Theme Of Duality In Tao Te Ching

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Duality can be defined as something having two parts, or the contrast between two concepts or aspects of something, such as the contrast between good and evil, black and white, or light and darkness. In western philosophy and religion, duality refers to the belief that there are two fundamental concepts that oppose each other. However, in eastern philosophy, the contrasting forces compliment each other rather than oppose each other. The concept of duality is commonly referenced throughout the philosophical work Tao Te Ching by Laozi. However, many of the dual concepts in the text can be traced back to a single central idea, which is the Taoist concept of Yin and Yang, two opposing forces that are complementary to each other. While the dualistic ideas and paradoxes presented in Tao Te…show more content…
The composition of Tao Te Ching is itself an example of dualism, as the book is divided into two sections, “Tao” meaning the way, and “Te”, meaning virtue, hence the name Tao Te Ching. The Tao section is focused on one’s spirit and its harmony with the Tao, while the latter section is focused on tangible virtues applicable to the actions of people, such as rulers or soldiers. In chapter 2 of Tao Te Ching, Laozi emphasizes the importance of dualism in the human mind, stating in line 2, “All can know good as good only because there is evil,”meaning that one cannot understand something without comparing to its opposite. These lines are then followed by the paradoxical statement, “Therefore the wise goes about doing nothing, teaching no-talking.” Although the idea of one doing and teaching nothing can seem nonsensical, the statement actually emphasizes the importance of dualism. For example, if one strives for success while ignoring the possibility of failure, they become disillusioned and will be unable to achieve their goal. However, if one strives for “nothing”, or a balance between both, they can
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