Page:Zhuang Zi - translation Giles 1889.djvu/31

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xxv
Note on the Philosophy of Chaps. i-vii.

their language into ours, that name seems less inappropriate than Theist or Deist. But it is doubtful whether the distinction between Pantheism and Theism would have been intelligible to either philosopher, and certain that if they could have understood it, they would have denied to it reality. Both held the immanence of the Eternal Principle in all that is. Both taught that the soul is an emanation from the Divine, and both, though in very different degrees, seem to teach that a life is perfect in proportion as it becomes one with that from which it came, and loses what is individual in it.

In Chuang Tzŭ, as in all mystics, there is an element of antinomianism. That "good and evil are the same," may contain a deep truth for the sage, but "take no heed of time, nor of right and wrong" (p. 31) is, to say the least, dangerous teaching for the masses. The mystic's utterances will not bear translation into the language of the world, and to take them au pied de la lettre can hardly fail to produce disastrous results. This is why antinomianism always dogs the heels of mysticism. And this may perhaps help to explain the debased Taoism of to-day. But of this I know nothing.

It would be interesting to know whether in the undisputed utterances of Lao Tzŭ (i. e. putting on one side the Tâo-Tê-Ching), Quietism and the glorification of Inaction are as prominent as they are in Chuang Tzŭ. One would be prepared à priori to find that they are not. Lao Tzŭ was born at the end of the seventh century B.C., and was, therefore, some fifty years older than Confucius, with whom in 517 B.C., he is said to have had an interview.[1] By the time of Chuang Tzŭ, who was possibly contemporary with Mencius, and therefore some two or three centuries after Lao Tzŭ, Confucianism had become to some extent the established religion of China, and Taoism, like Republicanism in the days of the Roman Empire, became a mere opposition de salon. Under such circumstances any elements of mysticism latent in Lao Tzŭ's system would develop rapidly. And the antagonism between the representatives of Lao Tzŭ and Confucius would proportionately increase. But philosophy does not become mystical and take refuge in flight until it abandons all hope of converting the world. When effort is useless, the mind idealises Inaction, and seeks a metaphysical basis for it. For mysticism and scepticism flourish in the same atmosphere though in different soils, both, though in different ways, implying the abandonment of the rational problem. The Sceptic, the Agnostic or Positivist of to-day, declares it insoluble, and settles down content to


  1. Chuang Tzŭ, chap, xiv, p. 182–189.