Irene Cronin (UCLA): The Notion of Accepted Contradiction in Early Chinese Daoism. 12 Dec 2016 at CUNY Graduate Center

FALL 2016 Logic and Metaphysics Workshop

DateMonday December 12, 4.15-6.15

Place: Room 5382, CUNY Graduate Center.

Speaker: Irena Cronin, UCLA

TitleThe Notion of Accepted Contradiction in Early Chinese Daoism

Abstract: Although the representation of the Dao differs a little between the representative Early Chinese Daoist works Zhuangzi and Dao de jing, the differences are one of degree, rather than “substance”.  In Zhuangzi, the common man as possible master craftsman, whether it be as a cook, woodmaker, or fisherman, or other kind of craftsman, has the capability of understanding and embracing the Dao (although these occurrences would be relatively rare), while in Dao de jing, it is only the Sage, a rare man of extreme ability that can do so; all others do not have this capability and have minor, shadowy and totally indeterminable experiences of the Dao, and are “condemned” to live an ignorant and almost animal-like existence, finding solace in creature comforts.

Some characterizations from Dao de jing of what the Dao is comprised of and its nature include: “It is from the Nameless that Heaven and Earth sprang” (Laozi c2005, 141); “For truly Being and Not-being grow out of one another” (Laozi c2005, 143); “The Way is like an empty vessel that yet may be drawn from without ever needing to be filled” (Laozi c2005, 146); “Dao never does; yet through it all things are done.” (Laozi c2005, 188); and “Dao gave birth to the One; the One gave birth successively to two things, three things, up to ten thousand (everything)” (Laozi c2005, 195).”

Not only is contradiction accepted, but actually embraced by the select enlightened few. In my talk, I explore what the meaning of this could be.

Source: Laozi (attributed) (c2005) Dao de jing. Arthur Waley (trans). In: Arthur Waley (trans, comm,) The way and its power: a study of the Tao Te Ching and its place in Chinese thought.  Routledge, London, New York.

The meeting is open to all interested. Please feel free to pass this announcement on.

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