Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Daoism

"What encourages us within a Western metaphysical tradition to separate time and space is our inclination, inherited from the Greeks, to see things in the world as fixed in their formal aspect, and thus as bounded and limited. If instead of giving ontological privilege to the formal aspect of phenomena, we were to regard them as having parity in their formal and changing aspects, we might be more like classical China in temporalizing them in light of their ceaseless transformation, and conceive of them more as 'events' than as 'things'. In this processural worldview, each phenomenon is some unique current or impulse within a temporal flow. In fact, it is the pervasive and collective capacity of the events of the world to transform continuously that is the actual meaning of time."

"In early Greek philosophy, ther term 'kosmos' connotes a cluttered range of meanings, including arche (originative, material, and efficient cause/ultimate undemonstrable principle), logos (underlying organizational principle), theoria (contemplation), nomos (law), theos (divinity), nous (intelligibility). In combination, this cluster of terms conjures forth some notion of a single-ordered Divine universe governed by natural and moral laws that are ultimately unintelligible to the human mind. This 'kosmos' terminology is culturally specific, and if applied uncritically to discuss the classical Daoist worldview, introduces a cultural reductionism that elides and thus conceals truly significant differences."

"Mediated experience entails the fact that Being, in the mode of this or that essence, is made manifest through the particular beings of the world. Persons are actualizations of some prior endowment or potential. Such experience is characteristic of substantialist ontologies and cosmologies that regard substance and form as fundamental, and that understand experience as being governed by a strong teleological design. Substances are known through forms or concepts that either exist prior to the substances themselves, or are abstractable from them. These forms are the evidence of a given design."

"...the Daoist does not posit the existence of some permanent reality behind appearances, some unchanging substratum, some essential defining aspect behind the accidents of change. Rather, there is just the ceaseless and usually cadenced flow of experience."

Quotes are from: Daodejing: A Philosophical Translation, by Roger Ames and David Hall

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