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Thread: daoist metaphysics in practical application

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    Despite my infintessimal low level and intellectual background in Daoist (civilian vs religious) thought, the limited exposure has allowed me to see an insight that is unparralled!
    That being said, my experiential distinction is that present Western though only follows a logical 1,23, process that is severely limited though it has an important function for a modern society. Based on the Western model people, who create from an ancestral and artistic level are considerd 'off the wall (to be polite) whereas the one who writes down stuff, studies it, engages in intellectual skill building are considered the 'real ones' (for lack of a better word) at this time. Western oriented discourse is to objectify the experience, tear it apart, verbalize it, then print it out for regurgitation. Platonic definitions tend to go for a rationalistic aestethic as opposed to a natural, creative and innate illumination that enlightens the soul. Let us study it instead of feel the easthetic of natural music, movement or artistic brillance oooopssss!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mawali View Post
    Despite my infintessimal low level and intellectual background in Daoist (civilian vs religious) thought, the limited exposure has allowed me to see an insight that is unparralled!
    That being said, my experiential distinction is that present Western though only follows a logical 1,23, process that is severely limited though it has an important function for a modern society. Based on the Western model people, who create from an ancestral and artistic level are considerd 'off the wall (to be polite) whereas the one who writes down stuff, studies it, engages in intellectual skill building are considered the 'real ones' (for lack of a better word) at this time. Western oriented discourse is to objectify the experience, tear it apart, verbalize it, then print it out for regurgitation. Platonic definitions tend to go for a rationalistic aestethic as opposed to a natural, creative and innate illumination that enlightens the soul. Let us study it instead of feel the easthetic of natural music, movement or artistic brillance oooopssss!
    Certainly a lot of what you say is so. I would add though that I think Plato reaches a harmony between reduction and holism and in a way western and eastern thought, though many would disagree with me.

    I think this West/East effect is due to language. Latin languages are wonderfully logically constructed. Language is a major factor affecting the formation of our conscious states. If we look at Chinese language, because it is hieroglyphic in nature the consciousness it begets is of a different disposition. Less reductionist, more holistic.

  3. #18
    To be honest, discussions about Taoist "metaphysics" always baffle me a bit. I thought that the entire idea is that one can only approach the Tao, the way of heaven, but never fully know it, in which case, the meta is, essentially, "we don't know about reality, we knew about the moment before, but we must come to know about the next moment." Which sort of isn't metaphysics in any defined sense at all. In this way, the i ching, the five elements, are merely schema that may lead one to understand the moment, but not necessarily. Of the big three, Buddhism was the one that laid most claim to knowing the underlying nature of reality, Taoism said no constant nature, but by constant engagement, one can better judge each particular case, and Confucianism said not to worry about the nature of reality, but by using the right rituals that work on the right virtues, you can be a good person. So, as regards metaphysics, Buddhism has the only strong claim to having one. I suppose mystical Taoism has one, but it is at odds with itself in defining it. Laozi and Zhuangzi both seem to spend a lot of time explaining engaging the world more than defining its nature, and Laozi explicitly states that its nature is undefinable.

    As for the article, I would imagine most applications define preexisting martial practices, sort of a justification of them in Taoist terms. I would imagine a few practices likely came about by inspiration from the ideas.

    In regards to weapons, I agree that they had to be a major focus, not held off like now. That said, I know from a research that a notable scholar of Buddhism and friend carried out that what happens at ground level, even three hundred years back, is extremely murky, so I always question sweeping assertions about what people outside of government and the military were up to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    Certainly a lot of what you say is so. I would add though that I think Plato reaches a harmony between reduction and holism and in a way western and eastern thought, though many would disagree with me.

    I think this West/East effect is due to language. Latin languages are wonderfully logically constructed. Language is a major factor affecting the formation of our conscious states. If we look at Chinese language, because it is hieroglyphic in nature the consciousness it begets is of a different disposition. Less reductionist, more holistic.
    Who said languages are logic? And why comparing the script with the spoken language? It is amazing to read such general statements. Just to confirm, no human language is logical, by its diversity and complexity they all are illogical. Daoism is much practical in real world in the past and today in the present. Simple as that!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mig View Post
    Who said languages are logic? And why comparing the script with the spoken language? It is amazing to read such general statements. Just to confirm, no human language is logical, by its diversity and complexity they all are illogical. Daoism is much practical in real world in the past and today in the present. Simple as that!!
    It was a reply to the statement quoted so some things were assumed.

    I was wrong to compare to logic, it is too ambiguous. Chinese is also logically constructed, very much so, but in a different way.
    Languages and Logic..... It is a kung fu forum so I wasn't going for anything more than general but here goes, for you sir;

    First lets take it as read that language has a dramatic effect on the nature of consciousness. There is enough in recent and ancient literature about this concept so I won't elaborate on it here.

    The Chinese language is laid bare for all who speak it. The word 'DianNao' for example. It means 'Computer'. But literate or not you know it is a combination of two concepts (also pictures), the two concepts are 'Electric (dian) and Brain (nao)'. This is the same for all Chinese words. So the derivation of a word is easy to see if you just think about it. Even within one character or concept and even if you are illiterate you will have some notion of the character (there are a limited number of syllables in Chinese, so without some knowledge of the character/concept the language is too ambiguous to use). The character 'good' for example is an image of a woman and a child together.

    So any Chinese speaker can derive their words immediately and will remember them through this kind of logic. 'Heavens-breath' means 'weather' for example. Excellent. This will effect your entire world view since you will see more of the inter-relatedness in language between different concepts.

    Now lets look at western languages. They are not constructed in quite the same way are they?

    A possible beginning is the one represented by Socrates (through Plato) in the dialogue 'Cratylus'. In it Socrates theorises that before language we may have used motion in a miming way to explain ourselves. Letters are then created, the sounds represent a type of motion from the motion of the tongue... a rolling r, a smooth s, a hard stopping K. Ancient philosophers talked about the world in flux. If an object is not moving in space it is ageing or transforming (moving in time). So everything is moving. Things which move in harmony with the world are good, things which oppose motion are bad. Socrates then derives many words, starting with words for flowing river, by the nature of movement they represent with bad words invariably being jarring stopping motions.

    Off course this is forgotten to us these days, the 'name giver' of English left little for us. So we have no simple way to derive our language immediately from thinking about the words.

    So our world view has to be more categorical and reductionist than the Chinese view which is more about the relationship between concepts. Where our language is monadic and freezes things into static forms theirs is dynamic and focuses on the relationship.

    SO I theorise (and I am not alone in this) that the Chinese language leads to a more holistic conscious awareness of the world than the western reductionist one. Thereby responding to the point I quoted in my original post.

    Clear enough for you? I think this is going off topic but I would be happy to continue with any points as a private message.
    Last edited by RenDaHai; 04-07-2014 at 09:00 AM.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    It was a reply to the statement quoted so some things were assumed.

    I was wrong to compare to logic, it is too ambiguous. Chinese is also logically constructed, very much so, but in a different way.
    Languages and Logic..... It is a kung fu forum so I wasn't going for anything more than general but here goes, for you sir;

    First lets take it as read that language has a dramatic effect on the nature of consciousness. There is enough in recent and ancient literature about this concept so I won't elaborate on it here.

    The Chinese language is laid bare for all who speak it. The word 'DianNao' for example. It means 'Computer'. But literate or not you know it is a combination of two concepts (also pictures), the two concepts are 'Electric (dian) and Brain (nao)'. This is the same for all Chinese words. So the derivation of a word is easy to see if you just think about it. Even within one character or concept and even if you are illiterate you will have some notion of the character (there are a limited number of syllables in Chinese, so without some knowledge of the character/concept the language is too ambiguous to use). The character 'good' for example is an image of a woman and a child together.

    So any Chinese speaker can derive their words immediately and will remember them through this kind of logic. 'Heavens-breath' means 'weather' for example. Excellent. This will effect your entire world view since you will see more of the inter-relatedness in language between different concepts.

    Now lets look at western languages. They are not constructed in quite the same way are they?

    A possible beginning is the one represented by Socrates (through Plato) in the dialogue 'Cratylus'. In it Socrates theorises that before language we may have used motion in a miming way to explain ourselves. Letters are then created, the sounds represent a type of motion from the motion of the tongue... a rolling r, a smooth s, a hard stopping K. Ancient philosophers talked about the world in flux. If an object is not moving in space it is ageing or transforming (moving in time). So everything is moving. Things which move in harmony with the world are good, things which oppose motion are bad. Socrates then derives many words, starting with words for flowing river, by the nature of movement they represent with bad words invariably being jarring stopping motions.

    Off course this is forgotten to us these days, the 'name giver' of English left little for us. So we have no simple way to derive our language immediately from thinking about the words.

    So our world view has to be more categorical and reductionist than the Chinese view which is more about the relationship between concepts. Where our language is monadic and freezes things into static forms theirs is dynamic and focuses on the relationship.

    SO I theorise (and I am not alone in this) that the Chinese language leads to a more holistic conscious awareness of the world than the western reductionist one. Thereby responding to the point I quoted in my original post.

    Clear enough for you? I think this is going off topic but I would be happy to continue with any points as a private message.


    It's better to avoid sweeping generalisations about how whole cultures think. 'Culture' is itself a deeply contested term - and it is impossible to squash a society the size of China into the idea of one, monolithic mode of thought. And that's before we consider the differences caused by different ages, genders, class positions, levels of education and insight, experiences, and countless other variables. Nor is it clear what a more 'holisitc' mode of thought is. And while it would be churlish to deny that on some level language will frame broad modes of thought, it is notoriously problematic to demonstrate to what degree language form affects thinking. One need only consider that gravestones in an English graveyard, from 300 years ago are perfectly understandable to English people today (I was reading some the other day), but the culture of England has changed a great deal since then - not least in terms of lessened religious sentiment. Language changes quite slowly in most cases, while 'culture' can change rapidly around it. Hence langiage can't be quite as determinant as you think.

    I rather suspect that in martial arts a crude form of Orientalism is used to justify otherwise spurious arguments. For example, qi fraud being justified by an appeal to what someone claims to be the more 'holisitc' approach to the body, mind and spirit that 'the Chinese' have (which we now see reappearing, interestingly, under the pseudo-scientific guise of 'whole body power' fraud.*

    *Fraud as in: the use of this term merely as a concept applied to body movement that otherwise displays no signs of being any different to apparently non-whole body movment - the only difference being an appeal to privileged Oriental knowledge, as in "I have qi powered/whole body movement, and if you can't see it it's because you lack the holisitc understanding of kung fu that the Chinese have, and that I have inherited." Orientalist BS, in other words.)
    Last edited by Miqi; 04-09-2014 at 07:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    It's better to avoid sweeping generalisations about how whole cultures think. 'Culture' is itself a deeply contested term - and it is impossible to squash a society the size of China into the idea of one, monolithic mode of thought. And that's before we consider the differences caused by different ages, genders, class positions, levels of education and insight, experiences, and countless other variables.
    What you say is true. However I consider it equally if not more disturbing to make no generalisations about culture at all. We are in an age where people fear to do so, the concept of relativity has been woefully confused with that of 'Vagueness'. When something is Vague certain absolutes can still be stated (for example the peak of the mountain is an absolute position, however the path towards it may be vague, there are many possible paths that converge and no one correct one, but that the way towards it is 'up' cannot be doubted).

    I lived in China for 8 years and speak Chinese, I am English however. Certain concepts in Wushu are untranslatable so when I think about them, I think in Chinese. On introspection I consider the perception of things somewhat altered by thinking between the two languages. I see these things as an unavoidable consequence of the language itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    Nor is it clear what a more 'holistic' mode of thought is.
    Perhaps you are right. The concept of holism is not clear even to those who study it. The point you raise about Qi would be a good example. Qi, the Chinese language does not require you to reduce it to a tangible 'thing'. Rather you may see it as an idea of a 'harmony' to which other things can conform but which may have no underlying essence itself. This in itself is very much holistic, it is a property of the relationship between things rather than of the things themselves (the permutations of relationship is what contributes to the whole being more than the parts). The Monadic view I am suggesting would be the western one, reducing everything to a tangible thing. Dyadic would be the Chinese one, focusing on the relationship between things as opposed to the things.

    Whether language is the causation of or the consequence of the more holistic style of Chinese philosophy is not important, it is possible to be simultaneously both, I have no doubt there is a general nature of holism in Chinese culture and reductionism in Western culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    And while it would be churlish to deny that on some level language will frame broad modes of thought, it is notoriously problematic to demonstrate to what degree language form affects thinking. One need only consider that gravestones in an English graveyard, from 300 years ago are perfectly understandable to English people today (I was reading some the other day), but the culture of England has changed a great deal since then - not least in terms of lessened religious sentiment. Language changes quite slowly in most cases, while 'culture' can change rapidly around it. Hence langiage can't be quite as determinant as you think.
    You raise very good questions, but you see, I think things may be the opposite! Culture changes remarkably slowly, language changes very fast. Try talking to a young hip kid these days, I only get about half of it. I see customs in mountain villages persisting far beyond the memory of where they come from, though language has changed to an entirely new dialect. Man is born a beast and raised above the animals by culture. Culture is an immensly precious and fragile thing. The parents imprint themselves on a child to such a strong degree that culture takes many generations to change, it cannot be done just by changing language or changing location. You see this clearly in immigrant populations, changing fully over to the host language but maintaining many elements of their old culture.

    But this is a different quantity. Though popular language changes fast it uses the same underlying formula. Chinese may as well be an Alien language from another planet to English. Though we live in a more united world now and these differences will slowly dissipate, I have experience talking to very old Chinese people and I consider their world view very different. i think Language is an important part of this.
    Last edited by RenDaHai; 04-09-2014 at 10:33 AM.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    What you say is true. However I consider it equally if not more disturbing to make no generalisations about culture at all. We are in an age where people fear to do so, the concept of relativity has been woefully confused with that of 'Vagueness'. When something is Vague certain absolutes can still be stated (for example the peak of the mountain is an absolute position, however the path towards it may be vague, there are many possible paths that converge and no one correct one, but that the way towards it is 'up' cannot be doubted).
    Unless of course, one parachutes down onto it. And don't forget, some paths may just go round and round for ever - the very existence of a path does not imply eventual ascent. However:

    It is incredibly difficult to define what 'culture' is - and culture is, therefore, itself a gross generalisation. It's not clear, in fact, even what 'China' is (i.e. is Tibet part of China culturally, or only politically? Are Uighurs Chinese culturally, or only politically?).

    To say, however, that there is a 'Chinese way of thinking' is rather circular in that you could only prove this by exlcuding all anomalous thinkers as 'not really Chinese culturally'.

    Just think how dangerous that idea is. It could include scientists, political dissidents, ****sexuals, people who practise jiu jitsu, left-handers - in fact anyone that doesn't fit into what you, or some other 'decider', decides is the authentic 'Chinese' way of thinking.

    Which is not to say that there aren't certain ideas encoded in linguistic form - there obviously are. But these might be far more historically contingent than culturally contingent. One classic example could be the belief that the Japanese are culturally subservient, and therefore resistant to socialsim, whereas, in the 1950s, the Japanese working class was very radical. Which is the 'real' Japanese way of thinking/culture?


    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    I lived in China for 8 years and speak Chinese, I am English however. Certain concepts in Wushu are untranslatable so when I think about them, I think in Chinese. On introspection I consider the perception of things somewhat altered by thinking between the two languages. I see these things as an unavoidable consequence of the language itself.
    If those ideas are not 'understandable' outside of Chinese culture, then they are not real wushu knowledge - just tertiary baggage.

    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    Perhaps you are right. The concept of holism is not clear even to those who study it. The point you raise about Qi would be a good example. Qi, the Chinese language does not require you to reduce it to a tangible 'thing'. Rather you may see it as an idea of a 'harmony' to which other things can conform but which may have no underlying essence itself. This in itself is very much holistic, it is a property of the relationship between things rather than of the things themselves (the permutations of relationship is what contributes to the whole being more than the parts). The Monadic view I am suggesting would be the western one, reducing everything to a tangible thing. Dyadic would be the Chinese one, focusing on the relationship between things as opposed to the things.
    Actually, western thought is very binary - although, at times it is highly trinary - and these are not the only variations. And dyadic thinking is not necessarily 'holistic' - for example, Chinese nationalism, like all nationalism, relies on the us/them dyad, but is deeply un-unifying in a global sense.

    As for qi, you've made the classic mistake of reversing the problem. It is not that a tangible outcome (.e. real skill) is described as being due to a group of elements interconnected by qi, it is that the idea of a group of elements interconnected by qi is posited as being itself the tangible outcome - in lieu of any actual skill. In other words, a depsicable fraud pretends to have cultivated qi power, and uses this as the explanation as to why someone flies back at her lightest touch. The whole thing is simply to disguise the fact that there is no real, tangible skill.


    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    Whether language is the causation of or the consequence of the more holistic style of Chinese philosophy is not important, it is possible to be simultaneously both, I have no doubt there is a general nature of holism in Chinese culture and reductionism in Western culture.
    Well, you appear to be your own proof, as this is reductionism taken to a very fine level. I think you're confusing neoliberal, or indeed paleo-liberal philosophy, which does indeed have a very strong focus on the unit over the system, with 'western culture', which is a vast arena of ideas, some of which are massively holistic and systemic.



    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    You raise very good questions, but you see, I think things may be the opposite! Culture changes remarkably slowly, language changes very fast.
    Well that's just patently untrue. I could communicate with my grandfather's grandfather, and he with his grandfather's grandfather, with no problem at all. But our cultures would be alien worlds.


    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    Try talking to a young hip kid these days, I only get about half of it. I see customs in mountain villages persisting far beyond the memory of where they come from, though language has changed to an entirely new dialect. Man is born a beast and raised above the animals by culture. Culture is an immensly precious and fragile thing. The parents imprint themselves on a child to such a strong degree that culture takes many generations to change, it cannot be done just by changing language or changing location. You see this clearly in immigrant populations, changing fully over to the host language but maintaining many elements of their old culture.
    You're making two classic mistakes here. The first is that one cannot measure the differences in speed of change between culture and language in a culture/language group that hasn't appeared to change either - by definition. Secondly, it is a classic anthropological fallacy to think that cultures are unchanging and static just because they appear 'simple' or 'primitive'.

    So you have to look at cultures that do change, and compare their language evolution. A bit of hip street talk aside, English has been the same for quite some time - several hundred years now - while 'culture' has changed remarkably - although admittedly at different paces in different places. Technology is probably the primary driving factor (in my view) of cultural change.



    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    But this is a different quantity. Though popular language changes fast it uses the same underlying formula. Chinese may as well be an Alien language from another planet to English. Though we live in a more united world now and these differences will slowly dissipate, I have experience talking to very old Chinese people and I consider their world view very different. i think Language is an important part of this.
    Yes, well, how is that you managed to talk to them? That's right, lol - because the language was close enough to be understandable, despite their 'alien' culture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    Unless of course, one parachutes down onto it. And don't forget, some paths may just go round and round for ever - the very existence of a path does not imply eventual ascent.
    Misses the point, given human restriction we can not fly in this metaphor, we can walk up, there is a direction up, walking circular would not be moving up. The absolute existence is of the GOAL (peak) not the path. All paths that lead to the top may be very different but they will have a uniting absolute factor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    It is incredibly difficult to define what 'culture' is - and culture is, therefore, itself a gross generalisation. It's not clear, in fact, even what 'China' is (i.e. is Tibet part of China culturally, or only politically? Are Uighurs Chinese culturally, or only politically?).

    To say, however, that there is a 'Chinese way of thinking' is rather circular in that you could only prove this by exlcuding all anomalous thinkers as 'not really Chinese culturally'.
    No, its about what is useful. We can endlessly subdivide but it is useless and many people who do this make themselves impotent and can never really say anything. There is a useful edge to what it is to be Chinese culture. It is about IN GROUPS and OUT GROUPS. I can get more specific, I can speak of the sub culture of Song Mountain specifically but it is not useful right here. I am not submitting this for peer review. For the purpose of this 'Western Culture' and even a group as large as 'East Asian culture' are perfectly fine and most sensible people will understand when that to generalise is NOT defining aspects that are comment to every one in the category, but rather aspects which are more represented in one as opposed to the other. For example, I can say the East Asian Culture speak Chinese.... I know they all don't but enough of them do in comparison to the 'Western' culture to make it a valid aspect to highlight. When we talk and communicate ideas we have to do it in a way that is useful. For example, to go on for 200 pages of formal logic to prove that 1+1=2 is not useful for most people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    Just think how dangerous that idea is. It could include scientists, political dissidents, ****sexuals, people who practise jiu jitsu, left-handers - in fact anyone that doesn't fit into what you, or some other 'decider', decides is the authentic 'Chinese' way of thinking.
    This does 'appear' to be dangerous. But this would require immense stupidity on behalf of the perceiver. Again, when we generalise it is not saying this is so for everyone in the category, it means that aspect is significantly more represented in one category than another. When people are persecuted as a group it is not because of an argument linking them in a general way, it is because of many underlying factors where the weak argument of generalisation is only the facade and often a very thin one. There are thousands more times when generalising does not end in some dangerous outcome because the other factors were not there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    Which is not to say that there aren't certain ideas encoded in linguistic form - there obviously are. But these might be far more historically contingent than culturally contingent. One classic example could be the belief that the Japanese are culturally subservient, and therefore resistant to socialsim, whereas, in the 1950s, the Japanese working class was very radical. Which is the 'real' Japanese way of thinking/culture?
    To know the 'REAL' japanese culture one would have to look inside the model. Looking inside the model destroys it. Generalisations are only useful looking from far away, and in comparison to other things. When you want to look specifically inside the model, you must completely rebuild it. A generalisation will fall apart when we step inside it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    If those ideas are not 'understandable' outside of Chinese culture, then they are not real wushu knowledge - just tertiary baggage.
    I said 'Un-translateable'... I can understand them, my meaning is that it is easier for me to think of them in Chinese, where was for other things my internal dialogue would be in English.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    Actually, western thought is very binary - although, at times it is highly trinary - and these are not the only variations. And dyadic thinking is not necessarily 'holistic' - for example, Chinese nationalism, like all nationalism, relies on the us/them dyad, but is deeply un-unifying in a global sense.
    Here IS a case of language being a problem. We would have to define what each of use means by Dyadic, Monadic etc. Lets not go there... Rather, my meaning is the abstraction from the 'things that are' to the relationship between two 'things that are', representing reductionism and holism respectively.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    As for qi, you've made the classic mistake of reversing the problem. It is not that a tangible outcome (.e. real skill) is described as being due to a group of elements interconnected by qi, it is that the idea of a group of elements interconnected by qi is posited as being itself the tangible outcome - in lieu of any actual skill. In other words, a depsicable fraud pretends to have cultivated qi power, and uses this as the explanation as to why someone flies back at her lightest touch. The whole thing is simply to disguise the fact that there is no real, tangible skill.
    I'm not quite sure how this responds to my point, forgive me. If we talk about the concept 'Harmony' it is a holistic term. It cannot be reduced to a thing in itself but only seen by the things that are in harmony and only when they are together.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    Well, you appear to be your own proof, as this is reductionism taken to a very fine level. I think you're confusing neoliberal, or indeed paleo-liberal philosophy, which does indeed have a very strong focus on the unit over the system, with 'western culture', which is a vast arena of ideas, some of which are massively holistic and systemic.
    Of course your right in what you say, I wasn't being specific, but deliberately so. And if we go into the the history of each idea it gets more confusing still. But we are being as General as possible, looking on the scale of the entire globe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    Well that's just patently untrue. I could communicate with my grandfather's grandfather, and he with his grandfather's grandfather, with no problem at all. But our cultures would be alien worlds.
    Saying its untrue is also patently untrue! You have no more idea than I do! Neither of us can. But I agree this is getting into a place where we would both need to define 'culture' for the purpose of this argument, and we will both be right and wrong many times before it is over. Lets not bother with this for now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    You're making two classic mistakes here. The first is that one cannot measure the differences in speed of change between culture and language in a culture/language group that hasn't appeared to change either - by definition. Secondly, it is a classic anthropological fallacy to think that cultures are unchanging and static just because they appear 'simple' or 'primitive'.
    There are too many elements of culture here and things that change and things that don't, obviously I have many things that lead me to my conlusion, I could not write them all down here.... Its an issue no one could decidedly win on, So i will say 'It is my opinion that culture changes more slowly than is the common perception' and be done with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    Yes, well, how is that you managed to talk to them? That's right, lol - because the language was close enough to be understandable, despite their 'alien' culture.
    Now now don't go and ruin a good post by being stupid just to be offensive. I said Alien language (and because the whole post is about languge and culture specifically you should have picked up on this), and of all languages on earth Chinese and English are thought by many scholars to have separated very early. My point is they are as different as any two known spoken languages are. Of course I can talk to them! But I had to learn Chinese to do it!
    Last edited by RenDaHai; 04-09-2014 at 02:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    Misses the point, given human restriction we can not fly in this metaphor, we can walk up, there is a direction up, walking circular would not be moving up. The absolute existence is of the GOAL (peak) not the path. All paths that lead to the top may be very different but they will have a uniting absolute factor.
    This all depends on what you intended the imagery to represent. I was thinking there in terms of martial arts, where the idea of 'many ways up the mountain' tends to imply that any one training regime is the equal of any other - which is patently untrue. Whereas, there are one or two who can fly - natural talents etc.

    In terms of the absolute 'goal' - you already ARE the absolute goal. There is no metaphysical martial art beyond the ability of an actual individual.

    Similarly, in terms of 'culture', there is no absolute 'culture' beyond an individual either. And as there are many individuals in any given culture, it is difficult to say what a precise 'culture' is - something that anthropologists have been trying to get to grips with for a very long time. There is no 'top of the mountain' that is 'Chinese' or 'American' culture, for instance. Except of course in elitist narratives.

    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    No, its about what is useful. We can endlessly subdivide but it is useless and many people who do this make themselves impotent and can never really say anything. There is a useful edge to what it is to be Chinese culture. It is about IN GROUPS and OUT GROUPS. I can get more specific, I can speak of the sub culture of Song Mountain specifically but it is not useful right here. I am not submitting this for peer review. For the purpose of this 'Western Culture' and even a group as large as 'East Asian culture' are perfectly fine and most sensible people will understand
    There are degrees of intellectual integrity that might not equate to 'peer review' of the kind one might find in a specialist academic journal, but which are nevertheless valid. One such might even be the level of understanding of the 'perfectly sensible person' you mention, who might, being perfectly sensible, recognise that a gross generalisation such as 'Western culture', is actually too gross to have any real meaning.



    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    when that to generalise is NOT defining aspects that are comment to every one in the category, but rather aspects which are more represented in one as opposed to the other. For example, I can say the East Asian Culture speak Chinese.... I know they all don't but enough of them do in comparison to the 'Western' culture to make it a valid aspect to highlight. When we talk and communicate ideas we have to do it in a way that is useful. For example, to go on for 200 pages of formal logic to prove that 1+1=2 is not useful for most people.
    Culture is much more than language, I'm afraid - which is one of the big problems with defining what 'culture' is. And I'm afraid that is also a big problem with the idea that language is the basis of culture. If it was, then Spanish speaking Indians in Uruguay would be the same culture as lifelong residents of Barcelona. But they're not - so how do you explain that in your theory?

    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    This does 'appear' to be dangerous. But this would require immense stupidity on behalf of the perceiver.
    I'm afraid that lack of stupidity does not, and historically has not, prevented nationalists and governments from using the idea of a perfect national culture to persecute others. This seems too obvious to have to point out.

    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    Again, when we generalise it is not saying this is so for everyone in the category, it means that aspect is significantly more represented in one category than another. When people are persecuted as a group it is not because of an argument linking them in a general way, it is because of many underlying factors where the weak argument of generalisation is only the facade and often a very thin one. There are thousands more times when generalising does not end in some dangerous outcome because the other factors were not there.
    Well, that is ture, but it does not alter the fact that the idea of a 'Chinese' way of thinking is chauvanist. True enoguh, though, that is a seperate issue from the fact that it is facile, and subsumes a vast diversity of people under one crude umbrella concept.


    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    To know the 'REAL' japanese culture one would have to look inside the model. Looking inside the model destroys it. Generalisations are only useful looking from far away, and in comparison to other things. When you want to look specifically inside the model, you must completely rebuild it. A generalisation will fall apart when we step inside it.
    What's it's point, then? (After all, it's you that wants the generalisation of a 'Chinese' and a 'Western' way of thinking.) If the **** idea collapses when exposed to scrutiny, it can't be much use, can it?


    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    I said 'Un-translateable'... I can understand them, my meaning is that it is easier for me to think of them in Chinese, where was for other things my internal dialogue would be in English.
    Well, so what? If it can't be understood through some other means - i.e. through actual wushu training and experience - then it isn't part of 'core' wushu, it's just baggage.

    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    Here IS a case of language being a problem. We would have to define what each of use means by Dyadic, Monadic etc. Lets not go there... Rather, my meaning is the abstraction from the 'things that are' to the relationship between two 'things that are', representing reductionism and holism respectively.
    Well I have a specialist knowledge of semiotics so I'm pretty comfortable with what I mean by these terms. And I fully understand the difference between 'Chinese' and 'foreigner' and the separate concept of a politically constructed relationship between 'Chinese' and 'foreigner'. And I also note that it's a part of the way you approach these ideas to continually suggest that we 'back off' from examining more closely the things you say - which I think may be an intuitive acceptance of weakness of point on your part.


    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    I'm not quite sure how this responds to my point, forgive me. If we talk about the concept 'Harmony' it is a holistic term. It cannot be reduced to a thing in itself but only seen by the things that are in harmony and only when they are together.
    Well, my coach was from mainland China, and he never spoke of qi as a relationship between things. He did use the concept in multiple ways, but never like that. (Possibly he wasn't from the proper Chinese culuture? But I can't think of anything that would offend him more than saying that!).



    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post

    Of course your right in what you say, I wasn't being specific, but deliberately so. And if we go into the the history of each idea it gets more confusing still. But we are being as General as possible, looking on the scale of the entire globe.
    Again, a classic mistake. You can't look at the whole human world in one, general way in this specific case.

    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    Saying its untrue is also patently untrue! You have no more idea than I do! Neither of us can. But I agree this is getting into a place where we would both need to define 'culture' for the purpose of this argument, and we will both be right and wrong many times before it is over. Lets not bother with this for now.
    Well I'm sorry, but we have significant empirical evidence of languages remaining very similar while cultures using that language have changed beyond recognition. England is just one out of many examples. So no - you're wrong.


    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    There are too many elements of culture here and things that change and things that don't, obviously I have many things that lead me to my conlusion, I could not write them all down here.... Its an issue no one could decidedly win on, So i will say 'It is my opinion that culture changes more slowly than is the common perception' and be done with it.
    Well, I don't work like that. I don't just decide that I think something is true, ans then pretend that it's all too complex to contradict me therefore I'll sit pretty on my assumptions. But don't let me stop you doing that - I envy the kind of certainty that that must give.


    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    Now now don't go and ruin a good post by being stupid just to be offensive. I said Alien language (and because the whole post is about languge and culture specifically you should have picked up on this), and of all languages on earth Chinese and English are thought by many scholars to have separated very early. My point is they are as different as any two known spoken languages are. Of course I can talk to them! But I had to learn Chinese to do it!
    Well, according to you, there is no 'Chinese' - it's a rapidly evolving verbal system, with little connection to the Chinese of the past. But that presumption is not true, which is the problem. Old Chinese men understand you, even as a non-Chinese - but their culture is very, very different to that of a young, urban Beijing resident in many ways, even while it is similar in many others. I'm afraid 'culture' is far more complex than you think it is. But that is no excuse for deciding that it is 'too' complex an issue for you to consider in more sophisticated detail.

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    I'll respond in one if I may, the continual quoting is tiring.


    1. The imagery of the mountain was simply to define how something can be both Vague and Absolute simultaneously, nothing to do with martial arts, simply a digression.

    I detect the Echoes of Protagorus here.... No absolute culture?... well then lets never talk about it ever. Of course there is, there are absolutes in all things, absolutes are what make relatives exist. It is a matter of abstracting the quintessence. Now, that abstraction will always be vague (but if you reread the mountain analogy) simultaneosuly absolute. If its all relative, if you live in this infected world of modern philosophy which is only the study of contradictions and pedantry, then there is no purpose to our argument what so ever. If you can admit there is the golden thread of the absolute in what it is to be culture, then some degree of generalisation will be justified.

    If you simply look up 'Western culture' and 'Chinese culture' you will find the terms are used in popular discourse extremely frequently which gives them their own identity and so we can generalise with them, and people will understand, so our language is useful.

    'Western culture speaks english, Asian culture speaks chinese....' This statement is clearly not true, but it would still be useful to an alien landing on the planet. Generalisations are what we do all the time, they are discourse and debate, they are how we discriminate which is how we do anything.


    At no point in my posts do I say 'Culture is language' this is you, distorting my posts into something you can argue with. I say Language effects consciousness and perception dramatically. You are welcome to argue with this point, but it is a well explored topic already.

    Historically is precisely what I was alluding to, always many factors not just the generalisation itself.

    People resort to crude umbrellas all the time, it is literally how we talk about most things all the time, so whether it is good or not people will understand it when I do so and so it will be useful.


    On looking inside ideas.... We have Analogues and Models, we resort to both to view the world. A model is good for looking how a thing interacts with other things, but as soon as we look inside it, the model breaks down. Let me give you an example, The model of an atom used in chemistry is very useful for chemistry, but when we move into atomic physics the model breaks down and is no longer useful. Its about resolution, the 'local-global' dichotomy. So how is it useful? Its useful from outside, seeing how this thing is compared to others, but not when analysing its internal structure.

    On wushu thing...I 'm lost here, My point in original post on this was that I had experience in thinking in both English and Chinese, this is what led me to my conclusions. It wasn't a comment designed to give me authority, it was to explain why my thought process occured. it had nothing to do with Wushu. Often we don't talk about Why our ideas occured, to know the why is very useful. I may as well have said there are some words I cannot translate and so in my internal dialogue they are in Chinese.



    I'm happy to go into a digression on Monadic and Dyadic, I just thought it was not pertinent. Go ahead and begin if you want to.


    It doesn't matter, here I am trying to explain holism to make myself clear. If you said he wasn't part of the 'real' chinese culture that would be down to your own interpretation of generalisations. I understand generalisations DO NOT APPLY TO EVERYONE AND LEAVE PLENTY OF ROOM FOR INDIVIDUALS. So I am comfortable with using generalisations.


    The evidence we have of previous cultures is largely from historical literature and archaelogy, since you can't speak to someone directly you cannot know this either. We are often surprised by how similar cultural relics are to things of our own time, or references in literature show us that human nature seems to have changed little. Culture is a deeply embedded thing. One cannot overestimate the impact historical literature has on culture, reading Chinese philosophy and western philosophy (very commonly used term and thus understandable and usable!!!!!!) I notice marked differences that can be generalised.



    Last bit, I am not sure how you arrive here. Culture is an immensely difficult thing to analyse and like the model, if we step INSIDE it becomes much more complex. I am happy to stay OUTSIDE comparing Western and Chinese cultures rather than looking INSIDE one of them. To do this it gets more complex.


    See, I have lived in China and England, if asked about the cultral differences I could say useful things, you on the other hand could only say 'thats too gross a generalisation to say anything'.... Well sir, at what point CAN you say anything in your definitions??
    Last edited by RenDaHai; 04-09-2014 at 05:03 PM.

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    Is this a thread about culture and language? or a bunch of ideas to justify each of your logical premises? We eliminated the linguist issue so why not concentrate in the Daoist aspect in TCMA as the little I read were generalizations.

    Thanks,

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    Quote Originally Posted by mig View Post
    Is this a thread about culture and language? or a bunch of ideas to justify each of your logical premises? We eliminated the linguist issue so why not concentrate in the Daoist aspect in TCMA as the little I read were generalizations.

    Thanks,
    NO, it has just become an argument at this point, I will go back to topic, but first;

    'Even a superficial acquaintance with Eastern thought is sufficient to show that a fundamental difference divides East and West. The East bases itself upon psychic reality, that is, upon the psyche as the main and unique condition of existence. It as if this Eastern recognition were a psychological or temperamental fact rather than a result of philosophical reasoning. It is a typically introverted point of view, contrasted with the equally typical extraverted point of view of the West.' -- C. G. Jung

    Hadn't read this before... but I agree with him. I'm guessing no one is gonna call him on being offensively generalising.

    Right, now back to topic:


    Daoist Metaphysics and TCMA..... Well, perhaps we should isolate some specific things, Like 5 metamorphoses (5 elements) and see what other sets of theory are applied to Martial Arts. I practice Shaolin and I have encountered the use of 5 element theory in Shaolin which is Chan as opposed to Daoist.
    Last edited by RenDaHai; 04-10-2014 at 11:51 AM.

  14. #29
    In fairness, I've never seen a definition of qi from any of the schools of thought that espoused it, specifically sources that are considered, by Chinese who care about such things, classics, that spoke of it as isolated in any way from li or pattern. Li and qi are viewed, in all the sources I'm familiar with, as incapable of independent existence. This is problematic for no-touch knockouts, not that I care about that, but this is the difference between portions of the culture that ascribe to education, and portions that ascribe to mysticism, and the place where the two occasionally meet. That there are those who do not know about this definition does not mean there is a second definition that Chinese people, a majority of at least, would call Chinese.

    Just because culture is not monolithic does not mean it is not hegemonic at times. A reasonable person does not defer to their coaches authority on qi if it disagrees with what are considered classics, although they may not call them on it for sake of face.

    Aside from that, interesting conversation. Although, I think there is always a danger in assuming language can be taken literally at all, or should be. If you get the meaning, the specific words, even if incorrect, don't mean anything anymore.

    As for the holistic approach, and whether that is 'Chinese', China has produced a tremendous amount of different schools of thought that each have some holistic central elements. Even legalism falls into this category. Although we cannot say that all Chinese are firm believers, most are influenced by this by means of the cultures they live in.

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