Language In Confucianism, Daoism, And Buddhism

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As seen in Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, the many issues regarding language is highlighted throughout each philosophy. Confucianism warns against the use of clever talk as an abusive vessel towards creating a discrepancy between what one means to say and what is said. Daoism has a negative view towards language as language limits one’s understanding of Dao. However, there is an antithesis that occurs with language and Daoism, as language is what one uses to spread the definition of Dao. In Buddhism, language is also seen as a negative construct as it creates materiality in objects by giving them a definite form, which, in turn, creates desire for these objects. Thus, although language is the key to transferring one’s knowledge of a philosophy…show more content…
The Dao De Jing claims that the Dao, which is the ultimate truth that governs life, cannot simply be defined with language. The Dao De Jing says, “The tao that can be told, is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named, is not the eternal Name” (Mitchell 1). This beginning passage of the Dao De Jing reveals that one cannot use language to explain Dao because it limits the definition and function of the Dao. However, this creates a linguistic paradox, as one must rely on language to attempt to define the Dao and transfer the Dao’s definition to others. The inability to define Dao with language is further defined through the three major problems with language that the Dao De Jing identifies. The first problem with language that the Dao De Jing recognizes is the limitations of language. The Dao is “something formless and perfect [that came] before the universe was born” (Mitchell 25). This means that the Dao came before language so individuals cannot use language, which is a human construct, to define something as cosmic and metaphysical as the Dao. The second problem with language is that it creates differentiation by limiting the meaning and function of objects. This is seen in passage two as the Dao De Jing says, “When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad.” (Mitchell 2). Passage two of the Dao De Jing reveals that an individual can isolate certain attributes of an object by defining objects with language. An example of the second problem is when one differentiates two different objects, such as a bed and a table. By differentiating these two objects, one limits the function of a bed as solely an object that one sleeps on. However, the bed can also serve many different functions, such as serving as a table for objects, such as clothes, to be placed
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