Chuang

Take the case of some words, Chuang Tzu says, parodying the logicians, I do not know which of them are in any way connected with reality or which are not at all connected with reality. If some that are so connected and some that are not so connected are connected with one another, then as regards truth or falsehood the former cease to be in any way different from the latter. However, just as an experiment, I will now say them: IF there was a beginning, there must have been a time before the beginning began, and if there was a time before the beginning began, there must have bee a time before the time the beginning began. If there is a being, there must also be a not-being. If there was a time before there began to be any not-being, there must also have been a time before the time before there began to be any not-being. But here I am, talking about being and not-being and still do not know whether it is being that exists and not-being that does not exist, or being that does not exist and not-being that really exists! I have spoken, and do not know whether I have said something that means anything or said nothing that has any meaning at all.

"Nothing under Heaven is larger than a strand of gossamer, nothing smaller than Mt. T'ai. Noone lives longer than a child that dies in its swaddling-clothes, no one dies sooner than 'Methuselah." Heaven and earth were born when I was born; the ten thousand things and I among them are but one thing." All this the sophists have proved. But if there were indeed only one thing, there would be no language with which to say so: And in order that anyone should state this, there must be more language in which it can be stated. Thus their one thing together with their talk about the one thing makes two things. And their one thing together with their talk and my statement about it makes three things. And so it goes on, to a point where the cleverest mathematician could no longer keep count, much less an ordinary man. Starting with not-being and going on to being, one soon gets to three. What then would happen if one started with being and went on to being?

Selections from:

Arthur Waley. Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China.Garden City, Doubleday Anchor (A75), 1956. p. 8.

Fisher, Nelson, Hotz, & Franquist, Hill of Three Oaks, c. 1963

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