The Great Transformation: Chap 08 - All Is One
[I'm on vacation this week and with god as my witness I *will* finish this book - even if my 1 year old decides to wake up every morning at 1 am to run a diagnostics test on his vocal cords]
400 - 300 BCE
Still no news from those spunky Jews.
In China the Axial Age is in full bloom. Even though Taoism doesn't exist yet the philosophers speak of "The Way". The philosopher Zhuang Zi emphasizes the idea that everything is in a state of flux so you shouldn't get attached to anything. Unlike Buddhist enlightenment, Chinese enlightenment is considered something that you have to continually work to maintain, which seems like a more reasonable way to think about enlightenment to me. The more I learn about Chinese history the more I'm intrigued, having not learned much of this before. I'm stuck by how strongly my conception of what religion is is tied to my knowledge of Western flavors of monotheism and just how narrow that view is. It turns out there are so many other spectacular ways to be wrong about the nature of the universe.
For the Indians the Axial Age is mostly over. The main concern now is how to reconcile Axial Age thinking with the reality of living day to day in the world. For instance how to be moral and be a professional warrior. Indian philosophy/religion continues to do little for me. I wish she'd throw a curry recipe or something in just to liven things up.
In Greece this is the era of Plato and Aristotle. I remember reading lots of Plato while I was getting my minor in philosophy and I always enjoyed it. I guess the presentation of philosophy as a dialogue is just more palatable than dry chapters of Kant. On the other hand, except what we learn about the life and times of Socrates, Plato's ideas are mostly nutty and don't even seem worth thinking about to me now. The Forms? The parable of the cave? Killing everyone over the age of 12 and starting a new Republic? All atheists should be killed? And our friend Aristotle. It's amazing how he could have been so wise and yet considered women deformed men without souls. It's interesting to note that while Christian thinkers for 100s of years used his Unmoved Mover argument to prop up their theological conceptions of god, he most definitely didn't think of god a personally involved in human history. Furthermore he considered thinking about things to be the ultimate good. He may have a point there.