Logic of Tao Philosophy  
Tao according to Tao

Tao listening to Tao:

 Tao Philosophy according to Lao-Tzu


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Chapter One:  Excerpt

After searching through the whole Tao Te Ching, we finally discover the structure of the first Chapter. Historically, there are several textual variations of Chapter One. Our new textual arrangement can identify clearly the keywords and the logic structure in this chapter. We propose the following arrangement based on the Mawangdui and Wang-Bi texts, and divide this Chapter into five verses:  (Draft Only)

1.  Tao may be spoken of, but it is not the Heng Tao;
     Name may be described, but it is not the Heng Name.

2.  Wu is the beginning of the myriad things;
     Yu is the mother of the myriad things.

3.  Therefore,
     In Heng Wu, it shows subtle appearance (of the myriad things);
     In Heng Yu, it shows disappearance  (of the myriad things).

4.  Both appear simultaneously, as different manifestations of the same.

5.  It is mystery upon mystery, and this is the gateway to all mysteries. 

First of all, the major difference in the above textual arrangement is the recognition of the concept of Heng 恆. This word (Heng) was changed to Chang 常 when Liu Heng became the emperor of Han dynasty (180-157 bce). Our conclusion is independent of such a textual change. 

We find that Heng is a critical keyword in the logic of Tao philosophy. In fact, it is this concept of Heng (as a whole) in the first chapter that brings out clearly the logical structure of Tao philosophy. Heng is a concept of wholeness that is beyond the designated differentiation of Wu and Yu in the phenomenal world.

Therefore, the "real" manifestations Heng Wu恆無and Heng Yu恆有 are the real manifestations of Heng Tao恆道 in the phenomenal world. In order to describe Heng Wu and Heng Yu, Lao-tzu introduces two definite objects Wu 無 and Yu有in the second verse, as the basic concepts to begin his discussion. Then, in the third verse, he tactically describes how Wu and Yu appear in the real manifestations: Heng Wu and Heng Yu. The basic logical structure is hidden in this Verse. The fourth verse emphasizes that these two manifestations "appear at the same time and describe the same reality兩者同出、異名同謂" with different names. This is the most critical concept in the logic of the Tao philosophy.

In both East and West philosophy, only a whole can have reality. Therefore, the concepts with Heng Names恆名 (Hong Tao, Hong Wu, Hong Yu), are concepts of reality. On the contrary, the concepts simply given a Name名 (Tao, Wu, Yu) are only objects of knowledge that we use to describe reality. Although these named objects cannot represent a reality, they are still the tools for our communication (i.e., our language).