Philosophy research paper

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Topic: What is the Laoian theory of opposites as expressed in The Tao Te Ching?

Please read the BWR file and follow it when writing the paper. And please make sure the paper is original, no plagiarism. There should be three peer reviewed articles. Please let me know if there are any questions.

San Jose State University Department of Philosophy THE BASIC WRITING RULES (BWRs) In this document, I shall list the five kinds of basic writing rules (The Topic Rule > The Indentation Rules > The Paragraph Length Rules > The PHIL 104 Language Rule > The Eleven Steps of Academic Writing), “The Overall Framework of the Philosophy Paper,” and “The Reasons for Observing the Basic Writing Rules.”1 (Please read all the footnotes.) You are required to observe all the Basic Writing Rules (I-V) for every course writing that you are to write in PHIL 104 (like a writing exercise or a short essay or the Philosophy Paper). I_ THE TOPIC RULE Rule 1: Always copy the “topic” of any course writing completely and exactly as it is originally given. II_ THE INDENTATION RULES Rule 1: Do not indent the first (opening) sentence of any of your course writing whether there is or there is not a headline preceding it. Example: Liu (2003) on Modules. Rule 2: Do not indent the opening sentence of the first paragraph under a new headline. Example: Liu (2003) on Modules. Rule 3: Indent the opening sentence of each subsequent paragraph under a new headline.2 Example: Liu (2003) on Modules. Rule 4: Do not leave spaces between paragraphs that belong to one sub-headline. Notes: If you are still confused about or skeptical of these indentation rules, you can examine currently published scholarly books and download peer-reviewed articles (like Liu 2003) to see for yourself if these indentation rules and other BWR are observed therein or not. If you do not know all the BWR systemized herein, you are not up to date on the currently practiced US methodology of academic writing<>nonacademic writing. III_ THE PARAGRAPH LENGTH RULES FOR ALL KINDS OF WRITING (ESSAY/PP/WE) Rule 1: Each paragraph must be short (from 1 sentence to 5 short sentences). Rule 2: Each paragraph must deal with one key point (not two) and it should be clearly stated, well argued, and well supported. Please read: “WR1.Sample WE1” and “WR.WE2” (folder THE PHILOSOPHY PAPER) and my peer-reviewed article (“The Laozi Code” (Google it or download it from King Databases). IV_ THE PHILOSOPHY 104 LANGUAGE RULE Any course writing that you write, like a Writing Exercise [WE] or the Philosophy Paper (PP), must be written according to the philosophy language that is appropriate to PHIL 104. The PHIL 104 language contains key concepts and how they should be explained (like atman, brahman, dao, dharma, moksha, emptiness, enlightenment, philosophic wisdom, practical wisdom, monism, pluralism, dualism, enlightenment, etc.)   1   V_ THE ELEVEN STEPS OF ACADEMIC WRITING In addition to the “Rubric for the Philosophy Paper” and the “Rosenberg Model” (Modules), you are required to also observe the following Eleven Steps of Academic Writing (ESW) for every course writing you shall undertake (like a Writing Exercise or the Philosophy Paper). THE INTRO 1) Step 1: Write one “introductory sentence” (IS). State what you are going to do in your written work. Note: Step 1 and Step 2 can alternate. 2) Step 2: Write one “topic sentence” (TS [also called “thesis statement”]). Make a key point or a claim about the topic. Note: Step 1 and Step 2 can alternate. 3) Step 3: Write one “purpose sentence” (PS) or sufficient purpose sentences State the purposes that you wish to accomplish in your written work. 4) Step 4: Write one “methodological sentence” (MS) or sufficient methodological sentences Indicate the research sources you plan to use by listing the titles with the authors and the publication years. For example: “The Practice of Jen” (Chong 1999). THE BODY 5) Step 5: Write sufficient “expositional sentences” (ESs)3 for the Exposition. Explain and argue for your position (“topic sentence”) with supporting evidence. The number of ESs depends on the kind of a written work. 6) Step 6: Write one “transitional sentence” before a new part/section/paragraph of your work. Tell your reader what you are going to do when you start a new part/section. 7) Step 7: Write sufficient “evaluative sentences” (ESs) for the Evaluation. State what you like or dislike about the main issue of the topic and the reason(s) why make your evaluation. 8) Step 8: Write sufficient “critique sentences” (CSs) for the Critique. Make at least one major objection to the main issue of the topic for your critique. The number of CSs depends on the issue. 9) Step 9: Write sufficient “resolution sentences” (RSs) for the Resolution. Offer a resolution of the problem you have critiqued. The actual number of resolution sentences depends on the topic. Notes: Steps 5-9 should be structured to form the four main components of the Body of your RP: The Exposition <> The Evaluation <> The Critique <> The Resolution. THE CONCLUSION 10) Step 10: Write sufficient “concluding sentences.” Summarize or evaluate or reflect on or apply the key point of your written work. THE DOCUMENTATION 11) Step 11: Make a proper documentation of the research source(s) you use. Use the bibliographical type Works Cited and list the research source(s) you actually use according to the academic style that you are familiar with (APA or CMS or MLA). Use Purdue OWL resource @     2   VI_ THE OVERALL FRAMEWORK OF THE PHILOSOPHY PAPER All the four components of the PP (Intro<>Body<>Conclusion<>Documentation) and the ten steps of the PP can be re-organized into the overall framework of the PP as follows: A_ THE INTRO 1) 2) 3) 4) The introductory sentence The topic sentence The purpose sentence The methodological sentence B_ THE BODY 1) 2) 3) 4) The Exposition (background <> argument <> support <> evidence) The Evaluation (explanation of what you find acceptable or valuable) The Critique (explanation of your main objection) The Resolution (how you resolve what you have critiqued) B_ CONCLUSION 1) 2) 3) 4) Write a short summary or Write a short reflection or Raise a new question for further thinking or Propose a practical application of the most important idea C_ DOCUMENTATION 1) In-text notes [following a sentence or paragraph (Liu 2003: 234 or Phan 2007)] 2) Endnotes [called Notes in Liu (2003: 247)] 3) Works Cited (cite only the sources you use in your work according to APA or MLA style) VII_ THE REASONS FOR OBSERVING ALL THE BASIC WRITING RULES Some of you might have wondered why you are required to observe the BWRs (Basic Writing Rules). One reason is that I am required to satisfy one of the GE assessment requirements. Another reason is that the BWRs have been practiced in the US academic world. All I have done is to have simply systemized them. If you wish to know the truth of what I just stated, first, check the Liu article (2003) whether the basic writing rules (I-V) are observed therein, second, download some peer-reviewed articles or scholarly articles published in peer-reviewed/scholarly journals, examine currently published books, and check out whether or not they were written according to the listed BWR (I-V). You can also request the basic rubrics of academic writing from American elementary and high schools in San Jose to know the current US academic writing methodology that elementary and high school students are supposed to learn and practice. Every piece of academic writing (a writing exercise or an essay or a philosophy paper) has two main aspects, its organizational forms, and its ideational contents. That which gives any written work its external organizational forms is the basic writing rules (BWRs) by which its internal ideational contents are expressed and made manifest. _________________________ 1 An Assessment Question for each student to answer: What type of sentence is this opening sentence according to the BWR? The answer: An introductory sentence. 2 This indentation rule still applies if there is no main headline or no sub-headline. 3 Expositional sentences consist of explanatory sentences (background information<>definitions), argumentative sentences (arguments), and supportive sentences (proofs).   3  
The Treatment of Opposites in "Lao Tzǔ" 老子 Author(s): D. C. Lau Source: Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 21, No. 1/3 (1958), pp. 344-360 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of School of Oriental and African Studies Stable URL: . Accessed: 21/05/2014 19:12 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact . Cambridge University Press and School of Oriental and African Studies are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions THE TREATMENT OF OPPOSITES IN LAO TZU ; .' By D. C. LAu I IT is obvious to anyone who reads Lao Tzu that opposites play a prominent part in it. Thereis hardlya page on which one cannot find some contrasted terms like ' long' and short', ' weak' and ' strong '. What may not be so obvious is the complexity of the differenttheories concerningthese opposites. It is the purposeof this paper to study, in some detail, these theories. First of all I shall make a few preliminary remarks about some terms which I shall use to facilitate my exposition. Of the two members of a pair of opposites, I shall call one higher and the other lower. For instance, ' long' will be the higher, 'short' the lower term. I shall use the pairs 'soft' and 'hard ', 'weak' and 'strong' as typical opposite terms in my illustrations. The process of change from the lower to the higher I shall call development; while that from the higher to the lower I shall call decline. Most scholars who have written about the thought in Lao Tzu have emphasized one or other of the different theories contained in it. In what follows in this section I shall simply state the different theories, and, in the first three cases, quote accounts of these theories from various works. (1) For the first theory I shall quote Professor Feng Yu-lan, who writes in the section on Lao Tzi in the first volume of his workon the history of Chinese philosophy as follows: 'The greatest generalprincipleunderlyingthe change of things (shih wu *$ ij) is this: if a thing develops to the extremethen it necessarilychanges to its opposite. This is called "reversion" (fan k); this is called " return" (fu *M).Lao Tzi says " Reversion is the movement of the tao " (ch. 40). Again "The vast means passing on, passing on means far, and far means reverting" (ch. 25). Again "The ten thousand things rise together, and I thereby watch their return" (ch. 16). It is because "reversion " is the movement of the tao that "on disaster leans good fortune, and in good fortune lurks disaster ", that " the proper becomes again the improper,and the good becomes again the monstrous" (ch. 58). It is becauseit is so that " if bent it will be whole, if crookedit will be straight, if hollow it will be full, if wornit will be new, if few it will obtain, if many it will be perplexed" (ch. 22). It is becauseit is so that " gales do not last the morning,and showersdo not last the day " (ch. 23). It is because 1 The text of Lao Tzi used, unless otherwise stated, is the usual Wang Pi This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 3E version. THE TREATMENT OF OPPOSITES IN LAO TZ1 3t f 4 345 it is so that " one who helps a ruler of men with the tao does not coerce the worldby force of arms, as it is a thing that is liable to recoil" (ch. 30). It is becauseit is so that " is not the way of Heaven like the stretchingof a bow ? The high it suppresses,the low it elevates; the more than enough it takes from, the not enough it adds to " (ch. 77). It is because it is so that " the softest in the world gallops over the hardest in the world " (ch. 43), that "nothing in the worldis softer and weakerthan water, yet for attacking the hard and strong, nothing can be better" (ch. 78). It is because it is so that "things are sometimes added to by being diminished, and sometimes diminishedby being added to " (ch. 42).' 1 In this passage Professor Feng is in effect saying that development and decline form a circularprocess.2 When a thing develops to the highest point it changes to the opposite direction which is decline, and when it declines to the lowest point it again changes to the opposite directionwhich is development. 'rhis circular movement presumably goes on indefinitely. Professor Feng seems also to think that a good deal of what is said in Lao Tzi follows from this basic principle. Whether this interpretation of the principle of change is acceptable, and what difficultiesare involved in its acceptance will be discussed in section II. For the moment it is enough for us to note that one of the important theories concerningopposites is consideredby Professor Feng to be the circular nature of the process comprising development and decline. This point is even more unambiguouslystated by Professor Yang K'uan in his history of the WarringKingdoms. He writes: 'At the same time he [Lao Tzi] considered that the development of contradictions is circular, that whichever side, whether the thesis or the antithesis, reaches a certain degree in development will change into the other. For instance, "the proper becomes again the improper, the good becomes again the monstrous", "on disaster leans good fortune, and in 3 good fortune lurks disaster ".' in a conflict between opposites the lower will view is that The second (2) overcome the higher. For instance the soft will overcome the hard; the weak will overcomethe strong. This view is very clearly and forcefully stated by Professor Yang Jung-kuo in his history of thought in ancient China. He writes: . . . "Valuing the soft" and " Seeing something in the bent" are certainly the quintessence of the thought in Lao Tzu. a f 1 , I, 1934, 226-7. ^ * Feng Yu-lan f5^ * ,f Chung-kuo chE-hsUie shih +f All translations in this paper are my own. See also A historyof Chinesephilosophy,translated by Derk Bodde, x, 1952, 182-3. cf. the passage quoted from Professor Feng on p. 352 in which he says, 'Things in the universe are constantly changing. This change is circular .... This is a doctrine common to the Changs and Lao Tz '. * Yang, K'uan * , 1955, 205. , Chan-kuosais h In VOL. XXI. PART 2. This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 25 346 D. C. LAU Lao Tzu . . . further said, " The soft and weak can overcomethe hard and strong" (ch. 36). Again, "The softest in the world gallops over the hardest in the world " (ch. 43) ... Again, "Nothing in the world is softer and weaker than water, yet for attacking the hard and strong, nothing can be better, for there is no substitute for it" (ch. 78). The idea is that the softest and weakest thing is water, and to attack the hard and strongby the softnessand weaknessof water ensuresvictory. Again, " That the weak overcomes the strong and the soft overcomes the hard, everyone in the world understandsbut none is able to act on it" (ch. 78). All the above quotations explain that the soft can overcome the hard and that the soft and weak can overcomethe hard and strong, and that of all things the soft and weak is supreme.'1 However, this same point is interpretedby ProfessorYang K'uan in terms of the opposites in a contradiction. He writes, 'It is because he [Lao Tzu] looks upon the development of contradiction in things as circularchange that he goes one step furtherin considering that in the contradictionin a thing, the fundamentalside is that of the void, the weak and soft, the lowly, the stationary and the like. In the development of a contradiction the fundamental side is likely to win, because the soft will change into the strong, and what was originally strong will, after it has reachedthe point of saturation, change into the soft and so end up by being defeated.' 2 (3) There is the view that opposites are interdependent. There cannot be the good without the bad, the ugly without the beautiful. Dr. Hu Shih emphasizesthis aspect of thought in Lao Tzu. He writes in his history of Chinese philosophy as follows: ' "It is becausethe whole worldknowsthat the beautiful is the beautiful that there is the ugly, and knows that the good is the good that there is the bad. Hence the there-is (yzu ) and the there-is-not (wu ]) produceeach other; the difficultand the easy complementeach other; the long and the short comparewith each other; the high and the low incline towards each other; voice and accompaniment3 harmonizewith each other; the before and the after follow each other. Hence the sage abides by deeds without Not to exalt men action, and carrieson the teaching without words .... of superiorworth will cause the people not to contend; not to value goods hard to come by will cause the people not to becomethieves; not to exhibit 4' Yang Jung-kuo A S ~ Chung-kuoku-tai ss8-hsiang shih fp , , jf: Jf 1954, 261-2. 2 Yang K'uan, ibid., p. 205. 3 It is difficult to know what yin and shWngS mean precisely in this context. My rendering is therefore tentative. This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions THE TREATMENT OF OPPOSITES IN LAO TZtc -T- 347 what is desirablewill cause the people to be unperturbedin mind. Hence the rule of the sage empties the mind but fills the belly, weakens the will but strengthensthe bones,always causingthe peopleto be withoutknowledge and without desire " (ch. 2, 3). This passage is the basis of the political philosophyof Lao Tzii. Lao Tzi considers that all the terms good and evil, beautiful and ugly, morally superiorand morally inferior, are relative. Just as are such terms as long and short, high and low, before and after, and so on. Without the long there will be no short, without before there will be no after, without the beautiful there will not be the ugly, without the good there will not be the bad, without the morally superiorthere will be no morally inferior. Hence when people know that the beautiful is the beautiful, there will be the ugly; that the good is the good, there will be the bad; that the morally superior is the morally superior, there will be the morally inferior. The common methods such as rewarding the good and punishing the bad, exalting the morally superiorand discardingthe morally inferior, are not thorough solutions. The only method of thoroughly saving the situation is the annihilation of all relative terms, such as good and bad, beautiful and ugly, morally superior and morally inferior, and return to the age of undifferentiation of the nameless block; and then to make the people always void of knowledgeand desire. To be void of knowledgeis naturally also to be void of desire. When there is no-desirethere will naturally be no crime.' 1 Although in the passage quoted from Lao Tzi, the language is sometimes that of generation,e.g. ' the.there-is and the there-is-notproduceeach other ',2 there is no doubt that Dr. Hu Shih is right in interpreting the point made as a logical one. This is quite clear from the two opening sentences, 'It is because the whole world knowsthat the beautiful is the beautiful that there is the ugly, and knowsthat the good is the good that there is the bad'. This is becausethe beautifulimpliesthe ugly, which is its opposite,and the good implies the bad. The beautiful cannot be knownto be the beautiful without the ugly, and the good cannot be knownto be the good without the bad. In other words the point is a logical point, and has nothing to do with productioneither as a historical, or even as a metaphysical,concept. From the point that the distinction between opposites is a logical one, it is then argued that if we give up drawing these distinctions, they will cease to exist. With the distinctions go the stimulation of desires. When desires are not stimulated there will no longer be strife and contention. 1 Hu Shih , I, 1919, t M-J , Chung-kuochU-hsUeh shih ta-kang 4' 62-3. 2 It is quite possible, of course, that the rest of ch. 2 does not belong together with the two opening sentences. The distinction between yin and shng (whatever their exact meaning may be in this context, see n. 3, p. 346) is hardly of the same type as that between good and not good, beautiful and ugly. Ch. 3, however, seems to continue the train of thought contained in the two opening sentences in ch. 2. 25* This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 348 D. C. LAU (4) As can be seen from some of the passages quoted from Lao Tzu, some of the above views are sometimes stated in a different way. They are stated in terms of Heaven. For example, ' Is not the way of Heavenlike the stretching of a bow ? The high it suppresses and the low it elevates; the more than enough it takes from, and the not enough it adds to. The way of Heaven takes away from the morethan enoughand adds to the not enough. The way of Man is not so; it takes from the not enough in orderto offer to the more than enough. Who can take away from the more than enough in order to give to the not enough ? Only one who has the tao' 1 (ch. 77). Again, in ch. 79, we find' The way of Heaven shows no favour. It is always on the side of the good man'. And in ch. 81 'The way of Heaven does not harm but benefits; the way of the Sage acts without contention'. We can see from this that not only a thing changes from the higher to the lower, but that Heaven takes from those who have too much to give to those who have not enough.2 Heaven, though it shows no favouritism, is on the side of good people. This seems to mean that, in a conflict, Heaven sides with the good. (5) Finally, there is the view that the higher always begins from the lower, and that the process of development is always gradual. 'The difficult things in the world necessarily originate from the easy; the big things in the world necessarily originate from the small' (ch. 63). 'A tree that can be spanned by a man's arms grows from a feathery tip; a terrace nine stories high rises from heaped earth; a journey of a thousand li starts from beneath one's feet' (ch. 64). Realizing this, one understands, further, that if one wants to do anything to influence the course of the development of a thing, this is much more easily done when the processof developmentis as yet in its initial stages. 'Deal with the difficult while it is easy; cope with what is great while it is small' (ch. 63). 'When it is secure it is easy to maintain. When the signs are not manifest, it is easy to lay one's plans. When it is fragile it is easy to break. When it is minute it is easy to disperse. Do it while there is yet nothing; put it in order before disordersets in' (ch. 64). These are the differenttheoriesconcerningoppositesto be found in Lao Tzu. In the following sections they will be consideredin greater detail, and, when there are inconsistencies among the different theories, an attempt will be made, wherever possible, to remove such inconsistencies by means of re-interpretation. 1 In the last two sentences I follow the emendation suggested by Mr.Ma Hsii-lun iA, t J Pf* ; X . ;. X shu n ng sun yu yi yi fng pu tsu wei yu taochg t RfEl See Lao Tzi chiao ku ;t - a i &, 1956 (originallypublished in 1924 under the slightly different i j), p. 194. title of Lao Tzu hg ku t -: 2 It may be worth noting in passing that Heaven gives to those who have not enough, presumably, only in order that they should have enough, not in order that they should, in their turn, have more than enough. ; This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions : THE TREATMENT OF OPPOSITES IN LAO TZC t 3- 349 II The best authenticated theory attributed to Lao Tzu is 'valuing the soft' and' abiding by the soft '. Accordingto the T'ien-hsia chapter in ChuangTzu, 'Lao Tan said, " Knowing the male, abide by the female and be the ravine of the world. Knowing the clean, abide by the dirty 1 and be the valley of the world ".2 People all prefer to lead, he alone prefers to follow,3 saying, "Accept the dirt of the world ".4 People all prefer the solid, he alone prefers the empty. He does not hoard and has thereforemore than enough.5 Alone he has more than enough .... People all prefer good fortune, he alone is preserved by being bent,6 saying, " Just so as to escape misfortune" 7 .... He says, "To be hard is to be destroyed 8; to be sharp is to be blunted ".9 He seeks always to be tolerant towards others and does not infringe on people '.10 In criticizing the one-sidednessof the thought of the various schools, Hsiin Tzu says, 'L ao Tzu sees something in the bent, but sees nothing in the straightened'.11 In the Lu Shih ch'un-ch'iuit is said that 'Lao Tan valued the soft '.12 From these passages we can see that the view that the lower is valuable, and that it is best to abide by the soft is one of the views most widely attributed to Lao Tzu. We would, therefore, be unlikely to go far wrong if we take this as the most importantview in Lao Tzu. If an interpretationof any other theory in the book is incompatiblewith this, we shall have occasion to wonder if this interpretationcan be right.13 Such, I submit, is the interpretation that the process of development and decline forms a circle. The reason is this. If all things undergo a perpetual course of circular change, from the lower to the higher and from the higher to the lower, the injunction ' abide by the soft' becomes idle advice. For it will be impossibleto abide by the soft (or the hard v that ju , is used for ju ,> which I follow the suggestion of Professor Kao Heng j means 'grimy ',' dirty '. See Lao Tzi cMng ku I j&, 1956, 65-6. jE 2 cf. Lao Tzu, ch. 28. The text there should also read 'know the clean, abide by the dirty and be the valley of the world '. See Kao Heng, loc. cit. 3 cf. Lao Tzu, ch. 67, 'I dare not lead the world'. cf. ibid., ch. 78, ' Accept the dirt of the state '. 5 cf. ibid., ch. 81, 'The sage does not hoard. Having bestowed all he has on others, the more he has; having given all he has to others, he has more '. 6 cf. ibid., ch. 22, 'If bent it will be whole (preserved)'. 7 cf. ibid., ch. 62, 'Why was the tao valued in days of old ? Was it not because when one sought, it was by means of it that one attained, and when one transgressed,it was by means of it instead of yi ch'iu te.) that one escaped ? ' (Read ch'iu yiteL Ja 8 cf. ibid., ch. 76, 'Hence the hard and strong is akin to death'. e cf. ibid., ch. 9, 'What is beaten to a sharp point cannot be preserved always'. 3 10 ChuawgTzt Ti f:J-ed., 10.35b-36b. :- -, Ss Pu Ts'ung K'an (SPTK) q 11 HsUn Tzt f -f, SPTK ed., 11.25a. 12 LA Shih ch'un-ch'iu g A * *, SPTK ed., 17.18a. 13 The assumption, of course, is that the greater part of the present Lao Tzi really belongs together. For anyone who thinks that Lao Tzi is a haphazardcollection of sayings, any attempt to systematize the thought in it will not fail to appear misguided. This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 350 D. C. LAU either, for that matter), as the soft inevitably develops into the hard. Indeed it will be impossibleto abide by anything, for everything will inexorably change to its opposite. In other words in a world of ceaseless change, one cannot stop but has to move with the stream,and in such a worldit will be futile to give advice as to what one should abide by. Before attempting to find a solution, let us first take another point which, as we have seen, some of the writers have tried to relate to the point under discussion. One of the reasons for abiding by the soft is the theory that in a conflictbetween the lower and the higher,the loweris bound to be victorious. As we have seen, this theory has been interpretedby ProfessorYang K'uan to mean that of the two sides of a contradiction in a thing, it is the lower that is the fundamental.1 Now if ProfessorYang is right in his interpretation, then in the general conflict between the lower and the higher which goes on in all things in the universe, there must come a time when the lower has, in every case, triumphedover the higher, and, if a thing takes its quality from the side of the contradictionwithin it that is victorious,then all things, by that time, will have become soft and weak and so on. This obviously will not do, and Professor Yang is aware of this, for he goes on to say that the lower is likely to win because when it wins, its opposite will change from the higher to the lower, and, being lower, will in turn win. Now, there are three objections to this interpretation. First, the terms 'higher' and 'lower will cease to have fixed application. They become empty terms and the lower will apply to any side wheneverthat side suffers defeat in a contradiction,though immediatelybeforethis it appliedto the other side of the contradiction. There is, then, nothing which is definitely soft that one can abide by, and this rendersthe advice' abide by the soft ' impossible to apply and so, pointless. Secondly, this new theory does not really help, for the trick lies completely in using the terms 'lower' and 'higher ', when applied to the two sides of a contradiction within a single thing, with no fixed reference,but this does not affect the fact that the thing, which is the unity of the contradiction, will change from one extreme to the other in a circular movement, and we are back where we were before this complication was introduced. Finally, the most serious objection is that this interpretation introduces a degree of complexity not supported by any text in Lao Tzu. In Lao xTzu,a thing is looked upon as either weak or strong, soft or hard. It can-change from being weak to being strong, and vice versa. There is no suggestion, however, that a thing has within itself an inner contradiction between the lower and the higher. The conflict between the lower and the higher is an external conflict between one thing which is weak and another thing which is strong. It is never suggested in Lao Tzu that this conflict can be an inner contradictionwithin any one single thing. This interpretationis, then, neitherbased on the text in Lao Tzu nor helpfulin solving our difficulty. 1 See supra, p. 346. This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions THE TREATMENT OF OPPOSITES IN LAO TZtV - 5- 351 ProfessorFeng offers a slightly different interpretation. He also feels that the possibility of abiding by the soft and so avoiding changing into the hard needs some explanation, as this goes against the theory of circular change. His explanation is this. ' When a thing develops to the extreme, it necessarily changesto its opposite. That it can maintainits developmentand yet not change to its opposite is because it contains in the first place the opposite element, which makes it possible not to develop to the extreme.' 1 This, in some ways, is even more surprising than the interpretation of Professor Yang K'uan. Apart from sharing with Professor Yang the unsupported attribution of a theory of inner contradictionwithin a single thing to Lao Tzu, he is suggesting that the two sides of a contradictioncan engage in a conflict which does not necessarilyresult in the victory of one side, but that it is possible for a thing to harbourboth the predominantside and an element of the opposite side, and thereby maintain its development without changing to its opposite. If it were possible for a thing to maintain its developmentand yet not changeto its opposite,then there is continuousdevelopmentwithout the extreme being reached, and this is an unusual theory. Another difficulty is that if a thing ' can maintain its development and yet not change to its opposite' ' because it contains in the first place the opposite element which makes it possible not to develop to the extreme', then the advice' abide by the soft ' wouldbe paradoxical,as the way to avoid developing to the extreme, and so avoid decline, is to be predominantlystrong while containing in the first place the opposite element, viz. weakness. 'Abide by the strong' would describe better this state of affairs. Finally, we must not lose sight of the fact that the purpose of ' abiding by the soft' is that in a conflict between the hard and the soft it is the soft that wins. Now if a thing can maintain its development without reaching the extreme, it may be able to avoid decline which follows on reachingthe extreme, but, though it avoids reaching the extreme, it can hardly be called soft or weak. It will be hard and strong to a certain extent, and, as such, it will meet with defeat when it encounters something that is harder and stronger. For these reasons I think that Professor Feng's interpretation is no more acceptable than that of ProfessorYang K'uan.2 Although the interpretation of the principle of change in Lao Tzu as a circular process is unacceptable, it may be interesting to see why scholars have advanced such an interpretation. I think in doing so they have been influenced by the apparent similarity between the theory of change found in the Book of Changesand that found in Lao Tzu.3 1 Feng, ibid., 229; Bodde, 184. In rejecting the interpretation of both Professor Yang K'uan and Professor Feng Yu-lan, I am not denying that there is an apparent similarity between the theory of change in Lao Tzu and the dialectical process. However, I think that an attempt to press this similarity by offering a detail interpretation of the theory in Lao Tzi correspondingto a detail account of the dialectical process is unwarranted. s J. J. L. Duyvendak, for instance, in his translation of the Tao tl ching (Wisdom of the East Series), 1954, also interprets Lao Tzu by the Changes. He writes in the Introduction, ' There 2 This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 352 D. C. LAU ProfessorFeng in the section on the Changeswrites: ' Things in the universeare constantly changing. This changeis circular. The appendicesto the Changessay: "There is no going without returning (fu f[); this is the meeting of Heaven and Earth" (Hexagram t'ai, App. Hsiang, SPTK ed., 2.1). " Where there is the end there is the beginning: this is the movement of Heaven" (Hexagramku, App. t'uan, 2.9). " Its way is to return (fan f LuJ *&). In seven days it returns (lai fu 3 S) . ... In return (fu) do we not see the heart of Heaven and Earth ? " (Hexagramfu, App. t'uan, 3.4). " When the sun rises to the highest point it declines; when the moon becomesfull it eclipses. The Heaven and Earth wax and wane, growingand diminishingwith 1he seasons " (Hexagramfng, App. t'uan, 6.1). "When the sun goes the moon comes, whenthe moongoes the sun comes. The sun and moon alternate, and light is thereby born. When the cold goes the heat comes, when the heat goes the cold comes. Cold and heat alternate, and the year becomes complete. That which goes is bent; that which comes is straightened. The bent and the straightened interact and benefit is produced" (Hsi Tz'u A, 8.3-4). " Its way is to return ", " there is no going without returning"; the "going and coming ", "bending and straightening" of things in the universe are all like the circulargoing and coming of the sun and the moon, the cold and the heat. This is what is called return (fu). This is one great general principle on which depends the change of things in the universe. Hence it is said that " in returningdo we not see the heart of Heaven and Earth ?" It is because of this that any thing in the universe, if developed to a certain degree, changes to its opposite. " When the sun rises to the highest "When point it declines; when the moon becomes full it eclipses" .... a thing reaches the extreme it reverts." This is a doctrine common to the Changesand Lao Tzu.' 1 Now we are not concernedwith the question of whether this interpretation of the theory of change in the Changesis correct. (I am inclined to think it is.) The problem for us is this. Given that this interpretationis justified, are there groundsfor adopting a similar interpretationof the theory of change contained in Lao Tzu ? In other words, does Lao TzAcontain, in common with the Changes,the doctrine of circularchange ? In orderto decide on this point a close affinity with ideas developed in that other remarkable book of obscure origin, the Yi-ching, the Book of Changes .... In this world of hexagrams nothing is permanent; everything is in constant alternation .... In the Great Appendix, a rather late section of the Book of Changes, one reads: " An alternation of Yin and Yang is called the Way, Tao" ' (pp. 9-10). He makes use of this idea in numerous places in the book. 1 Fang, ibid., 468-9; Bodde, 388-9. Professor Feng goes even further when he suggests that the Changes took over the view in Lao Tzv as to how one should behave in the world. See p. 474; Bodde, 392. This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions THE TREATMENT OF OPPOSITES IN LAO TZt t i 353 we shall take the passages in Lao Tzi which have led Professor Feng to the opinion that the doctrine contained in it is one of circular change, and place them side by side with the passages which ProfessorFeng has quoted from the Changes,and see whether there is any significant differencebetween the two sets of quotations. Here are the passages from Lao Tzu: ' Reversion(fan Ji) is the movement of the tao ' (ch. 40). 'The vast means passing on, passing on means far, and far means reverting' (ch. 25). 'The ten thousand things rise together, and I thereby watch their return(fu ) " (ch. 16).1 Now if we examine these passages from Lao Tzuitogether with those from the Changeswe find one important difference. In the passages from the latter work we find phraseslike ' going and returning',' the end and the beginning', ' growing and diminishing', 'the sun going and the moon coming; the moon going and the sun coming'. In each case there is a pair of terms signifying movement in opposite directions. Taken together they form a cycle, and so suggest naturally the process of circularchange. It is not so with the passages from Lao Tzu. There, instead of a pair of opposite terms, we find only a single term, which is invariablyfu (' return ') or fan (' revert' 2). Now, 'returning' suggests ' going home ', or ' going back to the starting point', and since the higher is developed from the lower, the lower is 'home' or 'the starting point'. What is inevitable, accordingto Lao Tzu, then, is decline, when the highest point is reached. This does not entitle us to draw the furtherconclusion that change is circular. I think that all we are entitled to say is that, according to Lao Tzu, when a thing develops to the higherlimit, it will necessarilyreverse and begin to decline, but it is not statedthat when a thing is at, or reaches, the lower limit, it will necessarilydevelop all the way to the higher limit. A thing that is weak will, in some cases, at least, develop to be strong, only if it wants and makes the effort to do so. Before leaving this point, I shall deal with one passage from Lao Tzu quoted by both Professor Feng and ProfessorYang K'uan.3 'On disaster leans good fortune,and in good fortunelurks disaster .... The proper becomes again the improper,and the good becomes again the monstrous' (ch. 58). The second part of the quotation offers no special difficulty. The 'proper' and the ' good ' are, in my terminology,the higherterms, while the ' improper' and the' monstrous' arethe lower. ' The properbecomesagain the improper,and the good becomes again the monstrous' describes, then, a return to the 1 For these passages quoted by Professor Feng, see supra, p. 344. 2 I have translated fan ij by 'revert' and fu by 'return ', simply because it is better to use two English words to translate two different Chinese words. In fact fan and fu are in this connexion synonymous, both meaning 'return'. 8 See supra, pp. 344, 345. 4 This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 354 D. C. LAU lower, and is just another instance of the general principle of 'returning '. As for the first half of the quotation, I think it has nothing to do with the principle of change at all. It points out that ordinarypeople often do not see the real nature of what happens to them. What they think is disaster may turn out to be good fortune; while what they think is good fortune may turn out to be disaster. The best illustration of this is the well-knownstory of the man in the border country who lost a horse and the comments of the wise old man.' We can never be sure that disaster will not bring good fortune, or that good fortune will not bring disaster. The disaster will, then, turn out to be a blessing in disguise, and vice versa. That is quite differentfrom saying that disaster will develop and become good fortune, and good fortune will decline and become disaster. Let us return to the point where I was dealing with the differencebetween development and decline. There is another important difference. Development is always gradual, while decline can be abrupt. Instead of the circle, the children'sslide will be a better model. One climbs up laboriouslyto the top only to find oneself sliding down in a moment. It is here that the theory that the higher is built up gradually from the lower is relevant.2 'A terrace nine stories high rises from heaped earth; a journeyof a thousandli starts from beneath one's feet' 3 (ch. 64). This means that development is a gradual process, and can be arrested, if one takes the matter in hand at an early enough stage. Hence ' deal with what is difficult while it is easy; cope with what is great while it is small' (ch. 63). It may not be impossible to arrest the process of development just before it turns into decline, but, as we shall see, there is reasonto believe that only if development is arrestedat an early stage will it be of any use. To sum up our discussion of the incompatibility between the theory of circular change and the injunction to ' abide by the soft', our solution is this. The process of change is not necessarilycircular. Decline, when a thing reachesthe highest point, is inevitable, but developmentis not. Decline can be 1 Huai-nan Tzi, SPTK ed., 18.6a. 2 See supra, p. 348. 3 f ? Z i J; ff JThis reminds one naturally of the passage in Hsin Tzs ? . j ) containing the sentence ' without accumulating (also found in the Ta Tai li chi *f ' f li a thousand cannot reach (SPTK ed., 1.lOa; one half-steps Ja ff ~ Jt i cf. also 1.22a 1. 8-22b 1. 1). Because of this it may be thought that this is an idea of the Confucian school,'and that this theory does not belong properly to the system of thought contained in Lao Tzu. That will, I think, be hasty. This is not the only case where similarideas are found both in Confucianand Taoist works. To take an obvious example, the idea of wu wei ~ s can be found in the Analects,n.1, xv.4. I see no difficulty in assuming that there was a stock of ideas common to different schools of thought in ancient China. It is not an idea as such that marks it as the property of a particular school. It is the reasons for holding that idea, and the use the idea is put to, that vary from one school to another. According to the Confuciansthe sage kings could rule through wu wei, because through their te f[ they could exercise an imperceptible influence over the people while they sat on the throne and did nothing (see Analects, xn.19); whereas according to the Taoists human interference is invariably contrary to the natural course of the tao and therefore makes things worse. This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions THE TREATMENT OF OPPOSITES IN LAO TZtC ? 355 5 abrupt,but developmentis gradual. Decline is inexorable,but developmentmay requireeffort. Hence developmentcan be arrested. It is, therefore,both possible and useful to' abide by the soft'. There is yet another difficulty in connexion with 'abiding by the soft'. The reason for doing so, as we have seen, is because in a conflict the weak will overcome the strong, the soft the hard. But once the soft has overcome the hard, is it not, then, victorious ? If it is victorious, then does it not change to its lower opposite (as decline is inevitable), to being defeated ? It may be argued that victory does not necessarilychange to defeat. This is because victory and defeat form a pair of opposites of a different type, to which the theory of inevitable decline does not apply. Inevitable decline applies only to opposites that form two extremes between which there is a continuous gradation. For instance, between the weak and the strong, there is an indefinite number of possible intermediate positions. Not all opposites are of this type. Victory and defeat are an example. One is either victorious or defeated. There are no indefinitenumberof possible intermediatepositions.' Hence, it is argued, victory does not necessarilychange to defeat. This argument, ingenious though it is, does not really get us out of our difficulty. Even if it is true that the victoriousdoes not necessarilychangeto the defeated, does not the weak, in overcomingthe strong, become itself strong ? If it does become strong, then, as the strong, if not as the victorious, it will necessarily change to its opposite. If that were the case it would be no use abiding by the soft, for by doing so, although we can overcome the hard, we become hard in our victory. There seems, however, to be a solution, but before dealing with it I shall have, first, to make a preliminarypoint. In readingLao Tzuione thing we have to bear in mind is that it constantly resorts to the paradoxical in language. 'Straight words sound like the reverse (fan y)' (ch. 78). Constantlywe find the distinction drawn between what appears to be but is not really so, and what appearsnot to be but really is so. ' Greatwhiteness is like dirt' 2 (ch. 41). 'Great perfection seems chipped .... Great fullness seems empty .... Great straightness seems crooked .... Great eloquence seems inarticulate' (ch. 45). Accordingto these passages what is truly higher seems to be like the lower. The fact that true strength, for instance, seems like weakness implies that it is not really weakness. On the other hand it is even less like what is ordinarilycalled strength, although it is true strength. It is important for us, therefore, always to bear in mind the distinction between the weak and the soft, on the one hand, and what seems to be weak and soft on the other, when we read Lao Tziu. 1 There is another distinction between victory and defeat on the one hand, and, say, weakness and strength on the other. To state this in contemporaryphilosophical terminology, the former are achievement words; the latter are not. Hence the latter describe a thing in a way that the former do not. 2 For taking ju J to mean ' dirt', see n. 1, p. 349. This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 356 D. C. LAU We can now go back to our attempt to find a solution to the difficulty connected with the victory of the soft over the hard. The solution I propose is this. The victory of the soft over the hard is differentfrom victory in the ordinarysense. Or,as some philosopherswould say, the victory of the soft over the hardis truevictory, and it seemsto be like defeat. Further,the soft whichcan achieve victory over the hard is truly hard,1and is to be distinguishedfrom the soft in the ordinarysense. It only seems to be soft, just as 'great perfection seems to be chipped'. True victory is differentfrom ordinaryvictory because it is the result of non-contention,whereasordinaryvictory is the outcome of a contest. It is victory becausethe soft achievespreservationin the process,just as the victor in an ordinarycontest achievespreservation. It is true victory because by means of non-contention the soft can always be preservedand it does not change to its opposite, defeat 2; while the victor in an ordinarycontest is sure to meet his match and be defeated one day. III It may be asked what the point is of' abiding by the soft', since the worst that can happen if one develops to be hard is to decline to the soft again. In orderto answerthis question, it is necessaryto say somethingabout the central point of interest of .ancient Chinese thought in general, and in Lao Tzuiin particular. As has often been pointed out, thinkers in ancient China were first and foremost interested in presentinga way of life. This, however, does not mean that they were interested only in how an individual should lead his own life, in other words, in ethics only. In China, as in ancient Greece, no hard and fast line was drawn between morals and politics. They were looked upon as two aspects of the same thing. The Way when applied to the life of an individual is his way of life, when applied to government it becomes the way of the state. This was admirably summed up in the memorablephrase used in Chuang Tzi, 'the way of inwardly being a sage and outwardly being a king '. The interest in the way of life and in the way of government was commonto ancient Chinesethinkersof all schools. What is peculiarto Lao Tzt (and other works of similartendency) is the interest in the preservationof one's life. This is not difficult to understand. The Warring Kingdoms Period4 was an age of great disorder,and the common man had to exercise prodigious care if he were to wish to live out his natural span. This is not simply one of I To abide by the soft is called strong' (ch. 52). 2 If true defeat is also defined in this curious sense of non-contention, then true defeat and true victory will be one and the same thing, and, again, there can be no change from true victory to true defeat. 3 F 3E 2 PTK ed., 10.26a. , Chuang Tz, ^ 4 I am accepting the consensus of opinion among contemporary scholars that Lao Tzi is a work of the Warring Kingdoms. (See, for instance F&ng,ibid., 210; Bodde, 170.) This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions THE TREATMENT OF OPPOSITES IN LAO TZC:t -3 357 the lessons taught in Lao Tzu, but the principal lesson.l Lao Tzu is almost equally interested in the other problem of the way of government. The term 8hsngjen J J 'sage' is almost invariablyused for the rulerwhounderstandsthe tao, and is often used in contrast with min R, the 'common people'. There the ' ruler of are other terms like hou wang _, r 3E ' princes ' and jen chu A men'. Many chapters are concerned with chih kuo tj gl, 'government of the state'. Theseshow without a doubt that the way of governmentwas another of the principaltopics in Lao Tzii. Pan Ku, in his comments on Taoist works in the BibliographicalChapter in his history of the Former Han, says, 'The Taoists and their like . . . recordone by one success and failure, preservation and annihilation, disaster and good fortune, the way of antiquity and that of the present, and then come to the realization of the importanceof holding on to the essential and basic, abiding by the limpid and the empty, holding one's self humble and weak. This is the methodof the rulerfacing south'.2 This refers, amongst other works, to Lao Tzu, and it is clear that Pan Ku looked upon Lao Tzuias dealing with the way of government.3 The supreme object, then, of the doctrines in Lao Tzu is the preservation of life, 'the way', to use its own words, 'of long life and being able to keep one's sight for a long time' 4 (ch. 59). In order to achieve this nothing is consideredtoo high a price. In dealing with change Lao Tzuiprobably has in mind chiefly wealth and rank. The trouble with these is that if one were to possess them to the highest degree, in the decline which inevitably follows, one is liable not only to lose the wealth or rank but one's life into the bargain. ' Which is dearerto one, one's name or one's person ? Which is more important to one, one's person or one's goods ? ' (ch. 44). Hence it is advocated that one should not attain too much wealth or too high a rank. As to the point at which 1 In his autobiography Thomas Hobbes said that his mother gave birth to twins-himself and fear. It is sometimes said that it is because Hobbes was such a timid man that he set out, in his Leviathan, to devise-a political system which offers security to the common man. Can it be that the author of Lao Tzf was also a timid man living in an exceptionally disorderly age, and this accounts for the preoccupationin the book with the problem of the preservationof one's life ? This point has been very well put by Ch'ao Kung Wu ^ A, xj in his Chiin-chaitu-shu chik a}* a5 , i (prefacedated 1151): 'Is it a book by some one unfortunately living in a disorderly age who was full of fear ? Otherwise why does he seek so desperately for preservation ? . . . Because he is afraid that the bright easily becomes dim, he holds on to the dark; because he is afraid of losing favour, he does not avoid disgrace; because he is afraid that the hard will break, he makes himself soft; because he is afraid that the straight will be blunted, he makes himself bent; because he is afraid of losing much, he dares not hoard much; because he is afraid of spilling over through being full, he prefers to stop; when he is exalted in rank he is afraid of getting into the wrong, and so withdraws; when he has accomplishedhis work, because he is afraid that the merit will desert him, he does not claim it. That he knows the male but abides by the female, knows the white but abides by the black, and adopts the way of weakness and humility is because he thinks, " Unless I do so I shall not escape from faults ". Judging from this, is this not what is called seeking for preservation ? ' (Changsha,1884 ed., 11. lb-2a.) 2 Pan Ku 3i (, Han shu jf fI, Po-na ed., 30.16a. 3 cf. Feng, ibid., 216; Bodde 175. 4 I do not see any necessity of the interpretation by Dr. Waley of the phrase chiu shih k jjq as ' fixed staring ', ' a method of trance induction '. (See The Way and its power, 214.) This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 358 D. C. LAU one should stop, all one is told is that one should 'know where to stop (chih chihi1 i) '', and ' know when to be content (chih tsu * Ji) ', for ' knowing when to be content one will not meet with disgrace, while knowing where to stop one will not meet with danger,and will be able to endure' (ch. 44). To abide by the weak and yet be content presumablymakes it different from simply being weak. For when weak and not contented, one naturally desires to have more, and 'there is no disaster greater than not knowing when to be content, and no fault greater than wanting to acquire' (ch. 46). It may not be inappropriateto say here a word about the differencebetween the notion of holding on to the mean (chung 4r) as found in the Changes1 and that in Lao Tzu of abiding by the soft. They both aim at avoidance of reachingthe extreme point, and yet holdingon to the mean is not an acceptable solution in the thought system of Lao Tzu, because even though the mean may prevent developmentfromgoing too far, the mean is a positionfar removed from the soft and the weak, and it is still liable to come into conflict with an adversaryharderand strongerthan itself and so sufferdefeat. The supreme purposeof self-preservationwill not, then, be achieved. Hereinlies the difference between holding on to the'mean and abiding by the soft. Abiding by the soft through knowingwhere to stop and when to be content is not a difficult doctrine to understand,yet it is not always understood,and by no means easy to put into practice, because this goes against the grain of human nature, which is both acquisitive and ambitious. Hence Lao Tzu says, 'My words are very easy to understand and very easy to act on, yet none in the world can understandthem or act on them ' 2 (ch. 70). If abiding by the soft is the way of life for the individual, how is this to be applied to the ruler ? He, too, must efface himself, so that he appears not to be above but belowthe people. 'In orderto be above the people a ruler must, in his words,be below them; in orderto lead the people he must, in his person, be followingthem' (ch. 66). That this is only a means to the end of ruling over the people is moreclearlystated in anotherpassage. ' Hence the sage by putting his person last puts it first; by consideringhis person as external preservesit. Is it not because he is without selfish ends that he is able to accomplish his selfish ends ? ' (ch. 7). The ruler achieves his true selfish end-to be ruler over the people-by appearingnot to be selfish, i.e. by effacing himself. This is not the whole of a ruler'sart. Thereare the passages quoted above,3 wherethe way of Heaven is said to be' like the way of the stretchingof a bow ', and to be without favouritism but 'always on the side of the good man'. I think that very often when Lao Tzu mentions the way of Heaven, or Heaven and Earth, there is an implicit lesson for the sage, i.e. the ruler. For instance, 1 See Feng, ibid., 472 ff.; Bodde, 391 ff. 2 In ch. 78, however, we find' That the weak overcomes the strong and the soft overcomes the hard, everyone in the world understands but none is able to act on it'. One may, perhaps, say this doctrine in Lao Tzu is both easy and difficult at the same time, easy, because it is such a simple doctrine, difficult because it is liable to sound absurd to the ordinary man (see ch. 41). 3 See supra, p. 348. This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions THE TREATMENT OF OPPOSITES IN LAO TZt t 3. 359 ' Heaven and Earth are unfeeling. They treat the ten thousand things as straw dogs. The sage is [also] unfeeling. He treats the people as straw dogs' (ch. 5). In ch. 7 Heaven and Earth are said to be able to be lasting because they do not produce themselves, while the sage is able to accomplish his selfish ends by being selfless. In the passage where the way of Heaven is compared to the stretching of a bow, it is said to take away from those having too much in order to give to those who have not enough. This is contrasted with the way of Man, which does the reverse. Only a sage-a ruler who has the tao-is able to follow the example of Heaven. He, too, takes from those who have too much in order to give to those who have not enough. As this is not done openly, it is sometimes described as yin mou f ' scheming ',1 for in order to engineerthe fall of the ambitious, it is sometimes necessaryfirstto encouragethem. ' In orderto have a thing shrinkit is necessary first to have it stretched. In orderto have a thing weakenedit is necessaryfirst to have it strengthened. In order to have a thing put aside it is necessary first to have it set up. In orderto take away, it is necessaryfirst to give. This is called subtle illumination. The soft and weak can overcome the hard and strong. The fish must not leave the depth; the sharp weapon of the state cannot be shown to others' (ch. 36). It is obvious that this strategem of giving the strong enough rope to hang themselves is consideredto be of the utmost importance. It is a subtle truth not to be revealedto others, as it will only work if the ruleralone understandsit. If it becomesgenerallyunderstood, it may be difficult to put into practice. But a more important reason for keeping this dark is that, if the people do not understand this strategem, they will not see the hand of the ruler in the downfall of the strong. He will be, like Heaven, ' good at overcomingwithout contention' (ch. 73). If this is revealed, even if it continues to work because of the cupidity and ambition of people, the ruler will no longer appear not to contend. The only people who will not be affectedby this strategemwill be those who understandcontentment and so do not seek wealth or advancement. These are the' good people '.2 They have nothing to fear either from Heaven or from the ruler, who has the tao, as he takes only from those who have more than enough. The good are those who know whereto stop and when to be content, and have, presumably,by the standards of the world, not enough rather than too much, though they are the ones who are truly rich.3 1 For a modern author who uses this term to describe Lao Tzf, see, for instance, Yang Jung-kuo, ibid., 264 ff. 2 Duyvendak found it difficult to renderthe sentence )A as' The ~ ~ R ' V t* way of Heaven shows no favouritism, but is always on the side of the good man', because this 'is in flagrant contradiction to the character of the Way which admits neither good nor evil'. (Tao tMching, 161.) He did not seem to be aware of the fact that the word shan * is the only word for 'good' which is ever used in a non-pejorative sense in Lao Tzf. It means, in that case, good in the Taoist sense, and is quite distinct from other words meaninggood in the Confucian sense. Take one example. In ch. 8 we find ' the highest good (8hang8han J i) is like water. Water is good at benefiting the ten thousand things without contention'. 3 Lao Tzi, ch. 33, ' One who knows when to be content is rich '. 2 6 This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 360 THE TREATMENT OF OPPOSITES IN LAO TZt 5 - IV So far I have not taken into account the view that the distinction between the higher and the lower is a logical one, and that we can abolish these distinctions simply by ceasing to draw them. This view, I believe, does not fit in with the generalthought system in Lao Tzi. It belongsto a more sophisticated level of thought, where it is realized that if we cease to select some objects as desirable,then desire, and the strife it causes, will disappear. But this goes contraryto the generalview concerningopposites,which, as we have seen, takes for granted the existence of opposites, and it is upon this distinction between the members of a pair of opposites that the solution to the problem of life is found. We can only abide by the soft if the distinction between soft and hard is a real one, which cannot be abolished simply by our decision not to draw it in future. If the distinction between hard and soft is unreal, we cannot abide by the soft, and, more important, neither is there the need to do so, for where a problem ceases to exist, the need for a solution ceases to exist as well. Parallel to this more sophisticatedview concerningopposites is the passage in which it is said, 'I have things which I greatly fear because I have a body. By the time I have no body, what is there for me to fear ? ' (ch. 13).1 This is indeed emancipationfrom the slavery to worldly fears. This is a point of view greatly emphasized and further developed in parts of Chuang Tzu, but in Lao Tzu it is only adumbrated. It is because of this and because it is incompatible with the basic position of Lao Tzu that I am inclined to think that this view together with the view that the distinction between opposites is a logical one and can be abolished belong to a more sophisticated level of thought not typical of Lao Tzuz. ProfessorFeng is very likely to be right in thinking that Lao Tzuirepresents a further stage of development of the view of 'valuing self' or ' valuing life ' attributed to Yang Chu. Yang Chu only taught how life could be preserved by avoiding excessive indulgence, while Lao Tzu taught the further lesson of how life could be preservedby remainingmeek and mild and so escaping being harmed by the world. ChuangTzu, however, cut the Gordianknot by transcendingthe desire for life through looking at opposites, e.g. life and death, as essentially the same.2 It is because Lao Tzu constitutes a transition from Yang Chu to ChuangTzu that this more sophisticated view which properly belongs to Chuang Tzu not only does not fit in but actually conflicts with the general view found in the book which was still, in the main, concerned with, on the side of the individual, the preservation of life, and, on the side of the ruler, the art of government. 1 The fact that ch. 13 contains no rhyming lines at all is an indication that it is possibly of a later date. 2 Feng, ibid., 179, 215; Bodde, 142-3, 173-4. As I have criticized Professor Feng's interpretation of a specific point in the doctrines of Lao Tzi, I should like to say that I have, in my experience, found his Chung-kuoche-hsih shih both indispensable and invaluable. It may perhaps be said that the penalty a work has to pay for being the standard work on any subject is that it will stimulate disagreementfrom those who have benefited much by it. This content downloaded from on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:12:25 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Please READ: Appendix 01 and Appendix 02 THE GUIDELINES The Philosophy Paper PHIL 104 <> FALL 2018 In this “Guidelines” for the Philosophy Paper (PP), I shall present (1) The Timeline of the Philosophy Paper Due Dates, (2) The Grading Criteria, (3) The Two Kinds of Philosophy Paper, and (4) The Question of The Topic. THE TIMELINE OF THE RESEARCH PAPER DUE DATES 11/03/18: The Statement of Research Purpose (SORP) Due Required for the Instructor’s approval of the topic of your PP Download the SORP template from the Modules file M44. 11/17/18: The Detailed Outline of your Philosophy Paper Due Optional if you wish to have the Instructor’s comments and suggestions 11/27/18: The Philosophy Paper (First Due Date) 12/06/18: The Philosophy Paper (Second Due Date without penalty) THE GRADING CRITERIA 01) Your PP has the grade value of 50 points. 02) Your PP must focus on its Topic and its Topic only (anything that is not directly related to the Topic in meaning, reasoning, and evidence should not be mentioned). 03) Your PP should be around 5 pages with a minimum of 2,500 words in length, font size 12, double-spaced, margin one inch (on all four sides), and saved in its PDF format. 04) Your PP must have three parts (Intro > Body > Conclusion). 05) Your PP must have both its scholarly CONTENT and its scholarly FORM to be written in accordance with the BWRs and the CWP (READ “Appendix 01” herein). 06) Your PP should contain terms, ideas, doctrines, theories, and policies that are covered in the PHIL 104 course. 07) All aspects of your PP must be research-based, well-documented, pointed, focused, accurate, semantically related, and logically structured (READ: M21 > M33). a. Examine the form, the content, and the reasoning of the following 3 syllogistic sentences and see how they are pointed, semantically related, logically structured, and logically valid (correct): Major Premise: All men are mortal. Minor Premise: Socrates is a man. Conclusion: He is (therefore) mortal. All M are P. All S are M. All S are P. THE TWO KINDS OF PHILOSOPHY PAPER There are two kinds of the philosophy paper for you to choose. First is a regular philosophy paper. Second is a book review. Each kind of the philosophy paper is worth 50 points. For the book review option, you can choose the textbook by Fromm (1956). For the regular philosophy paper, there are two main types, the thesis-based or thesisdefense research paper (like the Lau article 1958 [M31] and the Liu article 2003 [M21]), and the non-thesis philosophy paper (like Phan 2007 [M33]). THE QUESTION OF THE TOPIC For the Topic of your PP, you can choose one of the three options. But whatever option you take, you must have your chosen Topic approved by formally submitting your Statement of Research Purpose (SRP) to Canvas (DD 11/03/18). Option 1 is that you can come up with your own topic. Option 2 is that you can pick one of the topics suggested by the Instructor in the lists of topics (M50-M50b). Option 3 is that you can continue with the Topic of the old ESS1. If you prefer Option 3, I like you to consider this new version of the old ESS1 Topic: The New Version of the ESS1 Topic How should we deal with the practical problems of opposites wisely for the successful conduct of our daily life according to Lao Tzu (as taught in his famous Tao Te Ching)? Discuss the interpretation of the Topic (Claim > Reasoning > Evidence) by Professor D. C. Lau (1958) and make your scholarly responses (Evaluation >Critique >Resolution) by (1) reading the Tao Te Ching yourself and using another peer-reviewed article dealing with the Topic stated (google it like “Laozi on opposites”). I highly recommend this philosophical topic to you because of two reasons. The first reason is that if you master your understanding of the Laoian doctrine of opposites and how to deal with the problems of opposites (which I call the dialectics of life), you will be practically wiser and will be more successful in your career. The second reason is that if you master the Laoian doctrine of opposites or the Laoian dialectics, then, you will develop your own philosophical understanding of the dialectics of life and the dialectics of reality. You will ultimate achieve what Aristotle calls practical wisdom and theoretical wisdom. Appendix 01 What follows is the Six-Step Writing Procedure (CLAIM >REASONG >EVIDENCE). If you noticed one methodological feature of that all the sample writing exercises posted (M48-M48b), you can discover the six-step writing procedure that I did in my attempts to pursuit their topics: 1) I made a point. 2) I stayed on the point. 3) I explained the point. 4) I argued for the point. 5) I provided evidence to support the argument. 6) Anything NOT relevant to the point I stayed away. a. Do not waste your time, space, and energy to write ANY SENTENCE that is NOT RELEVANT or directly related to the POINT under discussion. Please consider the SIX-STEP PROCEDURE when you discuss any issue of your PP. Appendix 02 THE RATIONALITY OF THE FREE MARKET APPROACH TO THE STUDENT-TEACHER RELATIONSHIP Be informed that I have adopted a rationally free market perspective and practice concerning the student-teacher relationship and I hope you think rationally likewise (not emotional). It means that as a student you are the rational Seller in relation to the instructor that I am as the rational Buyer. As a rational Seller, you have certain products to sell (like the 10 HAs, the EX1.STE, and the RP). As a rational Buyer, I shall pay you the full price you ask for only if your product has all the superior values and qualities or at least meets all the basic requirements. To put it metaphorically: Do not expect me to pay you the full price for your “Apple iPhone 10” if it does not possess all the features and qualities that it is supposed to possess. So, do not feel emotional about the price I pay but think rationally and wisely. Consider the practical wisdom of this famous mantra: “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” PHIL 104 is your Rome. I shall examine your academic product rationally (but neither emotionally nor morally) and shall pay you the right price for what it is in light of the requirements that it is supposed to possess. I like the rationally cool practice of the US free market (but not observed in most “Third World” countries including China and India), that is, the rational Buyer has the right to return the product bought and the rational Seller coolly take it back (with “no question asked”). If you like a better price for your product, you can modify it and make it better or even superior (after consulting with the Buyer). This policy is academically called the REWRITE OPTION in the US academic world.

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