今天是  星期

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The Chinese and Western “One”: 

Towards A Common Conceptual Basis for Chinese and Western Studies [1]

Ming Dong Gu

 

       In the world today, the rapid globalization has drastically shrunk the geographical distance between the East and West and greatly facilitated exchanges between different cultures and traditions. Ironically, in the comparative studies of Eastern and Western literatures and cultures, there is an opposite trend characterized by an anxiety of cultural relativism, which has been aptly reduced to this claim: “[T]he East and the West are so distinctly different that ways of thinking and expression cannot be made intelligible from one to the other, and therefore the knowledge of one must be kept apart from that of the other” (Longxi Zhang xvii). The viability of comparative studies, as is recognized, rests on a fundamental notion that two cultural objects juxtaposed for comparison should share some common ground, or a valid frame of reference is applicable to both of them. In the comparative studies of Chinese and Western traditions, because the Chinese and Western traditions are recognized as founded on different and often unique ontological premises and epistemological assumptions, it is even difficult to locate a common conceptual entry point for a two-way dialogue, not to mention a common conceptual basis undergirded by Chinese and Western philosophical thought, that may be utilized for setting up a viable paradigm of comparison. The current absence of such a conceptual basis in the international context of globalization, which calls for dialogues between different cultures and traditions, cannot but force us to ponder: How can we find a Chinese philosophical concept that signifies, as another Western philosophical concept does, the ontological and epistemological conditions of human existence, that can be used as a conceptual premise upon which to build a bridge across the divide between the Chinese and Western traditions?

Undaunted by the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the Chinese and Western traditions, some scholars have made valiant efforts to locate a common conceptual ground. Following the lead of Mr. Qian Zhongshu, the foremost Chinese erudite of the 20th century, a number of scholars have pointed out that the Dao (Tao) in Chinese philosophical thought and the Logos in Western philosophical thought are remarkably comparable (Qian 408). The compatibility of the Dao and Logos, however, has been problematised by other scholars who argue that the differences between the Dao and Logos are more profound than their apparent similarities.[2]

To establish a model for cross cultural studies, it is of little value to simply juxtapose a Chinese concept and a Western concept together and find their similarities. In comparative studies, we need to find a conceptual model based on the paring of similar concepts from different traditions that may yield promises of paradigms and methodologies. For this reason, my exploration is not concerned with this question: Is it viable to pair the Dao and Logos together? I am more concerned with another question: Is it possible to build a conceptual and methodological model based on the near commensurability between the Dao and Logos? Some scholars suggest that the striking similarity invites and encourages further exploration. But in which direction or directions should we pursue the subject further? In my opinion, previous scholars' preliminary exploration has already shown gestures towards a promising prospect. Their achievement, however, has been limited by narrowly focusing on the local issue of the two words in their etymological evolution and historical context.

I venture to argue that we can construct a common conceptual basis on the existent philosophical and conceptual explorations concerning the Dao and Logos. But we need to shift our focus. Instead of mechanically comparing their similarities and strenuously bringing out questionable common ground, we ought to look beneath the surface structure of concepts in comparison and locate common ground in the deep structure of the Dao and Logos that are being compared.  The striking similarity of the Dao and the Logos is not, as some scholars believe, a "most curious coincidence." In my opinion, the similarity of the Logos and Dao is not accidental. Their complicated denotations, connotations, and ramifications suggest that people, in spite of their different cultural traditions, have been wrestling, since antiquity, with the same philosophical and existential questions concerning the world, life, culture, representation, etc. In other words, there is an inevitability in the coincidence. The inevitability lies in the fact that both the Dao and the Logos are humanly constructed signs that are meant to name the unnamable and to represent the ineffable. As signs, they embody reified ideas, concepts, and conceptualizations that have resulted from the human efforts at understanding the relationship between the universe and human existence, grasping the problematic relationship between thought and language, and grappling with the problems of denomination, signification, and representation. I suggest that we should broaden our research by exploring their explicit and implicit implications in the large contexts of Chinese and Western philosophical traditions and in terms of philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and most important of all, semiotics. In the semioticized reconceptualization of the two terms, we may locate a common ground for the Dao and the Logos.

From Metaphysical Concepts To Semiotic Signs

I propose that we shift our focus of inquiry from viewing the Dao and Logos as metaphysical concepts to treating them as signs in the modern sense of semiotics. This initial proposition does not seem to be particularly new, at least from the perspective of the Western tradition. As Derrida points out that the Western metaphysical system of thought has consistently regarded the Logos as “primum signatum” (the “transcendental signified”) and even Heideggerian thought, which attempts to unseat this metaphysics and to emancipate the signifier from its dependence on or derivation from the logos, ends up reinstating rather than destroying the view of the logos as the “transcendental signified” (Derrida 19-20). In a way, we may also call the Logos a “transcendental signifier,” because,  after all, as contemporary thinkers have argued, “the difference between signified and signifier is nothing” (23). Whether we call the Logos a transcendental signified or signifier, it is not the same as viewing it as a complete sign predicated on the opposition between the signifier and signified. Thus, the central difference in my proposition is that rather than treating the Logos as a signified or signifier, primary or transcendental, I wish to examine and reconceptualize it as a totalized and totalizing sign with all the ramifications accompanying a sign. As for the Chinese tradition, as is characteristic of ancient Chinese thinkers, the view of the Dao as a sign has been consistently examined in practice but has never been proclaimed in conceptual terms. What I will do is to reconceptualize the traditional Chinese thought on the Dao into a sign system. After reconceptualizing both the Dao and Logos, I will bring the semioticized concepts into a dialogue, on the basis of which I will attempt to show their compatibility and fitness as the common conceptual ground for Chinese and Western studies.

There are as many definitions of "sign" as there are schools of semioticians. Even the same semiotician may conceive different definitions of sign. C. S. Peirce, for example, devised no less than a dozen definitions. His representative definition states: “Anything which determines something else (its interpretant) to refer to an object to which itself refers (its object) in the same way, the interpretant becoming in turn a sign, and so on ad infinitum” (239). This definition is similar to Charles Morris’s definition, which states that “something is a sign only because it is interpreted as a sign of something by some interpreter.” Their emphasis on the role of interpretation in sign theories will be of central importance for my search for a common conceptual basis. But at this stage of my inquiry, I will cite another of Peirce’s many definitions and some other theorists’ definitions to justify our efforts to view the Dao and Logos as signs. Another Peircean definition reads: "I define a Sign as anything which is so determined by something else, called its Object" (Semiotics and Significs 81). This definition shows sign as a means of representation. If the idea of representation in his definition is still somewhat vague, some other theorists declare it in unequivocal terms. Emile Benveniste emphasizes sign as a means of representation: “The role of the sign is to represent, to stand as a substitute for something else.” Jacques Lacan defines sign simply as that which "represents something for someone" (Four Fundamental Concepts, 207). Umberto Eco offers a broadest possible definition: “I propose to define a sign everything that, on the grounds of a previously established social convention, can be taken as something standing for something else” (16). These theorists’ definitions have justified our move to view the Dao and Logos as signs.

If we regard both the Logos and Dao as signs, what do they stand for? In Western tradition, the word "logos", as it first appeared in ancient Greek philosophy, is one of the most pervasive and at the same time most ambiguous terms. As one scholar puts it, "its meaning rang[es] all the way from speech, statement, and definition to argument, account, discourse, structure, rationality, and even rationally structuring mind itself" (Desjardin 123). The Webster's Dictionary, for example, defines it as "reason or the manifestation of reason conceived in ancient Greek philosophy as constituting the controlling principle in the universe" (1331). In Christian theology, it is often simply referred to as "the Word of God." Martin Heidegger identifies it with Zeus, the supreme god of ancient Greece (1975, 72-74). In the West, the word in its capitalized form is also associated with or equivalent to some other transcendental terms like Essence, Idea, Being, Origin, God, Reason, and Truth.

In the Chinese tradition, the word "dao" is as polysemous and multivalent as the Western "logos." Literally, the word has the primary meaning of "road" or "way."  Another literal meaning is "speak" or "account." This second meaning refers to the linguistic way of describing or representing a way or things. From the primary sense, it comes to mean a way of doing things, as in the term “daoli” (reason or rationale). With this meaning, it started to assume a metaphysical connotation as the "way of man," which refers to human conduct, truth, the way of life, or social organization advocated by an individual or school of thought (Fung Yu-lan 1952, 177). On top of all these, there is another metaphysical meaning, which refers to the constant cosmic principle that gives birth to the myriad things and governs the operations of the universe. As Fung Yu-lan, the leading Chinese philosopher of modern times, aptly sums it up, it is the assumption that "for the universe to have come into being, there must exist an all-embracing first principle, which is called Tao" (177).

From my brief account in the above, it is clear that the two terms "dao" and "logos" indeed share a fundamental common ground in metaphysics and language philosophy. Metaphysically, they both represent the first principle that controls the operations of the universe.  In terms of language, both terms have the meaning of “speech”  and “discourse.”  The metaphysical and linguistic dimensions are closely interconnected. To a large extent, the compatibility of the two concepts is predicated on a linguistic representation of the metaphysical principle that inheres in the two concepts: the essential unity of opposites in the world.[3] In the Chinese tradition, the Dao as a metaphysical concept is essentially a principle of the unity of opposites. Fung Yu-lan, after studying various scholars’ views of the Dao, sums up the daily renewal of the substance of the Dao into four group of binary oppositions: 1) production and extinction; 2) progress and retrogression; 3) increase and decrease; 4) transformation and penetration (Wing-tsit Chan 110-11). In the West, a critical annotation of pre-Socratic philosophy suggests that Heraclitus’ idea of Logos embraces four different groups of connected opposites: 1) “the same thing produces opposite effects upon different classes of critics”; 2) “different aspects of the same thing may justify opposite descriptions”; 3) “good and desirable things like health or rest are seen to be possible only if we recognize their opposites, sickness or weariness”; 4) “certain opposites are said to be essentially connected (literally, to be ‘the same’) because they succeed, and are succeeded by, each other and nothing else” (G. S. Kirk et al 189). Moreover, “every opposite can be expressed in terms god,” which “cannot here be essentially different from Logos; and the Logos is, among other things, the constituent of things which makes them opposed, and which ensures that change between opposites will be proportional and balanced overall” (191). In a nutshell, the Logos is the “unifying formula” for theses opposites (187).

I here suggest that in attempting to represent the unity of opposites in the Dao and Logos, Chinese and Western thinkers do not simply explore their implications in purely metaphysical terms; in an implicit way, they have wrestled with the semiotic implications of both concepts. As a result, the Chinese and Western concepts each evolved into an elaborate self-generative meta-sign that at once captures the disjunction between the represented world and the perceived world in the mind and the unity of signifier and signified in a sign.

The Chinese “One” and Western “One”

In uniting the myriad things of the world, both the Dao and Logos have been conceived of as the unifying principle called the “One.” Zhuang Zi (369-286 B.C.), a founder of philosophical Daoism, pronounces in his observation of the Dao: "Nothing escapes from Tao. Such is perfect Tao, and so is great speech. The three, Complete, Entire, and All, differ in name but are the same in actuality. They all designate (chih, mark) the One" (Wing-tsit Chan 203; Zhuangzi 239). Heraclitus’ fragment on the Logos states: “Listening not to me but to the Logos[;] it is wise to agree that all things are one” (G. S. Kirk et al 187). In Heidegger’s opinion, Heraclitus expresses what the Logos says: “All is One” (1975, 59). Here, in metaphysical terms, the Dao and Logos find a conceptual common ground, which is the all embracing One. This One-to-One relationship is not a  mere coincidence. Its deep structure is an elaborate  semiotic operation involving speech and thought in signification and representation.

Let us first examine Zhuang Zi’s musings over the essence of the Dao. Self-consciously aware of the interrelation between the Dao and language, Zhuang Zi always brings speech (yan) to bear on his elucidation of the Dao. Although he warns: "Great Tao has no appellation. Great speech does not say anything,"  he makes a paradoxical effort to explicate the Dao in terms of speech:

The universe and I exist together, and all things and I are one. Since all things are one, what room is there for speech? But since I have already said that all things are one, how can speech not exist? Speech and the one then make two. These two (separately) and the one (the two together) make three. Going from this even the best mathematician cannot reach [the final number]. How much less can ordinary people! If we proceed from nothing to something and arrive at three, how much more shall we reach if we proceed from something to something! (Wing-tsit Chan 186)

In this passage, what interests me is not just the similar statement to Heraclitus' elucidation of the Logos as the unifying One; nor am I  simply interested in it as a footnote to another founder of philosophical Daoism Lao Zi's account about the generative process of the Dao: "The Dao begets one; one begets two; two begets three; three begets myriad things" (D.C. Lau 103). Here, Zhuang Zi is discussing a creative as well as interpretive process, the rationale of which is exactly one of signification, representation, and interpretation. The One is of course the Dao, which unifies all things under heaven. It is not a material entity like the heaven or earth. It is an intuitive comprehension of the operations of the universe. As the product of intuition, it is largely unconscious. Speech makes the unconscious conscious. The conscious urge to describe the One results in a mental representation of it (equivalent to Saussure's concept). Speech then represents it as a materialized one (acoustic image or written symbol), which is a separate entity independent of the One or Dao. As a materialized image, the represented one is capable of being perceived by others. In terms of C. S. Peirce's theory of signs, the One (Dao) is a referent (in this case it is a principle, not an object); the two is a sign because it combines the One with the perceived one (in terms of the sign algorithm S/s, it can be written as One/one); the three is an interpretant because it grows out of a correlation between the One (referent) and the two (sign). Peirce claims that theoretically, semiosis, the production of interpretants in the process of understanding a sign, is unlimited. In a similar way, Zhuang Zi also claims that even the best mathematician cannot exhaust the generative process. While Peirce's semiosis is mainly concerned with understanding and interpretation, Zhuang Zi's discourse goes beyond the concern with interpretation as it is also preoccupied with both interpretation and expression. This can be seen from the distinction he makes between "nothing" and "something." While "something" represents conceptualized thought, "nothing" represents the nebulous state of mind when the speaker tries hard to come to grips with how to represent a yet-to-be-conceptualized mental impression. Thus, it is reasonable to say that "to proceed from nothing to something" is a creative process while "to proceed from something to something' is an interpretive process. In this sense, Zhuang Zi’s musing on the essence of the Dao vividly captures the elaborate mental function involved in the process of signification, representation, and interpretation.

In the Western tradition, we may not find as neat a semiotic conception of the Logos as Zhuang Zi’s musing on the Dao, perhaps because, as Heidegger points out, the statement “One is all” “can also conceals a thinker’s first steps which initiate all the following steps in the fateful course of thinking” (1975, 69). Because of this concealment, the Western explorations have yielded more elaborate and complicated denotations and connotations for the Logos. Out of the multivalent implications, we can also construct a semiotic model of the Logos, which involves language, thinking and representation.

Plato, Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer and other thinkers have agreed that "logos" generally means, among other things, "reason," "thinking" and "language,” and that the term adumbrates a duality attributable to the duality between the inner thought and outer expression. It is the duality in thinking that has endowed “logos” with ambiguous and paradoxical denotations and connotations. Heidegger observes that though since antiquity, the word in Heraclitus's "fragment" has been interpreted in various ways: "as Ratio, as Verbum, as cosmic law, as the logical, as necessity in thought, as meaning and as reason," another facet of its primordial meaning is "talking and saying" (1975, 60). Similarly, Stephen Ullmann points out that logos "has two chief meanings, one corresponding to Latin oratio, 'the word or that by which the inward thought is expressed,' the other to Latin ratio, 'the inward thought ' itself" (Ullmann 173). In another scholarly opinion, the word "logos" has the dual meaning of thinking (Denken) and speaking (Sprecken) (Ritter and Gründer, s.v. "logos."). Gadamer also notes that though "logos" has often been translated as "reason" or "thinking," it originally and principally means "language" (Gadamer 59). Heidegger takes one step further to tell us why the word gives rise to multiple meanings: "The real signification of 'discourse,' which is obvious enough, gets constantly covered up by the later history of the word lógoV. . . . LógoV gets 'translated' (and this means that it is always getting interpreted) as 'reason,' 'judgment,' ‘concept,' 'definition,' 'ground,' or 'relationship'" (1962, 47). He considers these various translations justifiable in the light of Aristotle's view of the function of the Logos as letting something be seen: "The lógoV lets something be seen (faίnesqai) -- namely, what the discourse is about; and it does so either for the one who is doing the talking (the medium) or for persons who are talking with one another" (1962, 56). Here, he seems to suggest that the various meanings of the Logos came as a result of an interpretive process similar to Peirce’s conception of semiosis, the constant production of interpretants.

 In his reading of Heraclitus' fragment on "Logos," Heidegger also points out that "LógoV is in itself and at the same time a revealing and a concealing" (1975, 71). With this line of thought, he seems to suggest that the duality of logos is attributable to a duality between the inner thought and outer expression. A similar view of the relation between thought and language is expressed by Plato in the Sophist and the Theaetetus. The Stranger says in the Sophist: "...Thinking [diάnoia] and discourse [lógoV] are the same thing, except that what we call thinking is, precisely, the inward dialogue carried on by the mind with itself without spoken sound" (Cornford 263c). In its large context, the double meaning of logos not only represents the awareness of the relatedness of thinking and expression but moreover embodies an attempt to overcome the gap between thought and language and the resistance to signification in the opposition between signifier (speech) and signified (thought).

This duality entails a series of further dualities concerning the mind, universe, signification, and representation. In its large context, the multiple meaning of logos not only represents the awareness of the relatedness of thinking and expression but moreover embodies an attempt to overcome the gap between thought and language and the resistance to signification in the opposition between signifier (speech) and signified (thought). The duality does not confine itself to that between thinking and speech. In fact, the word has additional philosophical meanings, which are not always synonymous with one another. Indeed, some of them form dualities that take the form of binary oppositions, as between rule and proposition, principle and thesis, law and argument, inner and outer, thinking and speech, intuition and expression, the known and unknown, consciousness and the unconscious, product of definition and defining activity,[4] etc. These binary oppositions correspond well with the opposition between signifier and signified in the sign. In his deconstructive criticism of Western metaphysics, Derrida simply calls the Logos a "transcendental signified," from which an endless series of signifiers are derived. But when we examine the meanings of the logos, the word becomes a signifier while its derivative meanings become signifieds. This inversion not only proves the soundness of the idea that the difference between signifier and signified is essentially nothing but also displays a concrete example of the constant sliding of the signifier on the signifying chain. After all both signifier and signified are but traces that float in the hazy nebula of the mind. For all these reasons, we can semioticize the word into a sign with "logos" as the signifier and "reason" and other meanings as the signifieds:

signifier                logos                   logos

----------              ----------                 -----------

signified             reason?               speech?

The question mark following the word "reason" indicates that the word is not an exact signified. It is, in Derridean terms, a word under erasure. In the binary opposition between signifier and signified in the case of the Logos, the signified is never one entity. Though in the dictionary definition, the signified for the Logos is "reason," it can variously be substituted by such concepts as Origin, First Principle, Platonic idea, Truth, the Word of God, or simply God, etc. Here, it is not simply a concrete example of the endless play of signification in the operations of the sign; there is a deconstructive operation too, which not only overcomes the resistance to signification in the structure of the sign but also practically eradicates the transcendental nature of the Logos. In pure semiotic terms, any signifier supposedly entails an endless series of signifieds, which are each a deferred signifier. The Logos as a transcendental signifier also entails an endless series of signifiers.

In Chinese, the Dao is also a sign in the sense that it stands for something else. Chinese thinkers have implicitly stated this notion. Like the Logos, the Dao is a sign that stands for the idea of the cosmic principle, the first principle of the universe. In Chinese, the Dao, like the Logos, or Plato's idea, is a constant and invariable cosmic principle that controls the operations of the universe. To represent this cosmic principle, one has to give a name. But Lao Zi categorically asserted that no concrete and changeable name can do justice to it. Hence he gave it a provisional name Dao (way). The provisional name is in essence a makeshift representation in language. As such it is essentially a sign. We can describe it in terms of the structure of a sign:

signifier              dao                       dao

----------              -------                     --------

signified             way?                    reason?

Just as in the case of logos, "way" is only a possible signified for "dao." Hence it is also a term under erasure. In a way, I may put "reason" in its place, because "dao" in Chinese may also mean "daoli" (reason or rationale). As is the case with the Logos, the Dao as a metaphysical concept is replete with binary oppositions. I have mentioned earlier Fung Yu-lan’s  summary of the four binary oppositions in the daily renewal of the Dao. Those binary oppositions are not merely dialectical oppositions; they embody a principle of signification that is comparable to that of  deconstruction. This can be more clearly seen in the opening section of the Daode jing [the Classic of the Way and Virtue] in which a series of binary oppositions are established as the foundation of the universe or the premise for perceiving the universe: 

       The Dao that can be dao-ed is not the constant Dao;

       The name that can be named is not the constant name.

       The nameless was the beginning of heaven and earth;

       The named was the mother of the myriad creatures.

       Hence always rid yourself of desires in order to observe its secrets;

       But always allow yourself to have desires in order to observe its manifestations.

       These two are the same but diverge in name as they issue forth.

       Being the same they are called mysteries,

       Mystery upon mystery -

       The gateway of the manifold secrets.[5]

Here, the Dao is associated with a number of archetypal ideas like beginning, origin (mother), being (you), non-being (wu), naming (named/nameless), spirituality (mystery/secrets), etc. A comparison with the Logos shows without doubt the compatibility between the Chinese and Western ideas in such concepts as "beginning," "origin," "being." What is more fascinating is that out of the series of associations we can construct some similar binary oppositions that characterize the Logos: those between you (being) and wu (non-being), named and nameless, desire and desireless, two and one, same and difference, absence (implied in "secrets") and presence (implied in "manifestations"), conscious and unconscious (implied in the "gateway" to manifold secrets). What is most fascinating is that these concepts in the binary oppositions can easily be construed to signify the very opposite of what they are supposed to mean: being and non-being, named and nameless, desire and desireless, one and two, difference and sameness, fullness and emptiness. In other words, there is an obvious deconstructive tendency in the contemplation of the meaning of the Dao. 

Beyond the opening section of the Daode jing and in the larger context of Chinese tradition, the Dao has a number of equivalent signifieds, which in their turn are but signifiers: Da/Tai (the Great), Yi (the One),[6] Wu (Nothingness or Non-being),[7] You (Something or Being), the Yi (Changes), Taiji (the Great Ultimate), Taiyi (the Great Oneness),[8] Taishi (the Great Beginning),[9] and Wuji (the Non-Ultimate).[10] In these various equivalent signifiers, we can also notice the obvious deconstructive tendency. Non-Being is pitted against and unified with Being; the Non-Ultimate is equivalent to the Great Ultimate. The deconstructive tendency in the naming of the Dao shows an intuitive awareness of the slippery nature of designation, representation, and expression in using language.

The Dao and Logos As Meta-signs

Having argued that both the Dao and Logos are signs in the Chinese and Western traditions, I suggest that we should not view them merely as philosophical or cosmic principles; instead we ought to view them as semiotic principles. As semiotic principles, they can be brought into a meaningful dialogue and perhaps a marriage with the signifying principle of a sign as their go-between. My next section will focus on how to unify the principles of the Dao and Logos in a semiotic dialogue. First, I need to reconceptualize the underlying assumptions of the Dao and Logos into semiotic principles.  I start with the premise that I have drawn in the above section: the Dao and Logos are each a sign. This idea can be simply written as: dao/logos = sign. The sign structure that I have constructed with regard to the Dao and Logos: dao/reason and logos/reason in the above is only a partial story of the Dao and Logos. It only touches the interpretive process involved in understanding the Dao and Logos. There is another dimension to the story, which concerns the two concepts in the process of signification and representation. On this dimension, the Dao/Logos is not simply a sign that stands for a regressive process of interpreting the sign. They stand respectively for a totalized and totalizing Gestalt, a meta-sign the implications of which go beyond as well as correspond with the ramifications of the sign in the Saussurean sense of the word. According to Saussure’s widely known theory, a sign, when analyzed into its deep structure, actually includes three elements: signifier, signified, and unity of the sign, which is the associative total of the first two terms (Saussure 67):


Jacques Lacan, in his integration of Freudian psychoanalysis with Saussure's linguistic sign, argues that the relation between signifier and signified is extremely unstable and is influenced by the workings of the unconscious. To display the psychological dimension of the  sign structure, he replaces Saussure's diagram of the sign with an algorithm (Écrits 149):

                                                       S

                                                      ----

                                                      s

The capitalized "S" stands for the signifier, and the small letter "s" for the signified. Thus, he reverses the position of the signifier and signified in the Saussure's diagram and emphasizes the primacy of the signifier. The arrows and the circle are abandoned, indicating the absence of a stable or fixed relation between signifier and signified. The line between the signifier and signified no longer represents union but the resistance inherent in signification (Écrits 164). I believe that the relation between the signifier and signified is one of correlation, a union in separation, or a unity of opposites in representation. Saussure's metaphor of a sheet of paper is an apt way of describing the paradoxical relation between the signifier and signified. For this reason, I am more disposed to accept a version of the sign structure based on Saussure's original conception and modified by Lacan's reconception:

                       signifier

                     sign     -----------

                       signified

In Lacan's reconception, he asserts that the algorithm defines the topography of the unconscious" (Écrits 163). In a topographical way, the algorithm shows how the signified is located beneath the signifier, illustrating the repression of the unconscious below the level of consciousness. Along this line of reconceptualization, one can posit an equivalence between signifier and consciousness, signified and unconscious:

                signifier   consciousness

                  sign -----------------------------------

                signified  unconscious

This  model of the structure of the sign not only relates the sign to the mind but also adequately reflects the inner workings of the mind, which, as Freud observes, is a constant process of the unconscious desire seeking outward expression. In addition, this model which integrates the Freudian model of the mind and Saussure's sign structure coincides exactly with the denotations and connotations of the Dao and Logos.

The Dao As A Semiotic Principle

       In this section, I will demonstrate that the Dao signifies like a sign. The Dao in the Chinese conception is a cosmic principle, which seeks to recapture in language the origin, inner mechanism, and development of the universe. Ostensibly, the illustration of the workings of the universe is metaphysical in nature, but if we take the trouble to engage in some further  reconceptualization, we will be able to see that the time-honored explications of the whole process, as imparted to us from antiquity, is essentially a semiotic process.

       The Dao as a concept has been discussed in many treatises and discourses. The most authoritative texts discussing the meanings of the Dao are the Zhouyi or Book of Changes, Lao Zi's Daode jing [the Classic of the Dao and Virtue], and Zhuang Zhou's Zhuangzi [the Book of Master Zhuang]. The Dao as a metaphysical concept frequently interchanges with other concepts like the Taiji (Great-Ultimate), Wuji (Non-Ultimate), and Taiyi (Great One). In traditional Chinese metaphysical thinking, however, the Dao has been used most often to represent the Taiji. This can be found in various canonical texts. In Chinese philosophical discourses, the Taiji converges with the Dao. The philosophical discourse that attempted to merge the Taiji and the Dao started with Xicizhuan (Appendixes to the Book of Changes) and by the time of the Song dynasty, the Taiji became completely merged with the Dao. Shao Yong (1011-1077), an ancient Chinese philosopher of the Song dynasty, unequivocally claims that "Dao wei Taiji” (The Dao is the Taiji) (Han 4, Ce 16, p.29a ). Lu Xiangshan (1139-93), another philosopher of the Song, expressed the same opinion. Since the Song, the convergence of the two concepts has been widely accepted.  Zhu Bokun, a leading modern scholar on the Book of Changes, compares the concept of the Dao with the ideas conveyed by the Taiji Diagram in the Daozang (The Treasure of Daoism) and comes to the conclusion that the Great Ultimate is precisely the Dao in the Laozi (Vol. 2, 98). Zhang Dainian, a modern Chinese philosopher, aptly sums up the process of merging: “In the Appendixes to the Book of Changes, the Taiji still differs from the Dao, but in the philosophical works of Shao Yong, the Taiji and the Dao become merged into one” (38).

       The convergence of the Dao and the Taiji is based on the governing principle of the universe. Shao Yong observes: "Taiji Dao zhi ji ye” (The Taiji is the ultimate of the Dao) (Han 4, Ce 16, p.1a). In Lao Zi's and Zhaung Zi's conception, the Dao is composed of the yin and yang dichotomies. The Book of Changes holds exactly the same idea: "Yi yin yi yang zhi wei Dao” (One yin and one yang are called the Dao) (Zhouyi yizhu, 538). The traditional explication maintains that this saying means that the mutual exchange of the yin and yang principles underlies the unity of contradictions and mutual changes of things in the universe. I may offer a semiotic explanation: One yin and one yang constitute the Dao, which results from a semiotic correlation. This semiotic idea can be diagrammed like this:

                           yang

                          Dao   --------

                            Yin

       The Book of Changes has been construed to have numerous functions ranging from a book of divination to computer language.[11] In my semiotic consideration, I suggest that the primary function of the Zhouyi is one of representation; all other functions evolved out of this primary function. As a system of representation, the Zhouyi is a crystallization of Chinese ancestors' endeavor to represent the inner workings of the universe in imagistic and discursive language. I suggest that the creation of the Zhouyi was meant to represent the phenomenological process of the universe and through the representation to arrive at an understanding of the operating principles of the universe, which may in turn serve as a guide to human conduct and existence. How did the ancient Chinese represent the operations of the universe? They adopted a mode of representation that may well be characterized as a signifying system. Here is a statement:

  The Yi has the Great Ultimate, which begets the two primal forms (yin and yang). The two primal forms beget four images (the sun, moon, heaven, and earth). The four images beget eight trigrams. The eight trigrams distinguishes the auspicious and inauspiscious. The auspicious and inauspiscious beget the great accomplishment (Zhouyi yizhu, 556).

In this statement, the Yi and Dao are equated. For "the Yi has the Great Ultimate" is exactly the same as a similar statement in Lao Zi's Doade jing: "The [Dao] way begets one; one begets two; two begets three; three begets the myriad creatures" (Lau 103). According to the accepted interpretation of this passage, "one" refers to the totality of the Taiji, "two" stands for the dyad of yin and yang, "three" refers to the trinity of heaven, earth, and man (Han Yongxian 31).                

    People may ask: how can you conceptualize the above statements as a semiotic representation? To reconceptualize the Dao as a semiotic principle, I need to examine the so-called “The Diagram of the Great Ultimate”:


The above diagram is widely known. In fact, it is a symbol known all over the world. In the Chinese tradition, it is widely regarded as Tiandi ziran zhi tu (the Diagram of Heaven, Earth, and Nature). One traditional scholar views it as a graphic representation of the intricate principle of the Taiji: "It is endowed with the natural intricacy of the Taiji which embraces the yin and yang, which in turn embrace the eight trigrams."[12] Another traditional scholar, synthesizing the various scholars' explanations, regards it as embodying a complete operation principle of the universe (Hu Wei  84-90).

       In my opinion, the diagram is not just a graphic representation of the operations of the universe. It is a sign in the modern sense of the word. It inscribes within its encircled space the structure and signifying principle of the modern theory of the sign. With some imaginative reconceptualization, we will be able to view it as a Gestalt comparable to the modified sign structure that grows out of the integration of Freudian theory and Saussure's algorithm. In some texts, the above diagram is rotated 90 degrees. If I straighten the s-shape line separating the black and white portion of the diagram, I will get a new diagram that is close to the structure of the sign with the opposition between the signifier and signified separated by a line. A comparison between the Taiji Diagram and Saussure's pictorial representation of sign will enable us to see a striking similarity:    

Modified Sign Diagram                                The Taiji Diagram

It differs from Saussure's diagram only in the use of denominations. While in Saussure's diagram, the binary opposition is between signifier and signified, in the Taiji Diagram, the opposition is between white portion and black portion, which are traditionally called respectively "Yin Fish" and "Yang Fish" because they resemble the shape of a fish. In Saussure's diagram of the sign, the line between the signifier and signified represents a union of opposites, but in Lacan's conception, the line represents the repression of the signified. The s-shaped line in the Taiji Diagram has implications that coincide with Saussure's reconception of the sign. In Suassure's conception, the sign appears as the vertical extension of signification in depth: "the signified is, as it were behind the signifier, and can be reached only through it" (Barthes 49). Lacan differs from Saussure on two points: "i) the signifier (S) is global, made up of a multli-levelled chain (metaphorical chain): signifier and signified have only a floating relationship and coincide only at certain anchorage points; ii) the line between the signifier (S) and the signified (s) has its own value (which of course it had no in Saussure): it represents the repression of the signified" (49). In the Taiji Diagram, the mutual relationship between the black and white portions not only captures Saussure's conception but also gestures beyond Lacan's reconceptualization. The curved line separating the two portions, according to the standard explanation, conveys the idea that the black and white portions embrace and intertwine with each other, thereby endowed with the potential to change into each other. This idea of mutual change between yin and yang has several important points. First, it suggests Louis Hjelmslev's model of the sign: "there is a relation (R) between the plane of expression (E) and the plane of content (C)." Second, it indicates that the relationship between signifier and signified is a floating one. Third, the repression of the signified may at times be overcome and the resistance to signification removed. Just as in Saussure's conception of the sign, there is the totality of the sign, so in the Taiji Diagram, the totality is represented by the outer circle surrounding the white and black portions. Since the white portion stands for yang and the black portion for yin, the opposition is really between yang and yin, which can be diagram as the following:

The figure on the left is a modified Taiji Diagram; the figure on the right is a reconceptualized Taiji Diagram in terms of Saussure’s modified sign structure.                        

In Chinese, yin and yang have an endless series of associations. Among them the notable oppositions are those between light and darkness, visible and invisible, known and unknown, manifest form and latent content. In psychological terms, these oppositions may be viewed as those between the perceivable and imperceivable, consciousness and unconsciousness. In this respect, the yin and yang opposition in the Taiji Diagram coincides with Lacan's reconception of the sign as a structural opposition between the conscious signifier and unconscious signified. According to the accepted explanation, the black and white portions are not static. In fact, it is suggested by various sources that they are in constant, reciprocal rotation and mutation. When both portions turn 180 degrees, the black portion turns into its opposite and becomes white, while the white portion turns into its opposite and becomes black. The rationale behind this reciprocal relationship has been regarded as the opposition and unity of conflicting parts in a contradiction. I, however, may regard it as a graphic representation of the alternation between the conscious and unconscious and the endless play of signification. Through a process like condensation, the yin and yang coexist in the same thinking space of the mind, where the relationship between the conscious and unconscious is not static but dynamic. Through a process like displacement, the yin and yang mutually change into their counterparts. Freud once used the example of the interface between read ink and black ink in a bottle to indicate the interrelationship between the conscious and unconscious. The Chinese Taiji Diagram, in my opinion, is a more effective example to illustrate the interpenetrating relationship between the conscious and unconscious.

The Taiji Diagram has two small wholes, which are called the eyes of the Yin Fish and Yang Fish. One is white; the other is black. What is interesting is that the white whole is located in the black portion whereas the black portion is located in the white portion. I suggest that the black in white may be understood to represent unconscious element in consciousness while the white in black may represent the potential of the unconscious becoming conscious. There is another accepted explanation to the presence of the two wholes. According to this explanation, the two wholes are not solid white and black holes but are two miniature Taiji Diagrams, each of which contains the graphic opposition between yin and yang. Each of the two miniature diagrams contains a further set of wholes, each of which are even smaller diagrams. This regressive miniaturization, as the explanation goes, is endless. If one  wishes to seek deeper and deeper, he will be able to discover an incessant regression. The endless regression has multiple implications. First, it may be viewed as a process like displacement, one of the chief principles governing the workings of the mind, which describes how libido, desire, or mental energy are displaced from one object to another. Through displacement, a yin gives rise to a pair of yin and yang or a yang gives rise to a pair of yin and yang. Second, it resembles the endless sliding of the signifier on the signifying chain. In his reconception of Saussure's structure of the sign, Lacan claims that the signified is not a concept but another signifier. As a signifier seems to be matched with a signified,  that signified becomes another signifier, and so on to infinity (Écrits 154). In the same way, just as yang reaches the position of yin and passes its counterpart, it turns into another yang, and the mutual exchange starts all over again, and so on to infinity.

       Third, the endless regression may be viewed as representing an intuitive understanding of the purposeful production of sign relations and semiosis. Peirce insists that the sign relation is triadic. A sign inevitably involves thirdness: "In its genuine form, Thirdness is the triadic relation existing between a sign, its object, and the interpreting thought, itself a sign, considered as constituting the mode of being a sign. A sign mediates between the interpretant sign and its object" (Semiotics and Significs  31). In Peirce's conception of the sign relations, the three terms are the sign itself, the object that the sign represents, and the interpretant, a mental construction of the relationship between the sign and its object. The interpretant is itself a sign and thus stands in the same triadic relation to a further interpretant. The production of the interpretant is what Peirce calls "semiosis." The process of semiosis results from understanding the sign. Every time one interprets a sign, he will produce a new interpretant. The production of interpretants is largely purposeful, because the act to understand a sign is intentional. If another person wants to understand the sign, he will produce another interpretant. In theory, the production of interpretants is unlimited. This incessant production of interpretants are just like the unceasing regression of the fish eye into new miniaturized Taiji Diagrams.

The Logos As A Semiotic Principle

As far as I know, Western thinkers do not seem to have the same penchant for visual representation in their discourse on the Logos as their Chinese counterparts. But this lack does not hinder us from constructing a sign structure of the Logos out of its denotations and connotations.  In the Western tradition, Heraclitus' fragments on the "Logos" have been a focal point for the inquiries into the meaning of logos. It is generally believed that Heraclitus views the Logos as a gathering principle that brings beings together and give them cohesion within themselves and relatedness to one another. This understanding is reaffirmed in Heidegger’s reading of the Logos: "[I]t is wise to listen to the pronouncement of the LógoV and to heed the meaning of what is pronounced, while repeating what one has heard in the statement: One is All. There is LógoV. It has something to relate. Then there is also that which it relates, to wit, that everything is one" (1975, 69-70). In this sense, the Logos represents a principle of correlation, not unlike that in the correlation between signifier and signified in a sign. In his reinterpretation of Heraclitus' fragment, Heidegger, after an elaborate study which combines philology and philosophy, comes to the conclusion that " ²En Pάnta says what the LógoV is. LógoV says how ²En Pάnta essentially occurs. Both are the Same" (71).  This statement, literally translated, means: "’One is everything’ says what the Logos is. Logos says how ‘One is everything’ essentially occurs. Both are the same." In the same essay, Heidegger provides another passage which may serve as a further clarification of his interpretation: "En Pάnta is not what the LógoV pronounces; rather En Pάnta suggests the way in which LógoV essentially occurs" (70). This is equivalent to saying that the Logos is One in All; and One in All is the Logos. This also suggests that the Logos not only hints at rationally structuring thinking itself but also refers to relational thinking.

W. J. Richardson, in his study of Heidegger's essay, rightly points out that in Heidegger's interpretation, Heraclitus' formula En Pάnta  (one-in-many [beings]) describes the manner in which LógoV functions. As En Pάnta is the One, the Only, that unifies all beings in themselves, insofar as it gathers them into themselves, letting them lie forth in non-concealment as themselves. Since the Logos is One, it may be called the utterly Simple (492-93). Here we can see a striking similarity between Heidegger's interpretation of the Logos and Zhuang Zi's understanding of the Dao. How does Heidegger come to his interpretation? The answer is that he locates in the operations of the Logos a paradoxical process of disclosure and concealment:

LógoV is in itself and at the same time a revealing and a concealing. It is 'Alήqeia. Unconcealment needs concealment, Aήqh, as a reservoir upon which disclosure can, as it were, draw. LógoV, the Laying that gathers, has in itself this revealing-concealing character. When we can see in LógoV how the ²En essentially occurs as unifying, it becomes equally clear that this unifying which occurs in the LógoV remains infinitely different from what we tend to represent as a connecting or binding together. The unifying that rests in lέgein  is neither a mere comprehensive collecting nor a mere coupling of opposites which equalizes all contraries. The ²En Pάnta lets lie together before us in one presencing things which are usually separated from, and opposed to, one another, such as day and night, winter and summer, peace and war, waking and sleeping, Dionysos and Hades. Such opposites, borne along the farthest distance between presence and absence, diajerόmenon,  let the Laying that gathers lie before us in its full bearing. Its laying is itself that which carries things along by bearing them out. The ²En is itself a carrying out (71).

In this passage, Heidegger locates a series of binary oppositions in the function of the Logos. Each side of the binary oppositions is not mechanically juxtaposed together; rather they are intimately related in the way the two sides of a sheet of paper are related. In a curious way, the latter part of this quotation shows an understanding of the function of the One, which echoes Zhuang Zi’s explication of the One in his understanding of the Dao. He further observes:

²En is the unique One, as unifying. It unifies by assembling. It assembles in that, in gathering, it lets lie before us as such and as a whole. The unique One unifies as the Laying that gathers. This gathering and laying unifying assembles all uniting in itself, so that it is this One, and as this One, is what is unique. Whatever is named ²En Pάnta in Heraclitus' fragment gives us a simple clue concerning what the LógoV is (70).

Thus, the Logos is not only an ontological entity but also functions as a unifying principle that lies at the heart of binary oppositions undergirding the sign. For this reason, we can diagram the Heidegger's understanding of Heraclitus's idea of Logos as the following:

                     revealing presence

       Logos (One) -------------------------------

                     concealing     absence

Heidegger also notes that the statement, "One is all," is but a thinker's first step which initiates all the ensuing steps in the fateful course of thinking (69). The second step in thinking concerns the function of speech: saying, talking, and naming, another aspect of the meaning of logos. Heidegger observes:

  So precisely this saying of Heraclitus, which seems to contradict directly everything said above concerning lέgein and LógoV, is designed to allow us renewed thinking on whether and how far lέgein in the sense of "saying" and "talking" is intelligible only if it is thought in its most proper sense--as "laying" and "gathering." To name means to call forward. That which is gathered and laid down in the name, by means of such a laying, comes to light and comes to lie before us. The naming (ònoma), thought in terms of lέgein, is not the expressing of a word-meaning but rather a letting-lie-before in the light wherein something stands in such a way that it has a name (73).

Thus, we need to add two more sets of binary oppositions to the diagram:

                     revealing       presence laying             naming

       Logos (One) ---------------------------------------------------------------

                     concealing     absence  gathering meaning

Laying is revealing; gathering is concealing. Revealing is expression; concealing is intuition. Presence is visible; absence is invisible. Naming is speech; meaning is thought. This diagram may capture  what Heidegger considers to be the correct understanding of Heraclitus' idea of the Logos, which he summarizes as: "Attuned not to me but to the Laying that gathers: letting the Same lie: the fateful occurs (the Laying that gathers): One unifying All" (75).

As I have discussed earlier, Zhuang Zi's understanding of the Dao or One has a striking similarity. In "Qiwu lun" (Equality of Things) chapter, Zhuang Zi views myriad things under heaven, be they big or small, beautiful or ugly, normal or abnormal, etc. as being unified by the Dao which is also called the One:

Let us take, for instance a large beam and a small beam, or an ugly woman and Hsi-shih (famous beauty in ancient China), or generosity, strangeness, deceit, and abnormality. The Tao identifies them all as one. What is division [to some] is production [to others], and what is production [to others] is destruction [to some]. Whether things are produced or destroyed, [Tao] again identifies them all as one (Wing-tsit Chan 184).

Since I have already discussed the semiotic significance of Zhuang Zi’s observation of the Dao, it is unnecessary to make further comparisons. I have already enumerated the conceptual opposites implied in the Logos. Among them, the most  relevant to a semiotic study are those of inner/outer, intuition/expression, signified/signifier. There is an obvious coincidence between the sign and logos, which can be diagrammed as follows:

  speech     expression     outer             conscious      signifier

      logos (One) -------------------------------------------------/----------------------------------- sign

    thought       intuition inner              unconscious   signified

Here we have a graphic model of the equivalence between the logos and the sign. This model gives me the theoretical basis to reaffirm my aforementioned claim that the Logos, with all its denotations and connotations, represents a totalized and totalizing sign, a meta-sign that has given rise to an endless series of signs.

Conclusion: The Chinese “One” = The Western “One”

The Dao and the Logos are humanly constructed signs that are meant to name the unnamable and to grasp the problematic relationship between thought and language, signification and representation. Traditional inquiries centering on the Dao represents a Chinese system of signification while philosophical inquiries concerning the Logos embodies a Western system of signification, and their compatibility lies in the sign theory of modern semiotics. Since they are capable of generating new terms and concepts, they may be viewed as meta-signs born out of the human efforts to come to terms with the difficulties in thought, language, and representation. As meta-signs, the Logos has been viewed as the rationally structuring mind in the West while the Dao as explicated in terms of the Taiji seems to hint at a graphical model of the workings of the mind in China. As the meta-signs for Chinese and Western traditions, they possess a remarkable degree of commensurability that has the potential for building a cross-cultural bridge. Now I wish to present the following diagram of compatibility between the Dao and Logos, which is a conclusion to as well as a summary of my study:

speech   expression   outer   signifier   consciousness   known   yang

   Logos/One---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------One/Dao

  thought   intuition     inner   signified    unconscious    unknown    yin

Since both the Dao and Logos are the “One,” they can exchange their positions in the diagram. The implications are all the same whether one puts the Dao in the Logos’ position or vice versa. With this diagram, I wish to reaffirm these points: 1) the Chinese Dao and Western Logos are archetypal signs, which are both transcendental and immanent; 2) the Logos and Dao can be reconceptualized respectively as a semiotic principle on top of being a metaphysical principle that governs the universe; 3) as a semiotic principle, both the Dao and Logos constantly generates new meanings like the endless play of the signifying practice; 4) the Dao and the Logos have a one-to-one compatibility. Ancient thinkers may not have semioticized their theories in strictly semiotic terms required by modern semiotics, but my study has demonstrated that the major semiotic functions of the sign has been demonstrated by ancient thinkers with remarkable clarity. The Dao and Logos as a self-generating principle touch upon a thinking process not unlike the constant sliding of the signifier on the signifying chain. In addition to demonstrating the nearly perfect compatibility between the Dao and Logos, I have also suggested that the principle of representation governing the theory of the Dao or Taiji is the semiotic principle of signification and representation underlying thinking and language. The compatibility warrants me to say that the theories of the sign may serves as the mediator that negotiates a vital connection between Chinese and Western cultures as well as between the Dao and Logos. In the semioticized conceptualization, we may locate not only a common ground for the Dao and the Logos but also a bridge across the divide between Chinese and Western traditions. In conclusion, I suggest that a triadic model involving the Dao, the Logos and the Sign may serve as a common conceptual basis for the comparative studies of Chinese and Western thought, literature, and culture.

 

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Notes:

[1] This article is part of a research project undertaken in the summer of 2000, supported by a research grant from Rhodes College. I wish to thank Rhodes College for the research grant. I’d also like to thank Professors David Sick and Kenneth Morrell at the college for helping me understand Greek words in early Greek thought.

[2] The compatibility of the Dao and Logos has been problematised by quite a few  scholars. James J.Y. Liu, for example, questions the universality of logocentrism as claimed by Longxi Zhang in both the Dao and Logos: "Zhang's comparison of dao to logos fails to take into account an important difference: in the West, logos is identified with God, but Lao Zi took great pains to say that dao is not the true name of the ultimate." See his Language-Paradox-Poetics: A Chinese Perspective, ed. Richard John Lynn (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), p. 25. I can add another difference. While in Lao Zi's conception, the Dao is a feminine concept, the Western logos, through its emphasis on presence, is obviously masculine in nature. More significantly, the pairing of the Chinese concept of Dao with the Western concept of Logos as a conceptual common ground has a fundamentally incommensurable point: namely, while the former is predicated on a fundamentally monistic view of the universe as a spontaneously self-generating entity, the latter, like Plato's idea, is founded on a dualistic view of the universe as being constituted by one world of essence and another of appearances, created by a powerful personal god.

[3]  For the idea of the unity of opposites in the Dao see Fung Yu-lan's Xin lixue [The New School of The Principle] (Changsha: 1939), pp.110-11. For the same idea concerning the Logos, see G. S. Kirk et al, The Presocratic Philosophers: A Critical History with A Selection of Texts (Cambraidge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp.188-194.

[4] I have based my grouping of these oppositions on  The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp.448-49; Longxi Zhang’s The Tao and the Logos, pp.26-33; Desjardins’s The Rational Enterprise: Logos in Plato's Theaetetus, pp.130-31; and various other sources.

[5] This English version is adapted from D.C. Lau's translation , p. 57.

[6] Shao Yung (1011-1077) made this remark: "The Great Ultimate is the One. It produces the two (yin and yang) without engaging in activity. The two (in their wonderful changes and transformations) constitute the sprit. Spirit engenders number, number engenders form, and form engenders concrete things." Chan, 492-3.

[7] Zhuang Zi expresses this idea: "In the great beginning, there was non-being." See Chan, p.202. Wang Bi's metaphysical school of the Zhouyi also upholds the idea that the Great Ultimate is Wu or Non-being. 

[8] The "Dayue" (Great Music) chapter  of the Lüsi chunqiu [Lü's Spring and Autumn Annals] carries a passage which suggests that the Taiji and Taiyi are one and the same concept. It reads: "The Taiyi brings out two dichotomies; the two dichotomies bring out yin and yang. The changes of yin and yang, with one up and one down, interconnect to form a chapter." See the Lusi chunqiu [Lü's Spring and Autumn Annals] (Changsha: Yuelu shushe, 1989), p.30.

[9] Huainan zi states: "When Heaven and earth did not yet have form, there was a state of amorphous formlessness.  Therefore this is termed the Great Beginning (Taishi). This Great Beginning produced an empty extensiveness, and this empty extensiveness produced the cosmos."  The English version is from Chan, pp.307-08. The Chinese Source is from The Huainan zi [Master Huainan] (Changsha: Yuelu shushe, 1989), p.24.

[10] Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073) and Zhu Xi (1130-1200) hold this idea with slight difference. While Zhou thinks that Wuji gives rise to Taiji and therefore precedes the latter, Zhu argues that the Wuji is just Taiji. See WM. Theodore De Bary, et al, comp., Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol I (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960), p. 458, and Zhu Xi, “Taijitu shuo jie” (“An Explanation of the Discourse on the Taiji Diagram,” in Zhou Lianxi ji [Collected Writings of Zhou Lianxi], juan 1, p. 4.

[11] The rationale of the Book of Changes has been found to underlie numerous branches of modern learning and all walks of life. A reader interested in how it has been appropriated by modern knowledge and life may thumb through the published issues of the journal devoted to the study of the book, Zhouyi yanjiu [Zhouyi Studies] (1988-present).

[12] Zhao Huiqian made this authoritative remark in his Liushu benyi [The Original Meanings of Six Classics]. Requoted from Hu Wei's Yitu mingbian [Clarifications of the Diagrams in the Book of Changes] (Chengdu: Bashu shushe, 1991), p.85.

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2007/01/03

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