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« Legalist "Tiger" parenting is bad for you | Main | Confucianism is not catching on in the United States »

May 13, 2013


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Looking out at the stars and the universe one feels so insignificant, not only the individual lives but the whole human history compare with the infinite time and space. The Daoism deals with this by attributing nature more relevance than individual actions. Yet for most mortals we must choose actions with consequences. Some finds comfort in religions. I myself consider Existentialism a better guideline.

Recently Bill Keller of the NYT wrote a column, unbowed by his advocacy of Iraq War, advocate more intervention in Syria; joining other cold war liberals and neocons for action rather than inaction. This is another modern Trolley's Dilemma not only in Syria, but also on Iran. I think this is more of the delusions of empire maintaining than any humanistic inclinations.

Greetings Sam,

As two Daoist's sat at the bar one with "Antisocial personality disorder" and the other a empathic designer a fire broke out. One threw fuel on the fire and the other gave away cold drinks. Could both be "doing nothing"?

Yes, both can be true at the same time. Indeed, the very idea of "contradiction" is alien to Daoism. Zhuangzi tells us that we must give up distinctions, and he means it. And if there are no initial distinctions, there cannot be settled categories that might appear mutually exclusive. There is a paradox at the core of Daoist thinking, at least insofar as the role of human action in Way is concerned (i.e. humans have the capacity to act in a non-Way-like manner, but those actions are still within Way), and there is no anxiety about resolving it (since it is irresolvable).

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