Thursday, March 22, 2012

Understanding the Journey II

Scott Bradley

In yesterday's post, I suggested that Daoism makes assumptions about the existence of Dao and its attributes which are in contradiction to its assertion that nothing can be known about It. I do not see how we could come to any other conclusion. Yet we do see, at least in Zhuangzi, a questioning of these assumptions. This wily philosopher frequently bounces ideas around as a means to seeing how they might inform our approach to life; it is as if his purpose was to find what works, not what is 'true'. Consequentially, we must be careful not to take hold of any one idea, believing he believed it. Indeed, sometimes he makes a definitive statement regarding the nature of things only to later overturn it for the unsubstantiated bit of speculation that it was.

Though I do frequently speak of Dao, I am always uncomfortable doing so. I prefer 'Reality', since it does not conjure up the idea of an Entity separate from all of what is. If it is understood that Reality is ultimately unknowable, it is also the case that it includes that which is experienced, namely, the human experience in the context of Nature.

Nature is not other than Reality; nor is the entirety of the human experience, which though observant of Nature, is not other than it.

Nature as we experience it does have apparent attributes, and these are precisely those which are assigned to Dao. Nature is 'there', but unfathomable. Nature is the arising of all things without apparent design. It does not exercise volitional control over events, nor does it judge between things.

Since this is Nature as I experience it, I allow that it inform my life as to how best to live. Returning to the premise with which the previous post began, I discern certain principles in the nature of things, and on this basis attempt to align my life accordingly. This is "doing philosophy".

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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