March 23, 2004

The Tao of Freedom

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 9:06 pm


I am now nearly finished the Dispossessed by Ursua Le Guin, which I wrote about a week or so ago. Now I can say I have taken quite a fancy for the book for it combines two of my all time favorite methods of looking at the world, a taoist and anthropological one. I have never come across a novel that so captures a taoist sense of morality, time, and being via an anthropological method of “exposing” norms (and flaws) through the contrast of two vastly different societites, each of whom treat each other as a ghastly moral aberration. Like the Tao, true understanding comes through a cyclical (never ending) contrast, and as anthropological knowledge goes shows, meaning is culturally contingent yet often experienced as viscerally natural. One effective way by which to disturb that often rigid commonsense is through contrast, so that neither the “naturalness” of Yin (this) or Yang (that) dominates, but are balanced in and through their interface, rendering them always partial and contingent, never controlling, whole, and absolute.

And morality, to enact freedom through responsibility, must also let go off rigid adherance to dogma and ideas to give way to a certain type of fluid dynamism and relativity in which the true, the good, the ugly, are not necessarily found as absolute things in laws, but in an openness to engage responsibly with the processes of life, ones actions, and especially other selves, without which our lives would be truly barren.

Reaching a sense of the right is often an act of striking a balance and openly interfacing with other selves but this can only be achieved, if one openly and thoughtfully takes the full momement into account up and above seeking any rigid understanding of the moment in relation to already posited law. It requires not obedience but an thoughtful, ever-shifting participation in the ethical, transforming mere law into something which is harder, but ultimately much more effective and fulfilling, active continous practice.

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