books pdf The Tao Is SilentAuthor Raymond M. Smullyan –

The Tao Is Silent Is Raymond Smullyan S Beguiling And Whimsical Guide To The Meaning And Value Of Eastern Philosophy To Westerners To Me, Writes Smullyan, Taoism Means A State Of Inner Serenity Combined With An Intense Aesthetic Awareness Neither Alone Is Adequate A Purely Passive Serenity Is Kind Of Dull, And An Anxiety Ridden Awareness Is Not Very Appealing This Is Than A Book On Chinese Philosophy It Is A Series Of Ideas Inspired By Taoism That Treats A Wide Variety Of Subjects About Life In General Smullyan Sees The Taoist As One Who Is Not So Much In Search Of Something He Hasn T, But Who Is Enjoying What He Has Readers Will Be Charmed And Inspired By This Witty, Sophisticated, Yet Deeply Religious Author, Whether He Is Discussing Gardening, Dogs, The Art Of Napping, Or Computers Who Dream That They Re Human

10 thoughts on “The Tao Is Silent

  1. says:

    About a year ago I read the experimental philosophy of The Mind s I and enjoyed it so much that I decided to follow up with some of its selected authors, and Raymond Smullyan was a first stop To be honest, at the start of The Tao Is Silent, I wasn t sure if Smullyan was a joke or not No doubt, as a mathematician he s clearly a genius, but the tenor of the book seemed so blithe that I didn t know how seriously he expected his readers to take him I m still not entirely sure he doesn t think Taoism is completely hilarious as a philosophy of non philosophy and an absurd parody of religion The book is full of existential riddles, punchlines, and paradoxes that stretch the mind and loosen our grip on our stubborn biases about what life is, who we are, who god is, and what the answers to our problems are After getting used to his style, I realized that Smullyan is smiling straight through the confused questioning of humanity, and asking his readers to breathe for moment, and think in a purer air before working towards answers At the end of the book, I was pretty sure he was legit as a thinker and philosopher, even though I never successfully determined which parts were sarcastic and which were completely sober As far as the latter, probably none were entirely so.His treatment of Taoism is less like a lesson than a game Smullyan unasks questions than he answers, but I think that is EXACTLY his point, and the point of Taoism It is a perfect demonstration of the unraveling of tangled logic In the style of Alice In Wonderland, he helps us see what fools we become when dogmatism creeps into ethics, religion, philosophy, politics, education, etc He uses Taoism to illustrate that we know than we think sic , and that the good is often much nearer to us than social reform theories might lead us to believe He wants us to believe that we do what we do because it s who we are and we can t help it Except when we can Yeah, it gets tricky, but Smullyan is not interested in resolving contradictions for anyone He loves it this way, and he makes me think that he loves it this way because he loves life, and life is this way Matter of fact, he seems completely satisfied with apparent contradictions, believing that there may or may not be an explanation after all I wish to accept all religions, even though they contradict each otherpick the finest veins, and synthesize them as well as I can I thought at first that he was an absolute pacifist, and possibly an absurdist, but I think he s simply interested in breaking down illogic and dispelling presumption before proposing a solution He quotes George Berkeley s criticism of philosophers, They first raise a dust, and then complain they cannot see Of course, Smullyan would be the one to play games and antagonize others in the dust storm before helping to clear people s view, yet even that may be a very strategic move in motivating people to sit still long enough for their confusions to settle so he can help It s no jest to say that this is one of the most playful books from a very serious thinker that I have read in a long time, and it almost threw me completely, as it may others One could very nearly miss the real gold here.Smullyan is an optimist It is evident he believes that people will be effective if they are happy in life, and they will be happy if they believe in themselves and do what comes natural and that paradoxically includes what often appears to be going against nature It is very Buddhist in that it attempts to go beyond mere right thinking and right action, to reestablishing right view When the wrong man does the right thing, it usually turns out wrong Taoism, he says, may not always change the practical lifestyle of some, but they may now live with less fear and anxiety There is no coercion in Taoism The whole idea of Taoistic politics is that the sage ruler influences the people to voluntarily do that which is good for them Again, the real gem here is the permission to release our death grip on sanity and logic, and to simply live with the confidence that the mechanism of our body and the world is rolling in the right direction somehow This confidence in ourselves, and a simple acceptance of and joy in existence, is what Smullyan thinks will right most wrongs wrongs which accumulate into the only real evil suffering He willingly accepts that this is a form of mysticism, stating that metaphysics is the necessary ripening process of the human race to prepare it for mysticism And what mysticism doesn t cover, a buoyant absurdity does Someone asked a Zen Master, What is the ultimate nature of reality The Master replied, Ask the post over there The man responded Master, I don t understand The master said, Neither do I My favorite chapters, and well worth an isolated read by curious people, are Is God a Taoist An imaginary Zen story.The Evening Cool Like this review Clicking like lets me know someone s reading For reviews, visit my blog,

  2. says:

    Raymond Smullyan is quite a character He started off as a stage magician, then wrote a PhD thesis about Godel s Incompleteness Theorem that became the standard commentary on the subject, and has been ever since a professor of philosophy at an American University and is still going strong at the age of ninety five The photos of him online show a veritable Taoist sage, with his beard and long hair What I liked most about The Tao is Silent is the very obvious fact that he couldn t care less what anyone thinks of him He speaks his mind with a complete freedom that you have to admire I didn t always or even very often agree with him, but I enjoyed reading this book and I will at some time in the future re read it, and to re read a book is the highest compliment I can pay to the author For all his light heartedness, however, if you pay close attention you will see that he is saying very fundamental things of great philosophical importance This book can be highly recommended to anyone interested in Taoism, or even just in Philosophy.

  3. says:

    I was very dissapointed by this book I was expecting something a bit intellectual, but everything there could be compared to a kid trying to write its first essay on philosophy It wouldn t be so bad if it had been provoking, offensive or if it had made me feel upset, but nothing I m going to try one book by Smullyan though.

  4. says:

    I have laughed a lot with this reading Not because the text was humorous though arguably it was I ve laughed mostly about myself when contrasting my reality with, or reacting to, its ideas This book, as probably the Tao itself, may not be for everyone, at least not before the time is ripe However, if you approach it without rational expectations, and let yourself get into its dance, I think you might find out something about yourself Maybe nothing important, but decidedly essential.

  5. says:

    One must have an understanding of Daoism and Zen Chan Buddhism before venturing into this book, as it is makes the book much enjoyable if one knows of the sources deeply than a surface understanding I think it was written not so much to be an introduction but to play around with western philosophy and logic.

  6. says:

    090819 i have read many philosophy texts of several types but this is probably my favorite daoist work easy to read, playful, in its writing very much follows concepts of wu wei effortless action particularly enlightened to better understanding of precedence of humaneness in guidance rather than moralistic tendencies to right duty behavior this is not defense of quietism, but asserting that humans are born humane and only through mistreatments become cruel i think that i will read this gentle text every once in a while, to alleviate stress of whether i am truly understanding other works of philosophy and how it matters

  7. says:

    My reading of this book falls into the sad category of picked it up because the author died this year As happens when your dad is a philosophy professor, I had some books of Smullyan s logic puzzles when I was a kid, so I recognized the name Reading his obits, though, I learned about this book, which I hadn t heard of before I am also interested in Daoist thought, so I was eager to read this.The book is an interesting mish mash The only part of it I would recommend unreservedly is the dialog Is God a Taoist But you can read that online without getting the book content of that dialog doesn t have much to do with Daoism narrowly defined, but I suppose is informed by what Smullyan would describe as a Daoist outlook The dialog touches on, and interestingly inverts perspectives on, a lot of important ideas regarding free will, moral responsibility, and good and evil The rest is mixed In a way it felt a lot like reading a blog avant la lettre Smullyan is clearly a Daoism enthusiast rather than an expert and I think he might well say that the only way to really learn Daoism is from an amateur enthusiast The tone of the book is very conversational, with a surprising frequency of exclamation points I came to find this pretty endearing, although I can imagine it being offputting The edition I read, at least, was also very poorly edited, with lots of spelling mistakes.My biggest annoyance with the book was a sort of cultural essentialism that came across to me There is already a pretty high risk with a western dabbler writing a book about Daoism Smullyan very casually uses the terms eastern and western to characterize entire perspectives or ways of thinking about the world, and often sort of lumps Zen Buddhism and Daoism right together admittedly they are related, but still I m mostly OK chalking this up to it having been written in 1977, but it did very much read like a western person s idealization of what some eastern religions mean Anyway, overall I did find some value in the book It s certainly interesting to me that someone who cut his teeth on logic puzzles is drawn to the anti dualist aspects of Daoism kind of a late style type of thing I like that he tries to take seriously the senses of apparently paradoxical or weird sayings like the true dao is unnameable, and discuss approaches to thinking about them, rather than just leaving it at ponder this paradoxical saying I think the strongest philosophical aspect of the book is the multiple ways that Smullyan demonstrates and enacts wu wei, the Daoist principle of non action He doesn t talk about it much explicitly, but as the examples proliferate you start to see them falling under the same umbrella A familiar or modern way of putting it might be not forcing it One of the memorable examples is a dialog around the saying from Laotze to the effect that the good man does not argue One of the dialog participants affirms this principle and continues to argue when confronted with his perceived hypocrisy, he responds, It just so happens that right now I feel like arguing than being good There is a lot of discussion in the book about dispositions, and it s clear that Smullyan sees changing people s dispositions as much worthwhile than convincing them rationally or imposing rules This opens up a much broader field of discourse than the analytical philosophy tradition allows, including things like stories and Zen masters kicking people in the butt These ideas resonate a lot with a couple of other books I m currently reading In Seneca s letters on ethics, he pooh poohs the tradition of Stoic philosophers coming up with pithy and sophistic syllogisms on why certain things are or are not of value His view is that basically a syllogism is not going to really convert anyone, and to do that, one needs a much richer approach as embodied in his letters , reflecting on the issue earnestly, drawing on personal experience and stories, etc Also, in Parfit s Reasons and Persons which I ve just started , a lot of it is pretty dry analytical stuff of the moral dilemmas variety, but he does talk rather obliquely about how we can change our dispositions, and a moral theory could be indirectly self defeating in the sense that organizing our lives around it could result in us doing worse at achieving the desired outcomes For example, it could be that for someone trying to maximize her own happiness, it is effective to live according to some other disposition rather than consciously trying to maximize her own happiness the old butterfly thing This seems to me like a fairly Daoist perspective.Ultimately I do think that Smullyan has the courage of his convictions, and sees that his book needs to enact the kind of worldview he is talking about It wouldn t do to approach it in a traditional expository manner It makes a lot sense for him to tell us a bunch of stories that mattered for him, and let us sort it out for ourselves

  8. says:

    An introduction to Taoism, written by an American mathematician and logician how weird is that Well, the book is as fascinating and enlightening as the author s character Probably it is exactly this wacky combination that is needed to build a bridge between our Western thinking and Eastern philosophy The dialogue between God and the Mortal is among the most illuminating and at the same time funny chapters I have ever read in a book.

  9. says:

    I really enjoyed this book It explained Eastern spiritual thought in a way that was both modern and whimsical There were short chapters on various topics with lots of quotes from various sources Western philosophy and ancient Chinese poetry I feel like I understand the subject pretty well, though the Tao is incomprehensible and beyond understanding Nevertheless, that is how it is A paradox and a conundrum, a riddle wrapped in an enigma I especially enjoyed the parable of the hippie who didn t want to amount to anything This is a good example of how the ancient wisdom was updated, and I suppose that hippies are now not so modern and up to date as when the book was written, but relative to some of the thousand year plus stuff, still pretty modern There was a list of other books for further reading, and I am certainly going to check it out.

  10. says:

    Excellent intra level discourse around the paradox of consciousness and how its treated in Eastern vs Western thought.