Wednesday, 8 July 2009

China’s Pyrrho

“Shen Tao discarded knowledge, abandoned self, followed the inevitable, and was indifferent to things. Such were his principles. He said: ‘Knowledge is not to know’. He was one who despised knowledge and would destroy it. Stupid and irresponsible, he ridiculed the world’s way of preferring the virtuous; careless and impractical, he condemned the world’s great Sages; shifting and slippery, he changed about with circumstances; disregarding right and wrong, he was only concerned with avoiding trouble; learning nothing from knowledge and thinking, paying no attention to past or future, he stood loftily indifferent to everything.”

Chuang-tzu, ch. 33., tr. H.A. Giles (Shanghai: Kelly & Walsh, 1926), quoted by Fung Yu-lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, Vol. 1: The Period of the Philosophers (from the Beginnings to circa 100bc), tr. D. Bodde (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), p.153. (Further: “Men of ability laughed at him and said: ‘The way of Shen Tao is no practice for the living; it is a principle for the dead’.” Ibid.)


James Higham said...

... and released the safety catch on his Browning.

dearieme said...

Three days and no-one has managed a joke about a Pyrrhoic victory. What is the world coming to?

Deogolwulf said...

Nicely introduced, though, Dearieme.