Logic of Tao Philosophy  
Tao according to Tao

Tao listening to Tao:

 Tao Philosophy according to Lao-Tzu



We shall discuss the structure of the logic of Tao philosophy according to the concept of Heng. We treat Heng Tao as a completely undifferentiated absolute reality. It is the concept of Oneness in the statement that "Tao brings Oneness into being道生一." All our discussions related to reality must conform to the characteristics of this "Oneness," in order to have reality.

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Basic Architecture of Tao Philosophy:  Excerpt

The structure of the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching may be shown as Figure 1:

Structure of Tao Philosophy

Figure 1    Basic Architecture of Tao Philosophy.

In this Figure, we follow the customs by dividing our discussions into two domains: the Absolute Reality and the Phenomenal World. The phenomenal world is further divided into the Actuality Level and the Object Level. In this diagram, the bold-faced terms within the thick-lined boxes are the terminology used by Lao-tzu in Chapter One. The Absolute Reality cannot be described by our language, so Tao is called the Nameless. What we can describe in the phenomenal world is the Tao with names. There are two levels in the phenomenal world with names - the Heng Name and the Name levels.

We consider that Fig.1 is the most direct way of showing the logic structure of Tao philosophy.

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.

Our model treats “Heng Tao” as the Root. This is a fundamental difference from the traditional structure that regards Wu as the Root 以無為本 or regards Wu as the Tao以無為道. In our o model, we identify Tao with the Nameless無名, but Tao cannot be the Wu since Wu already belongs to the phenomenal world as an object. In this structure, both Wu and Yu must appear at the same time. Obviously, this naturally negates the traditional concept that Yu comes from Wu.

(Absolute Reality defines a domain.) The actuality is a reality with the whole domain; the object has reality only within its sub-domain. The distinction of these two levels must be strictly observed, in order to maintain the integrity of the logic discussions. The logic of the Tao philosophy is essentially the method of describing the actualities Heng Wu and Heng Yu with the objects Wu and Yu.

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).