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God and the Tao

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008

George D. Chryssides
Affiliation:
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Plymouth Polytechnic

Extract

In his highly important work I and ThouMartin Buber speaks of God as the ‘Eternal Thou’, ‘who can only be addressed, not asserted’. Buber might therefore aptly be described as an ‘anti-theologian’: one may legitimately enter into a relationship with God, which is the appropriate response, but any attempt to theorize about God is not simply irreverent or excessively academic, but a genuine impossibility. At best, statements about God can only be understood ‘allegorically’.

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Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1983

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References

page 1 note 1 Buber, Martin, I and Thou, transl. Kaufmann, W. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1970), p. 129.Google Scholar

page 1 note 2 Ibid., p. 147.

page 1 note 3 Tzu, Lao, Tao Te Ching, transl. Lau, D. C. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963), v. I.Google Scholar

page 1 note 4 Buber, , op. cit., p. 123.Google Scholar

page 2 note 1 Ibid., p. 124.

page 3 note 1 The Writings of Chuang Tzu, Book xxv, Part III, Sect. III, para. II; in The Texts of Taoism, Vols. I & II, transl. Legge, James (New York: Dover, 1962).Google Scholar

page 3 note 2 Loc. cit.

page 3 note 3 Kaltenmark, Max, Lao Tzu and Taoism(Stanford University Press, 1965), p. 35.Google Scholar

page 3 note 4 Tzu, Lao, op. cit., ch. xxv, v. 56.Google Scholar

page 3 note 5 The Writings of Chuang Tzu, Book XXII, Part II, Sect. XV, para. 6.Google Scholar

page 3 note 6 Op. cit., Book XXII, Part II, Sect. xv, para. 5.Google Scholar

page 3 note 7 Tzu, Chuang, op. cit., Book XXII, Part II, Sect. xv, para. 10; Book XIV, Part II, Sect. VII, para. 8.Google Scholar

page 3 note 8 Articles of Religion: Article I; in The Book of Common Prayer(London: Collins, 1968), p. 388.Google Scholar

page 4 note 1 Kaltenmark, , op. cit., pp. 2829.Google Scholar

page 4 note 2 Exodus 3.13 f New International Version (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1979), p. 69.Google Scholar

page 4 note 3 Genesis 32. 2231.Google Scholar

page 5 note 1 Watts, Alan, Tao: The Watercourse Way(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979), p. 40.Google Scholar

page 6 note 1 Tzu, Chuang, op. cit., Book II, Part I, Sect. II, para. 7.Google Scholar

page 6 note 2 Blofeld, John, Taoism: The Quest for Immortality(London: Unwin, 1979), p. 44.Google Scholar

page 6 note 3 The Koran, suras 2:116 & 17: 111.Google Scholar

page 7 note 1 Tzu, Lao, op. cit., vv. 56 & 117.Google Scholar

page 7 note 2 Tzu, Chuang, op. cit., Book VI, Part I, Sect. VI.Google Scholar

page 7 note 3 Hick, John, Death and Eternal Life (London: Fount, 1979), p. 453Google Scholar

page 9 note 1 Tzu, Chuang, op. cit., Book xxv, Part III, Sect. III, para. 11.Google Scholar

page 9 note 2 Tillich, Paul, Systematic Theology, Vol. I (Welwyn: Nisbet, 1953), p. 227.Google Scholar

page 10 note 1 In this discussion I have made the unargued assumption that proper names have a meaning as well as a reference. I am aware that this is controversial. The thrust of my argument, however, has focused on the issue of identity of reference, and barely touched the question of meaning. Thus, even if it were convincingly demonstrated that proper names have strictly no meaning whatsoever, I believe I have provided a sufficiently plausible set of arguments to demonstrate identity of reference between ‘God’ and ‘the Tao’.

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