R. G. H. Siu

  • Ch'i

    A Neo-Taoist Approach to Life

    R. G. H. Siu

    Dr. Siu's remarkably multifaceted erudition is made fully accessible to the general reader in this book—whether he's writing about ancient Chinese concepts of time of modern Western cosmological models—as he proceeds to outline a grand synthesis that involves an all-inclusive integration of dual identities. Eastern and Western thought are joined, and so are the theoretical and the practical; the sciences and the arts; the physical and biological; within physics, the continuum and the quantum; and within biology, the mechanistic and the vitalistic.

    The form of the book suggests a Chinese classic from the time of the Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu. A brief, epigrammatic Synoptic Text is followed by a series of more extended Commentaries in which the cryptic assertions of the Text are explicated, as if later scholars sought to reveal the full meanings of the atomic statements of the Text and the “ineffable essence” that holds them together and relates each to the others.

    The ultimate goal of this work of synthesis is to reveal the ch'i. Although the word is untranslatable, the nature of ch'i can be fleetingly glimpsed by intuition, and the adept neo-Taoist will be able to perceive it with clarity on achieving an “instantaneous apprehension of the totality.” Its essence can be thought of as an ever-changing but never-ceasing flowing and confluence of Time, Light, and Life.

    Before arriving at this ultimate continuum, Dr. Siu examines its three components. The Commentaries on Time recapitulate man's progressive or cyclically recurring musings on the subject through time—by the primitives, the Hindus, the Chinese, the Persians, the Greeks, the Christians, the Western philosophers up to the time of Whitehead, Bergson, and the existentialists, and the creators of relativity and modern cosmological theories, including Einstein and Milne. The Commentaries on Light deal with the attempts to reconcile its corpuscular and wave aspects. Those on Life embrace such aspects as the origin and evolution of body and mind, the manifestations of rhythm, the anatomy of memory, the metabolism of time, extrasensory perception, and parabiological speculations.

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