25] Corronach: true herman, but one can still see "miracles" take place in various churches, if you have the courage to go there.
[13:26] Corronach: the "miracles" i mention are just as significant as ones in the bible, for example, yet they don't get the same notice as those.
[13:26] herman Bergson: all those special non sensory experiences which mystics claim to have can be induced by manipulating the brain magnetically and electronically
[13:26] Corronach: yes, i believe that too
[13:26] oola Neruda: i think the leaders of various ways of thoughts have a stand that this is the correct way... and other ways are not good... so to bring up another dangerous in a way... and put down
[13:26] oola Neruda: excommunication is an example
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes oola...but now we call it a political movement I guess
[13:27] herman Bergson: and we call the leader charismatic....
[13:27] oola Neruda: my spiritual experience is the only true one
[13:27] .: Beertje :.: in the old days people didn't know as much as we do about every thing was mystic for them
[13:28] Corronach: that's a good point Beertje
[13:28] Corronach: much can be explained now
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes Beertje and that is the philosophical problem we are facing now
[13:28] Corronach: in very non mystic terms :)
[13:29] herman Bergson: People said to me...isn't it all about religion? That is no philosophy...
[13:29] herman Bergson: Well we have reached that point  now by focusing on mysticism...
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: its complex stuff in a way this mysticism
[13:30] oola Neruda: many of the "old books" were "revelations from God"... and we do not see much of that any more
[13:30] herman Bergson: no oola....and that is a problem to me
[13:30] oola Neruda: dogma
[13:31] herman Bergson: besides that I am a philosopher from the Anglo - American school...
[13:31] herman Bergson: Several authors say that our concepts dont fit those of the Chinese philosophy
[13:31] oola Neruda: but people who would have "revelations" would be considered mentally unsound now
[13:32] herman Bergson: I didn't want to say it aloud oola....but all those people who hear voices and get commands....
[13:32] oola Neruda: nods
[13:32] herman Bergson: So here are we in 2013 and we look at thinking of 2000 years ago.....
[13:33] herman Bergson: this has two aspects.....
[13:33] herman Bergson: most of Chinese thought id focused on ethics....
[13:33] herman Bergson: That we can understand....
[13:33] oola Neruda: where/when they had a vital need for laws and a way to have social interactions for safety
[13:33] herman Bergson: yes...
[13:34] herman Bergson: But Taoism has also a metaphysical component...
[13:34] herman Bergson: And what am I going to do with that, that is the challenge for me
[13:35] herman Bergson: Well, you can be witness of my philosophical struggle ^_^
[13:36] oola Neruda: what kind of God might Einstein have
[13:36] oola Neruda: and would people nowadays accept that
[13:36] herman Bergson: Let's answer "Good question, oola" :-))
[13:36] Bejiita Imako:
[13:36] herman Bergson: But you are right...
[13:36] herman Bergson: oola
[13:37] herman Bergson: and what about the mystics Corronach refers to?
[13:37] herman Bergson: the prophets, Muhammed Buddha had authority....
[13:37] oola Neruda: direct revelation
[13:37] herman Bergson: their ideas prevailed in several cultures...
[13:37] oola Neruda: who will argue with God
[13:38] herman Bergson: As you see....the old ideas now lead to interesting and challenging questions
[13:39] herman Bergson: I hear you all thinking :-)
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: hehe'
[13:40] herman Bergson: Does anyone has a remark or question at this moment?
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:40] oola Neruda: perhaps empiricism has displaced faith completely
[13:40] herman Bergson: hmmm...
[13:41] herman Bergson: a standard subject during my study at the university was the analytical debate on the difference and relation between knowledge and belief
[13:42] herman Bergson: when is something called knowledge and when belief....
[13:42] herman Bergson: Now we say that science is our knowledge of the world....
[13:42] herman Bergson: but what about our beliefs?
[13:43] herman Bergson: In the old days a lot of beliefs were written down and regarded as knowledge...
[13:43] herman Bergson: It doesn't work this way anymore...
[13:43] herman Bergson: unless you look at sects like scientology and the like
[13:44] herman Bergson: Well...
[13:44] herman Bergson: maybe the study of Taoism can shed some light on the question "What to do with our beliefs?"
[13:45] herman Bergson: I guess I have fried your brains enough now ^_^
[13:45] Corronach: hehe
[13:45] .: Beertje :.: you did..yes
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: haha yes
[13:46] .: Beertje :.: i need time to think it over
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: does someone have some liquid nitrogen?
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:46] oola Neruda: whomever said that definitions of words was important... i agree with
[13:46] herman Bergson: Oh me too Beertje....a lot of time :-)
[13:46] .: Beertje :..: Beertje :. smiles
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: a lot to think about, interesting, need to check up mysticism in general to get the concept a bit more
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: how it works
[13:47] herman Bergson: Good Bejiita....
[13:47] Bejiita Imako:
[13:47] Corronach: thanks for the discussion
[13:47] herman Bergson: May I then thank you all for your participation.
[13:47] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:47] Bejiita Imako:
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: ok cu soon all
[13:47] Corronach: Nectanebus and i will try to be here on Tuesday
[13:47] oola Neruda: one can look at the belief that all things are an aspect of God... we are all part of each other
[13:47] .: Beertje :.: thank you Herman
[13:47] oola Neruda: and call it mystical
[13:47] Bejiita Imako:
[13:47] Corronach whispers: thank you :)
[13:48] oola Neruda: then particle physics proves it...
[13:48] oola Neruda: fact
[13:48] oola Neruda: all in the definitions