917
Lectures Watched
Since January 1, 2014
Hundreds of free, self-paced university courses available:
my recommendations here
Peruse my collection of 275
influential people of the past.
View My Class Notes via:
Receive My Class Notes via E-Mail:

VIEW ARCHIVE


Contact Me via E-Mail:
edward [at] tanguay.info
Notes on video lecture:
Wu-Wei, Dao, Tien and De
Choose from these words to fill the blanks below:
arbitrariness, morally, microcosm, accordance, trying, everyday, spiritual, sweet, complexity, agent, behaving, focused, harmonized, side, beta, Csikszentmihalyi, Confucian, very, emanate, zone, spontaneous, elusive, doing, conscious, Confucius, effort, effective, athletics, people, very, mindball, heaven, spontaneity, paradox, natural, integration, choking, want, interested
wu wei [OO-way]
an important concept in Taoism that means "without             " or "without control" or "effortless action", the way beings in harmony with the Tao behave,
in a completely natural, uncontrived way, which is the goal of                    practice for the human being
the attainment of a purely natural way of                 , as when the planets revolve around the sun
engaging in effortless and                        movement
wu wei is often translated as "without action" or "no action"
not a very good translation because often people who are in wu wei are actually          active
         it is just that their action is effortless and               
people who are in a state of wu wei often emerge having done something amazing not even realizing at the time that they were doing anything
like being "in the         " in sports
the sense of "being in the flow" an idea popularized in the 1990s by Mihaly                                 
lose the sense of yourself as an           
get absorbed into your activities
lose the sense of the passing of time
forget that you are            something in particular
however, there are important differences between wu wei and the flow
flow is about                     , challenge, and the need to be constantly ramped up
if an activity is too hard we get frustrated
if it is too easy we get bored
flow is a channel, a            spot right between these two extremes
most                    and highly skilled activities fit this description
wu-wei captures a broader range of activities
what distinguishes wu-wei from other states is being absorbed in something larger than yourself
this bigger thing is something that you value
something that is normatively positive, something you believe to be                good
you become very                    in the world
people who are in wu-wei are in a state of                       
but the English word spontaneity has too much of a sense of                           
wu-wei is               
but it is not you that is doing the focussing
you are no longer the acting agent
you can think of wu-wei as an                        of hot and cold cognition
it's body thinking, no                    thought is necessary
wu wei represents being                      with a greater whole
Dao
a path, or road, or way
beginning with                    is begins to mean the way of the universe, the proper way
when you are in a state of wu-wei, you are acting in                      with the Dao
tian
heaven, or heaven's will
when you are in a state of wu-wei you are in accord with what              wants
de [pronounced unfortunately "duh" as in "no duh"]
means Virtue
a better translation is "charismatic power"
a power that you                when you are in a state of wu-wei
attracts              to you
as a                    ruler, it's what makes people          to follow you without you having to force them to follow you
the paradox of getting to wu-wei
explained through a game called "                "
goal is to relax more than the opposite player
the more you slow down your brain activity, the more you relax, the better chance you will win
the goal is to push the little metal ball to the other          of the table
if you get it there, you win
the way you push it is through relaxing and thus producing alpha and          waves, which is what the electrodes pick up, and thus move the ball
it's all the extraneous thoughts that you have to get rid of
you win mindball by not              to win
a good                    of this problem of how you can try not to try
it turns out that trying not to try is not very easy
we all face something like the mindball tension in our                  lives
               in sports is a version of the paradox of wu-wei
how do you make yourself relaxed when you're not feeling relaxed
dating
it's hard to relax when you feel like you should be performing, being someone who the other person will be                      in
each of the thinkers who think about wu-wei suggest a tension to be wu-wei and get de
it is a real                so there isn't one solution to it
the way ancient philosophers dealt with this tension of trying not to try has bearing on our everyday lives
where we want spontaneity but find it               

Spelling Corrections:

ellusiveelusive

Ideas and Concepts:

From the unfortunate pronunciation department, via this morning's Ancient Chinese Thought course: "The last Chinese term we're going to have to learn regarding the concept of wu-wei is a word that is unfortunately pronounced "duh" in modern Mandarin, as in "no duh". It's translated as Virtue with a capital V, but a more accurate translation is "Charismatic Power". Duh, in English spelled d-e, is a power that you emanate, that you kick off, when you are in a state of wu-wei, it's an energy, a kind of aura that you emanate that attracts people to you, so as a Confucian ruler, it's what makes people want to follow you without you having to force them to follow you. If you're a Daoist, it's what relaxes people around you. Duh is something that you need to have to be successful."
New vocabulary via tonight's Ancient Chinese Thought course:

"wu wei [OO-way], n. an important concept in Taoism that means "without effort" or "without control" or "effortless action", the way beings in harmony with the Tao behave, in a completely natural, uncontrived way, which is the goal of spiritual practice for the human being, the attainment of this purely natural way of behaving, as when the planets revolve around the sun, effortlessly revolving without any sort of control, or force, or any attempt to revolve themselves, but instead, engaging in effortless and spontaneous movement.

Wu-wei is often translated as "without action" or "no action" which is not a very good translation because often people who are in wu-wei are actually very active, it is just that their action is effortless and natural.

People sometimes describe the state of wu-wei as the state of spontaneity, but the English word spontaneity has too much of a sense of arbitrariness, wu-wei is focused, yet it is not you that is doing the focusing, as you are no longer the acting agent.

People who are in a state of wu-wei often emerge having done something amazing not even realizing at the time that they were doing anything, it's a bit like being "in the zone" in sports or "in the flow" as in the idea popularized in the 1990s by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book "Flow:The Psychology of Optimal Experience", to lose the sense of yourself as an agent, to get absorbed into your activities, to lose the sense of the passing of time, to forget altogether that you are doing something.

However, there are important differences between wu-wei and the flow. The flow is about complexity, challenge, and the need to be constantly ramped up, often used in highly focused sports such as mountain climbing or a difficult mental challenge. If an activity is too hard we get frustrated, if it is too easy we get bored, flow is the sweet spot right between these two extremes.

But wu-wei captures a broader and deeper range of activities than flow. What distinguishes wu-wei from other states of being is that you are absorbed in something larger than yourself, something greater than you which you value, something that is normatively positive, something you believe to be morally good. So in wu-wei, you not only perform a specific task or sport well, i.e. you are not simply being effective in the world, but you have also forgotten yourself in the act of being aligned with the greater good."
The paradox of wu-wei experienced through the game of "mindball" via tonight's Ancient Chinese Thought course: "The goal of mindball is to relax more than the opposite player. You win by getting the little metal ball to move to the other side of the table. The more you relax, the more you slow down your brain activity, the more you produce alpha and beta waves, the more the electrodes pick up these waves and move he ball towards the other player. To win at mindball, you have to try not to try to win, a perfect microcosm of the paradox of wu-wei, of trying not to try, since as it turns out, trying not to try is not very easy."
The Definition of Religion
Mind/Body Dualism and Cognitive Control
Deontology, Utilitarianism, and Virtue Ethics
Wu-Wei, Dao, Tien and De
The Shang Dynasty (1554-1045 BC)
The Beginnings of Written Chinese History
Eastern Holistic Thinking and the Paradox of Virtue
The Golden Age of the Western Zhou (1046–771 BCE)
Philosophical and Conceptual Innovations in Zhou Thought
Confucius and the Analects
Confucius: I Transmit, I Do Not Innovate
Confucius' Use of Ritual as a Tool
Confucius' View on Learning vs. The Enlightenment
Confucius and Holistic Education
Confucius and the Art of Self-Cultivation
At Home in Virtue
Non-Coercive Comportment, Virtue, and Charisma of the Zhou
The Transition to Becoming Sincere
The Primitivists in the Analects
Laozi and the Daodejing
Laozi: Stop the Journey and Return Home
Laozi and The Desires of the Eye
Laozi: He Who Speaks Does Not Know
The Concept of Reversion
Laozi on Shutting Down the Prefrontal Cortex
The Guodian Laozi
Mozi and Materialist State Consequentialism
Mozi's Idea of Ideological Unity
Mozi's Doctrine of Impartial Caring
Mozi's Anti-Confucian Chapters
Mozi's Religious Fundamentalism and Organized Activism
The Language Crisis in the Warring States Period
Yang Zhu and Mid-Warring States' Focus on the Body