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Seventh Diaologue of Zhi-Guan

[As the evening sun begins to gently fall behind the horizon Zhi-Guan and Mo-Zi are sat under the pagoda sipping on some lapsang and conversing when they see Tian-Zhu pass by]

Mo-Zi: Tian-Zhu my friend you look as though you carry great burden come join us, maybe one of us can be of aid.

Tian-Zhu: Thank you, I do indeed have a dilemma and pray your wisdom will bring me comfort.

Mo-Zi: Then tell us of your trouble in that we may find some remedy.

Tian-Zhu: My faith tells me that I must condemn those who enjoy their own kind as bedfellows, yet I find the number of whom I must condemn increasing as time goes on. I wonder as to why sin has come to spread in such great a plague.

Mo-Zi: Althogh I cannot agree with your faith Tian-Zhu I do understand your question. You wish to understand why there seem to be a greater number of homosexuals now than there have been.

[Tian-Zhu nods solemnly]

Mo-Zi: Well let us try to work towards an answer. There is now a greater population than before right?

Tian-Zhu: Right. Roughly seven billion now.

Mo-Zi: So theat would suggest all social groups would grow, would it not?

Tian-Zhu: I would have to agree yes. However this seems to be a greater growth than would be expected from your reasoning.

Mo-Zi: I see. Then let us take a different train of thought. You say seven billion people, yet the planet’s resources can only support five and a half billion adequately.

Tian-Zhu: I belive that to be correct, you are most learned on the subejct.

Mo-Zi: Thank you my friend however that is common knowledge. What I suggest is then that homosexuality is nature’s way of controlling the population. As the planet’s resources get strained nature tries to cut back on the number of humans capable of procreating.

Tian-Zhu: That seems like a fair answer, although not one that seems will with my faith.

Zhi-Guan: Maybe so but I do not accept that nature employ that method. I reason that if that were to be the case then nature would lower the number of fertile females, thus decreasing the liklihood of procreating.

Mo-Zi: But there would still be a significant number of males all of which could mate with the females over and over so the problem would not be fixed.

Zhi-Guan: You forget one thing my friend, humans are by nature monogomous creatures and will only mate with a special, chosen partner. This trait has been exhibited for millenia now.

Mo-Zi: You have me there Zhi-Guan once again I am defeated by your wisdom.

Tian-Zhu: Wise as he is this has not given my the answer I sought.

Zhi-Guan: Our apologies Tian-Zhu, perhaps your faith and our wisdom do have blind spots to which we cannnot fathom just yet.

Mo-Zi: I agree we may be wise but our wisdom is only limited.

Tian-Zhu: I guess I must trust in my Lord on this one. Good evening my friends.

[Tian-Zhu bows respectfully before making his leave]

Is Boethius Platonic, Aristotelian or Stoic in his View on Foreknowledge?

The medieval philosopher Boethius became puzzled by the problem of divine foreknowledge and attempted to answer this conundrum in the form of a dialogue between him and philosophy that is given the guise of a lady known as Lady Philosophy. Being educated in the Neo-Platonic tradition Boethius had knowledge of Platonic and Aristotelian modes of thought, both of which can be seen within his arguments on the topic of divine knowledge. However the purpose of this essay is to determine whether Boethius’ position is Platonic, Aristotelian or Stoic, as elements of Stoicism can also be found throughout Boethius’ dialogue with Lady Philosophy.  In order to achieve this I shall begin by highlighting the parallels between Plato and Boethius, then the parallels between Aristotle and Boethius before moving onto the parallels between the Stoics and Boethius.

However the issue is a complex one due to the complications within Boethius’ style of writing so I shall draw my conclusion to two possibilities, one being based on the notion that the character of Boethius and Lady Philosophy are the same person that is Boethius the author, with the other being centred around the idea that they are two separate entities; Boethius and a manifestation of the views he argues against played by Lady Philosophy. I do not intend to answer the question as to whether or not we ought to or ought not to read the text as two separate entities or as both belonging to the same person, I merely acknowledge that this is a concern which can confuse my main focus so needs to be made clear. By the end of this essay I hope it shall become clear than Boethius can be argued to be Aristotelian in his views on divine foreknowledge regardless of whether you take Lady Philosophy’s arguments to be views separate or part of Boethius’ own views.

First let us look at the similarities between Plato and Boethius starting with one which although may seem trivial could hold deeper implications later on. The style in which Boethius goes about writing, in the form of a dialogue, is characteristic of Plato within a number of his works including The Republic and Timaeus, suggesting that Boethius has some Platonic leanings. Although by writing in this way it does also raise the issue as to whether we can attach what is said by Lady Philosophy to Boethius or whether he is using this second character in order to distance himself from views separate from his own.

In the first book of Consolations of Philosophy we are provided with an account of the character of Boethius’ early life as a public figure, which does bear some small resemblance to Plato’s concept of a philosopher king in book seven of The Republic, although it also shares some similarity to Aristotle’s argument that the life of the philosopher is a political one within The Nicomachean Ethics [Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1095b-1097b ]. So it can be said that in his earlier years Boethius showed some Platonic tendencies. Equally it can be argued that Boethius, in his early years, showed some Aristotelian tendencies, however, in order to determine which is more prevalent more evidence is required.

There are a number of passages within book three which hint at the possibility of Boethius being a Platonist, firstly there is the line “to that true happiness your soul dreams of but cannot see because your sight is distracted by images” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pp.59-60] the notion of man being distracted from the truth by way of images is one which appears in The Republic, specifically in the simile of the divided line [Plato, The Republic, 509d-511e].

Also a little further on in the dialogue appears the line “it isn’t the human body then, that is attractive, but only the weakness of human vision that makes it seem so” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.78], this could be interpreted to be an attack of those who concern themselves with aesthetics rather than truth in itself as they allow themselves to be carried away by the senses instead of appealing to reason. This is also argued similarly by Plato when he attacks the lovers of art, “for those who love looking and listening enjoy learning about things…but they’re a peculiar lot to class as philosophers, because nothing would induce them to spend time on any kind of serious argument” [Plato, The Republic, 475d].

Thirdly it is argued that “everything that exists is unitary, and that oneness itself is good” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.118], which in this case Boethius argues to be God and so a section of his argument for God’s foreknowledge is because we are part of him and he of us that he possess knowledge of us in the present, past and future and to him all occurs simultaneous being an atemporal being [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.170]. Plato also argues that everything is unitary “since beauty and ugliness are opposites, they are two…and as they are two, each of them is single…the same is true of…all qualities, each of them is in itself single, but they seem to be a multiplicity because they appear everywhere” [Plato, The Republic, 476a], even though at the beginning it looks like Plato is saying that everything is divided into individual pieces the final phrase “but they seem to be a multiplicity because they appear everywhere” [Plato, The Republic, 476a] shows that Plato realises that every individual is connected to something more unified higher up the chain of order within the cosmos, for Plato this would be the form of the Good within the intelligible realm of the Forms, for Boethius it would be God both of which are considered the Good which links back to the end part Boethius’ statement “and that oneness itself is good” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.118]. However all of these lines are written for Lady Philosophy so as to whether we can attribute these to Boethius as his views or not remains at question.

There is one line which has Platonic resemblances and is spoken by the character of Boethius within the dialogue, “the universe is composed of so many different parts that it could never have come together unless there was one to join all these elements” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.99]. Again this hints as the idea that Boethius accepts Plato’s view that everything is part of a unity which is higher than any of its individual parts, but also it hints at the idea that Boethius argues that there is an intelligent design to the universe, for if there were no grand intellect to design such a perfect system then the parts would not work as smoothly with each other than they appear to do. A similar concept is forwarded by Plato in Timaeus “in his delight planned to make it still more like its pattern; and as this pattern is an eternal Living Being, he set out to make the universe resemble it in this way too as far as was possible” [Plato, Timaeus, 37d], thus Plato argues that the universe is made to be as similar to the perfect pattern of the Forms as is possible, just as Boethius argues the universe is made to be as similar to God’s perfection as possible.

 It would seem then if we are to take both Lady Philosophy and the character of Boethius as representing Boethius’ views then we do not have a worthy case for Boethius being a Platonist on the subject of foreknowledge, since there are no actual arguments on divine foreknowledge based upon Platonic ideas. Alternatively if we take only what the character of Boethius says within the dialogue to be the views of Boethius we still do not have a worthy case to argue that Boethius is a Platonist, as he argues against Lady Philosophy who is made, at least to some extent, to represent the views of Plato. The only part in which both characters are in agreement is that everything is part of unity, although given the nature of what Boethius is discussing within this text should he argue against a divine unity to the universe, denying God’s existence in the process of doing this, then any discussion on divine foreknowledge becomes a moot point, therefore Boethius must accept this point within this context whether he agrees to it or not.

Now we have observed the case for Boethius being a Platonist, which is unconvincing, let us look at the evidence which may suggest Boethius is an Aristotelian. Again I shall first look at the statements made by Lady Philosophy starting with book two where she utters the line “avarice is not admirable, but liberality is generally praised” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.43]. Here it shows a sympathy for Aristotelian ethics, although it does appear to be somewhat out of place within a text on divine foreknowledge, which argues that any characteristic when in excess is considered a vice [Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1095a, 1104b and 1173a], and avarice being an excess of desire for power or material objects would be considered a vice under an Aristotelian system of morality. Since Boethius seems to show Aristotelian ethics a case, albeit a weak one as there is little evidence to show it to be the case, could be made that Boethius may be Aristotelian in other areas, although to do so off this piece is troublesome given Boethius’ background as a Christian and some models of Christian ethics, particularly Catholic based doctrines, preach that it is a sin to partake in avarice. Thus it is unclear here as to whether Boethius argues in support of an Aristotelian ethics or a Christian ethics.

Another line used by Lady Philosophy is “since men want happiness, and since happiness is in itself divinity, then it follows that men in the pursuit of happiness are actually in the pursuit of divinity” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.89] which bears resemblance with Aristotle’s view that “we assume the gods to be blessed and happy” [Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1178b] but also that happiness for Aristotle comes from living a contemplative life and a contemplative life is the life of the gods [Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1177a-1178b]. What this does is brings up the idea that we are somehow joined to God in that he is happy and we wish to join him in his happiness although this holds no direct relation to divine foreknowledge so even though it does link Boethius to Aristotle it is not a strong argument to claim Boethius is Aristotelian in his stance of divine foreknowledge.

 Marenbon points out “Philosophy considers that…only what is necessary is certain. It follows that…future contingent events are not certain. But Philosophy also believes that…if someone knows something, he thereby knows it as something certain. If God knows future contingent events, it follows…that he judges them as being other than they are. But…if something is judged otherwise than it is, it is not known” [Marenbon, Medieval Philosophy, pg.44]. Meaning that if God knows future contingents then he knows them as certain which they are not, yet if he does not know future contingents then he cannot be omniscience and therefore cannot possess foreknowledge. Consequently Lady Philosophy must be mistaken on this occasion, which Boethius points out in his argument through the mouthpiece that is Lady Philosophy, “God has an eternal and omnipresent nature, his knowledge surpasses time’s movements and is made in the simplicity of a continual present” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.170], hence God does not know future contingents because for him there is no future so all events must be necessary from God’s perspective. This can be supported by Aristotle who says “what is, necessarily is, when it is” [Aristotle, De Interpretatione, 19a] and since everything is present for God then everything is when it is so everything must be necessary.

 The point of God knowing future contingents means he knows them as something they are not, for he would know what is uncertain as being certain, if he holds foreknowledge is expressed by the character of Boethius when he states “if anyone thinks that something is different from what it really is, then that is not knowledge but a false opinion” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.154], this can be taken to mean two things. Firstly Boethius is arguing that should God think future contingents are known with certainty then God is mistaken. Secondly if God thinks future contingents are known with certainty then it is us who are mistaken when we say they are uncertain, what we should be saying is that they are future necessities. Given that in the end Boethius accepts God as having foreknowledge then it is likely that Boethius is arguing for the second meaning rather than the first. In which case when we talk of future contingents as being uncertain we speak falsely for we are saying that they are known certainly and uncertainly (or to put it into a simplified formula F is X and not-X).

 This would mean that Boethius is accepting Aristotelian logic in his approach to determine whether God holds divine foreknowledge because, according to Aristotle, to say something is both X and not-X simultaneously goes against the law of non-contradiction so one of the claims must be false. The law of non-contradiction can be found in Aristotle’s metaphysics where he states in chapter three of book gamma of Metaphysics, “It is impossible for the same thing at the same time to be-in and not be-in the same thing in the same respect” [Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1005b]. The character of Boethius then goes on to say “once we have accepted this…there cannot be punishment for evil or reward for good if there are no free and voluntary actions” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.155], this suggests that he takes the second interpretation of the previous passage so that it is us who are mistaken when we talk about future contingents. Since God sees them as future necessities or simply just necessities as from his viewpoint there is no future, as pointed out earlier, then the notion of free will cannot be accepted as there is no room for random action coming about as a result of choice or chance. Again this is similar in a sense to Aristotle’s take on foreknowledge when he argues “nothing of what happens is as chance has it, but everything is and happens of necessity” [Aristotle, De Interpretatione, 18b], however Aristotle later makes room for free will as he states “it is not necessary for there to be or not to be a sea-battle tomorrow; but it is necessary for one to take place or not take place” [Aristotle, De Interpretatione, 19a]. This is where the similarity between Boethius and Aristotle stops since Boethius has trouble holding free will and divine foreknowledge whereas for Aristotle the problem does not appear to cause too much difficulty.

 There is a line within De Anima which may be able to link Boethius to Aristotle as it states “the soul knows everything” [Aristotle, De Anima, 405b]. If we are to assume that Boethius believes Plato’s claim that the universe is made from parts, and each soul then being be a part, joined together in and by God then God, knowing everything and having made the universe as close as possible to his own state of nature, would have handed down as much of his omniscience as possible. Also as our souls are part of God then through the soul he knows us and the decisions we have made, are making and will make, this would allow God to possess foreknowledge.  However as a consequence of accepting Plato’s claim of all being joined as part of a unity this passage only links Boethius to Aristotle so long as it links Boethius to being a Platonist

 Based on what has now been said on the parallels between Boethius and Aristotle it would seem that Boethius is Aristotelian, to a degree, within his stance on foreknowledge as he uses the same laws of logic set up by Aristotle and comes to a similar conclusion, although fails to reconcile free will and divine foreknowledge. Also Boethius makes statements which sound close to Aristotelian ethics which as said previously suggests that Boethius has Aristotelian sympathies. Although the passages relating to Aristotelian ethics are expressed by Lady Philosophy so may not be the views of Boethius, but instead be views he opposes which would suggest that he more Platonic in his ethical views, which could explain why Boethius has trouble accepting free will since Aristotelian ethics relies on free will to a certain extent. Whether or not the views are to be taken independently of each other or not there is a stronger case for Boethius as an Aristotelian than there is for him being a Platonist.

 Now the evidence for Boethius being Platonic and Aristotelian has been covered it is time to look at the small traces of evidence which highlight arguments which sound Stoic. First I shall look at the Stoic passages, before moving onto the sceptical ones. Once this has been done we can draw the whole thing together to determine whether Boethius is a Platonist, Aristotelian, Stoic or sceptic in his stance on divine foreknowledge.

Very early on in the text we see a direct reference to Stoicism as Lady Philosophy, when questioned about the state of her dress, which the character of Boethius refers to as being “a miracle of fine cloth…some ruffians had done violence to her elegant dress…bits of fabric had been torn away” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.3] , answers Boethius by saying “the squabbling mobs of Stoics and Epicureans fought to claim his[1] legacy and each side tried to carry me off, tearing this lovely dress” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.8]. What is being shown here is contempt for the Stoics and Epicureans, both by Lady Philosophy and by the character of Boethius. Furthermore is shows Boethius’ view that the Stoics and Epicureans are not to be considered philosophers in the same sense that Plato and Aristotle are, if at all, since Lady Philosophy is portrayed to be the manifestation of philosophy and it is said that the Stoics and Epicureans have damaged philosophy. This contempt for the two schools suggests that Boethius would try and argue against them and therefore prove that he is nether Stoic or Epicurean in his view on divine foreknowledge.

What happens instead is that Boethius offers no further argument against either the Stoics or the Epicureans and does not argue against Lady Philosophy with arguments from either school, even though Lady Philosophy tries to reason with him using Stoicism during book two. Lady Philosophy reprimands Boethius by saying, “you thought you were a philosopher, but let me tell you a story. There was a man who made such a claim…somebody came along to taunt him…this critic said that he would believe the claim if the man could bear all the injuries fate heaped upon him in calm and in silence” [Boethius, Consolations of Philosophy, pg.54-55]. This bears some semblance to Stoicism in the sense that it asks the character of Boethius to face the hardships of life without letting his emotions overpower his reason as according to the Stoics the “definition of the good, as follows: that which is perfectly in accord with nature for a rational being, qua rational” [Diogenes Laertius 7.94] and the Stoic concept of the soul is divided into eight parts; “the five sense organs and the vocal part and the thinking part[2] and the generative part. And corruption afflicts the intellect because of falsehoods and from such a mind there arise many passions…passion itself is, according to Zeno, the irrational” [Diogenes Laertius7.110], thus we ought to not allow the emotions[3] get in the way of reason.

 However this brief section of Stoic argument bears no significance on the main argument on divine foreknowledge thus is out of place within this text. Secondly the Stoicism comes from Lady Philosophy so if we are to take the two characters as being separate then Boethius is removing himself from Stoicism, either way we cannot make any claim to Boethius being Stoic in his view on divine foreknowledge therefore it is fair to say that Boethius is not Stoic whether we take Lady Philosophy’s arguments to be part of Boethius’s views or not.

To conclude if we take the two characters, Boethius and Lady Philosophy, to be holding the views of Boethius then we have a stronger case for him being Aristotelian in his view on divine foreknowledge than the case for him being Platonic. Alternatively if we consider the views of Lady Philosophy to be separate from the character of Boethius then even though Boethius argues more in line with Platonic modes of thinking there is little which is significant to the argument at hand against Lady Philosophy. Whereas the arguments made in line with Aristotelian modes of thought against Lady Philosophy are stronger due to their relevance, then we still have a strong case for Boethius being an Aristotelian in his view on divine foreknowledge. As for the brief resemblances to Stoicism there is so little and of what there is it fails to bear any relevance to the argument at hand, therefore there can no defendable argument that Boethius is a Stoic in his views whether or not we take the two characters to be separate or not.

 Bibliography

·         Aristotle, 1995, ‘De Anima’, in Barnes. J, ‘The Complete Works of Aristotle Volume I (sixth edition)’, Chichester: Princeton University Press

·         Aristotle, 1995, ‘De Interpretatione’, in Barnes. J, ‘The Complete Works of Aristotle Volume I (sixth edition)’ Chichester: Princeton university Press

·         Aristotle, 2004, Metaphysics (translated by Lawson-Tancred. H), London: Penguin Books

·         Aristotle, 1995, ‘Nicomachean Ethics, in Barnes. J, ‘The Complete Works of Aristotle Volume I (sixth edition)’, Chichester: Princeton University Press

·         Boethius, 2008, Consolations of Philosophy (translated by Slavitt. D), Massachusetts: Harvard University Press

·         ‘Diogenes Laertius’ in, 1997, Hellenistic Philosophy Introductory Readings (second edition (translated by Gerson. L and Inwood. B)), Indianapolis: Hackett

·         Marendon. J, 2007, Medieval Philosophy an Historical and Philosophic Introduction, Abingdon: Routledge

·         Plato, 2007, The Republic (second edition (translated by Lee. D)),London: Penguin Book

Plato, 1970, Timaeus and Critias, London: Penguin Books


[1] Referring to Socrates

[2] which is the intellect itself

[3] Or passions as the Stoics called them

Sixth Dialogue of Zhi-Guan

Zhi-Guan was sat taking afternoon tea when Tian-Zhu came towards him, a look of concern etched into his features.

Tian-Zhu: “Zhi-Guan my apologies for disrupting your quiet meditations but I seek your advice. See man is increasingly being cirrupted by the sin of homosexuality. How can I show them the error of their ways and deliver them into God’s forgiving light?”

Lowering his cup Zhi-Guan answered

Zhi-Guan: “Perhaps it is not them who are at error my friend.”

Tain-Zhu: “How can you say this Zhi-Guan‽ God did not allow for such sin in his design.”

Taking another sip of tea Zhi-Guan pondered momentarily

Zhi-Guan: “This god of yours is he perfect?”

Tian-Zhu: “Yes. Of course”

Zhi-Guan: “So in being perfect he must be infalliable?”

Tian-Zhu: “That would follow so.”

Zhi-Guan: “And this god is it the ultimate creator, the first cause of all? Heavens and Earth? Man and beast? Flora and fauna?”

Tian-Zhu: “That is true. Why do you ask of me such simple truths?”

Zhi-Guan: “If what you say about your god is true my friend then your god purposefully designed some of his creations to be, corrupted as you say, by homosexuality. Unless that is you now deny his infalliablity and in doing so his perfection.”

Tian-Zhu: “That is unfair of you Zhi-Guan for you know as a devout disciple of the Lord I cannot deny him those attributes.”

Zhi-Guan: “My apologies it was not intent to bully you in such way. Let us perhaps take a new angle. A perfect god devises, as you say, ‘creations plagued by sin’ then it would seem this was done for a reason.”

Tian-Zhu: “I cannot think of such a reason.”

Zhi-Guan: “No? Fortunatly I can my friend. This god wants you to strive for moral goodness, a purity of soul, right?”

Tian-Zhu: “Correct.”

Zhi-Guan: “So to help instill moral goodness your god promises a seat within the heavens. A little encouragement to get man to freely choose moral goodness. But what of those who freely choose not to despite his encouragement.”

Tian-Zhu: “The lakes of sulphur await them in the afterlife.”

Zhi-Guan: “So there is a punishment of which to be feared?”

Tian-Zhu: “Exactly.”

Zhi-Guan: “Thus we have a potential reason. Your god throws in a small amount of sin to be punished by means of example for those not willing to follow moral goodness despite the encouragement they are given via reward. Therefore homosexuals are a deliberate part of god’s design, they are the rod where the promise of heaven is the carrot.”

Tian-Zhu: “If that be true then how can homosexuals ever reach heaven? There must be some way to save their souls from the sulphurous lakes”

Zhi-Guan: “If god created them as a means to push others towards the rightous path then he must have also set aside a place for them since they are not sinners by choice but sinners by his own design. Besides does your religion not preach repentence, forgiveness and absolution?”

Tian-Zhu: “True. It would seem that once again you have bested me old friend. I shall take my leave now so may get back to enjoying your tea, I do hope I have not taken so much of your time that has now turned cold. Until the next time we meet God be with you.”

Zhi-Guan: “Likewise Tian-Zhu.”

Exchange of Letters Between Man & God

Dear God, our almighty lord and creator.

Although we are far from you omniscient wisdom please answer us these few questions.

We pray for peace.

We beg of for happiness.

We grovel humbly at your feet for compassion.

Yet all we get given is war, famine, plague and pestilence.

Far be it from us to question your actions your almighty grace,

But please tell us what have we done to deserve such a fate?

Your loyal followers, for now and forever.

The peoples of Earth.

Dear mortals of the planet you call Earth
It has come to my attention that some of you are beginning to wonder why I have let terrible things happen to you, well the answer if quite simple.

After I created you those many moons ago I turned my back for a few moments whilst I made the final perfections to the rest of creation.

What did I find when I came back?

You had murdered my only son, poisoned my seas,

Torn down my forests,

Blocked out the sun with vile smog

And hunted my other creations to extinction.

And you still have to ask what you have done to cause me to let such tragedies strike you down?
Yours Sincerely
God

Fifth Dialogue of Zhi-Guan

Zhi-Guan takes his usual afternoon stroll through the cherry blossom where he comes across Kina-Chan weeping softly into the gentle spring breeze…

Zhi-Guan: “Kina-Chan my good friend what foul action of the heavens has moved you to such emotion this day?”

Kina-Chan: “A soul close to my heart no longer walks on this plane. I weep for her return which I know shall never come.”

Zhi-Guan: “I see. Death is often unjust in his acts, and equally as unjust in his inactions. But I tell you this in hope it lands on listening ears, do not mourn the dead for they are no longer with us to praise your waste of energy. Instead celebrate the fact they are now gone.”

Kina-Chan: “You monster! How can you remain so stoic in your resolve as you speak such vile words.”

Zhi-Guan: “If you would spare me the time I will be happy to explain my reasoning”

Kina-Chan: “Very well Zhi-Guan. I trust your wisdom so I shall offer you my fullest attention.”

Zhi-Guan: “Thank you. My case comes in two parts. The first regards the deceased. You see life is full of pains, tragedies and regrets all of which weigh upon the soul like lead, when Death calls he is merciful in the fact that he offers to remove our heavy burdens and make us free once more, all he asks in return is we hand over the mortal vessel which binds us to this plane. Once the transaction is complete your soul is free once more from pain, from suffering, from the troubles of mortallity. Even if the next plane holds nothingness and void is that not better than continued pain?”

Kina-Chan: “I guess. But life is also full of pleasure, friendships and worthwhiles do you suggest we ignore them in our calculations all because of some pain?”

Zhi-Guan: “Not at all. But all too often the negatives outwiegh the postives and Death leaves the postives with us to take care of in our memories he is in fact more merciful than people first think.”

Kina-Chan: “Very well I guess I can accept your words so far. You mentioned there is to be two parts. Please let me hear the second.”

Zhi-Guan: “Indeed this is to be a second, although it is more cut-throat and egoistic than the first.”

Kina-Chan: “Proceed still and I shall try not to hold it against you.”

Zhi-Guan: “We exist on a planet holding 7 billion, a planet growing tired and weak as we leech off its life-force like some rampant parasite. Together we have exhausted food sources by hunting our fellow beasts to extinction, poisoned oceans, soils and skies through our usage of toxins derived from the underbelly of the planet all of which has reduced the flora and fauna we use for shelter, food and binding of the land.  Fuels are now scarce thanks to our over-indulgence of luxurious living so soon fire will burn cold. In short we have collectively brought dischord to the elements, fire now cold, air now toxic, water has become acid and soil deadly posion. We must start to look after ourselves in we our to survive and fight against all those who move in on our share of resources.”

Kina-Chan: “Where does this fit into why I should not mourn the dead?”

Zhi-Guan: “It is precisely the fact that they are dead which is the cause of celebration. Once deceased what need for their resources do they have?”

Kina-Chan: “None.  Now I see so by taking Death’s hand we can move in and make claim to thier resources and celebrate one less drain on the planet.”

Zhi-Guan: “Precisely. As horrid as this may sound.”

Kina-Chan: “Thank you for your time Zhi-Guan. I cannot say I completly agree, but I can honestly say I have taken some slight comfort in your wisdom. I must now walk on for time drfits by and despite one life ending many more must still continue else all shall fall into decay.”

Zhi-Guan: “Until next time then my friend.”

 

Fourth Dialogue of Zhi-Guan

Lao-Zhu: “Welcome my honoured guests to my humble abode, I have invited you all here this evening as you have gained reputation for being the wisest people in our lands. I desire to hear your wisdom in hope of learning how it is I may seek enlightenment. May we begin with your theory Qiang-Shan?”

Qiang-Shan: “Thank you Lazo-Zhu it is of course a great honour to be here in your presence as you to have a reputation for being wise, or as I have heard others call you; a sage. It is has to my understanding though that enlightenment is achievable through a lifetime of studying the philosophic arts”

Lao-Zhu: “Yet no lifetime is long enough to study such a thing to its completion so by this understanding enlightenment never come to actuality, it is doomed to remain only potentiality. Sheng-Ren perhaps your theory holds better.”

Sheng-Ren: “I hold enlightenment to be knowing where limits to your knowledge lie, once one knows what it is he does not know his mind becomes free from uncertainty and confusion, thus achieves a sense of inner peace.”

Lazo-Zhu: “But how does one come to know what it is he does not know if one does not yet know what it is? I find your theory flaws my good friend, although I admire the socratic direction of your thinking.”

Mo-Zi: “Perhaps a better interpretation of what Sheng-Ren is saying might be; enlightenment comes from admitting all you think you know may be false, thus all is in doubt”

Lao-Zhu: “If so then what your proposing Mo-Zi is that enlightenment becomes almost synonymous with uncertainty and confusion. This being the case then you must even be doubtful about your doubt so that your become uncertain about your uncertainty, in which case no knowledge could ever be possible and your mind becomes forever in turmoil. Surely enlightenment is about bringing your mind to peace not conflict? So either you have missed the point of enlightenment Mo-Zi, or enlightenment is not what I believed it to be. Let us hear your notions on the subject Kina-Chan before I make my decisions about Mo-Zi’s theory.”

Kina-Chan: “Enlightenment comes from living in accordance to one’s heart not one’s mind, hence doing what it is one loves most whenever and wherever one want to. A pure life of indulgence.”

Qiang-Shan: “But how does one finance a life of such indulgence? And what about the moral issues surrouding the heart’s desires of certain men? Can we allow murderer’s to murder to their hearts’ content just so they may seek enlightenment or ought we frobid them from achieving enlightenment? I fear work is needed with your thesis dear friend.”

Lao-Zhu: “Kina-Chan it sounds to me as if what you preach enlightnement to be is the life of a bard, travelling the world singing and playing to any and every ear willing to listen to him spill out his soul in return for a meagre profit. A truly noble class of people are the bards yet if all were to be bards then no nationstate would survive.”

Tian-Zhu: “The bard is only enlightened if he directs his heart, mind and soul towards God as inner peace is found through accepting God’s divine glory without question”

Mo-Zi: “So how we know when we have accpeted God’s divine glory?”

Tian-Zhu: “This is a matter of faith Mo-Zi, it is not to be questioned by man and his limited capacities.”

Mo-Zi: “So what you propose then is enlightenment is accepting what is unknowable and not to question what is unknown, in which case how can we accept what is unknowable if we cannot know what it is we must accept? Your notion is just as flawed as mine or Sheng-Ren’s.”

Lao-Zhu: “Zhi-Guan you have yet to speak, please present to us your thesis.”

Zhi-Guan: “But my learned friends I already have presented it to you.”

Sheng-Ren: “You have not uttered a single syllable Zhi-Guan, how may we absorb your great wisdom if you refuse to share, please deliver upon us your theories so that we may bask in your light.”

Zhi-Guan: “As I feared you do not understand. I need not stay a moment longer as you have failed to realise my thesis. I bid you all goodnight now my friends.”

 

Third Dialogue of Zhi-Guan

Kina-Chan: I apologize Lao-Zhu voice of wisdom for interrupting your talk but I have been sent by those who have heard of your name in order to seek the answer to my problem.

Lao-Zhu: In which case young one your are in luck as my guest is Zhi-Guan whose wisdom excels even my own. I am sure whatever turmoil brings you our way he shall be able to heal.

Kina-Chan: I wish to understand the purpose of life?

Lao-Zhu: Then we must begin by asking what do you percieve it to be?

Kina-Chan: To seek out new epxeriences and embrace them with all our heart.

Zhi-Guan: And what about death?

Kina-Chan: That is to be avoided as this stops us seeking new experiences.

Zhi-Guan: But is death in itself not a new experience to the mortal man?

Kina-Chan: I guess it must for it can only be experienced the once, so any experience of death is new.

Lao-Zhu: So by your own admission Kina-Chan the purpose of life is to seek out death and embrace it.

Kina-Chan: I can see no way to deny that I have now led myself to this claim.

Lao-Zhu: Yet is it true or not that man seeks preservation of his life over the destruction of it?

Kina-Chan: Indeed what you say is true.

Lao-Zhu: Thus the purpose of life cannot be to die.

Zhi-Guan: And by extension it cannot be to seek out new epxeriences. There must be something else that provides meaning to life, however time is short and the list of alternatives is long, so I’m afraid as the sun is setting we must depart from this for now and leave you with the knowledge we have come across yet owe you the full argument.

Kina-Chan: Thank you. I shall look forward to that time Zhi-Guan

Lao-Zhu: As shall I my friend.

Second Dialogue of Zhi-Guan

Mo-Zi: Zhi-Guan I wish to know what the value of human life is and was hoping you might know the answer.

Zhi-Guan: First Mo-Zi tell me what do you think it is?

Tian-Zhu: There can be no value on human life for it is a divine gift granted by God

Zhi-Guan: So Tian-Zhu you accept the sanctity of life as meaningless life is beyond all value

Tian-Zhu: Indeed

Zhi-Guan: But are there times when the sanctity of life becomes a gold standard which is impratical?

Tian-Zhu: Never!

Mo-Zi: Actually Tian-Zhu I think there may be, take the case of twins who both need a transplant but only one organ is available in this case one life must be valued above the other

Zhi-Guan: So during such occasions a cost-beneift analysis needs to be employed

Mo-Zi: It would seem so my learned friend

Zhi-Guan: And at present we find ourselves in an economic struggle correct?

Tian-Zhu: That is correct

Zhi-Guan: One in which there are fewer people than jobs

Tian-Zhu: Yes, although I’m sorry but I fail to see where you are leading me

Zhi-Guan: In cases of excessive supply the value of commodities drop, yes?

Tian-Zhu: As a scholar of the economic sciences I would have to agree with you there

Mo-Zi: So Zhi-Guan what you mean to say is the value of human life is not as high as it once was

Zhi-Guan: Precisely Mo-Zi, hence the sanctity of life isn’t a praticial gold stadard for basing the value of human life on as it once used to be

Tian-Zhu: So what you propose is that we treat human life as a commodity capable of being treated in accordance with the laws of a free market

Mo-Zi: But that is how capitalist institutions of power operate and view human life

Zhi-Guan: Regretable so my friends and we live within a capitalist society do we not

Tian-Zhu: Sadly yes

Mo-ZI: Alas we do

Zhi-Guan: So how can you argue against the notion that humans are only valuable so long as the is a demand for them and a supply which does not generate surplus goods

Mo-Zi: It appears we cannot although it leaves us in a pretty grim position

Tian-Zhu: It is beyond grim Mo-Zi it is pure evil

Zhi-Guan: Alas my friends that is the way things are in there current state, sadly I must now depart for I have agreed to talk with Lao-Zhu I do hope our little discussion has enlightened you a little and not left you too disheartened

Mo-Zi: Till the next time then Zhi-Guan

Tian-Zhu: Until then and God be with you

Zhi-Guan: And he with you my friends

First Dialogue of Zhi-Guan

Mo-Yi: “Good day Lao-Zhu”

Lao-Zhu: “Yes good day to you too, yet it is not a good day”

Mo-Yi: “How so?”

Lao-Zhu: “Dark days loom on the horizon Mo-Yi for I shall soon lose my students, the state is making it harder for those in search of wisdom to seek me out.”

Mo-Yi: “That is terrible my friend”

Lao-Zhu: “Yes, and a teacher without students is like a king without a country”

Mo-Yi: “Surely a king without a country is not a king”

Zhi-Guan: “Not necessarily Mo-Yi”

Mo-Yi: “Ah hello Zhi-Guan good to see you again, do explain further how a king without a country can remain a king”

Lao-Zhu: “Yes please enlighten us”

Zhi-Guan: “Imagine a single person without any attachement to another, who would his ruler be”

Mo-Yi: “If he is the only person then he must be autonomous and therefore his own leader”

Zhi-Guan: “And a leader must give orders right?”

Mo-Yi: “That would appear to be the case”

Zhi-Guan: “So who is there to follow these orders?”

Mo-Yi: “If he is the only one then there is nobody to obey him”

Lao-Zhu: “No, if he is the only one then there is only he who can obey him, he becomes a law only unto himself”

Zhi-Guan: “so he is a position of authority, a law as such is he not?”

Lao-Zhu: “I can’t think of any better way of describing him”

Zhi-Guan: “So he is head of the state and the nation in which he governs over”

Lao-Zhu: “Indeed he becomes a nation-state”

Zhi-Guan: “And how many are there within this nationstate”

Mo-Yi: “One”

Zhi-Guan: “And how many rule the nationstate”

Mo-Yi: “Again one”

Zhi-Guan: “And as he is the only memeber of this nationstate is his rule aboslute without question”

Mo-Yi: “If there is no other to question his authority that must be the case”

Zhi-Guan: “Then the nationstate must be a monarchy”

Mo-Yi: “I guess it must be given the cirucmstances”

Zhi-Guan: “And the head of a monarchy is king right?”

Mo-Yi: “That is correct”

Zhi-Guan: “Well then Mo-Yi how could you now argue that a king without a country is not a king when we have deduced that solitary man can be king unto himself”

Mo-Yi: “It would appear that I was mistaken Zhi-Guan. I must thank you for showing me the error of my argument”

Lao-Zhu: “Although he does not have to consdiered a king there are other possibilities”

Zhi-Guan: “Indeed there is Lao-Zhu, for he could be regarded as a despot or an archduke or even a prince depending on how we wish to define this poor lonely mortal”

Mo-Yi: “Alas I must now depart it has been a pleasure to see you both”

Lao-Zhu: “I regret I too must take my leave but no doubt we shall speak again soon?”

Zhi-Guan: “I shall look forward to it. Goodbye for now my friends”

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