Tuesday, April 28, 2009

智慧:怂恿,非激辩 Wisdom: Invitational, Not Argumentative

It is said that the Chinese philosophy is ‘wisdom’ literature, composed primarily of stories and sayings designed to move the audience to adopt a way of life or to confirm its adoption of that way of life. One learns from observing the world rather than first principles. The value of wisdom consists in its usefulness for everyday life
Therefore, in Confucianism you pick up ethics rather than are taught it; you watch people and learn various ground rules, including looking at the context, the situation, the relationships, the people involved, etc. As Confucius says, 'I learn from both the good and the bad. The good I imitate, the bad I try to distance myself from.'
Zigong asked Confucius to give a single word which should guide one’s actions throughout one’s life. Confucius answered, ‘the principle of sympathy; to not ever do something to someone else that you have personally experienced to be unjust.’
In Chinese tradition the role of the sage is therefore of special importance. The sage does not have to instruct to be respected; he does not have to speak to be believed, he does not have to reinforce to be encouraging and he does not have to become angry to be feared.
As Hegel puts it, the light of the orient is not the light of reason. Both Confucius and Laozi seem to prefer to leave truth ambivalent, appear almost unwilling to pronounce it. Confucius said, 'The people may be made to follow a path of action, but they may not be made to understand it.' And Laozi said, ‘I do not know it, therefore I call it Dao.’

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