Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Dictionary of philosophy and psychology including many of the principal conceptions of ethics, logics, aesthetics ... and giving a terminology in English, French, German and Italian, vol. 2 [lead-zwing]
Baldwin, James Mark
It was applied figuratively in the older litera¬ 
ture to the course of nature, and also to the 
path of right conduct. The Tao of heaven 
denoted the sum of the actions and energies 
of the all-embracing sky ; the Tao of the 
earth expressed the totality of the potencies 
and operations of the ground. Heaven and 
earth, however, could be named and de¬ 
scribed; the objects they contain could be 
classified ; they could not—in their visible 
order—be the ultimate reality. Therefore 
the Tao that can be trodden is not the endui’- 
ing and unchanging Tao ; the originator of 
heaven and earth is beyond our apprehension, 
and consequently ‘ nameless ’ ; but it works 
silently, fulfilling its own law, everywhere 
uniform and constant, producing, nourishing, 
maturing everything. It cannot be called 
conscious or unconscious, for it includes both ; 
nor personal or impersonal, for it transcends 
both ; in it are contraries reconciled, and the 
beam and the pillar (the horizontal and the 
perpendicular) are identical. The Tao is 
thus a kind of natura naturans ; but with 
the practical aim which was never far distant 
from a Chinese thinker the Tao becomes at 
once a moral type. Heaven and earth do 
not interfere with the things they have be¬ 
gotten ; they give each object opportunity 
to fulfil itself, and remain silent, acting yet 
not seeming to act. Man also must follow 
the Tao. In nature is unity, harmony, repose ; 
the wise man must have no personal ends, 
he must avoid self-display, and cultivate 
humility. In the hands of Chwang Tsze this 
principle approaches very closely to a philo¬ 
sophy of the unconscious, as in the parable of 
the sword-maker who, by constant practice, 
came to be able to do the. work without any 
thought of what he was doing, or in the 
question of Lao Tsze to a would-be disciple, 
‘ Can you become as a little child 1 ’ In one 
of the imaginary colloquies in which Chwang 
Tsze expounds his master’s teaching, Confucius 
is represented as summing up the Classics in 
two words, ‘ Benevolence and righteousness.’ 
1 What do you mean by them 1 ’ asks the elder 
sage. ‘ To be in one’s inmost heart in kindly 
sympathy with all things ; to love all men ; 
and to allow no selfish thoughts.’ But Lao 
Tsze objects, ‘ To be seeking to allow no selfish 
thoughts—that is selfishness ’ (‘ your elimina¬ 
tion of self is a positive manifestation of self,’ 
Giles), and he points to heaven and earth, 
which unfailingly pursue their course of 
impartial good will. Finally, government 
must be conducted, according to the Tao, 
without boastful display. A great burst of 
reforming zeal, fresh enactments, increased 
command of material resources, the spread of 
luxury, the burdensome taxation which fol¬ 
lowed on the ruler’s extravagance, were all 
alike contrary to the Tao. The ideal was to 
be found in a little state, which could be 
governed by the ‘ quiet and unexciting method 
of non-action ’ : but this involved keeping 
the people without knowledge or desire, for it 
is ‘ garrulity of speech which puts the world 
in disorder.’ When, however, an emperor 
inquired, ‘ If the empire is not to be governed, 
how are men’s hearts to be kept in order ? ’ 
Lao Tsze bade him ‘ be careful not to interfere 
with the natural goodness of the heart of man.’ 
‘ The empire is a divine trust, and may not 
be ruled. He who rules, ruins. He who 
holds by force, loses.’ ‘ Mighty is he who 
conquers himself.’ ‘To the good I would be 
good, to the not-good I would also be good in 
order to make them good.’ ‘ Use the light 
that is in you to revert to your natural clear¬ 
ness of sight.’ The best government, there¬ 
fore, rests on a philosophical quietism, con¬ 
serves existing institutions, and administers 
them on the principle of non-interference. 
The attempts of different scholars to connect 
Lao Tsze’s ontological speculations with 
Indian thought (e. g. Douglas, 1880, in con¬ 
tradiction to his former opinion, 1879; de 
Harlez, 1891) do not seem successful. But 
the introduction of Buddhism in the first 
century a.d. opened the way for an infusion 
of Hindu metaphysics (see ante, p. 233). 
Enormous labour was bestowed on the trans¬ 
lation of Sanskrit works ; and this in due 
time produced a revival of ancient cosmogonic 
and other speculations based on the texts. 
Thus in the nth century Chow Tsze 
(1017-73) wrote a treatise on the ‘Diagram 
of the Great Origin,’ a secret doctrine supposed 
to be implied in the Yi King ; and a hundred 
years after Chu Hi (1130-1200), who had 
devoted himself to the study of Buddhism and 
Taoism, reverted to the classical texts under 
the influence of his predecessor, andexpounded 
a monistic philosophy on the basis of the 
‘ Great Origin.’ Of these works Mayer says, 
‘ His commentaries on the classical writings 
have formed for centuries the recognized 
standard of orthodoxy, but within the last 
hundred and fifty years critics have arisen 
who have vigorously impugned the doctrines 
of his school.’ 
Literature : Texts and translations in 
Legge’s Chinese Classics, 5 vols, in 8 parts 


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