It is a story within a story, couched in symbolism. It brings to light the power of myth and its significance in shaping our lives and civilization.
Life[ edit ] Wang was born into a poor family in modern Shangyu, Zhejiang. Since he was poor and lacked enough money to purchase proper texts of study, Wang had to resort to frequent visits to bookshops to acquire knowledge. AD 80—90 of Yang province to work as a Headquarters Officer.
Daoism Scholarly essays on life of pi long ago degenerated into superstition and magic, and Confucianism had been the state religion for some years. Confucius and Laozi were worshipped as gods, omens were seen everywhere, belief in ghosts was almost universal, and fengshui had begun to rule people's lives.
Wang derided all this and made a vocation of giving a rational, naturalistic account of the world and the human place in it. At the centre of his thought was the denial that Heaven has any purpose for us, whether benevolent or hostile.
To say that Heaven provides us food and clothing is to say it acts as our farmer or tailor — an obvious absurdity. Humans are insignificant specks in the universe and cannot hope to effect changes in it, and it is ludicrous arrogance to think that the universe would change itself for us.
Wang insisted that the words of previous sages should be treated critically, and that they were often contradictory or inconsistent. He criticized scholars of his time for not accepting this, as well as what he called the popular acceptance of written works.
He believed that the truth could be discovered, and would become obvious, by making the words clear, and by clear commentary on the text. One example of Wang's rationalism is his argument that thunder must be caused by fire or heat, and is not a sign of the heavens being displeased.
He argued that repeatable experience and experiment should be tried before adopting the belief that divine will was involved.
He was equally scathing about the popular belief in ghosts. Why should only human beings have ghosts, he asked, not other animals? We are all living creatures, animated by the same vital principle. Besides, so many people have died that their ghosts would vastly outnumber living people; the world would be swamped by them.
He seems to believe that the phenomena exist, but whatever they may be, they have no relation to the deceased. People say that spirits are the souls of dead men. That being the case, spirits should always appear naked, for surely it is not contended that clothes have souls as well as men.
Lunheng Wang was just as rational and uncompromising about knowledge. Beliefs require evidence, just as actions require results. Anyone can prattle nonsense, and they'll always be able to find people to believe it, especially if they can dress it up in superstitious flummery.
Careful reasoning and experience of the world are needed. Bernhard Karlgren called his style straightforward and without literary pretensions; in general, modern Western writers have noted that Wang was one of the most original thinkers of his time, even iconoclastic in his opinions.
They note that he gained popularity in the early 20th century because his ideas correspond to those that later evolved in Europe. His writing is praised for being clear and well ordered.
But, because there was no functioning scientific method or larger scientific discourse in his time, his formulations can seem alien to the modern eye — to some readers, even as peculiar as the superstitions that he was rejecting.
But despite this barrier to his work, he gained some fame, though mostly after his death. He had an effect on what Karlgren called, the 'neo-Daoism' — a reformed Daoist philosophy with a more rational, naturalistic metaphysics, without much of the superstition and mysticism into which Daoism had fallen.
Early scientific thought[ edit ] Meteorology[ edit ] With his acute rationale, brilliance, and objectivity, Wang Chong wrote many things that would be praised by later modern sinologists and scientists alike as being incredibly modern-minded.
For example, much like Greek Aristotle 's 4th century BC Meteorology portrayed the water cycleWang Chong wrote this about clouds and rain: The Confucians also maintain that the expression that the rain comes down from heaven means that it actually does fall from the heavens where the stars are.
However, consideration of the subject shows us that rain comes from above the earth, but not down from heaven. How can we demonstrate that the rain originates in the earth and rises from the mountains? Gongyang Zhuan ] commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals says; "It evaporates upwards through stones one or two inches thick, and gathers.
In one day's time it can spread over the whole empire, but this is only so if it comes from Thai Shan. As to this coming of rain from the mountains, some hold that the clouds carry the rain with them, dispersing as it is precipitated and they are right.
Clouds and rain are really the same thing. Water evaporating upwards becomes clouds, which condense into rain, or still further into dew.This essay deals with the two theories about the origin and history of the celtic speaking people.
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