RE-THINKING THINKING VI

Another way in which Zhuangzi seeks to put reason in its proper context is to simply point to its lack of any sure foundation. Having just made a case for the advantages that would accrue from understanding what is of Nature (a given) and of the human (a choice) he immediately tells us that this is a vain search: “However, there is a problem here. For our understanding can be in the right only by virtue of a relationship of dependence on something, and what it depends on is peculiarly unfixed” (6; Ziporyn, p 39). His principal point is that every representation of knowledge is always contingent upon a point of view, where one presently finds oneself. This is necessarily different from every other point of view, but also from those that will arise from one’s ever changing circumstances which in turn yield ever changing points of view. We will look at this perspectivism in more detail in the next chapter. For the moment we wish to point out how this also applies to a lack of any true foundation. Reason is very adept at building castles, but they are always built on sand. Reason is its own proof and thus fails of reason. It is circular. It depends on what cannot be demonstrated. We look for a raison d’etre, a reason to be, a firm and unshakeable foundation upon which to establish ourselves in surety, but we will not find it. Yet we make the attempt nonetheless, for we would rather live with our inauthenticity than live adrift. “Drift and doubt” are among the inescapable givens of the human experience, its essential “existential dangle”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *