October 19, 2010

Quotes by Liu Xiaobo (2)

Liu XiaoboImage via Wikipedia

Mist of metaphysics seems to be a serious philosophical work. This post together with the previous one are both quotes only from the introduction part of the over 400 page book. I am profoundly impressed by his independent thinking style and the depth in humanity he probes in his book.


About death:
"If there is anything real but totally unrelated to any of our subjective desire, it is DEATH. "
"Maybe, all the mysteries of life lie in our attitude towards death. "

"Man not only
recognize the limitation of reality and desire to transcend, but also recognize the fact that such desire to transcend will never come true. The former attitude is self comforting, the later is autosadism. ...The
attitude of
self comforting creates myth, illusion, etc., and the attitude of autosadism on the other hand smashes these myths or illusions into pieces. This is a everlasting battle, perhaps last forever until the end of mankind. "

About the motive of life:
"To make the mortal life immortal is "motive of transcendence"; to satisfy oneself as much as possible during the mortal lifespan is "motive of reality (mundaneness?)". Whereas the motive of reality is more fundamental to our life, it is the motive of transcendence that decides our choice of life. "

"What really counts for our life? How can we live a fulfilled meaningful life? Should we focus on our reality, or work hard for our next immortal life? Man often wonder back forth, pondering in confusion. ...As long as we are not forced to choose, I think any choices are valid. ... to be a good housewife is not necessarily easier than to be a head of a country; a value of beggar's life is not necessarily less than a of a president. The key factor is: whether the decision is made by yourself; to what extent you have accomplished your choice. The freedom of choice is a virtual measurement of the value of life."

About Chinese philosophy:
."..the nature of Chinese classical philosophy doesn't lie in the fact of its pursuing of "Tao", but its "dictatorship" to Chinese people's thoughts, its tendency of putting the value of transcendence as a only standard for real life and imposing this value to everyone. If there have been two counter forces - the value of transcendence and value of reality (mundaneness?) existed in the history of western culture, there has never been a counter force existed in Chinese history." (I cannot agree more!)

"A man who is able to transcend himself is a man can transcend anything. However, there is no such man ever existed. What makes man better or more special than other species is, that a man has consciousness and desire to transcend, albeit they are is merely consciousness, merely desire. All intellectual creations of mankind are related to such desire."

About ideal:
"The reason that ideal can push a man forward is not because of ideal ifself, regardless of how perfect the ideal is; nor because of the man's hope that one day the ideal would come true, regardless of how much he believes; it is because of the fact that ideal can push a man to be conscious more deeply about the misery of reality, to provoke dissatisfaction and denial toward reality and himself. "p34

The nature of ideal is not the fulfillment of life, but the emptiness of life; not the transcendence of self, but the impossibility of such mission; not the capability of predicting and designing the bright future of mankind, but the uncontrollability of the unknown future. ...the tragedy of not being able to transcend mankind itself is the nature of ideal.

"The ideal that denies the weakness of human is fascination, illusion. This illusion was the sole premise of Chinese ancient ideal personality. ... This ideal leads only to hypocrisy. In other words, as soon as an ideal no longer provokes man's more profound consciousness about misery of reality, weakness of human kind, this ideal loses its value. ...Only those who use ideal as reference for their full devotion to the tragedy of reality can reach the opposite polars of life - the darkness of abyss, the radiance of heaven. ...It is only in the process of reaching these two absolutely opposite points, life can be fulfilled."

About metaphysics (philosophy):
"Metaphysics functions as self-comforting to human. It is a a power of emotion, rather than a power of reason."

"Metaphysics expresses the desire of self transcendence of human by an its abstract form."

About religion & science:
"The imperishable faith of human derives from his instinctive pursuing for the next life (immortal life). To some extent, the enlightenment of science and its victory over religions since renaissance is just an illusion. In terms of the value of mankind, religion is not seconded by science. Believing that science is omnipotent is a new religion. ...The desire of transcendence is surrealistic, cannot be proven, but it hold value of life. Religion will not defeat science, science will not defeat religion. "(p26)

Metaphysics and desire for possession

"Desire for possession is human nature, like foods, inevitable and unchangeable, regardless of good or evil. Morality cannot judge such desire. We often describe the ambition of Macbeth as "evil", but the power of this tragedy is beyond such judgement. ...(political) Power is desire for possession, thought and affection are also desire for possession. Because we acknowledge such nature, we set restrictions in all realms to control our desire. Democracy, freedom of speech, free choices between personal relationships, these are all set for restrict our desire for possession, set for restrict political, philosophical and emotional monism. Again, without restriction, everyone will become dictator. It's nothing to do with morality. ...

"If an emperor is the dictator of politics, metaphysics is the dictator of thoughts. The nature of these two are the same, they are driven by the desire for possession, desire for control and domination. "

About Chinese intellectuals:
"One of characters of Chinese culture was provoking human desire for power as much as possible. "The path to become intellects" was almost the only way to reach this goal. ...The worst tragedy of Chinese ancient intellects was that they didn't use intellectual means - the one that differs from political means ( I suppose "intellectual means" means "knowledge") to conquer (society). That's why not only they (Chinese intellects) did not conquer people, but they were also assimilated into emperors' political power. Thus they lost the value of being intellects and became subsidiary part of emperors' political power . Lack of independent pursuits, lack the spirit of doubt and criticism, possessing little of conscience toward society and people, these, are the primary characteristic traits of Chinese ancient intellects. From this perspective, we can say, that during thousands years history of Chinese feudalism, there were no such a social class of independent intellects ever existed, nor a social class of vendor/merchants, there were only two classes: rulers and the ruled... Those who singing, writing and painting, seemingly courteous intellects were virtually ruled slaves: narrow minded, blindly obedient and weak. ...Chinese ancient culture is utilitarianist. It is not abstract, not mysterious, but its despotism cannot be paralleled. "
(I cannot agree more!!!!!!!!!!!!)

"As human evolves, the individual consciousness wakens, the potential of individuals develops, everyone has his/her own power and thoughts, so the battle of rulers and the ruled finally point to one aim: no one can rule others, the ultimate life goal is each person's self governing, self achievement. "

"Confucius was the most successful ruler of Chinese society. His thoughts dominated Chinese people's mind for over 2 thousands years, until now. Further more, his thoughts has been instilled inside Chinese people's blood. "

"The lesson from Cultural Revolution is: 1. for China, the worst historical falling back is the reviving of feudalist ideology; 2, the cause of the endless misery of Chinese people is not exterior, but interior - inside every single Chinese him/herself." (I cannot agree more!)

"We (Chinese people) have to confront, that this "evergreen" despotism, dictatorship, idolatry are all made by Chinese people's own hands. We cannot put the responsibility of the poverty and ignorance of Chinese people to a few dictators, nor to Confucius or Mencius, but the choice of every single Chinese - it is Chinese people who chose emperorship. ..." (!!!)

"The concept of God and deified science both derived from the same human psyche: we will be saved."

"... human is the best tool to produce fallacy..."

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  1. What a well researched and compregensive article. Thanks so much for publishing it. I agree 100% with this:

    "The freedom of choice is a virtual measurement of the value of life."

  2. Great quotes, Yuni-I've been drinking them in. His views and mine are quite similar in many respects-particularly in terms of what constitutes individual value. I found his comments about Chinese culture fascinating. Have you ever read Lin Yutang? He presents a very different outlook.

  3. Yes, I read some Lin Yutang. He claimed himself as the one brought eastern culture to west and western to east. I disagree with him. He was too optimist about Chinese culture and he also didn't really get what's good about the west. Many of such Chinese intellects are very good at brags Chinese cultural heritage and turning dark aspects to light.
    Regarding to chinese culture, I agree with Liu Xiaobo and Lu Xun's view, mostly negative. And I believe the history itself proved this view: Chinese never broke the boundary of feudalist mindset. Even until today, many Chinese people include those oversea still stand on the government side, the reason is only because they found themselves "happily/stably slaved".
    I think one thing about China is charming: art. But part of the reason for this is Chinese people learned to shut down their brains and mouths, so they devoted all their energy to art. The art marketing in China today is unusually prosperous, while other intellectual fields are completely dead - some one like Liu are put in prison.
    Liu is mostly unknown in China, so is his wining Nobel prize.
    I personally am glad Liu won the prize, but I even think that he would be still better if he stayed outside of country (he went back to participate 89 students movement) so he could have better use of his intelligence. But I could be wrong. Like you said "a wrong step after we take it is a right step". Maybe this is the best for him.

  4. "art marketing in China today is unusually prosperous"
    i should have put "" on prosperous because i am not really fond of contemporary chinese art.

  5. From your comment here, I now understand your contempt (maybe that is not quite the right word) for art. I agree that art can be a way to shut down your mind and mouths . . . have you ever done art that is LOUD? Art can also be a means to very effectively communicate and even wake up the mind and give voice to ideas that some cannot communicate any other way. However, this is not the quaint kind of pretty art that the Chinese are known for . . . have you ever tried that type of art?

  6. @Anji,
    Thanks for your understanding.
    No, I have not done "LOUD" art. Whenever I want to do art, I don't seem to be able to "LOUD". Art for me is more an intimate expression of my personal being. I rather be LOUD on "WORD". But I understand what you mean. I think there were several LOUD artists like Dali, Duchamp who made significent change on art. They truly broke the boundary of art at the time.

  7. You are giving me quite an education on Chinese history and culture. Really fascinating.

    But so sad if the people still have a feudal mentality. What a binding of the soul!

    Keep "LOUDing", Yun Yi. We all benefit.