3. The Principle of Oneness 太一定律
A Basic Theory of Tao Philosophy


Chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching shows how the classical Wu and Yu are entangled to preserve Oneness of Tao. This is the highest holistic level of Oneness. This is the Principle of Oneness in Tao Philosophy. The principle is general and can be extended to any reality under consideration, even when we observe the world appearances. Seeking Oneness in the world of appearances may be perplexing to our common sense, but it is the fundamental teaching of Tao. Every reality, similar to a �being� of Parmenides, should have Oneness.

3.1.1 Oneness with Two Classical States

In Figure 4, we have an entity that is a reality with Oneness. We can analyze this reality in terms of its classical properties. In this example, we use generic Black and White as its two classical states. We have to bring these classical states into Oneness through the process of actualization.

Oneness is preserved when the classical states are properly superimposed and intermingled to form the actual states. This is shown in Figure 4. In this case, we may treat the actual states as realities in our thought.

A common error is to take the classical states of Black and White to be distinct and independent. In this case, the Oneness nature of the reality is broken. This is the case shown in Figure 4. The classical states are always linked by their interactions.

The Principle of Oneness

Figure 4 The Generalized Principle of Oneness

The model presented above is general and applies to any entity of philosophical investigation. Ontologically, only an entity with Oneness should be taken to be a unit of existence. There are many possible ways to choose a set of the classical states and each set will have a different interaction patterns. The actual states should represent the same single entity (a being). Scientists commonly consider the classical states as realities together with their proper interactions. Philosophers consider directly the actual states as realities and observe their �manifestations� in the classical states. These are two equivalent ways of seeking the same truth.

This model may be used to represent the actual entity (entity with Oneness), the fallacy of misplaced concreteness of the classical states, etc. in Whitehead�s Process Philosophy [WH29]. The Cartesian model deals with the classical states.

3.1.2 More on Wu and Yu States

There has been more than one way to interpret Wu and Yu. It is important to mention a common way we use Wu and Yu without a qualifier (classical or actual) to describe the two-level architecture of Tao philosophy. In this case, Wu is transcendental and Yu is concrete appearances in the world.� Wu and Yu are taken to have a vertical relationship.

In the model shown in Figure 4 , we are dealing with the appearances in the world (the classical Yu states only). The actual states have the same Oneness properties as a Wu state. For this reason, we may consider the actual states as Wu and the classical states as Yu when we are dealing with our daily experiences. This may be the view taken by the so-called Pro-Wu group 貴無派 who would seek only Wu (the actual states) and avoid all classical Yu states. A Pro-Yu group崇有派may seek the actual Yu states in the world of appearances. Both groups are then seeking the same truth (in the actual states).

It is therefore important to distinguish between classical and actual states, in order to avoid ambiguity in the arguments. Our formulation may provide a proper framework for a consistent analysis of Wu and Yu.

Another characteristic is that both actual Wu and Yu have Oneness. Each represents the wholeness of Tao. In other words, Wu and Yu are not just partial manifestations of Tao. To paraphrase Parmenides, we may say that �Tao is full equally of Wu and Yu, as both are equal, because to neither of them belongs any shares.� This intrinsic and unique property appears to be very deceptive, as also warned by Parmenides.

3.1.3 Oneness of Multiple Classical States

So far, our examples have two classical states. The Oneness formulation may be extended to any state with multiple classical states. In that case, all classical states will be entangled to form the actual states. For example, if wedivide time into �past, present, and future, these states must become inter-connected, in order to preserve Oneness. This may be an interesting way to understand Heidegger�s treatment of Temporality in his Being and Time. Our presence depends on our history and our future.

3.1.4 Holding on to Pure Classical States

Repeatedly Laotzu warns against holding a classical state to have its own truth. Several instances are given in Chapter 39, such as:

天得一以清
天毋己清將恐裂

Heaven attains Oneness to have its clarity and avoids
fragmentation by not always showing its full clarity.

�Pure clarity� is a classical state and cannot be maintained for long. The actual state should have all possible manifestations. Following the same insight, we can interpret Laotzu�s Chapter 22: �Yielding will preserve wholeness 曲則全� as a way to preserve Oneness.

This view is echoed by Parmenides as, ��For people made up their minds to name an appearance in two forms, of which they must not name one only � that is where they have gone astray � and distinguished them as opposite in appearance and assigned to them manifestations different from the other.� [KI83] We may see similar conclusion of entangled states in Bohm�s Implicate Order stating that each state �holds� all others enfolded within it [BO80]. It is also interesting to see many similar properties of Oneness in Field Being Philosophy [TO01] and Quantum Reality [HE85].

We are used to think and speak classically and often try to reduce each manifestation to a separately existent entity with its own characteristics. Such a thing is a classical thing and Tao cannot be reduced to such a separately existent thing. We have to transcend the classical states and seek the actual states in order to comprehend the mysteries of Tao. We may call this the process of actualization.