take things as they are; the mystic retires into himself, and dreams of a state of being which is the obverse of the world of fact.
The triumph of Confucianism in the centuries which intervened between Lao Tzŭ and Chuang Tzŭ would account for the antagonism between Taoism and Confucianism as we find it. But it fails to account for the way in which Confucius is sometimes represented as playing into the hands of Taoism. On p. 85 f. n. the translator explains it as a literary coup de main. Dr. Chalmers, quoted by Dr. Legge, says that both Chuang Tzŭ and Lieh Tzŭ introduced Confucius into their writings "as the lords of the Philistines did the captive Samson on their festive occasions, 'to make sport for them.'" But there is not a hint of this given in the text, though throughout one long chapter (chap. iv) we find Confucius giving a Taoist refutation of Confucianist doctrines when defended by his own pupil Yen Hui. It might seem like an attempt to draw a distinction between Confucius and Confucianism, though elsewhere Confucius is ridiculed as wanting in sense.
May not the explanation be as follows?—
(i.) Lao Tzŭ and Confucius were probably much nearer to one another philosophically than the Taoism of Chuang Tzŭ and the Confucianism of Mencius. The passages in which Confucius talks Taoism would, on this hypothesis, represent a traditional survival of their real relations to one another. The episode of Confucius' visit to Lao Tzŭ "to ask about the Tao," would, whether it records a fact or not, tend in the same direction.
(ii.) From the first we may assume that the one took an ideal, the other a practical and utilitarian view of Tao "the Way"; Confucius finding it in social duties and the work of practical life, Lao Tzŭ in the hidden and the inward, the "interior life," as Christian mystics would call it. Thus the historian Ssŭ-ma Ch'ien says, "Lao Tzŭ cultivated the Tao and virtue, his chief aim in his studies being how to keep himself concealed and unknown. Seeing the decay of the dynasty he withdrew himself out of sight, and no one knows where he died."
(iii.) The divergence between the two views, the ideal and the actual, the mystical and the practical, would increase with time, each intensifying the other by opposition and reaction, until the practical won its way to security, and the mystical got left out in the cold, perhaps persecuted, certainly suspected, and treated as heterodox, and naturally retaliating by scornful criticism of the dominant view. When this stage is reached,
- Encycl. Met., Art. "Lao Tzŭ."
- Quoted by Dr. Legge, loc. cit.