Societas Classica

Approaching The Infinite: The Boundary Situation And The “Dao” of Language

Desislava Damyanova

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The hermeneutic approach to the philosophical background of ancient Chinese thought reveals an aspiration to combine the traditional values of the East with the achievements of existential analytics. Daoist cultural heritage attracts Europeans not only with its mirror otherness but mainly with the harmonic relationship of man and nature, as oneness with the Way (道 – Dao). Many authors, including poets, writers, philosophers, cultural anthropologists, scientists, etc. have adopted the fundamental difference between the East and the West as a way of dichotomous thinking based on ontological and epistemological distinctions. Such presuppositions have become the starting point for elaborate theories, comparative studies and political science developments relating to the ‘far-eastern spirit’, peoples, traditions and destinies. We ask ourselves whether to construct an overview concerning the early Daoist parables and sayings as an imaginary whole is justified and to what extent. Despising technocratic rationality and the artificiality of modern technological culture, Daoism and the cultural orientations broadly associated with it, provide an ideal source of alternative creativity. It discloses the impermanence of the hidden meaning in life and the assumption that the universe or some fundamental issues in society could not necessarily be manifested in philosophical theories, but can be embodied in the performance of poetry, allegory, image thinking. It carries out a kind of philosophical criticism – the idea that with the transition from the epistemological to the ontological implication, the so called ‘common sense’ may exist in other branches of knowledge and modes of speech. Daoists focus on nonstandard, non-competitive mind, challenging the legitimacy of their own conceptual schemes. Dao-language implies the unconditional, irreducible presence of the Way which precedes all the artificially fixed meanings. The so called ‘image thinking’ encompasses the Boundless and is opposed to the distortion of any natural discourses. As a kind of incarnation of the Great Ultimate, the speech is born in the empty mind just as the sound occurs in silence, so ‘forgetting the words’ (Zhuangzi) is a precondition of any cognition.



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