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« Confucius on the Outside, Not on the Inside | Main | Friday I Ching: Science, Religion and Nature »

September 29, 2005


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You say a Daoist would argue for "limiting the possibilities for the artificial extension of life". I must say my eyebrow raised at that one, since outside of the writings of Zhuangzi Daoists were absolutely obsessed by the idea of finding ways to extend their lives. I've often thought it strange that such a gulf opened up between Zhuangzi's attitude to death, which I agree seems appropriately 'Daoist', and the practices of esoteric Daoism that are so far away from that position.

Yes. You are absolutely right, Steve, to make this point. I guess I am assuming the old distinction between "religious" Taoism and "philosophical" Taoism. I realize the problems with this distinction and I do not mean to suggest that one came first (they are obviously bound up together) or that one is somehow superior. But I do think that there is something like a tradition to the distinction (i.e. Chinese intellectuals have long seen it as meaningful - Taojia v. Taojiao). So, with all that, let me say this: philosophical Taoists would hesitate to extend life "artificially," and religious Taoists would be open to trying, though they might resist the notion that this is "artificial." Thanks, again, for a helpful comment.

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