Cosmology, Nature and Mind- A New Philosophical View on Dao Guo Yi郭沂 Institute of Philosophy Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Introduction • 1. The crisis of humanity and Philosophy • Since the 19th century, both Chinese and Western philosophies have suffered under the impact of modernization and capitalism. • Since its beginning, Chinese philosophy has focused on the value and meaning of life.
Virtue and the knowledge of virtue were addressed as “honoring virtue”(zun de xing尊德性) and “following the path of study and inquiry”(dao wen xue道问学) separately by ancient Chinese philosophers. • In Western culture, the original meaning of Philosophy is “love of wisdom”. This confirms that since the very beginning, Western Philosophy was interested in knowledge. • Despite this, the key issues in traditional Western Philosophy before Kant and traditional Chinese Philosophy are very similar.
But since modern times, Western philosophers have been chiefly concerned with the world of knowledge and have taken knowledge as their highest goal. • Bacon: “knowledge is power” • The knowledge in question is natural knowledge; the rationality they revered is instrumental rationality. • Meanwhile value left quietly
modernization has brought to our time not only dramatic changes and previously unknown material pleasures, but also the pollution of the environment, the clash of civilizations and the decline of value. • At the same time, modern Philosophy, infiltrated by modernity, has lost its way. • Kant: ”man and generally any rational being exists as an end in himself” • Therefore, in any reasonable philosophical system, a theory of value should occupy the dominant and central position, and a theory of knowledge a subordinate position. • The crisis of humanity and Philosophy is the crisis of value.
2. The defects and tasks of Chinese and Western philosophies • The major defect of Chinese Philosophy is the absence of a theory of knowledge, while the major defect of Western Philosophy is the breakdown of its theory of value. • Therefore the challenge for Chinese Philosophy is to construct a theory of knowledge to support its theory of value. The challenge for Western Philosophy is to reconstruct its theory of value to govern its theory of knowledge.
3. How to establish the new philosophical system that places its theory of value in the lead role, its theory of knowledge in a supporting role. • We should adopt a correct attitude forward Metaphysics. • Metaphysics is the lifeblood of Philosophy. • Since Aristotle, Metaphysics has been called the first Philosophy. • Modern Western Philosophy began to turn away from Metaphysics to concrete science, from substance to phenomenon, from the a priori to experience.
The separation between substance and phenomenon is a basic characteristic and also a key limitation of traditional Western Metaphysics. It has resulted in the decline of traditional Western Metaphysics. • It requires us not to throw Metaphysics away, but to reform and even to rebuild it. • Metaphysics also is the foundation and core of Chinese Philosophy. • the traditional Chinese Metaphysics concerns itself with three levels, namely Ontology, human nature and the human mind.
The source of the term “metaphysics” (Xing er shang xue) in Chinese philosophy: • The commentaries of The Book of Changes:形而上者之谓道，形而下之谓器 • Wing-Tsit Chan’s translation: • What exists before physical form [and is therefore without it] is called the Way. What exists after physical form [and is therefore with it] is called a concrete thing. • My translation: what is beyond physical form is called Dao, what has physical form is called a concrete thing.
this metaphysical system has none of the aforementioned drawbacks of Western Philosophy, moreover it could rectify these drawbacks. • To develop the theories of life, ethics, society and politics by constructing or revising Metaphysics is fundamental method in Chinese Philosophy • An important characteristic of Chinese Metaphysics is the combination of cosmology and ontology.
1. The Big Bang Theory and the Philosophical Cosmology in Ancient China • (1) The Big Bang Theory • cosmogony has made marked progress and became a notable form of learning and it cannot but be a solid foundation for constructing a contemporary Metaphysics.
Big Bang Theory has been broadly accepted. • 14 billion years ago, this single point exploded and expanded rapidly and produced the universe. • When the expansion stops, as the gravity of its galaxies causes the universe collapse and condense, all galaxies will assemble closer and closer, until finally the universe becomes a single high density point.
(2). The philosophical cosmologies in ancient China • Cosmology in ancient China could be divided into two branches, namely astronomical cosmology and philosophical cosmology. • No doubt the ancient philosophers could not imagine the above development of modern cosmogony, but it is striking that the cosmological models they established are very similar. • The Philosophical cosmology in ancient China could be divided into three cosmological models.
The first one holds that the universe formed from an original spot, and the myriad things were produced by the original spot. • the Lao zi on Bamboo slips appeared in the last part of the Spring and Autumn period, at the same time as [the philosopher] Lao zi, who was a contemporary of Confucius. The modern edition (including the edition written on silk) of the Lao zi comes from Taishi Dan who lived in the middle period of the Warring States and is a contemporary with Duke Xian of Qin. • there are two different persons and two different books.
Guodian bamboo text Laozi老聃: “有状混成，先天地生，寂寥，独立，不改，可以为天下母。未知其名，字之曰道，吾强为之名曰大。大曰逝，逝曰远，远曰反。” • “there was a state which formed chaotically. It existed before the sky and the earth. It is quiet, independent, and never changes its nature. It may be considered the mother of the myriad things. No one knows its name. I call it Dao. If forced to give it a name, I will call it the Great. The Great begins to depart, and then it becomes further and further away, and then returns to the original point.”
Guodian baboo text Taiyi sheng shui太一生水，水反辅太一，是以成天。天反辅太一，是以成地。天地〔复相辅〕也，是以成神明。神明复相辅也，是以成阴阳。阴阳复相辅也，是以成四时。 • The Great One gave birth to water. Water returned and assisted Taiyi, in this way developing heaven. Heaven and earth [repeatedly assisted each other], in this way developing the “gods above and below.” The “gods above and below” repeatedly assisted each other, in this way developing Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang repeatedly assisted each other, in this way developing the four seasons.
阴阳复相辅也，是以成四时。四时复〈相〉辅也，是以成凔热。凔热复相辅也，是以成湿燥。湿燥复相辅也，成岁而止。阴阳复相辅也，是以成四时。四时复〈相〉辅也，是以成凔热。凔热复相辅也，是以成湿燥。湿燥复相辅也，成岁而止。 • The four seasons repeatedly assisted each other, in this way developing cold and hot. Cold and hot repeatedly assisted each other, in this way developing moist and dry. Moist and dry repeatedly assisted each other; they developed the year, and the process came to an end.
故岁者，湿燥之所生也。湿燥者，凔热之所生也。凔热者，四时之所生也。四时者，阴阳之所生〔也〕。阴阳者，神明之所生也。神明者，天地之所生也。天地者，太一之所生也。故岁者，湿燥之所生也。湿燥者，凔热之所生也。凔热者，四时之所生也。四时者，阴阳之所生〔也〕。阴阳者，神明之所生也。神明者，天地之所生也。天地者，太一之所生也。 • Therefore, the year was produced by moisture and dryness; moisture and dryness were produced by cold and hot. Cold and hot and the four seasons, were produced by Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang were produced by the “gods above and below.” The “gods above and below” were produced by heaven and earth, and heaven and earth were produced by the Great One.
是故太一藏于水，行于时。周而或〔始，以己为〕万物母；一缺一盈，以己为万物经。此天之所不能杀，地之所不能厘，阴阳之所不能成。是故太一藏于水，行于时。周而或〔始，以己为〕万物母；一缺一盈，以己为万物经。此天之所不能杀，地之所不能厘，阴阳之所不能成。 • This being so, the Great One is concealed in water and moves with the four seasons. Completing a cycle, [it starts] over again; [we regard] Taiyi [as] the mother of the ten thousand things: first it is depleted, then it is full; we regard Taiyi as the guiding principle of the ten thousand things. This is something that heaven cannot destroy, the earth cannot smother, and Yin and Yang cannot produce. The gentleman knows this is referred to as [a sage].
The second cosmological model not only holds that the universe came from an original point, but also explores the matrix that produced the original point, consequently leading us into a transcendent and absolute world.
The received version of Lao Zi太史儋:“道生一，一生二，二生三，三生万物。万物负阴而抱阳，冲气以为和。” “Dao produced the One, the One produced the Two, the Two produced the Three, The Three produced the myriad things. The myriad things carry the yin and embrace the Yang, and through the quiet and peaceful Qi, they achieve harmony.”
The One was produced by Dao, the ultimate basis for the original point is Dao. • the Dao of Taishi Dan differs from the Dao of Lao Dan. The latter is the original point of the universe, while the former is the transcendent and absolute world of the producer of the original point.
The third cosmological model comes from Confucius in his late years. • Xi Ci系辞, section of the Yi Zhuan易传 or The Commentaries on the Book of Changes:
是故易有太极，是生两仪。两仪生四象。四象生八卦。八卦定吉凶，吉凶生大业。是故易有太极，是生两仪。两仪生四象。四象生八卦。八卦定吉凶，吉凶生大业。 • in the sphere of Yi 易 there is Taiji 太极(or the Great Ultimate). It generates the Two Forms (yin and yang). The Two Forms generate the Four Forms (major and minor yin and yang). The Four Forms generate the Eight Trigrams. The Eight Trigrams determine good and evil fortunes. And good and evil fortunes produce the great enterprise.
The Eight Trigrams correspond to eight cosmological elements, including the sky, the earth, thunder, wind, water, fire, mountain and marsh. • Yi is the transcendent and absolute world and it corresponds to Dao of Taishi Dan. • “Taiji” corresponds “the One” in Taishi Dan’s saying “Dao produced the One” and should be the original point of the universe. • the sentence “in the sphere of Yi there is Taiji or the Great Ultimate” may have two meanings. First, Yi contains Taiji; second, Taiji and Yi exist simultaneously and they are not related in theirs of “production” or “was produced”.
(3). the inner connection between the single point and the myriad things • Like the Big Bang Theory, the above philosophical cosmologies in ancient China hold that the universe comes from an original point and undergoes a process of development or expansion. • The similarities are the result of the similarity between process of generation and development of the universe and of the myriad things.
Georges Lemaître, who advocated Big Bang Theory first compared the process of the universe expanding from the “primeval atom” to the process of a big oak tree growing from a small acorn. • Modern biology proved that parents’ genes could be inherited by their children, while most members of an ethnic group carry the same gene. • Based on this, we can conclude that as the mother of the universe, the single point should contain all basic information, and all things should carry the original information of the single point.
The ancient philosophers believe that in the process of producing, the producer gave its own nature to the myriad things. • For instance, the received version of Laozi said:
朴散则为器。 • 天下有始，以为天下母。既得其母，以知其子。既知其子，复守其母，没身不殆。 • When the uncarved wood is broken up, it is turned into concrete things. • There was the beginning of the myriad things. Which may considered as the mother of the myriad things. He who has found the mother, and thereby he can understand her children.
For Lao Zi, Dao should be divided into two kinds or levels, namely original Dao and secondary Dao. Original Dao is the Dao which has the creative power and is the broad root of all things. Secondary Dao is the Dao which is in all things or was obtained by all things. To all things, the secondary Dao is de or virtue.
孔子说：“乾坤，其易之蕴邪？乾坤成列，而易立乎其中矣。乾坤毁，则无以见易。易不可见，则乾坤或几乎息矣。”又说：“天地设位，而易行乎其中矣。成性存存，道义之门。”孔子说：“乾坤，其易之蕴邪？乾坤成列，而易立乎其中矣。乾坤毁，则无以见易。易不可见，则乾坤或几乎息矣。”又说：“天地设位，而易行乎其中矣。成性存存，道义之门。” • So we can also divide Confucius’ concept of Yi into original Yi and secondary Yi. Unlike Laozi, Confucius named Yi which is in Tian and Earth, the secondary Yi referring to xing or nature directly.
Following traditional Chinese Metaphysics, I would like to reconstruct Metaphysics into three parts or spheres, namely Dao Ti 道体 (or the sphere of Dao), Xing Ti 性体 (or the sphere of Nature) and Xing Ti 心体 (or the sphere of Mind).
2. The Composition of Dao • The sphere of Dao is a transcendent and absolute world. It is the origin of the universe, the root of the world and the mother of the myriad things. It is an absolute “great whole” 大全, boundless, ceaseless, all-embracing, without beginning or end. • the sphere of Dao is formed by three fundamental elements, namely Zhi值, Li理 and Qi气.
Zhi值is the locus of value and meaning. Qi 气is locus of energy and matter. Li 理is the locus of form, reason, law and principle. • there are two kinds of Li. One exists in Zhi and could be named as Zhi Li 值理（or the law of value）. Another exists in Qi and could be named as Qi Li 气理（or the law of matter）. • Zhi, Qi and Li have different properties. • Zhi is the highest element, Qi is the lowest, and Li is between them.
Dao has ten characteristics, namely Heng 恒（or eternal）, Pu 朴（or plain）, Jing 静（or quiet）, Xu 虚（or vacuous）, Du 独（or independent）, Cheng 诚（or facticity）, He 和（or harmonious）, Sheng 生（or productive）, Ren 仁（or benevolent）, Yi 易（or change）. The general property of them is Heng or eternal. They together are called Shi De 十德(or “the Ten Characteristics”).
3. From the Wuji or Non-ultimate to Taiji or the Great Ultimate • In the sphere of Dao, Zhi值, Li理 and Qi气 are eternal. They are the thing-in-itself. So they could be called respectively Heng Zhi恒值 (or the Eternal value), Heng Li恒理 (or the Eternal reason), and Heng Qi恒气 (or the Eternal matter-energy). • This state of Dao is Wuji无极 （or Non-Ultimate）.
The immediate origin of the universe is Taiji or the Great Ultimate which scientists called the single point. • Dao is a mother, Taiji or the Great Ultimate is her egg, the universe is her child that came from the egg. • When the Eternal value, the Eternal reason, the Eternal matter-energy come together, they forme Taiji太极 or the Great Ultimate. This is the single point and the direct producer of the universe.
The Eternal value, the Eternal reason and the Eternal matter-energy in Taiji could be called Tai Zhi太值 or the Primeval Value, Tai Li太理 or the Primeval Reason and Tai Qi太气 or the Primeval Matter-energy respectively. • Tai Zhi and Tai Li are in Tai Qi, and not separate from Tai Qi. • Inasmuch as Tai Qi is one kind of matter-energy, so it should be a limited being, and this determines Tai Zhi and Tai Li that Tai Qi carries are also limited.
4. Taiji or the Great Ultimate Produces the Myriad Things • As for the process by which Taiji or the Great Ultimate produces the universe and the myriad things, I accept Zhou Dunyi’s (1017-1073) idea in his work An Explanation of the Diagram of the Great Ultimate:
周敦颐《太极图说》：无极而太极。太极动而生阳，动极而静；静而生阴，静极复动。一动一静，互为其根；分阴分阳，两仪立焉。周敦颐《太极图说》：无极而太极。太极动而生阳，动极而静；静而生阴，静极复动。一动一静，互为其根；分阴分阳，两仪立焉。 • The Great Ultimate through movement generates yang. When its activity reaches its limit, it becomes tranquil. Through tranquility the Great Ultimate generates yin. When tranquility reaches its limit, activity begins again. So movement and tranquility alternate and become the root of each other, giving rise to the distinction between yin and yang, and the two modes are thus established.
阳变阴合而生水火木金土，五气顺布，四时行焉。五行一阴阳也，阴阳一太极也，太极本无极也。阳变阴合而生水火木金土，五气顺布，四时行焉。五行一阴阳也，阴阳一太极也，太极本无极也。 • By the transformation of yang and its union with yin, the Five Agents of Water, Fire, Wood, Metal, and Earth arise. When these five material forces (Qi) are distributed in harmonious order, the four seasons run their course. The Five Agents constitute one system of yin and yang, and yin and yang constitute one Great Ultimate. The Great Ultimate is fundamentally the Non-ultimate.
五行之生也，各一其性。无极之真，二五之精，妙合而凝。乾道成男，坤道成女。五行之生也，各一其性。无极之真，二五之精，妙合而凝。乾道成男，坤道成女。 • The Five Agents arise, each with its specific nature. When the reality of the Non-ultimate and the essence of yin, yang, and the Five Agents come into mysterious union, integration ensues. Qian (Heaven) constitutes the male element, and Kun (Earth) constitutes the female element.
二气交感，化生万物，万物生生而变化无穷焉。二气交感，化生万物，万物生生而变化无穷焉。 • The interaction of these two material forces engenders and transforms the myriad things. The myriad things produce and reproduce, resulting in an unending transformation.
Taiji or the Great Ultimate, corresponds to the single point; the Five Agents of Water, Fire, Wood, Metal, and Earth correspond to the elementary particles and various cosmological materials after the Big Bang. • The only absolutely eternal one is Dao. Taiji or the Great Ultimate has a beginning and an end. The universe that Taiji produced is also limited, and will experience a process from generation to growth to death.