Asian Philosophy. AP CHAPTER 18. Daoism. Is a philosophical view that seeks a way of living well by realizing the harmony of heaven, earth, and humanity, and by realizing peace and harmony within society and within the individual person.
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AP CHAPTER 18
Confucius suggest that we introduce moral rules to regulate two things:
Laozi questions whether moral codes can solve the problem of desire conflict in the presence of limited resources. He holds that:
Snakes should not attempt to walk or fly. Their wuwei is to crawl. A bird’s wuwei is to fly. Attempting to crawl would be a forced action for a bird.
For people to act to fulfill their desires is the way of greed or corruption. To live simply, without excessive desires is to act effortlessly, and in accord with their nature.
What does it mean to not act from desire or to act without desire?
Is it possible to act from no desire and without any desire?
How do we know that the nature of snakes is to crawl and birds to fly, and for humans to walk?
Hasn’t it been the case that over time people tried to do things that were to the great advantage of other humans even though they were thought not to be in the nature of what humans can do?
If we give up desires, would we act at all?
‘Ziran’ translates as self-so-ness. The concept is used to describe how naturalness works in Daoism.
The core idea is the following:
The Dao is the source of heaven and earth, and everything that proceeds from heaven and earth. As a consequence, everything has the Dao within it.
Laozi’s chain: People model themselves on the earth, the earth models itself on Heaven, Heaven models itself on Dao, and the Dao models itself on self-so-ness. Everything has a fundamental nature and functioning.
The Dao is difficult to talk about because it is the ultimate source and way of things.
As a consequence, we should note that talking about the Dao is not the same as the Dao. We should not confuse talk of the Dao with what the Dao itself is.
The Dao is nameless.
It is unified, like an uncarved block, changeless in itself, and yet the source of all change.
The Dao points to that which enables things to be what they are, and which gives things their existence and their ways of functioning.
‘De’ means function.
Each individual thing possesses a function or de of Dao.
Dao provides for both existence and function. And de is the function of each individual thing.
An important symbol of de, as the power of something to do what it does, is the uncarved block that can become anything in the hands of an artist.
Laozi’s advice to rulers:
The more laws we put in place the more crime we will see.
One who knows the Dao and the De will know how to stay out of the way of people and serve them without intruding.
Dao is empty (like a bowl).
It may be used but its capacity is never exhausted.
It is bottomless, perhaps the ancestor of all things.
It blunts its sharpness.
It unites its tangles.
It softens its light.
It becomes one with the dusty world.
Deep and still it appears to exist forever.
Empty = without characteristics.
Emptiness = infinite capacity.
The Dao is eternal and recurrent.
That the Dao is dusty with the world means that it is not something above and beyond the world. Rather, it is something to be found in the world.