UNDER HEAVEN LXXI

The Logicians were so completely lacking in knowledge of the Dao that the Tianxia dispenses with the usual preamble regarding what aspect they at least “heard of”. Instead, it immediately launches into a scathing personal attack on Huizi and his dao. Some mention is also made of two other “debaters”, Gongsun Long and Huan Tuan, and some of the former’s additions to Huizi’s “uneven” and “mottled” words are listed, but Huizi is mostly taken as representative of them all.

Their many “paradoxes”—nonsense to the Tianxia—seem to have been intended to demonstrate that our discriminations regarding time, space and comparatives generally (bigger, longer, etc.) do not in fact represent reality as it is. Pre-cognitive reality is distinctionless.

Assuming that such is the case, how does this observation affect our being in the world? Life goes on much as before. Why should we wish it to be otherwise? Was Zhuangzi a missionary? Did he know the truth and wish to convert the world? I think not. A physician is for those who find themselves ill, and Zhuangzi, I think, simply offers a remedy for those who feel the need. And chief among these were Zhuangzi’s philosophically inclined peers.

Huizi is mostly roasted for his egoism: “Hui Shi used these statements to make a display in the world, showing them off in debate . . .” “[He] thought his eloquence was the most valuable thing in the world . . .” “Since it was really all about opposing the views of others, so that he might earn fame in defeating them, he was unable to get along with the mass of men.” (pp 124-5)

We really have no way of knowing if this was the case, but clearly, the Tianxia has a special loathing for him and his fellow Logicians. Huang-Lao, despite its desire to make a grand synthesis of the philosophical schools of its time, had no place for ideas that undermined their fundamental belief in an articulable Dao. It is, in the end, religiously-minded. By this token, they should have also rejected Laozi and Zhuangzi, but they somehow were able to subvert them to their purposes.

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