Spinoza, Daoism and the mind-body problem | Daan F Oostveen - wagtailfarm.info
Re: The Leibniz-Taoist solution: Matter is mind, mind is matter from the one's current state being the possible future state of an infinity of prior. 'Daoist' is a natural characterization of the ideology behind any That is partly because the subject matter of religion and philosophy overlap. for later chapters of the Zhuangzi established the first connection between the two texts. .. the Guanzi (neiyeinward training and xin shuheart-mind methods). State support of Taoism ended in with the end of the Ch'ing Dynasty and Structure of Matter (Wolff, Haselhurst) confirm that we can understand Reality ( Tao) and for language and logic (as logic requires a relationship between two things). .. We have a wonderful collection of knowledge from the greatest minds in.
Traditional Taoist masters have developed the techniques of meditation that are similar to the Buddhist meditation in style. In addition to sitting, Taoists also practice moving exercises such as Tai Chi Chuan and other kinds of vital energy exercises chi kung or Qigong.
Unlike Buddhism, which emphasizes cultivation of the mind to develop liberating insights, Taoism seeks to integrate the body and the mind in its spiritual practice, with the belief that the spiritual energy known as chi connects humans with the Tao, or the ultimate essence of the great Cosmos, and therefore the cultivation of chi through breathing exercise is the very first step on the path.
Eastern Approaches to a United Reality by Jessica Arcand on Prezi
Like some schools of Buddhist meditation, the Taoist approach emphasizes concentration of the mind, mostly on a spot about one or two inches below the navel. While celestial immortal has largely remained a legend, the Taoist meditative practice has significant empirical relevance. The Tantric yoga tradition in India has concurred with Taoism in developing a sophisticated system of practice integrating mind and body, which fully recognizes the importance of endocrinal secretions, neurotransmitters and perhaps other types of bio-chemical energy for the purpose of spiritual transformation.
It is not uncommon that successful Taoist practitioners have their sexual organs shrink as a sure sign of energy transformation and transmutation. According to the Taoist tradition, the first stage of successful practice is achieved when the vital energy of chi developed from the energy center begins to flow through the two major channels in the front and back of the body respectively.
This flowing is not accomplished automatically, however. The practitioner needs to skillfully direct and guide the energy flow with his power of attention. A higher stage of successful practice is achieved when the vital energy continues to flow into various minor channels throughout the body. Further advanced practice will lead to the formation of the radiant elixir of life, which are essential for the ultimate cosmic union and spiritual transmutation.
Attaining the ultimate Void and maintaining a state of the deepest tranquility, I observe the myriad things in the phenomenal world returning to their Origin. Complex and active as they are, eventually they all return to their Origin. Returning to the Origin brings about tranquility. In tranquility we access the Origin of our life, which is constant and immutable. Although Lao-tzu did not discuss meditative techniques, the above statement was taken by latter-day Taoists as the theoretical foundation of the Taoist meditation.
Without visualization and contemplation, which are commonly found in yoga and Buddhist meditation, the Taoist practitioner aims to attain utmost tranquility by training breathing and focusing attention on the body point below the navel. Following this moral precept helps the practitioner embark on the path. If the meditative practice goes well, it succeeds in transforming the body energy for a higher purpose, and thus facilitates the observation of the precept. This attitude is cultivated in an effortless and spontaneous manner, so that the practitioner can relax his mind and body and to let go of all thoughts during meditation.
The mental tranquility thus obtained helps bring about a balance in the internal secretions, and increase the level of endorphins, which are said to produce the feelings of love, joy and happiness.
Consequently, the Taoist meditation is found to be efficacious for the treatments of neuroses and drug and alcohol addiction. It is particularly effective for the relief of stress and anxiety. Because the Taoist meditation is relatively free of religious contents, it used to be practiced by religious and non-religious people in ethnic Chinese communities.
In the early decades of the 20th century, meditation teachers in China and Japan had refined the Taoist techniques and come up with new meditative styles of their own to cater to the needs of the general public. The fact that the refined Taoist meditative techniques are non-religious and are used primarily as a therapeutic exercise have made them popular for a while. But precisely because of this non-religious feature, their popularity has markedly declined in recent decades when different schools of Buddhist meditation find their way to the international and ethnic Chinese communities.
The Taoist techniques as a therapeutic exercise have paled in significance when compared with the Buddhist practice that emphasizes spiritual awakening and liberation. Buddhist meditation has thrived as an integral part of the renaissance of contemporary Buddhism as a new religious movement. However, Tai Chi Chuan has become increasingly popular in both China and Western countries as a way of improving health and reducing tension.
This form of exercise is especially appealing to older people, because its gentle movements and health benefits. Conclusion Taoism offers a unique perspective on stress and coping. In many ways, it is the forerunner of Western positive psychology, because its main message is that we can achieve contentment and health regardless of circumstances if we can understand and practice the Way of Nature and transcend the limiting factors in our daily lives.
Instead of trying to confront problems and conquer nature, Taoism teaches that we need to transform our thinking and our way of life so that we can live in harmony with the Way of Nature. Taoism represents a philosophical and spiritual teaching with very practical implications for stress and coping. Different from the American psychology of coping, Taoism advocates a proactive and transformative approach to coping. By embracing the Taoist way of thinking and way of life, automatically we become free from all kinds of stressors and stress-related symptoms, such as anxieties and depression.
Through the practice of Tai Chi and Qigong, we can maintain our physical and mental health even in very stressful and adverse environments. Here is a summary of the main teachings of Taoism: Taoism espouses a life style in accord with the Tao, the ultimate cosmic Truth, which is described as being selfless, simple, authentic and spontaneous.
Following a life style of luxury and extravagance not only wastes money, but also can be harmful to our health and mental well-being.
The Way of Nature as a Healing Power: The Taoist Perspective
All things in the universe exist in polarity or dualitywith the two opposites in a polarity complementing each other and making the existence of each other possible. Learning to develop a new insight that fortune and misfortune contain each other can help us avoid mental frustrations when misfortune strikes.
The same insight applies to other dualities such as success and failure, health and illness, praise and blame, etc. Taoism reveals that cosmic change takes place in a cyclical or circular pattern, in which everything reverts to its opposite when going to the extreme.
With this insight, we learn to avoid excesses, and to remain equanimous in all circumstances. We do not become complacent over success or lose heart over failure. The impulse of striving to be different from what we are causes tension and stress.
It is efficacious for the treatments of neuroses, especially stress and anxiety. Taoism teaches that all is in flux, so our thinking should be allowed to flow rather than stagnate. We invite trouble if we act against this cosmic principle by sticking to a rigid, self-righteous way of thinking. Taoism and psychotherapy agree that flexibility in our way of thinking and outlook on life is important to avoid emotional troubles. Taoism teaches that the Tao, the great Way of nature, has no selfish motives, that Mother Nature nurtures and nourishes without claiming anything in return.
Learning from this cosmic virtue is the ultimate guarantee for a life of happiness and contentment. So, the Taoist message of contentment does not imply a passive resignation to fate, but rather a humble, selfless devotion to the well-being of humanity. In that book, the interviewed meditatiors spoke of the transformation of sexual energy and the shrinking of sexual organ as an actual experience.
References Ajaya, Swami Psychotherapy Eat and West: A Unifying Paradigm, Honesdale, Penn.: The Himalayan International Institute. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: Rather they are only two of infinite attributes, which are perspectives on the one substance. Remember that since it is only possible to understand anything about substance in itself and through itself, as Spinoza stated, these attributes do not show us the coin as it is in itself, only the faces that turn up from time to time. I can be sure about the experience that there is a perspective stance toward reality, but not about reality itself.
Leaving this perspective stance behind in favor of a materialist metaphysics is unjust with respect to the fact that it is possible to experience the world from a certain perspective.
The possibility of experience, of perspective, is a fundamental aspect of reality. I believe there is no reason why matter should have priority over mind and thus I believe materialism is false. Although Descartes made a mistake in asserting that doubt could be considered as an entity in itself, I do agree that the cogito is the only valid starting point for philosophy, because we only have direct acquaintance with phenomena, not with the things themselves.
My perspective on the external world has philosophical priority, because the whole concept of the material world emerges from my perspective, not the other way around. The question how mind emerges from matter, as it has been asked over and over again in contemporary philosophy of mind, ignores that the ontological claim that matter and only matter exists is as bold a metaphysical statement as any.
The question of mind pushes the limit of this metaphysical belief. Any materialist position will have to account for mind. Eliminativism is not satisfying, because it ignores one of the most fundamental phenomena: Part 1, Definition 5.
It is at least as reasonable to claim that what exist is unknown — without leaving the ontological starting point that something must exist.
This is what neutral monism is about. It answers the ontological question affirmatively, without claiming it to be anything precise. Mind and matter, our first encounters in our philosophical quest for entities, are no more than perspectives — or as Spinoza would call them attributes — on the neutral entity which remains unknown. Next to the Western philosophical tradition, another tradition developed parallel to it in the East.
The philosophical thought of Buddhism, Hinduism and Daoism has been underappreciated for a long time by Western scholars, with Schopenhauer as one of the most noteworthy exceptions. Until this day, it is ironic that in a world that is constantly talking about globalization in the economic sphere, in philosophy there remains a gap between the East and the West.
Generally, when people speak of a philosophical tradition, they refer to Western philosophy. In this way, philosophy looks more like Western imperialism than a genuine encounter between traditions. Nevertheless, although oriental thought is sometimes very different from Western philosophy, sometimes the ideas are in fact very similar.
Comparative philosophy has been developed by scholars like Roger Ames and in the low-countries by Ulrich Libbrecht, in an attempt to bring all philosophical traditions closer together. However their impact remains marginal. Eastern philosophy generally rejects any thought about reality that focuses on essence.
Parmenides has never influenced the East much. In this sense, metaphysics means something else entirely in oriental thought. The main difference is that Western philosophy tends to place the thinking subject outside of reality, degrading it to no more than an observer of a static reality.
Eastern philosophy always considers the subject as part of reality. Any consideration of the contrary is seen as maya, illusion. Daoism6 does not want to go this far. It only wants to assert that the subject is part of nature, and cannot go beyond it — neither rational nor emotional. The first verses of the first chapter of the Daodejing by the ancient Daoist author Laozi have been endlessly commented. In my interpretation it asserts that the Tao of which can be spoken is not Tao.
I equate Tao with the substance of the neutral monist. There are is no objective reality that can be understood. There are no properties that can be validly adjudged to Tao, just like there 5 Libbrecht, Ulrich. Tao is ineffable, and should, just like Husserl would say, be put between brackets as an ontological unknown.
They took bonding all the natural kinds together as the key. Great daoguide can embrace it but cannot distinguish it. Daoguide does not leave anything out. He lived together with shi and fei, mixed acceptable and avoidable. He didn't treat knowing and deliberation as guides, didn't know front from back. He was indifferent to everything. If he was pushed he went, if pulled he followed—like a leaf whirling in the stream, like a feather in a wind, like dust on a millstone.
He was complete and distinguished fei nothing …. Don't use worthies and sages. Even a clod of earth cannot miss Dao. It is really very strange…. Shen Dao avers that there is just one such total history—one actual past and one actual future. The actual is, obviously, natural so the great dao the natural pattern of behaviors, events and processes requires no learning, no knowledge, no language or shi-feithis-not this distinctions.
The crucial implication of his approach is that great dao has no normative force. This reasoning drives Shen Dao's slightly different stoicism. Our death is part of great dao—down to its very moment. It recommends a particular possible future history. Yangzhu's egoism violates Shen Dao's anti-language naturalism as much as does Confucius's traditionalism or Mozi's utilitarianism. Why does Shen Dao think we should give up guiding ourselves by shared moral prescriptions? His stoic attitude and some of his slogans suggest that like the Stoics, he was a fatalist.
However Shen Dao's argument has no predictive capacity or law-like basis. It is simply logical determinism: We should not make shi-feithis-not this judgments. Consequently, he should not be saying that we should follow the great dao, because that would be to shithis: However, another inconsistency is rampant in Shen Dao's theory of great dao.
What about Shen Dao's naturalism itself, however? Further, his injunction against shi-fei judgments is an injunction—a negative prescription. The concept of knowledge it uses is prescriptive knowledge. In form and intent, it is a prescription—a daoguide. If we obey it, we disobey it.
This is our first example of Daoist paradox! Shen Dao's daoguide is a daoguide that can't daoguide us. The Zhuangzi history, where we find this account of Shen Dao's doctrine, criticizes Shen Dao's position along these lines.
Still, it places Shen Dao in the dialectic just before Laozi, who directly precedes Zhuangzi. The Zhuangzi ordering is theoretically informative, though chronologically inaccurate. For a more complete and detailed treatment of the philosophy of the text, see the entry under Laozi. Whatever its actual date and manner of composition, the Laozi is assigned a role in the development of Zhuangzi's thought that best fits in that slot.
The most famous line of Daoist meta-theory of dao opens the Daode Jing. It thus shifts the focus of meta-discourse about dao from grounding its authority in nature to issues of language and the role of mingwords in dao-ing.
Since words are not constant, no dao that can be conveyed using words can be. What is being denied in saying such dao are not constant? The text does not elaborate on the concept, however the issue in ancient Chinese thought emerges as the crux of the dispute between Mohists and Confucians. Mohists attempted to regiment the debate by insisting on fastandards for interpreting guiding language. The typical Confucian way of rectifying a name is to set an example—either of correct use of the term or correct action in following a dao that contains the term.
The other reading is interpretive—no pattern of correct past use no social practice uniquely determines what concrete behavior counts as correct here-now or in the future. So, as Mozi had argued, tradition cannot determine what is the correct dao, but, the Laozi seems to add, that is so even presupposing a tradition. The negative result may be read in several ways. It may be pure nihilism—there is no such thing as correct dao. It may be skepticism—correct dao can never be known; Or as anti-language—correct dao cannot be put in words or conveyed as guidance to another.
The second and third are compatible with their being a correct or constant dao and the third even with someone's knowing it. It simply cannot be conveyed. The rest of the text—the very fact that there is more to the text—makes these two readings, particularly the last, the most common ones.
However the traditional story of Laozi undermines the argument for placing too much emphasis on the fact that after this opening stanza, he goes on to write a text. It suggests that he writes only because compelled to do so by the keeper of the pass. Adopting readings 2 or 3 doesn't remove all paradox from Laozi's position.
We find few traces of Shen Dao's fatalistic or stoic reasoning. Laozi's opposition to knowledge derives more from Song Xing's insights about how social knowledge shapes our values and desires.
We can attribute to the Laozi the next development in Chinese pragmatics of language, how language shapes action. Laozi draws illustrations using ming word pairs—opposites. When we learn a way of using a word e. This is how we pick out how to act—what to pick up, put down, go toward and so on. We interpret a dao by dividing things up into types. We learn this in concrete practice as we avoid or pursue the things named.
Thus, with the names we acquire a disposition to behavior toward that type—we acquire a socialized value or desire for one of the two discriminants. These acquired desires then shape our weideeming: Much of the further reasoning found in the Laozi follows that of Song Xing. The artificially created desires lead to unnecessary competition and strife.
When we see that they are not natural, acquiring socialized desires e. And most important, acquiring knowledge in this way is losing the natural spontaneity and becoming subject to social control. The text, accordingly, entices us to free ourselves from this system signified by the slogan wu-weilack-action. We are to set about forgetting all our socialization and return to the state of a newborn babe. The result is a fascinating exercise in normative advocacy including Laozi's famous political theory—which you can find elaborated more fully in the Laozi entry.
Impact of the School of Names One stark difference between the two main texts of Daoism is the relation to the School of Names.
The Laozi, though clearly having a theory of the pragmatics of naming, betrays neither exposure to the doctrines nor the analytical terminology developed by the dialectical Mohists for dealing with theory of language. The Zhuangzi clearly does reveal that exposure. To understand this phase in the development of Daoism, we note briefly what the outstanding linguistic issues were and how they were formulated, then we will look at the implications of Daoist responses—particularly those found in the Zhuangzi.
The focus on mingwords: The disputes about dao are intimately tied to issues about words—in particular, what is to count as a correct use and what action or objects count as following the guidance.
The early Mohists advocated using a utilitarian standard to determine both the correct application of words to actions and the choice of word order in social guiding discourse. Thus language content and conventions of interpretationo should be governed by the utility principle.
We should mark the distinctions that underlie names in ways that trace patterns of objective similarity and difference in things. This realism governs the correct ways both to use terms and to interpret them. We rely on utility to determine how we structure terms into strings in guidance—in discourse dao. So, for example, a thief is a man—is governed by the rules of similarity. First, the later Mohists argued that in any disagreement about how to distinguish realities with names, there was a right answer.
It may, however, be hard to know or prove. This undermines both the nihilistic and the anti-language options to understanding Laozi.
Second, Mohists argued that any attempt to formulate the anti-language position was self condemning. Other figures classified in the School of Names responded to the Mohist realists. Gongsun Long mentioned sporadically in the Zhuangzi took himself to be defending Confucian accounts of rectifying names and Hui Shi constructs what looks like a relativist challenge to Later Mohist accounts. We will look only at Hui Shi's account here because he plays such a significant role in the text of the Zhuangzi.
Hui Shi implicitly addressed the claim that the correct use of words depends on objective patterns of similarity and difference. What we know of his writings which the Zhuangzi history suggests were prodigious is mainly a sequence of theses cited at the end of the Zhuangzi history. A small elephant is considerably larger than a huge ant!