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Re: [GTh] The Ineffable

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  • Michael Grondin
    ... The recent research that Tom refers to is apparently his own. ... Although Tom attributes this statement to the Barnes book, no quotation is given. I
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 13, 2005
      Tom Saunders writes:

      > Recent research of Gnostic works has revealed that many Gnostic works
      > refer to monad, meaning 'one,' and are studies of the monad or
      > Monadologies, known from the time of Pythagoras, 500 BCE.

      The "recent research" that Tom refers to is apparently his own.

      > Pythagoreans [were] familiar with Eastern ideas of the Tao, and I Ching.
      > (Early Greek Philosophy,Barnes, Penguin, 2000, See Pythagoras, Empedocles,
      > and 5th Century Pythagoreans.)

      Although Tom attributes this statement to the Barnes book, no quotation is
      given. I have to assume, then, that the statement is Tom's, and that Barnes
      did not say that.

      > There have been some misconceptions on the relation of the concepts of
      > the Tao (Taoist Philosophy), and the relationship to other monadologies.

      Indeed there have been misconceptions here, and ISTM that Tom is responsible
      for most of them. Although the I Ching and the Yin-Yang is apparently
      earlier than the first millenium BCE, I have nowhere found the Yin-Yang
      conceptual model itself referred to as 'Taoism'. Rather, its ideas were
      incorporated into Taoism (and Confucianism as well). Taoism proper is said
      to begin with the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tsu - roughly 500 BCE, and roughly
      contemporaneous with (if not earlier than) Pythagoras. (The existence of Lao
      Tsu is questionable, but we'll leave that aside.)

      Chronologically speaking, Pythagoras could not have been familiar with
      Taoism proper. The NEO-Pythagoreans might have been, but that's 1st century,
      not 5th (it would help if Tom distinguished the two, but he doesn't. He
      seems to use the same word for both.) As to whether Pythagoras was
      familiar with the Yin-Yang conceptual apparatus, it's chronologically
      possible, but there's no evidence for it. Indeed, as Sanderson Beck states
      flatly at http://www.san.beck.org/C%26S-Intro.html "... there was no known
      influence between Chinese and Hellenic culture before 400 BC ..." (CONFUCIUS
      AND SOCRATES: The Teaching of Wisdom).

      The influence of Taoism - such as it is - enters later than Tom supposes -
      and it's mainly in the area of mysticism. Hellenic cosmological ideas had
      already been laid. The EB article on Taoism, for example, cannot trace
      any influence earlier than Plotinus:

      "Lao-tzu's notion of 'the One', which is not only primordial unity but the
      oneness underlying all phenomena, the point in which all contraries are
      reconciled, was spoken of by such Western mystics as Plotinus, a
      3rd-century-[CE] Greek philosopher, and Nicholas of Cusa, a 15th century
      French philosopher."

      To summarize: while it's chronologically possible that the Yin-Yang
      conceptual model of the I Ching _could have been_ known by the early
      Pythagoreans, there's no evidence that it was - especially since their
      conceptual model lacks the essential features of I Ching (and I Ching in
      turn lacks the essential features of Pythagorean thought). Taoism proper
      (including the notion of Wu Chi), on the other hand, could not have been
      known by the early Pythagoreans.

      Mike Grondin
      Mt. Clemens, MI
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