道哲理 Tao Philosophy #26








道哲理 Tao Philosophy #26


Tao Philosophy

© Tao Philosophy - bone structure of Daodejing #36 (English commas added).

Larry Neal Gowdy

Copyright ©2019 June 25, 2019



Philosophies of Tao


He who can Tao, does Tao... he who cannot Tao, believes in philosophies.

A philosophy of anything, is not the thing itself. A philosophy of playing a musical instrument, is not the firsthand experience of playing the musical instrument. A philosophy of playing chess, is not the firsthand experience of playing chess. The philosophy of Tao, is not the firsthand experience of Tao. Individuals who only know philosophies, will, purposefully or not, insert philosophical ideas when reading the words of a person who speaks of firsthand experience. Some individuals live Tao... most everyone else, judges Tao philosophically and scholarly.

Resistance and power, pressure or field, closed nor open. How words are interpreted, depends on one's own experiences with the topic... some people might think of resistance and power as acts of civil and government revolutions... but the written words themselves pointed at electronic names... resistance of ohms, an AND circuit, power of wattage, pressure of voltage, an OR circuit, a closed circuit, a NOR circuit, and an open circuit. Individuals with firsthand experience see words and interpret the words to point to one's own firsthand experiences... other people believe that the words point to a philosophy... other people, many different interpretations.

The words, commonly related to the word 'Tao', are also interpreted by an individual's own firsthand understandings of one's own firsthand experiences. By how a translator translates ancient texts, illustrates which things that the individual is aware of, of which things that the individual is unaware of, and of which things that the individual has memorized as being the 'scholarly' view.

The ancient Chinese texts are commonly translated from the scholarly point of view, that of having memorized words, and of having memorized the alleged definitions of words, but all while having no firsthand experience nor understanding of the texts' topics. Rings and lobes relate to internal combustion engines... steel, copper, aluminum, rubber, quickly suggest types of plumbing... glass, ceramics, plastics, also suggest plumbing, but a specialized form of delicate applications... auto-exec, config-sys, immediately recognized by DOS programmers... many different examples, all of which illustrate how easily the scholarly approach almost always misses the intended meanings of topical words.


Inserting Unknown Words


Lionel Giles (1875-1958) was reported to have allegedly said of himself that he was a 'Taoist at heart', which suggests that he would have likely given additional effort to be accurate within his translations, plus, his interpretations of Daodejing and related books would likely reflect how he himself interpreted his era's ideas of the philosophy of Tao.

Also, Giles had himself written that he was aware of the many forgeries and rewritings of ancient Chinese texts, which seems to infer that he would likely possess reasonable ideas of which texts were worthy of translation. The combination of a scholarly knowledge of histories, a firsthand knowledge of languages, and a mixture of scholarly and firsthand knowledge of a philosophy of Tao, would therefore be found within how he interpreted original texts.

Within Lionel Giles' 1905 The Sayings of Lao Tzu, he used the 'sense' word several times within different contexts, each distinguishing how he was apt to infer which definitions he had given to the word 'sense'. Four examples:

'...Confucius... This judicious estimate fairly sums up the position of China’s most prominent teacher. Incalculable though his influence has been over millions of the human race, it is due rather to his sterling common sense...'

Being a metaphysical entity, it cannot be perceived by the eye or ear of sense, and is therefore ridiculed by the inferior man of little intelligence, while only the few can enter into close communion with it. Now, all of this might stand equally well as a description of Tao.

These words, evidently written in great bitterness of spirit, may have been wrung from him by a sense of his failure to convert the careless generation which would have none of the Tao he venerated as the most precious thing under heaven.

Tao eludes the sense of sight, and is therefore called colourless. It eludes the sense of hearing, and is therefore called soundless. It eludes the sense of touch, and is therefore called incorporeal. These three qualities cannot be apprehended, and hence they may be blended into unity.

Giles' four uses of the word 'sense'... [1] common sense implying common reasoning... [2] eye and ear sensory perception... [3] sense as a felt perception of mental conclusion... [4] sensory perception sight, hearing, and touch. The fourth quote relates to the first three sentences of Daodejing's section number twelve.

The sentences' bone structure and word-per-word translation (note that at least one of the given English synonyms is not ideal):

五色令人目盲

Five color cause people eye blind.

五音令人耳聾

Five sound cause people ear deaf.

五味令人口爽

Five flavor cause people mouth bright-happy-clear.

Although all known translations vary from the other, still a good percentage of the translations do generally agree on most of the words. Medhurst's translation is a common example:

The five colours blind men’s eyes.

The five tones deafen one’s ears.

The five flavours blunt men’s appetites. (Spurgeon Medhurst, 1905)

If read literally as is commonly translated, the sentences make no sense, and are also strongly different than Giles' translation. There is no question of Lionel Giles having had a strong occupational and scholarly background of the Chinese language, but within the original text of Daodejing #12, there is no word that infers 'sense'. The word for 'five' () is a core word within some ancient thoughts of the yin-yang philosophy that includes five colors, five sounds, five tastes, five elements, and extends into numerous other ideas of 'five'. The yin-yang idea has been adapted into philosophies of Tao, but the original sentences still do not appear to relate to Giles' philosophical interpretation.

However, the 'color' word is often used within other texts to imply 'appearance', similar to today it might be said 'the man has a colorful personality', or, 'he used colorful words (vulgar)'. If used as the Confucian era's likely cultural slang, the Daodejing sentence might read something like 'Five personalities cause people opinion deluded-blind', or, 'Five descriptions cause people opinion deluded-blind', or, 'Five facial-expressions cause people eye blind', and there are many other ways of interpreting the one sentence of six words.

Also needful of consideration is of logical structural sequencings of sentences, even if later chosen against:

Five color cause people eye blind — appearance eye not-see yin-yang order.

Five sound cause people ear deaf — sound ear not-hear yin-yang order.

Five flavor cause people mouth bright-clear — flavor mouth clear yin-yang order.

But notice that the above sequences attempt to force-fit a preconceived belief that the Daodejing author had believed in a similar philosophy of yin-yang as what the translator believes. Force-fitting one's own philosophy into another person's words, cannot have a happy ending unless the other person shared a similar philosophy.

If 'Laozi' had interpreted (wu - '5') to having implied 'yin yang', and if 'Laozi' had also felt of yin-yang as having been important, then why did he not write more about yin-yang? Why are the words (yin) and (yang) only used once each within the whole of Daodejing? And only used together within a section #42 sentence, and with a different voice than 'Laozi's'?

It is plausible that 'Laozi' may have merely been poking fun of the yin-yang '5' idea, or, he may have intended something similar to what Lionel Giles interpreted, or, more likely, he intended something else entirely. Nevertheless, Giles appears to have been interpreting the words' concepts relative to what he had learned of the philosophy of Tao, and therefore he purposefully did not give an actual translation of the words themselves, which is okay, but the translation became lost within the philosophy's unrelated concepts.


Musings of a Chinese Mystic


And so, additional questions arise more sharply, of asking why many individuals' translations appear to drift into ideas that do not relate to what the original text may have intended, as well as asking which ideas within the philosophy of Tao may have been promoted by Giles, Legge, Ch'u Ta-Kao, Medhurst, Suzuki & Carus, Mears, Goddard, and the many others.

The following quote is from the Musings of a Chinese Mystic chapter titled The Doctrine of Relativity. It is unknown from which source that the translation was taken, and so it is also unknown what the original words were, as well as unknown how well Lionel Giles' choices of English words might have agreed with the original Chinese meanings.

The key words of difficulty are 'senses' and 'intuition'. As illustrated previously, Giles' choice of the word 'senses' might imply consciousness, sensory perceptions, acts of conscious reasoning, conscious or subconscious comprehension, subconscious-instinctive, or something else entirely different. Without knowing what the original Chinese word was, Giles' quote is considered to be philosophical and without confidence of meaning.

Of 'intuition', the word today might imply subconscious-instinctive, no conscious reasoning, or something else related to 'automatic' subconscious reasoning. Individuals born near the early twentieth century tended to use the word 'intuition' within a different context as how a younger person might use the word today, and so, Giles' Chinese to English translation also requires an English to English translation.

If you adopt, as absolute, a standard of evenness which is so only relatively, your results will not be absolutely even. If you adopt, as absolute, a criterion of right which is so only relatively, your results will not be absolutely right. Those who trust to their senses become slaves to objective existences. Those alone who are guided by their intuitions find the true standard. So far are the senses less reliable than the intuitions. Yet fools trust to their senses to know what is good for mankind, with alas! but external results. (Musings of a Chinese Mystic, Lionel Giles, ©1911)

Hours of looking through the many books of Zhuangzi and others, found no parallel wording... not so much as a hint sufficient enough to suggest that any of Giles' words related to any original Chinese word... similar was Giles' translation of Daodejing #12. Nevertheless, Giles' interpretations are useful as an idea of what he himself had interpreted to be concepts of the philosophy of Tao.

In response to Giles' translation, colored by the philosophy of Tao, numerous thoughts rise to reply...

A thinking man, a man who is able to self-think, able to give effort into the study of a topic, able to give conscious attention to his life, able to give conscious attention to the world around him, recognizes that there is no such thing in this Reality as identical, same, or equal... all things are different. Even if a philosopher were to claim a "standard of evenness", saying that something is perfectly flat, or perfectly equal, or perfectly even, still the claim could not possibly be correct. Nature is the sole possible standard... man's imaginations are not the standards, nor is man's imaginary mathematics a possible standard.

And, so, the first portion of Giles' interpretation of the Tao philosophy, of 'relative even', is generally agreeable.



Upon the second portion of the quote, it is also agreed that 'relative right' is always wrong. Nature's standards rule what is 'right'... claiming 'a criterion of right' that uses a standard not of Nature's, is illogical and always wrong.

Man has invented many imaginary standards... man claims that his invented philosophies, sciences, cultural customs, and laws are able to decide what is right, what is wrong, what is ethical, and what is moral... but man's invented standards always change, and, if able to change, then the standards were never true, nor valid.

Man claims that his invented philosophy of science is able to decide what is right of love, kindness, compassion, and of emotions... yet none of the philosophers can so much as describe what the emotions are.

Man claims that his invented language of mathematics is more real than Nature itself... but, what does the mathematics allegedly measure? Is not the measure, the alleged measure of Nature? Which arrived first? Man's measure, or the thing that man's measure allegedly measures? If Nature arrived before mathematics, then any 'right standards' of mathematics must wholly rely upon the standards of Nature... mathematics has no 'right' standard of its own... mathematics itself cannot be a 'true' standard... created things cannot know nor accurately measure that which created them.

Conversational English makes use of words like 'even' and 'right', and the words lend general concepts of what the speaker is implying, but the common use of the words is never accurate.

Many people do believe that they can know what is 'right', and they do believe that two or more things can be 'even', but the beliefs are mere beliefs that cannot possibly be valid relative to the standard of Nature.

The third portion of the quote poses the first sizable problem... 'Those who trust to their senses become slaves to objective existences.' Which definition of 'senses' did Giles intend? If the 'senses' imply conscious reasoning, then Giles' interpretation follows common ideas within popular philosophies, each claiming that the 'ideal' is to attain an empty mind that has no conscious thoughts, and processes no reasoning of logic. If Giles' definition of 'senses' implied sensory perceptions, then again the definition parallels similar philosophies that claim that there is no value in sensory perceptions, and that all sensory perceptions must be abandoned. Within the philosophies, their own words prove eternally that the authors themselves were impoverished of mind, their not so much as being able to recognize that they cannot walk without sensory perceptions, cannot eat without sensory perceptions, and cannot survive a single week without sensory perceptions.

A core ability and necessity of human life — as well as most, if not all, other living beings' — is the ability to sensorially perceive aromas and tastes... the ability to know what is edible, what is fresh, what is rotten, and what is poison. The eyes, function in harmony with the senses of smell and taste, as the conscious and unconscious mind applies logic to know to not try to eat a brick... know, to not try to eat a metal fence post... know, to not eat things that stink... all philosophies — and existing modern laws mandated by governments — that teach to abandon logic and sensory perceptions, are, perhaps, the most extreme known forms of stupidity.

The stories of Wonhyo, his not able to taste bad water, not able to smell a tomb, not able to feel differences between bone and gourd, the stories portrayed Wonhyo as having been defective of mind and body. The stories still wrote of Wonhyo differentiating the differences between humans and animals... Wonhyo did not preach his 'enlightenment' to insects and rocks, Wonhyo still recognized the differences between male and female, and on and on, the storytellers themselves not recognizing how extremely-extremely absurd their claims were. The philosophy of Tao, that Giles had learned from someone else, was not much different than Wonhyo's...

Giles' choice of the word 'trust', if taken from within Chinese meanings, could also imply 'belief, faith, true'. If Giles' philosophical quote were interpreted to imply something like 'those who believe-true in their senses (e.g. believing that solids exist), the people become slaves to their imaginations of external things' existence', then yes, Giles' wording becomes agreeable, but, the wording and interpretation had to be force-fitted through several inferences, and not found of agreement within how Giles' words were themselves used.

'Those alone who are guided by their intuitions find the true standard.' But does this not also infer that 'finding the true standard' must imply conscious reasoning? The question is to ask how, an empty mind, without any conscious thoughts, and without any logic, can know the logic of a 'true standard'? And what, precisely, does 'intuition' infer? 'Intuition' today implies subconscious reasoning that, once the unconscious reasoning has formed an unconscious conclusion, then pops into the conscious mind without the conscious mind knowing from where the conclusion arrived (some people have claimed it to be supernatural, mystical, psychic, revelations from angels, souls, spirits, and a long list of other noun-words of things that the people have merely imagined... similarly, the alleged 'enlightened master' Tzu Ch'i spoke of emotions as possibly coming from souls, which, according to the story, proved that he possessed no understanding of anything, includng himself).

'So far are the senses less reliable than the intuitions.' The sentence is so very vague, that it makes no sense regardless of how the words 'senses' and 'intuitions' are defined. Different word phrasings still produce absurdities: 'So far are the sensory perceptions less reliable than the subconscious logic (which fully 100% relies upon the sensory perceptions for information to base the subconscious imaginations)', or, ''So far are the mental senses of logic and conscious reasoning less reliable than the subconscious fantasies of imaginations.'

Another question... what if, the sentence had implied 'So far are the conscious reasonings less reliable than the core 'survival instincts' of the subconscious'? Yes, the sentence might then possess some validity because most people are consciously unaware of their subconscious' logic, but, again the words had to be given repeated force-fitted inferences that the written words did not contain. Force-fitting a meaning, where there was no meaning, is philosophical, and not rational.

'Yet fools trust to their senses to know what is good for mankind, with alas! but external results.' Again, regardless of how the sentences' words are defined and arranged of meaning, still the words create absurdities alongside of irrefutable evidence that the original author had some very serious thinking problems. Within a parallel topic, the sentence might hold water... 'trusting external behaviors to be the standard for man, the result is still only external, and never betters man inwardly'. Also parallel is the idea of filial piety... having a social standard of external behavior, might give the appearance of filial piety, but the external behavior is always dishonest if the individual is not inwardly of 'pious' virtue.

Giles' interpretation did not necessarily infer that he himself believed the words to be true fact, but rather, his wording expressed the ideas within what he had learned of the philosophies of his era, and, so, Giles is not wholly to blame for the quote's psychosis. Philosophies of playing musical instruments, philosophies of playing chess, philosophies of Tao, none are rational relative to the firsthand acts of doing the things one's self.


Fictional Characters


Within this website are many stories... of Alo and De... Nodin and William... Yan and Jun... fictional characters, each used within stories that were invented as a means of conveying nonfictional topics. Using fictional stories to communicate an idea, has been common throughout all of known history. It would appear, today, that an individual would have a very weak mind and spirit if the individual were to begin believing that the fictional characters were real human beings... but, that is very close to what many individuals have done with ancient Chinese texts, and other texts as well... the people having read a fictional story, began believing that the fictional characters were real people... and the people then invented forgeries, claiming the forged books to have been true writings by the fictional characters of whom the authors believed to be real people.

The translated books of Zhuangzi... much violence... much vulgarity... much crudeness... much stupidity... much vainglory... all while the words illustrated authors with tiny minds, unable to think, unable to self-observe even the tiniest of things... the words, unfitting for any honorable philosophy...

The words of 'Laozi's' in Daodejing... soft... gentle... thoughtful... kind... intelligent... caring... firsthand descriptions... pattern, of slow guqin... very much different than the crude fictional stories within Zhuangzi.


Philosophies Ignore Reality


But still, the question remains... was Giles' translation pointing in the proper direction? Section #12's following four sentences each point at a cause and a result... mutuals of sorts...

Galloping and hunting derange men’s minds. Articles which are rare limit the freedom of men’s actions. On this account the holy man regards the stomach and not the eye. He puts aside the one, that he may take the other in hand. (Spurgeon Medhurst, 1905)

Spurgeon's interpretation has a distance from meaningfulness, but still close enough to illustrate the pattern of causes and effects. Generally, the common ideas are [1] five colors the cause, blindness the effect... [2] five sounds the cause, deafness the effect... [3] five flavors the cause, open mouth the effect... [4] galloping hunt the cause, people shoot crazy the effect... [5] commodities difficult to obtain the cause, people capable of harm the effect... [6] sage person serve-as stomach, not serve-as eye... [7] therefore leave one, take this.

When read as a whole, the section's first five sentence patterns suggest causes and effects, while sentence six gives a contrast to the first five, and sentence seven offers a choice. By use of the sentences' patterns, so it would seem to be rational to translate the words relative to the patterns.

Giles' philosophical version, therefore, appears to have ignored the actual wording itself, while instead his version had merely inserted learned philosophical ideas... like as if giving an answer to an individual without the individual first knowing what the question was:

Tao eludes the sense of sight, and is therefore called colourless. It eludes the sense of hearing, and is therefore called soundless. It eludes the sense of touch, and is therefore called incorporeal. These three qualities cannot be apprehended, and hence they may be blended into unity.

Regardless of translations of words, and regardless of how an interpretation is worded, still there should exist an underlying concept that is worded sensibly with meaning... the quote's insertion of a philosophical concept resulted in contradictions, and no meaning.


Book of Lieh-Tzu


Lionel Giles had written:

"...the primitive stage, the stage of development, and the stage of degeneration. The first of these stages is only known to us through the medium of a single semi-historical figure, the philosopher Lao Tzu... shows no decided trace of the corruption which is discernible in the second of our periods, represented for us by the writings of Lieh Tzu and Chuang Tzu. I have called it the period of development because of the extraordinary quickening and blossoming of the buds of Lao Tzu's thought in the supple and imaginative minds of these two philosophers. The canker, alas! is already at the heart of the flower... Very little is known of our author... His full name was Lieh Yü-k'ou... He figures prominently in the pages of Chuang Tzu... Of this third period little need be said here. It is represented in literature by the lengthy treatise of Huai-nan Tzu, the spurious episodes in Lieh Tzu and Chuang Tzu, and a host of minor writers, some of whom tried to pass off their works as the genuine relics of ancient sages. Chang Chan, an officer of the Banqueting Court under the Eastern Chin dynasty (fourth century A.D.), is the author of the best commentary on Lieh Tzu... In the time of Chang Chan, although Taoism as a philosophical system had long run its course, its development into a national religion was only just beginning, and its subsequent influence on literature and art is hardly to be over-estimated. It supplied the elements of mystery, romance and colour which were needed as a set-off against the uncompromising stiffness of the Confucian ideal. For reviving and incorporating in itself the floating mass of folklore and mythology which had come down from the earliest ages, as well as for the many exquisite creations of its own fancy, it deserves the lasting gratitude of the Chinese people." (Book of Lieh-Tzu, Lionel Giles, ©1912)

Lionel Giles' opinions appear to be valid... the earlier 'Laozi' words, firsthand sincere... the later authors' words, scholarly imagined... the latter authors' words, decaying...

Philosophies, are learned... words, are memorized... ways, are followed... no self-thinking, no self-observation, no self-awareness, just a lot of imaginations...

A book of philosophy, is the way of scholars... not the way... not divide one oneself... not divide one's self... just, believe in, and follow, and venerate, empty words that have no meaning.