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Back to About Tao index page The Tao's '3 Treasures'

Eastern, Western, Taoist Logic

The Tao makes an interesting focus point for a discussion of Eastern and Western  ways of thinking.  To summarise 2,500 years of thinking into 2 sentences:

The History
Greek and especially Socratic ideas were passed on to the early Christian Church and thereafter both strongly influenced the development of Western thinking and value systems.  Meanwhile in the East, Chinese and Indian philosophy created a slightly different way of seeing life. 

Subtle Difference
These differences are often overemphasised.  For example, have you heard of a  country where ordinary people didn't want to be rich, didn't try to prove their point in an argument or try to look fashionable, (whatever that meant for their peer group)? 

Nevertheless, broadly speaking, Western society strives to find "the truth", while Eastern society is more interested in balance.  Westerners put more stock in individual rights; Easterners in social responsibility.

The symbol of the Tao (above) is an affront to the idea of truth in the common Western way of thinking.  White lies inside black, black inside white.  They are part of one another, constantly changing (indicated by the swirling shape), interdependent.   There is no clear truth and therefore opinions have little value.

A Western version might look more like this: O O     White circle - black circle.  Static, separate.  It is hard to say how much Eastern thinking was influenced by the Tao and how much the Tao was a product of a pre-existing thought.

In the last 40 years, scientists  have become increasingly aware of the idea of uncertainty.  Chaos Theory, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and Fuzzy Logic all  helped destroy the earlier mechanistic view of the universe, that God created a universe that ran on tightly define principles that could be measured and predicted by science.

Generalisations are necessarily inaccurate for individuals.  Eastern countries and people don't all think alike anymore than Western people do.  Modern communication has eroded both ways considerably, so the above generalisations are increasing invalid.



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