• Clarky
    9.1k
    The quantum and the Tao, so often exploited...Hillary

    Everything I write about this is how I see it, not the way it is. There are hundreds of translations and interpretations of the Tao Te Ching out there. I guess you could say this thread is just one more. Metaphorically, I can see how the Tao and the quantum vacuum are the same. They are both the absolute ground of being. But then, the Tao is many other things also. There are moral, social, and psychological dimensions that you don't find in physics.

    Everyone who has ever read the TTC has seen it differently.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    Tao is a whirling emptiness (ch'ung),
    Yet (erh) in use (yung) is inexhaustible (ying).
    Fathomless (yuan),
    It seems to be the ancestor (tsung) of ten thousand beings.
    It blunts the sharp,
    Unties the entangled,
    Harmonizes the bright,
    Mixes the dust.
    Dark (chan),
    It seems perhaps to exist (ts'un).
    I do not know whose child it is,
    It is an image (hsiang) of what precedes God (Ti).
    T Clark

    I take mine from it then, as it seems to advocate. I love these lines! Until the last three lines I see it like the the most beautiful way I have seen the quantum vacuum described! All propagators, momenta, and energies, hidden variables, etc. shrink into insignificance wrt to it! For me, it's a kind of revelation. :up:

    How long ago written? By who?
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    Ah!  It was written about 2,500 years ago in China by Lao Tzu.

    How did he know the quantum vacuum?
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    They are both the absolute ground of being.T Clark

    Yes! I think though that if you know the reason for that ground, which only can be given in a theist context, the ground gets an extra dimension, and all the reasons we invent, like maybe the morals, an extra depth.
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    2.1k
    Any thoughts will be welcome.T Clark

    I'll be following along. It may be some time before I have something to say. :smile:
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    I take mine from it then, as it seems to advocate. I love these lines! Until the last three lines I see it like the the most beautiful way I have seen the quantum vacuum described! All propagators, momenta, and energies, hidden variables, etc. shrink into insignificance wrt to it! For me, it's a kind of revelation. :up:

    How long ago written? By who?
    Hillary

    Written about 2,500 years ago by Lao Tzu in China.
  • Hillary
    1.9k


    How did he know about the quantum vacuum already back then?
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    Yes! I think though that if you know the reason for that ground, which only can be given in a theist context, the ground gets an extra dimension, and all the reasons we invent, like maybe the morals, an extra depth.Hillary

    As you can see from the language in Verse 4, the Tao came before any God. Before anything was named. Before the quantum vacuum.

    If you're interested in reading more, here is a link to a website that has many different translations of the TTC.

    https://terebess.hu/english/tao/_index.html

    You can read the whole document in about an hour. As I indicated, the text you liked is from Ellen Marie Chen's translation.
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    How did he know about the quantum vacuum already back then?Hillary

    He didn't.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    He didn't.T Clark

    It looks as if though. Maybe the two are the same in disguise.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    As you can see from the language in Verse 4, the Tao came before any God. Before anything was named. Before the quantum vacuum.T Clark

    So it's the ground for gods even? What the fuck? And from where did that ground came? What was the reason for that ground? I think he is fucking with the gods here. The human gods were always kind of funny! The other gods laugh about him. Humans...
  • Hillary
    1.9k


    Tanx for the link, but anyone messing with eternal gods... Dunno. Could be interesting though.
  • Possibility
    2.7k
    Addiss and Lombardo

    Spare words; nature's way.
    Violent winds do not blow all morning.
    Sudden rain cannot pour all day.
    What causes these things?
    Heaven and Earth.
    If Heaven and Earth do not blow and pour for long,
    How much less should humans?

    Therefore in following Tao:
    Those on the way become the way,
    Those who gain become the gain,
    Those who lose become the loss.
    All within the Tao:
    The wayfarer, welcome upon the way,
    Those who gain, welcome within gain,
    Those who lose, welcome within loss.

    Without trust in this, There is no trust at all.
    T Clark

    I think this chapter refers to recognising and trusting our temporary nature within Tao. The previous chapter described how the sage manifests effect without intending or desiring to BE the effective agent.

    A violent wind or a sudden downpour are temporary events within an ongoing directional flow of energy, or ch’i - Feng Shui meaning ‘wind and water’. If we consider our life event in a similar way, then we have three basic options: we can focus on attracting energy, on losing it, or we can position our being according to the Way, which neither gains nor loses but rather effects an unobstructed flow of energy.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    I think he is fucking with the gods here. — Hillary

    :snicker:

    As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods;
    They kill us for their sport.
    — King Lear
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    Nature says few words:
    Hence it is that a squall lasts not a whole morning.
    A rainstorm continues not a whole day.
    Where do they come from?
    From Nature.
    Even Nature does not last long (in its utterances),
    How much less should human beings?
    T Clark

    Let's analyze rationally and offer rational critique.

    Nature says a lot of words, whispers constantly, screams at times. On just have to listen with a pure mind, unclothed by culture. As people are part of nature, so is culture, and nature even speaks and spells louder then. Speaking to us in the language we like to hear, in the language she wants, or sometimes screaming us something loudly in the ears without us actually hearing because we don't listen or maybe don't listen because we are deafened by culture.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    How did he know about the quantum vacuum already back then?
    — Hillary

    He didn't.
    T Clark

    He didn't.
    — T Clark

    It looks as if though. Maybe the two are the same in disguise.
    Hillary

    The mind's natural habitat is the quantum world. Lao Tzu was onto something i.e. his mind did know about whatever the hell quantum vacuum is. Have you seen gravity (the dominant force at large scales) ever give a consciousness preferential treatment? On the other hand, wave function collapse is effected via consciousness. :snicker:
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    I think this chapter refers to recognising and trusting our temporary nature within Tao. The previous chapter described how the sage manifests effect without intending or desiring to BE the effective agent.Possibility

    I think that's right. I think that "temporary nature" you're talking about is hard to attain. Or at least it's easy to forget. I went back and reread Verse 22 since you brought it up. For me, it was much clearer in what it was saying than this one.

    A violent wind or a sudden downpour are temporary events within an ongoing directional flow of energy, or ch’i - Feng Shui meaning ‘wind and water’. If we consider our life event in a similar way, then we have three basic options: we can focus on attracting energy, on losing it, or we can position our being according to the Way, which neither gains nor loses but rather effects an unobstructed flow of energy.Possibility

    Chi, c'hi, qi, energy; is like yin and yang - People say that it is central to understanding the Tao, but it rarely or never is mentioned in the Tao Te Ching. I have some sense of what it means based on my experience with tai chi. I think it points to the fact that Taoist practice includes meditation. That's something I don't generally take into account.
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    Nature says a lot of words, whispers constantly, screams at times.Hillary

    As I see it, nature may scream sometimes, but briefly, then it stops. We should be like that. None of this whispering. Just be quiet. Say what needs to be said, then shut up. Do what needs to be done, then stop, leave it behind, and go on to whatever's next.
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    Let's analyze rationally and offer rational critique.Hillary

    My approach to the TTC tends to be intellectual, rational, but that's me, not Lao Tzu. I don't see it as a fundamentally rational document. It's not irrational either. For me, it's about experiencing the world without words or concepts, if that's possible at all. Can't get much more non-rational than that.
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    Lao Tzu was onto something i.e. his mind did know about whatever the hell quantum vacuum is.Agent Smith

    [irony] Yes, and Nostradamus predicted the Patriots will win the Superbowl this season.[/irony]
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    As I see it, nature may scream sometimes, but briefly, then it stops. We should be like that. None of this whispering. Just be quiet. Say what needs to be said, then shut up. Do what needs to be done, then stop, leave it behind, and go on the whatever's next.T Clark

    Still, the soft whispering of Nature can be compared with the whirling emptiness of the quantum vacuum. Sift words, not yet fully fledged, ready to be firmly spoken when interaction is there, or measurement, or particles are pulled out of their virtual vacuum state into reality. Sometime with a primordial birth cry, which is a kind of dramatic particle physics... :fire: (whatever the fire means, but seems appropriate)
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    Lao Tzu was onto something i.e. his mind did know about whatever the hell quantum vacuum is.
    — Agent Smith

    [irony] Yes, and Nostradamos predicted the Patriots will win the Superbowl this season.[/irony
    T Clark

    AS is on to something! Lemme tellya!
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    Still, the soft whispering of Nature can be compared with the whirling emptiness of the quantum vacuum. Sift words, not yet fully fledged, ready to be firmly spoken when interaction is there, or measurement, or particles are pulled out of their virtual vacuum state into reality. Sometime with a primordial birth cry, which is a kind of dramatic particle physics... :fire: (whatever the fire means, but seems appropriate)Hillary

    You take something different from this than I do, which is fine.

    AS is on to something! Lemme tellya!Hillary

    Nostradamus wrote
    Patriots by 10, nuff said
    Put your bets down now
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    I went back and reread Verse 22 — T Clark

    :snicker:
  • Possibility
    2.7k
    Chi, c'hi, qi, energy; is like yin and yang - People say that it is central to understanding the Tao, but it rarely or never is mentioned in the Tao Te Ching. I have some sense of what it means based on my experience with tai chi. I think it points to the fact that Taoist practice includes meditation. That's something I don't generally take into account.T Clark

    The lack of reference to ch’i in the TTC I think is deliberate - it is human interaction that contributes ch’i to language, bringing life-energy, affect, value and desire to the text. What makes the original text universal is that it has no ch’i - the author has presented a logical arrangement of qualitative ideas.

    English doesn’t lend itself very well to this non-conceptual structure. Most English translations of the TTC have something of the translator’s own life experience and value structures in them, as well as their conceptualisation of Chinese history and culture - none of which can be found in the original text. It makes it difficult to get a clear sense of the text by comparing only one or two English translations.

    From what I understand, Tai Chi deals with the actual flow of ch’i, and I think that meditation in Taoist practice is like scientific experimentation: create a controlled environment in which to observe the flow of ch’i through a logically arranged qualitative structure. But the TTC looks more at the potential of ch’i, particularly the notion of wu-wei, challenging the assumption that ch’i be attributed as a potential property to people in terms of power, control, agency, desire, etc. From Verse 17, the most effective ruler appears to achieve nothing at all themselves.

    FWIW, I think there is some sense in the parallels to be drawn between the TTC and quantum physics. But I also think we need to be careful not to jump to conclusions about ‘knowledge’ Lao Tzu may have had (verses 18-20).
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    English doesn’t lend itself very well to this non-conceptual structure. Most English translations of the TTC have something of the translator’s own life experience and value structures in them, as well as their conceptualisation of Chinese history and culture - none of which can be found in the original text. It makes it difficult to get a clear sense of the text by comparing only one or two English translations.Possibility

    We've had this discussion before. I'm more confident than you are that we can hear what Lao Tzu is trying to say even 2,500 years later from a very different culture. We are all human. There is only one world. Of course different cultures have different kinds of minds, so there is plenty of opportunity for misunderstanding. At bottom, though, it is the experience of the Tao that matters, not the concepts.

    For what it's worth, I don't compare one or two English translations. I look at at least five, often more if they seem inconsistent.

    FWIW, I think there is some sense in the parallels to be drawn between the TTC and quantum physics. But I also think we need to be careful not to jump to conclusions about ‘knowledge’ Lao Tzu may have had (verses 18-20).Possibility

    I strongly reject this. There may be metaphorical similarities, but people are always ready to mix up metaphysical and physical understanding.
  • javi2541997
    1.5k
    English doesn’t lend itself very well to this non-conceptual structure. Most English translations of the TTC have something of the translator’s own life experience and value structures in them, as well as their conceptualisation of Chinese history and culture - none of which can be found in the original text. It makes it difficult to get a clear sense of the text by comparing only one or two English translations.Possibility

    Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith, who have a good translation and provide both characters and a Pinyin transcription (all but unheard of in other translations), simply break the Tao Te Ching into two separate little books, The Pocket Tao, Lao Tzu's Classic of the Way [A Museworks Book, Pocket Chinese Classics, 2012] and The Pocket Te, Lao Tzu's Classic of Virtue [A Museworks Book, Pocket Chinese Classics, 2013]. The order in which to read these is thus up to the reader.

    Book I does begin with statements about the Tao, and Book II with statements about Te. Since the Tao might be thought to be more important than Te, the format that reverses the books may then simply reflect that judgment, with the treatment of Te as an introduction or preliminary to the Tao. It is not clear that reversing the order would really make any difference in the teaching.

    Verse 1: "The Way that can be spoken of, Is not the constant way."

    The quality or preconceptions of a translation of the Tao Te Ching can usually be determined from the rendering of these lines. Those determined to unpack the meaning of Taoism in the translation, according to their own interpretation of Taoist doctrine, will often render these terse sentences into a paragraph, sometimes with irrecognizable renderings of the key words. The affection of a translator for Taoism cannot excuse a method that only obscures the nature of the text itself.

    • Most venerable of all is that of James Legge in 1891: "The Tâo that can be trodden [!!] is not the enduring and unchanging Tâo" [Dover, 1962, p.47].
    • Then we have D.T. Suzuki and Paul Carus in 1913 & 1927: "The Reason that can be reasoned is not the eternal Reason" [Open Court, 1974, p.74].
    • Charles Muller in 2005: "The Tao that can be followed [!!] is not the eternal Tao" [Barnes and Noble Classics, 2005, p.3].
    • And finally let's try Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith in 2012: "The Way that is speakable is not the constant Way." [Museworks Books, Hong Kong, 2012, p.17].


    A serious question about translation is with tào as a verb. Since the noun can mean "road, way, path," Legge, Mair, Le Guin, and Muller are all tempted to produce a corresponding verb, "tred," "walk," "go," or "follow"… However, although Mathews' Chinese Dictionary [Harvard, 1972, pp.882-884] gives verbal meanings for the character as "speak, tell" (or even "lead, guide"), "tred," "walk," "go," or "follow" is not among them. Interestingly, no one has tried the translation, "The Tao that guides is not the constant Tao." The feeling seems to be that the Tao does guide. Indeed, in Chinese philosophy a "Way" means the actions recommended by any particular school or teaching, not just Taoism.
  • Possibility
    2.7k
    We've had this discussion before. I'm more confident than you are that we can hear what Lao Tzu is trying to say even 2,500 years later from a very different culture. We are all human. There is only one world. Of course different cultures have different kinds of minds, so there is plenty of opportunity for misunderstanding. At bottom, though, it is the experience of the Tao that matters, not the concepts.T Clark

    I think the reason we can make sense of the Way is more to do with the logical and qualitative structure of the text in relation to the world than anything to do with differences in time or culture.

    For what it's worth, I don't compare one or two English translations. I look at at least five, often more if they seem inconsistent.T Clark

    I’m well aware of this - it was a general comment for those who have joined the discussion, not aimed at anyone in particular. I think this multi-textual process is why you have such confidence that you can ‘hear what Lao Tzu is trying to say’. For myself, I’m reluctant to attribute such intentionality or desire to the original author. I think it detracts from our understanding of what the text presents in terms of wu-wei.

    FWIW, I think there is some sense in the parallels to be drawn between the TTC and quantum physics. But I also think we need to be careful not to jump to conclusions about ‘knowledge’ Lao Tzu may have had (verses 18-20).
    — Possibility

    I strongly reject this. There may be metaphorical similarities, but people are always ready to mix up metaphysical and physical understanding.
    T Clark

    I get that your approach is to make some definitive distinction between metaphysical and physical understanding, but I don’t subscribe to this duality myself. For me, reality consists of a dimensional structure of relations which renders the physical as a relative aspect of the metaphysical. There’s no mix-up in my book, although I understand the problem of metaphorical language in drawing such similarities. To drastically oversimplify, quantum physics assumes that quantities are fundamentally affected by energy in a qualitative system, whereas the TTC assumes that energy affects fundamental quality in a logical system. So, yes, there are certainly differences in approach, but not necessarily in the underlying metaphysics. Having said that, I don’t feel like we have to go there in this discussion at all.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    Tao is a whirling emptiness (ch'ung),
    Yet (erh) in use (yung) is inexhaustible (ying).
    Fathomless (yuan),
    It seems to be the ancestor (tsung) of ten thousand beings.
    It blunts the sharp,
    Unties the entangled,
    Harmonizes the bright,
    Mixes the dust.
    Dark (chan),
    It seems perhaps to exist (ts'un).
    I do not know whose child it is,
    It is an image (hsiang) of what precedes God (Ti).
    T Clark

    Again, Lao must have had an instinct feeling for the nature of reality. All these poetic lines, except the last nonsensical ones, show a truly striking similarity with quantum field theoretical considerations. Although not expressed in mathematical language, both descriptions certainly have a common. Aren't we all made from the quantum vacuum?

    If the Tao precedes God, it also precedes the quantum vacuum and any higher dimensional structure.

    Fritjof Capra was praised and criticized for his Tao of Physics. Lederman writer of the God particle (if the universe is the answer, then what'sthe question?) wrote it to be a book not needed, and Woit criticized it for not being updated with the developments. Chew's bootstraps (with which the Tao is compared), although left behind at that time (60's and 70's), recently gained in power again, which shows Capra was on the right track. I read only parts of the book, but find Bohm's holographic universe much more interesting. Capra's emphasis on inter-connectedness and the whole was very welcome and it deserves mention that Chew's bootstraps, developed in the physically roaring sixties, together with Regge theory forming non-perturbative approaches to S-matrix theory (in relation to QCD, analytic continuation, and sheaf cohomologies), after being killed by political power and new reductionist models, are recently reincarnated

    Nostradamos wrote
    Patriots by 10, nuff said
    Put your bets down now
    T Clark

    :lol:
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    Again, Lao must have had an instinct feeling for the nature of reality. All these poetic lines, except the last nonsensical ones, show a truly striking similarity with quantum field theoretical considerations. Although not expressed in mathematical language, both descriptions certainly have a common. Aren't we all made from the quantum vacuum?Hillary

    I've had my say more than once about this.

    If the Tao precedes God, it also precedes the quantum vacuum and any higher dimensional structure.Hillary

    Yes, as I've noted before.

    Fritjof Capra was praised and criticized for his Tao of Physics... Capra was on the right track.Hillary

    Capra is another one who doesn't know his metaphysics from his physics. Reading "Tao of Physics" was the first time I remember recognizing that.
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