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Old 04-20-2001, 05:03 AM   #1
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Question Taoism and Darwinian Evolution

Anyone here knowledgeable about the principles of Taoism? Is the Tao, the Way (of Nature), akin to the idea behind natural selection? Did Lao Tzu propose the idea of self-organization in nature, thus foreshadowing Darwin by many hundreds of years?

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Old 04-20-2001, 07:05 AM   #2
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by devnet:
Anyone here knowledgeable about the principles of Taoism? Is the Tao, the Way (of Nature), akin to the idea behind natural selection? Did Lao Tzu propose the idea of self-organization in nature, thus foreshadowing Darwin by many hundreds of years?

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</font>
Yes and no. The second volume of Needham's Science and Civilization in China discusses Chinese philosophy in light of these views. The Daoists held that the various plants and animals were indeed mutable, but did not develop any systematic thought based on natural philosophy about what rules might govern such changes. Instead, they worked out fanciful theories of metamorphosis based on their mystical understandings of nature. There's a paragraph in my recent piece on Daoist alchemy, which should still be on the SecWeb homepage, that shows how they viewed those mutations:

"Ge Hong's most famous work, Bao Pu Zi, which discusses the creation of gold, was written about 320 CE. It is chock full of supernatural events. People, Ge Hong avers, can turn into animals, men into women, and thus, by extension, lead into gold. Many "natural" examples of metamorphosis are cited, such as sparrows into clams, pheasants into mussels, alligators into tigers, and others."

Michael
 
Old 04-20-2001, 07:54 AM   #3
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
Yes and no. The second volume of Needham's Science and Civilization in China discusses Chinese philosophy in light of these views. The Daoists held that the various plants and animals were indeed mutable, but did not develop any systematic thought based on natural philosophy about what rules might govern such changes. </font>
You are not making a distinction between religious Taoism and philosophical Taoism.

Religious Taoism, which you are describing, is clearly an affront to the philosophical interpretations.

Discussing the religious side is interesting historically but it clearly does not lend itself to understanding the value of Taoist writings and is frankly an amusing side issue. Most scholars I have read, acknowledge there is a gap between the two.

Religious Taoism which Mr Turton describes is really more a set of myths which adopted the name of Taoism.

DC
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Old 04-20-2001, 04:14 PM   #4
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DChicken:


Religious Taoism which Mr Turton describes is really more a set of myths which adopted the name of Taoism.

DC
</font>
You mean, the difference between folk Daoism and the more "refined" versions of it that existed earlier in Chinese history? I am not quite sure what you mean here.

Michael

 
Old 04-21-2001, 09:17 PM   #5
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If you wish to understand taoism, read the Tao Te Ching. I put very little faith ih scholarly interpretation by armchair profs.
Also meditate on the Tao after reading it.

The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao. from Tao Te Ching....
 
Old 04-22-2001, 04:26 AM   #6
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by dr wu:
Also meditate on the Tao after reading it.</font>
Ah'm a-thankin' ye, venerable guru! And I'll also say "OM" a thousand time, and spin my mantra spinner...

Just joking, take no offence, it's my natural attitude to all supernaturalist worldviews.

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Old 04-22-2001, 09:44 AM   #7
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"Just joking, take no offence, it's my natural attitude to all supernaturalist worldviews."

None taken...Grasshopper...
The tao is not 'supernatural'...it is the essence of what we call Natural or the very essence of 'Reality' itself.


 
Old 04-22-2001, 02:43 PM   #8
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by dr wu:
it is the essence of what we call Natural or the very essence of 'Reality' itself.</font>
That sounds close enough to the implications of Darwinism - the life-forming reality of Nature. I'm trying to find out how much Taoism and Darwinian evolution have in common.
 
Old 04-22-2001, 04:40 PM   #9
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by devnet:
That sounds close enough to the implications of Darwinism - the life-forming reality of Nature. I'm trying to find out how much Taoism and Darwinian evolution have in common.</font>
Well I can see no common ideological origin for the two,
coming from such disparate cultures.
One is from western empiricism and Christian sub-structures and the other from pagan/mysticism. Being that they are both part of That Which Has No Name the similarity must reside in the Tao itself.
 
 

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