A NEW PHILOSOPHICAL DAOISM VIII

The declaration that I am doing a new philosophical Daoism sounds pretentious to say the least. But I say so only because I am unable to discover an old one. Several are there to be sure, but I cannot be sure what they are. Nor do I believe that anyone else can, however more scholarly. Indeed, scholarship might easily be an impediment. Scholarship easily misses the forest for the trees; and scholarship often fears the subjective commitment that alone can discover the spirit behind the words. Thus, everyone who thoughtfully engages with Daoism is creating their own new philosophical Daoism.

Whoever is reading this is likely doing so out of an interest in Daoism or some parallel philosophy. To my thinking, you too are creating your own unique philosophy of life. And that is about the best we can do. If there is no one, true solution to life’s contingencies then whatever response we formulate will be our own. But we don’t build from nothing; we make use of all the materials at hand. I like to make use of Zhuangzi. His sense of things speaks well to my experience. Or, at least, my experience finds that sense in him.

The proclamation of the “death of God” offends many, but I think Nietzsche wasn’t so much trying to offend as to bear witness to a cultural paradigm shift. This represents a great parting of ways. Is Truth out there waiting to be discovered, or are we required to create our own? My experience leads me to choose the latter. It’s a scary and daunting task, but such is life. It’s also liberating. There is no Truth. That’s one less thing to worry about. (This is not to say there is no Truth, but only that there is none for me.)

Everyone’s building their own philosophy of life; everyone’s just trying to cope. Perhaps those who can believe find it easier than others, but I’m not so sure. Perhaps those who don’t question much find it easier than those that do. This seems more likely. Indeed, these, like newborn babes, may be reflections of sagacity.

Socrates’ famous dictum that “the unexamined life is not worth living” is as false as it is true. If every life is not worth living, then no life is. Still, for those so disposed—those who need to question—an inquiry into what can make for a happier life is well worth the effort. And quite frankly, it seems likely that the benefit lies more in the effort than in the results. Thinking can be fun. And it helps one get through the day.

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