Scientific Enlightenment, Div. One
Book 2: Human Enlightenment of the First Axial

2.B.3. Chinese Philosophy

Chapter 8: Zhuangzi: 1. The Enlightened (Salvational) State of Mind

copyright © 2004, 2005 by Lawrence C. Chin. All rights reserved.
Chinese characters (traditional & simplified) in this page are in Unicode (UTF - 8)

We now come to Zhuangzi (Chuangtzu: 莊子), the original philosopher of Daoism of next importance to Laozi (Laotzu). With the exposition of his text, we may organize it according to three themes. (1) Salvation (the second mode), the goal of philosophy, which Fung has identified in the case of Zhuangzi as "absolute happiness". (A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, p. 109) In accordance with this theme are discussed the topics of the enlightened state of mind, the identification of the self with Dao, or Objectivity; all three being the same thing (and the same thing as "absolute happiness" or salvation) which Fung has identified as "the higher point of view", "knowledge of the higher level" (ibid.), i.e. philosophic knowledge, knowledge of Being: Enlightenment or Awakening -- which we have identified as the recall of the law of Conservation and which corresponds to major salvation. (2) Some reflections, in everyday life, of this enlightened state of mind, typically emotionlessness and non-attachment, like in Buddhism: minor salvation. (3) What Fung has identified as "relative happiness" (ibid.), the limited, relative point of view of the individual, which is the source of suffering. We are here concerned with the first, Zhuangzi's notion of the enlightened or salvational state of mind.

The enlightened state of mind is the transcendence of the relative, limited perspective of the individual; it is "to see things 'in the light of Heaven' (照之于天). [This] means to see things from the point of view of that which transcends the finite, which is the Dao" (ibid., p. 112), i.e. from the perspective of Nature.

Zhuangzi illustrates this with the "problem" or "phenomenon" of "disagreement" in "The Discourse on the Equalization of Things" or "The Discourse on Seeing All Things as Equal" (Harold Roth's translation) 齊物論1. (Translation in bold. Kuo Hsiang's useful commentary will be extensively utilized.) 夫言非吹也,言者有言。其所言者特未定也。果有言邪?其未尝有 言邪? Speech is not [just] the blowing of wind; those who make speech [i.e. those attempting to express an opinion on something] have something to say; but what is said is not definitively determinate. That is, "What I take to be [in my expressed opinion] right the other takes to be wrong. What the other takes to be right I then take to be wrong. Thus [it is said] it is not determined. That [what is said] is not determinate is because the mind [and so the point of view and the opinion] is partial [i.e. limited to the individual's specific position]." (未定也者, 由彼我之情偏 Kuo Hsiang's commentary) Is there really what is said? Something may have been said, yet its truth-value lies totally in the lurk: indeterminate. (C.f. Kuo's commentary.) Is there not yet something said? "Thinking that nothing [substantial] is said? But according to the self [i.e. each person who has said what is said] something [substantial] is said." (Kuo) That is, although one wants to deny the substantiality or truth-value of anything said because this person says thus is so but another denies thus is so -- endless confusing disagreement -- each of the disagreeing parties thinks his own opinion right and to be of substance or have truth-value.

其以为異于彀音,亦有辩乎?其无辩乎? Thinking that [what people say, i.e. their mutually contradicting opinions] are different from the chirpings of fledglings? Is there any arguing about this? Is there not any arguing about this? Since each has his own opinion not meshing with that of others and we have no way to say who's right, are we to put our hands up and treat people's words as no different than the chirpings of fledglings?

道恶乎隐而有真偽?言恶乎隐而有是非?道恶 乎往而不存?言恶乎存而不可? Can Dao be hidden so that there be the real and the fake? Dao -- Being, the way things are, alhqeia as "unconcealedness", that is, as the principle for determining the way things are -- has to be hidden from view or forgotten (lhqh), so that there may be distinctions between or arguments about true or real -- the way things are -- and false and fake -- the way things are not. Can what is said [Rede, logos] be hidden so that there be right and wrong? Can Dao go somewhere [else] so that it not be [here] any longer? "[Dao] is everywhere" (Kuo), i.e. omnipresent. Since Dao -- the way things are -- is never absent, there is really no right and wrong, and what is wrong is not wrong and what is right is not right; things are simply the way they are according to their nature, according to Dao, i.e. according to the way things are. The way things are not (wrong) can never be the way things are, otherwise it would just be the way things are. Can what is said [Rede, logos] be [here, i.e. come to be] so that it be inappropriate? If there is no right and wrong, then why can the opinions about things be right and wrong? Note that the Heideggerian understanding of truth (aletheia) as unconcealing, the "freeing" of things into being the way they are, of "saying" (logos, Rede) as showing and unconcealing the way things are, letting them be what they are, and communicating this unconcealedness to others (aufweisenden Sehenlassen), and of Being (Sein, Dao) as things' "coming-to-be-the-way-they-are" (Presencing) are particularly helpful in understanding what Zhuangzi is getting at here. Heidegger is emphatic that the ordinary notion of truth, adaequatio intellectus et rei, that truth just means the correspondence or agreement between the mind and the thing it "represents" (die Uebereinstimmung des Urteils mit seinem Gegenstand), i.e. that the mind has managed to produce a correct representation of the thing -- is derivative of this original sense of truth as things-showing-off-the-way-they-are. If Dao is just the way things are, then it has to not be -- and it cannot not be -- in order for things to be real or fake, for in the eye of Dao things are simply what they are and "real" and "false" or "right" and "wrong" don't apply to them. Unless they are not the way they are? But that's not possible -- that's like saying something strange is against nature literally: how can something against the law of nature be? Then why is speech (Rede) which is the function of this showing-forth, of showing things as they are, sometimes right and sometimes wrong? For Heidegger, right and wrong, etc. come about only with the derivative adaequatio. Let us see how Zhuangzi frames the issue.2

道隐于小成,言隐于荣華。故有儒墨 之是非,以是其所非而非其所是。 Dao is hidden in "little accomplishments", and speech is hidden in "vain-gloriousness". The "little accomplishments" refer to the ordinary rules of morality, ethics, i.e. the ordinary rights and wrongs. People think that there are rights and wrongs about the way things are (like despising mice for their cowardliness or vermin for their harmful effects to humans) or about doing things (that a person should not be like this or that or do this or that) because they miss the perspective of the Dao, they fail to comprehend that things are just what they are, that vermin and lice are merely be-ing according to their nature and some people are timid and some brave simply because nature has made them so. The judgmental attitude on which all the rules of etiquette, morality, and ethics are based comes about through not seeing the Dao, i.e. Dao being "hidden", escaping people's view. Hence the commentary reminds that Lao-Tzu said: "When the great Dao is abolished [neglected], righteousness and justice arise." (大道废有仁义) People cannot just accept things as they are because they have ignored Dao. "Vain gloriousness" refers to the distortive and exaggerated ornaments that people add to their speech to make it more persuasive, but which then cause it to deviate from the original meaning, the original Dao. Hence the commentary reminds that Lao-Tzu said: "Believe words that are not beautiful, and beautiful words don't believe them." (信言不美, 美言不信) The inability to say about things as they are, through personal self-aggrandizement or exaggeration -- i.e. through the constraining of what is said with the limitation of an individual, personal perspective -- results in speech deviating from its original truth- (disclosive, in Heidegger's words) value and disagreement coming to be. Hence there are the rights and wrongs [the differing opinions] of the Confucian literati and the Mohists, [each] affirming what the others deny and denying what the others affirm. The origin of rights and wrongs, of mutually exclusive opinions, of disagreements, is the limited, personal perspective, the inability to see things from the perspective of Dao, of Nature. Kuo comments, "hence the hundred schools [of differing philosophies] arise, each holding its own view, not [able to] begin to come up with the common truth." 欲是其所非而非其所是,则莫若以明。 If we want to affirm what the others deny and deny what the others affirm, we will never see the light [i.e. see things from the perspective of Dao]. Arguing on the same level -- I from my perspective and you from yours -- is thus not productive.

物无非彼,物无非是。自彼则不见,自知则知之。 There are several ways to translate the first line. 1. There are no things that are not "that", and no things that are not "this". All things are necessarily "this" or "that", i.e. individuals, limited. To themselves they are "this" (with the connotation of being right), to the others they are "that" (with the connotation of being wrong). This is the problem we have stressed again and again as the fundamental problem of existence that ancient humans find so frustrating: existence is necessarily temporal and spatial, not all the others and not all of itself all at once. Our view point is necessarily limited to the little corner to which our physical existence is confined. 2. "All [things] can be looked at from (two points of view) -- from that and from this." (James Legge's translation, ibid., p. 182) The meaning is pretty much the same: the fundamental problem of existence and the resultant limited, partial perspective. Kuo's commentary may serve as the third way the first line may mean: 3. "Every thing is 'this' [and so the affirmation of itself as right and the denial of others as wrong], hence there is none that is not a 'this' [i.e. not the affirmation of itself, etc.]. Every thing is the 'other' to every other thing, hence there is none that is not an 'other' [hence that is not 'wrong' to another, etc.]." (物皆自是, 故无非是, 物皆相彼, 故无非彼) This, in meaning, reduces to the first way of translation. "If I look at a thing from another's [point of view], I do not see it; only as I know it myself, do I know it." (Legge) That is, the necessary partial perspective that is imposed on us by the fundamental condition of existence as temporal and spatial means that I can only see and know things from my own perspective, resulting in a judgmental attitude, estimating things as right or wrong and disagreeing with others as to what is right and what is wrong.

故曰:彼出于是 ,是亦因彼。 Hence it is said that the "other" [together with the "other point of view"] originates from "this" and "this" [and "this point of view"] is because of the "other". Kuo's commentary: "That things are partial [in their respective point of view] is because they do not see what the other sees [don't see from the other's point of view] but only know what they themselves know [from their own point of view]. Knowing only what they themselves know, hence they think themselves always right. Thinking themselves always right, hence they think the others always wrong." (夫物之偏也, 皆不见彼之所见, 而獨自知其所知, 则自以為是. 自以為是, 则以彼為非矣。)

彼是方生之说也。雖然,方生方死,方死方生;方可方不可,方不可方可;因是因非,因非因是。 The "other" and "this" are [like] the saying of [something] just being born. [When something] has just been born [it] has just died; [when something] has just died [it] has just been born; now [it] is possible and now [it] is not possible; now [it] is not possible and now [it] is possible; because of "right" [this[ there is "wrong" [not-this] and because of "wrong" [not-this] there is "right" [this]. The point is that birth and death, genesis and destruction, are all relative judgments and not absolutely true; we will see later that it is the memory of Conservation that allows the Daoist -- as well the Ionian physicists -- to recognize that there is really no such thing as genesis and destruction or birth and death; all there is in Nature is endless cycle of transformation -- the Dao, the "total amount" (with the rules governing transformation inclusive within), stays the same. One is reminded here again of Capra's use of "dance of creation and destruction" to describe the endless hadronic transformations, of proton into pion and neutron and then back into proton... (see figure lower left)

The quantum field theory, "the peculiar confluence of special relativity and quantum mechanics [where] a new set of phenomena arises: particles can be born and particles can die" (A. Zee, Quantum Field Theory, 2003, p. 3), was devised to describe the hadronic transformations. Birth and death of particles are valid ways of speaking only from the limited and relative perspective of the particles born and dead; from the point of view of energy (i.e. from Dao, from the point of view of the eternally conserved substrate of all existence), there are no such things, only transformations. Hence Kuo comments: "The changes of [or called] death and birth are like the cycling of the four seasons, spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Hence although the appearances of death and birth differ, they are just what they are in their respective places [lit. they each peacefully settle in their respective encounterings?], all being One [i.e. unified in and as temporary aspects of the eternally conserved substrate, of Dao]." (夫死生之變, 猶春秋冬夏四時行耳. 故死生之狀雖異, 其于各安所遇, 一也。)

是以聖人不由而照之于天 ,亦因是也。 "Therefore the sagely man does not pursue this method, but view things in the light of Heaven [; this is also because of this (the problem of the relativity of perspective)]." (Legge's translation)

是亦彼也,彼亦是也。彼亦一是非,此亦一是非,果且 有彼是乎哉?果且无彼是乎哉? "The 'this' is also 'that'. The 'that' is also 'this'. The 'that' has a system of right and wrong. The 'this' also has a system of right and wrong. [Or "There they say, 'this is true and that is false' from one point of view; here we say, 'this is true and that is false' from another point of view." Graham's translation.] Is there really a distinction between 'that' and 'this'? Or is there really no distinction between 'that' and 'this'?" (Fung's translation, ibid., p. 112) Every point of view is the same (in the sense of being relative and partial) as every other: just what it is, a point of view valid (in the sense that it cannot be otherwise) from its own position. And -- from its own position -- hence it carries a set of rights and wrongs with it that is peculiar to it. But there is a better point of view, a way of seeing things that transcends the necessary relativity and partiality of the individual points of view, an objective way of reconciling the seemingly irresolvably differing perspectives and differing values.

彼是莫得其偶,謂之道枢。 "Where neither [this] nor [that] finds its opposite is called the axis of the Way." (Graham's translation, ibid.)

枢始得其環中,以應无窮。是亦一无窮,非亦一无窮也。 The axis is obtained as it were at the center of the circle responding to the endless continuation. The right is an endless continuation and the wrong is an endless continuation. That is, if people don't stay at their respective little corners, but have learned to see things from the "total" perspective of Nature instead, then they have obtained the pivot of Dao, which is like the center of the circle. The differing and varying value judgments, the rights and wrongs, are like on the edges of a wheel, which, turning, results in their endless mutations back and forth: today and from this person's perspective this is right, tomorrow and from that perspective this will be wrong, and then later on it will be right again, in the endless turning of the wheel of revolution. But what if one goes to the center of the circle, the center of the wheel of revolution, where there is constancy and no endless and meaningless changes?... In Fung's words: "the 'that' and the 'this', in their mutual opposition of right and wrong, are like an endlessly revolving circle. But the man who sees things from the point of view of the Dao stands, as it were, at the center of the circle. He understands all that is going on in the movements of the circle, but does not himself take part in these movements. This is not owing to his inactivity or resignation, but because he has transcended the finite and sees things from a higher point of view." (ibid., p. 112) Kuo's commentary is thus: "All people under Heaven think themselves right and the others wrong, thus right and wrong circulate around one another endlessly. Only the one who floats above all these and obtains the middle position, is he, remaining expansive [in heart], without judgments, riding and floating." (天下莫不自是而莫不相非, 故一是一非,  兩行无窮, 唯 空得中者, 擴然无懷, 乘之以遊也。)

故曰:莫若以明。 以指喻指之非指,不若以非指喻指之非指也;以馬喻馬之非馬,不 若以非馬喻馬之非馬也。天地一指也,万物一馬也。 Hence it is said: "Nothing like this [being at the axis] to light [things and situations] up." To use [one's own] finger to illustrate that [another's] finger is not finger is not as good as using not-finger to illustrate that [another's] finger is not finger; to use horse to illustrate that horse is not horse is not as good as using not-horse to illustrate that horse is not horse. Kuo's commentary: "Say, people each hold their own rights and wrongs, the other and I having differing mentalities; hence to use your finger to compare with the other's finger and claim that his finger is not finger, this will just continue into using his finger to compare with your finger, and your finger, compared with his finger, is again not finger." (言人是非各執, 彼我異情, 故用己指比他指,既 用他指為非指, 復將他指比汝指, 汝指于他指復為非指矣。) This points to the untenability of judging another's perspective using and from one's own perspective, both limited and partial. Kuo continues: "Thinking oneself right and the other wrong is the common tendency of the other and myself. Hence if I compare the other's finger with my finger, the other's finger, only in comparison with mine, is not finger [i.e. doesn't appear as 'right' a finger as mine].... Then the other and I are the same in each affirming oneself to be right, and equal in mutually thinking the other to be wrong. Equal in mutually thinking the other to be wrong, thus there is no 'right' under Heaven; Being the same in each affirming oneself to be right, thus there is no wrong under Heaven." (則彼之與我, 既同於自是, 又均於相非。均於相非, 則天下无是, 同於自是, 則天下无非。) Note that the point is not that there is no right and wrong just because people disagree -- after all it can be said, rightly, that some people know better than others and are more often right than others, vice versa -- but that right and wrong, value systems, the judgmental attitude toward things, are the result of partial perspective. Heaven and Earth are merely one finger, and all ten thousand things one horse. Referring to the unified, "total" perspective of the Dao. It is true then that in endless confusing disagreements some people can be discerned to be right, or more right than others, i.e. those that do know more, that is, that have a higher, more comprehensive unified perspective, that of Dao or Nature, instead of being limited to their respective provincial perspectives.

可乎可,不可乎不可。道行之而成,物謂之而然。 "The possible is possible. The impossible is impossible. The Dao [moves and thus produces] things and [these things] are what they are. [lit. things are called, and are thus, i.e. just what they are according to Nature]" (Fung's translation, ibid.)

惡乎然?然于然 。惡乎不然?不然于不然。物固有所然,物固有所可。无物不然,无 物不可。故為是举莛與楹,厉與西施,恢诡谲怪,道通為一。 "What are they? They are what they are. What are they not? They are not what they are not. Everything is something [i.e. is 'thus'; is according to its nature] and is good for something. There is nothing which is not something [i.e. which not just is, according to its nature] and [there is nothing which] is not good for something. Thus it is that there are roof-slats and pillars, ugliness and beauty, the peculiar and the extraordinary. All these by of means of Dao are united and become one. [lit. all these are run through in common as One by Dao.]" (Fung's translation, ibid., p. 112-3) Fung comments: "From the point of view of the Dao, everything is just what it is... Although all things differ, they are alike in that they all constitute something [according to their nature and to Nature, that is, Nature's plan for them, so to speak] and are good for something. They all equally come from the Dao. Therefore from the viewpoint of the Dao, things, though different, yet are united and become one." (Ibid.) That is, from the point of view of Nature, everything is merely fulfilling its particular function within the whole picture, and so not one thing can be said to be more "right" than the others, as people often pass judgments on things, e.g. the dog being more "right" than the "vermin" because of its usefulness to humans in contrast with the latter. In this sense all things are equal (the equalization of things) and, so, one. This is the first sense of "all being One" necessitated by the memory of Conservation.

其分也,成也;其成也,毀也。凡物无成與毀,復通為一。 To make distinctions is [commonly] to produce [construct, complete] things; to construct things is to destroy things. [Or "It was separation that led to completion; from completion ensued dissolution." Legge's translation.] There are never construction and destruction of things, but the same running through them to make them One. Fung comments: "For example, when a table is made out of wood, from the viewpoint of that table, this is an act of construction. But from the viewpoint of the wood or the tree, it is one of destruction. Such construction or destruction are so, however, only from a finite point of view. From the viewpoint of the Dao, there is neither construction nor destruction. [There is only transformation of the eternally conserved substrate then into that but now into this, i.e. upokeimenon.] These distinctions are all relative. [likewise:] The distinction between the 'me' and the 'non-me' is also relative. From the viewpoint of Dao, the 'me' and the 'non-me' are also united and become one." (Fung, ibid.) This is the second sense of oneness necessitated by the memory of Conservation. Because of our memory of the first law of thermodynamics, we all know that when we die, or when whatever gets destroyed, the constitutive material is always there, not losing a single ounce. All things are literally just one thing, at bottom. But we think things in terms of constructions and destructions, of something appearing and then disappearing, because of partial perspective. So Kuo comments: "Construction and destruction originate from seeing only [from] oneself and not [from] the other; hence there is neither construction nor destruction, just as there is neither right nor wrong." (夫成毀者, 生於自見而不見彼也。故无成與毀,猶无是與非也。)

Whereas the second law of thermodynamics provides the evils of existence -- on the one hand, we are necessarily constituted as limited in spatial extension and temporal continuation, so that we are of necessity short sighted and pass judgments on each other, and on the other we as order necessarily dissolute and, because of this short sightedness or partiality of perspective, we see this dissolution as the final story when it is only superficial -- the memory of the first law allows us to realize that all things are at bottom just one thing, the same substrate of existence manifesting itself here and now as this and then and there as that -- so that construction and dissolution are only superficial affectations -- but moreover that, when seen truly as it is, as the temporary and partial materialization of the totality, everything becomes equally valid -- more than the fact that everything is each valid from its own point of view -- and everything is just what it is (and so not the other), fulfilling its function, its destiny as the temporary and partial manifestation of the whole picture. This is pre-eminently the scientific perspective par excellence, Objectivity. When a scientist goes to the wild to study nature in its manifold workings, he or she does not make value judgments about right and wrong, about whether it is wrong for tigers to always eat deer or for sea birds to stalk and eat baby turtles on the beach that have just got out of their eggs. The scientist only sees a immense network -- Nature, the ecological environment -- working itself out, the endless transformation or flow of energy from one corner of the biosphere to another: such is the study called "ecology". Are there really rights and wrongs, justice and injustice? Nature surely does not bother with this conundrum. Things happen in Nature because they can -- things simply unfold, for example, in the biosphere when its components thus constituted mutually interact among themselves according to the laws of nature, say electromagnetism, or in the geosphere when its components constitute themselves according to the laws of nature, this time say gravity. What is there to judge? When Jane Goodall went into the African forest to study chimpanzee behavior, she observed tender lovingness side by side with utter cruelty when the males from one group of chimpanzees systematically hunted down those of the other group in what seemed to be a "tribal warfare." Did she see there right and wrong? Or was she simply interested, amazed (qaumazesqai)? In a person's everyday existence in his or her community he or she judges everyone and everything around as right or wrong and good or bad because of the subjectivity tied to personal interests which a person necessarily has in his or her survival (game of life) in relation to others. A scientist sheds such subjectivity and acquires the non-judgmental objectivity when entering nature because he or she has no interests, no stake in, say, the food chains in the wild but simply wants to observe. In this way he or she reaches the enlightened state of mind of a Daoist, the higher point of view, because he or she, literally, is looking from the top, from outside, at the whole picture all at once. This is also why a philosopher easily reaches the enlightened state of mind, the point of view of the Dao, when he starts investigating why things are as they are. The examination of the chain of cause and effect of things tends to lead to the higher point of view and overcome the lower, deluded point of view originating from regarding things from the perspective of interests, how they are useful for oneself. In this connection must also be considered Heidegger's phenomenology of the decontextualization of worldhood, which essentially the enlightened state of mind is3. Therefore the investigative spirit, decontextualization, the full clarity of the memory of Conservation and of the associated experience of consubstantiality, enlightenment, awakening, salvation, and the ceasing of emotions and sufferings all hang together.

In such investigation of things as experimentations, one is ultimately led to the abolition of the partial perspective and the restoration of the higher point of view always there but long since forgotten. Quantum field theory provides such an example. Recall that there the mutual repulsion between two electrons due to electromagnetic field is recast -- through quantization -- as "scattering", i.e. as the exchange of photons between the two electrons which causes the recoil for both, as shown in the worldlines of the Feynman diagram above (left). Recall also that there the antiparticle is just a regular particle going backward in time. "Thus if we reverse the direction of the arrow heads, as shown [above right], the same Feynman diagram describes positron-positron scattering." (David Harrison) This is then regular particles going backward in time going forward in time. Then the arrow heads of the worldlines and the time axis are dispensed with. "If we don't have to put arrow heads or time axes in Feynman's diagrams, then what about interpreting the above [right] diagram as having time flow from left to right? Then it is describing an electron-positron pair annihilating into a photon, and the photon later creating an electron-positron pair. And in fact, it is believed that this interpretation as well as all the other interpretations of this diagram is correct also." (Ibid.) Thus the equivalence between pair production and annihilation and electron-electron scattering. "Consider an electron interacting with all the other electrons in the universe: it experiences forces caused by the other electrons and in turn exerts forces on them. For the Feynman diagram describing the effect of the other electrons, the 'propagators', the worldlines of the photons, lie along the light cones connecting the electron to other electrons which lie in the past. Similarly, the electron causes electromagnetic forces on all other charged bodies in the universe, and these propagators lie along the light cone from the electron at the present to charged bodies at times in the future. However, we have just argued that the direction of time is irrelevant in these Feynman diagrams. Thus we can say that the forces exerted on the electron have two causes: the interactions from the past and the interactions from the future! Technically, these two causes are called the retarded and advanced potentials respectively. Similarly, the electron exerts forces on electrons in the past as well as in the future. [C.f. John Cramer's Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.] Wheeler and Feynman commented in 1949: 'Generalizing we conclude advanced and retarded interactions give a description of nature logically as acceptable and physically as completely deterministic as the Newtonian scheme of mechanics. In both forms of dynamics the distinction between cause and effect is pointless. [It will be seen that Newtonian is entirely kinematic, or space-time description without hints of causality.] With deterministic equations to describe the event, one can say: the stone hits the ground because it was dropped from a height; equally well: the stone fell from a height because it was going to hit the ground.'" (Ibid.)

The expectation of the experimenter that electrons go forward in time was the consequence of his prolonged immersion in a partial perspective of everyday existence that things went only forward in time. Mathematical formalism carried him beyond the partial perspective and introduced him to a new vision of reality, that, in the particle world at least, the direction of time (or time asymmetry) is meaningless or arbitrarily partial. Electron and positron then become "equalized" -- that it is meaningless, arbitrary, to see the two as actually different or just the same traveling in opposite directions of time (dispensing with arrow heads of worldlines). Mathematical formalism further leads to the dispensing with time axis, so that, first, the mutual annihilation of positron-electron into a photon and its production back into electron-positron pair become no different from, "equalized with", electron-electron or positron-positron scattering; the choice of any of the 3 scenarios becomes arbitrary, and the sticking to any of them the function of partial perspective. In the total perspective of the Dao, in Objectivity, in mathematical formalism, the 3 types of interactions are just aspects of the same. Secondly, causality as the past causing the future becomes another arbitrary and so unjustified prejudice hitherto cultivated by partial perspective. Again is illustrated with Objectivity, mathematical formalism, the essence of the "viewpoint of Dao", an equalization between cause and effect: it is arbitrary, the result of partial perspective, to say that it is the cause that causes the effect rather than the effect that causes the cause. From the viewpoint of Dao, i.e. of Nature in itself, particle interactions are time-irrelevant and literally so (as to be seen with Cramer's use of advanced and retarded potentials to explain non-locality or action-at-a-distance in the quantum world), and so causally meaningless, but constitute a set of, so to speak, synchronic interrelations given en bloc, where causality in either direction (from cause to effect or effect to cause) is just a partial manifestation of the whole timeless or causeless. This is another example of how the stumbling upon objectivity reveals a world -- the whole picture -- completely and unexpectedly different than the one hitherto known in the partial perspective -- the partial picture. After this, the physicists attempt to see if they should recover for the macroscopic world the arrow of time (time-asymmetry) from the time-symmetry of the microscopic quantum world (e.g. through the constitution of the arrow of time by the expansion of the Universe).

唯達者知通為一,為是不用而寓诸庸。庸也者,用也;用也者,通也;通也 者,得也。 Only the one who has reached [the higher point of view] knows [the same] to run through [all things] to make them one, and is not [interested] in a particular use [i.e. a particular interest of one individual] but abides by all uses... To use is to "run through" [i.e. to envelope it, comprehend it, understand it]. To "run through" ["comprehend"] it is to "obtain" it [i.e. "obtain" the Dao]. To obtain is to have reached the limit. So Kuo comments: "To have exhaustively obtained [i.e. understood] the uttermost reason [li] [for things] occurs in self-obtaining." That is, one has realized that everything is just the way it is -- to have obtained the Dao -- and that there is nothing to judge, nothing to praise or condemn; this is the state of the unification of the self with Dao. Here one has at last reached peace within oneself, accepting all things as they are (self-obtaining). [Everything is so] because it is so; that it is so but not knowing why it is so, such is Dao. This is Dao: everything is just the way it is without reason why it should be thus nor reason why it should be otherwise. (適得而几矣。因是已,已而不知其然, 謂之道。)

勞神明為一 而不知其同也,謂之朝三。何謂朝三?狙公赋予,曰:朝三而暮四.眾狙皆怒。曰:然朝四而暮三。眾狙皆悦。名實未亏而喜怒為用,亦因是也。是以聖人和之以是非而休乎天钧,是之謂兩行。 To labor one's spirit and intelligence to make things one [i.e. to make things agree with oneself or one's desire] without knowing that they are already one [i.e. in agreement with one's desires] is called "morning three". What is called "morning three"? [It refers to a story:] "A keeper of monkeys, in giving out their acorn, once said: 'In the morning I will give you three (measures) and in the evening four.' This made them all angry, and he said, 'Very well. In the morning I will give you four and in the evening three.' [All the monkeys are then joyful.] His two proposals were substantially the same, but the result of the one was to make the creatures angry, and of the other to make them please -- an illustration of the point I'm insisting on. Therefore the sage... brings together a dispute in its affirmations [rights] and denials [wrongs], and rests in the [equalization] of Heaven." This is called affirming both sides. [Legge's translation, p. 185)

古之人, 其知有所至矣。惡乎至? 有以為未始有物者, 至矣, 盡矣, 不可以加矣. 其次以為有物矣,  而未始有封也. 其次以為有封焉, 而未始有是非也。是非之彰也, 道之所以亏也, 道之所以亏, 愛之所以成. 果有成與亏乎哉? 果无 成與亏乎哉? 有成與亏, 昭氏之鼓琴也。无 成與亏 昭氏之不鼓琴也。 The men of old, their knowledge has reached its extremity. What was this extremity? There were [firstly] those who held that there was at first not anything yet. [The opinion of these is] the most extreme and exhaustive, and nothing more can be added to it. There were next [to the first] those who held that there were in the beginning [already] things, but that [people] had not yet any [individual] opinions or judgments about them. Next to that there were those who held that there were [in the beginning] already individual opinions or judgments about things, but not yet rights and wrongs [i.e. affirmation of one's own opinion and the denial of the others']. The commencement of [the announcement of] rights and wrongs are the result of the decline of Dao. When the Dao declines, there is thus love. That is, it is by the forgetfulness of the point of view of the Dao and the adoption of the partial perspective that persons start to exhibit preferential treatments among things and people and then love one of them more than the others. In the perspective of the Dao, love is forgotten and egoticity abandoned, all things being of the same value and validity. (C.f. Kuo's comment.) Are there really construction and decline? Are there not any construction and decline? When there are construction [of the individual] and decline [of the general Dao], Zhao thus plays his musical instrument; when there are no construction and decline, then Zhao does not play his musical instrument. The commentary notes that Zhao was a skilled musician of past. But no matter how skilful he might have been, when he sounded one note (and there were five basic notes in Chinese music) he was necessarily not sounding the others. In this sense the music was deficient. Only when he did not play at all, was the whole spectrum of musical notes preserved in their wholeness. Such is the problem of individuation: any construction of the individual necessarily means partialization and so the decline of the general, of Dao. This is again the problem of existence we have stressed repeatedly as the underlying experience which motivated the ancients to pursue salvation, i.e. the conservation back into the whole and restoration of the universal lost in individuation.


1. The text utilized is Zhuangzi, published by 中華書局, with the commentary of Kuo-Hsiang (and others). The principal and early English translation by James Legge, The Texts of Taoism, Part I, in The Sacred Books of the East, is -- so typical of the translations of Chinese and often Greek philosophy -- so distortive, incomprehensible, and deviating from the original that it is practically worthless in conveying the ideas in Zhuangzi. Again, the translator here had very little comprehension of the Daoist philosophy of Zhuangzi and accordingly translated most of the passages incorrectly. In the following exposition an attempt is made to salvage what is worthwhile in Legge's translation by citing it whenever it happens to be correct. Also used is Fung's translation in A Short History of Chinese Philosophy which is good. For the complicated historical circumstances in which the text of Zhuangzi has reached the present, c.f. Harold Roth's entry Zhuangzi in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

2. Let it not be misunderstood that the claim that a thermodynamic reading of Daoist philosophy is more adequate than the metaphysical type of Heidegger is not contradicted here. Dao means the source of being literally in the sense of producing things; but it also means this in the sense of making and revealing (disclosing, erschliessen) things as of the way they are.

3. C.f. Sein und Zeit, (b) Der zeitliche Sinn der Modifikation des umsichtigen Besorgens zum theoretischen Entdecken des innerweltlich Vorhandenen, in para. 69, "Die Zeitlichkeit des umsichtigen Besorgens", p. 356; Heidegger's decontextualization of worldhood will be discussed with reference to the exposition of the experiential foundation of classical mechanics in connection with Descartes.

| previous section | Table of Content | next section |