The Daoist Logic of “”: The Abandonment of “Name (名)” (12)

According to the above analysis, an ideological connection between Laozi’s thinking on “Dao” and Sun’s opinion on the core spirit of the independent media movement is unveiled. This kind of connection is based on the same logic of emphasizing the significance of the “becoming” condition: both Laozi and Sun do not use any fixed ideologies or doctrines to describe or conclude their concerns. This fundamental discovery not only hints us the distinctiveness of the social movement practice in the Chinese, but also encourages us to think more about the possibility of understanding the “others” with a non-anthropocentric perspective: we can and should understand the existentiality of the whole creation by examining the “continuously developing reality”, instead of sticking with the existing knowledge available only in a particular given condition. Needless to say, to realize the “others” by considering their “becoming” state is relatively difficult. On the contrary, to understand the “others” based on the fixed knowledge establishment endorsed by the power is easier, parallel with the thinking logic of the contemporary scientism. All in all, to follow the primary approach brought by Laozi and Sun to the “truth” is desirable because we can avoid sinking into the ossified system of knowledge with dead names, titles, “flags” and teleologies that cannot help recall the real existential character of the whole creation because our thinking would be firstly restricted in such fixed images, being far from touching the essential principle of change of the Nature.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)







(摘自: 無政府與全球化. 台北: 國立政治大學. 2003)

[1] 政府的形態改變並不會促使其本質產生變化。現代世界大部份文明國家普遍以「代議民主」作為政府構成的制度模式。不過,這種政治架構仍具有其不可磨滅的負面特徵。如克魯泡特金所言:「它總時常設法擴展它的立法權,鞏固它的統治權,干涉社會的一切事務,撲滅個人與團體的創意力,使其處處受著法律的箝制。」參見:克魯泡特金(1984)。一個反抗者的話。台北:帕米爾書店。頁148。

The Daoist Logic of “”: The Abandonment of “Name (名)” (11)

Contrary to the teleological horizon of the Western scientism, Daoism offers an open thinking approach to considering the existentiality of the Nature and its crucial role in the perpetual change of the whole creation. From the Daoist point of view, the existence of the Nature does not imply any teleological logic. In the natural circumstance, “Dao” guides the changing tendency of the whole creation that would be reflected by the existential reality of beings. Here, the reason of arguing Western scientism cannot help people understand “Dao” is that in the present civilization situation human intellect is restrictedly developing in a tiny space incompatible with the Nature’s. For example, language, as a very civilized instrument for communication, is still not a good “carrier” of “Dao”, according to Laozi. In Daodejing, Laozi therefore argues we cannot conclude “Dao” with any appropriate words, statement or argument. With its unfixed nature, “Dao” is autonomously operating that will not be influenced by any possible factor, especially the artificial one. If we intend to understand “Dao” further, we should firstly respect the original existentiality of “Dao” and its vicissitudinous essence: let “Dao” talk about itself under the condition of deterring any intervention from the power of man. On the road to “Dao”, we should give up the “desire” to place “Dao” in the human knowledge system. If successful, we can fully understand what the essence of “Dao” is.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

The Daoist Logic of “”: The Abandonment of “Name (名)” (9)

From this paragraph, we realize that Laozi uses “Dao” as a discretionary term to discuss what the developing of all beings is based on. This shows “Dao” itself is not a substantial thing. For understanding “Dao”, we need to pay more attention to observing the transforming of the whole creation with the “big”, “pass (逝)”, “far (遠)” and “return (反;返)” features. The core character of “Dao” cannot be understood through “Dao”. However, it is reflected in the perpetual change of all beings. With an unfixed interpreting logic, this approach to understanding “Dao” based on the continuously developing state of beings is echoing the Sun’s opinion on the spirit of the independent media movement: the “core” can only be understood by sustaining the growth of the social movement practice based on the ongoing development of the given social reality. No one can dogmatically conclude the “principle” of the media activism of “” with a single “flag”, doctrine or ideology. Hence Sun realizes the social movement practice is inspired by certain humanist thinking. However, it is untrue to say the practice is carried out which is conforming to the inspiring thinking. In fact, the spirit of the media social movement is also becoming in accordance with the actuality of the media movement development. When we acknowledge all conditions for the social movement practice are continuously changing, we have no power to use any existing abstract to judge the nature of the practice.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

The Daoist Logic of “”: The Abandonment of “Name (名)” (7)

Parallel with the logic of Laozi for “Dao”, Sun maintains that the “becoming” reality of the media activism is the basis of the “” running to be “no-principle”. In other words, no theory or ideology can be the only “principle” to exhaust and direct the ongoing development of the practice. His major reason is that independent media is a kind of people’s cooperative body for a new form of social movement practice with the distinctive characteristic of global-local interaction of communities and individuals that is never existed in the past civilizations. For embodying the humanist spirits of spontaneity and solidarity for people’s alternative voices, the independent media movement must abandon any ideological constraints from existing theories or knowledge that have been the ingredients of the “mainstream” perspective used by the vested interests for solidifying their dominative position in the public in order to effectively expand its social influence based on the current development of the world society as a whole. The “cannot-be-told” stance is not connected with Sun’s personal unwillingness to elaborate the details of the “principle”. In fact, it is about preserving a larger space for a liberal development of the independent media movement by denying all kinds of doctrines, principles and theories. This is an epistemological recognition embedded in the thinking logic of Sun: we must remain “no-desire” for the “outcome” of any social movement practice. From here, we realize that Sun’s libertarian thinking is parallel with Laozi’s thought for the interpretation of “Dao”.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

The Daoist Logic of “”: The Abandonment of “Name (名)” (5)

Obviously, Sun’s rational thinking on the dialectic relationship between the “theory” and the “practice” of social movement is parallel with the Chinese traditional thought – Daoism on the connection between “Dao (the Way道)” and “Name (名)” argued by Laozi, the representative Daoist philosopher in ancient China. Whether “Dao” can be told by words is a core theoretical issue of the Chinese thought:

道,可道也,非恒道也;名,可名也,非恒名也。無名,萬物之始也;有名,萬物之母也。故恒無欲也,以觀其妙;恒有欲也,以觀其所徼。 [1]

“Dao [Truth] can be talked about [described or theorized] in any manner each person considers feasible, though hardly any of these descriptions will be perpetually valid; Names [Descriptions] can be ascribed to Dao in any manner each person deems workable, yet hardly of these will last forever. In the beginning it is beyond us that the world and the universe [Heaven and Earth] were nameless [both inexplicable and indescribable]; [Nevertheless,] whatever happened to be possibly named [described] by us are the mother [origin of the descriptions of] myriad [all and every] things and creatures. Accordingly, I constantly refrain from my selfish [subjective] desires; In order to explore [objectively] the manifested wonder of it [Nature]; I also constantly maintain my volition [to seek objective knowledge], in order to pursue its [Nature’s] deep seeded enigma….” [2]

Besides the above translation of the First Chapter of Daodejing (道德經), we can have Laozi’s philosophical theory on “Dao” with our own interpretation: if “Dao” can be told by the words we use, the words are not representing the exact of “Dao”. Also, the “Name” which can be represented by the words we use is not the exact of “Name”. The “Namelessness (無名)” and the “Name (有名)” are both the only origins of all beings in the universe. If we move towards “Dao” without desire (無欲), we have an opportunity to completely understand what “Dao” is. On the contrary, if we move towards “Dao” with desire (有欲), we can only touch the surface of “Dao” embodied by the vicissitudinous changing of beings.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] See: Huang, Zhao (黃釗) (1991). The Annotation and Interpretation of Silk Book Laozi (帛書老子校注析). Taipei: Studentbook. p. 3.

[2] See: Chen, Lee Sun (陳麗生) (2011). Laozi’s Daodejing — The English & Chinese Translation Based on Laozi’s Original Daoism (老子的道德經 中英白話句解與老學研究). USA: iUniverse. p. 133.

The Daoist Logic of “”: The Abandonment of “Name (名)” (4)

If Sun indicated there was a “principle” or a theory called “X” on which the running of “” was based, our understanding on the quality of the media movement practice would be automatically structured like this: “” was an independent media for “X”. This implies that there is a fixed ideology directing the ongoing development of the practice. The main point is: the “declaration” does not help clarify the nature of the independent media activism. The “declaration” produces a “principle” for the media movement development on the one hand; on the other hand, the “declaration” gives out a law of exclusion: the Taiwanese independent media only conforms to the “X’s principle” to carry out its social actions. That is to say, other possibilities of practicing the media social movement would be excluded. Here, we discover the act of declaring “there is a ‘principle’ for social movement practice” is effective only in discriminating dissenting voices and social powers. However, the act directly causes a serious dilemma of social movement development. For example, it is clear that workmen and labourers should claim their rights from their bosses. In globalization, they are encountering not only the bosses’ exploitation but also various challenges from the complex political climate in the local and from foreign workers migration around the world. The declaring act is destructive for the sustainability of world social movement development (e.g. the anti-globalization) because social activists and campaigners are unable to absorb the diversified thinking, ideas and opinions from the fresh people and native cultures for their ongoing activisms, having less ability to structure an open-minded attitude toward emerging social phenomena and to analyze and explain the complicated power relationships between different parties when just sticking with one single exclusive principle, theory or value. For social movement practitioners, “practice is always alive, and theory defunct”.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)