Re: [GTh] The Ineffable
- Tom Saunders writes:
> Recent research of Gnostic works has revealed that many Gnostic worksThe "recent research" that Tom refers to is apparently his own.
> refer to monad, meaning 'one,' and are studies of the monad or
> Monadologies, known from the time of Pythagoras, 500 BCE.
> Pythagoreans [were] familiar with Eastern ideas of the Tao, and I Ching.Although Tom attributes this statement to the Barnes book, no quotation is
> (Early Greek Philosophy,Barnes, Penguin, 2000, See Pythagoras, Empedocles,
> and 5th Century Pythagoreans.)
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 ofIndeed there have been misconceptions here, and ISTM that Tom is responsible
> the Tao (Taoist Philosophy), and the relationship to other monadologies.
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
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.
Mt. Clemens, MI