Western Philosophy vs Chinese Philosophy

Crucial question for Western Philosophy:

“What is the truth?” i.e. how to look before you leap.

Crucial question for Chinese Philosophy:

“Where is the Way?” i.e. how to leap without looking.

via A.C. Graham on page 3 of the ‘Disputers of the Tao’ who notes that

the crucial question for [Chinese philosophers] is not the Western philosopher’s ‘What is the truth?’ but ‘Where is the Way?’


  1. gregorylent says:

    at some point they both become “way as truth”

  2. not sure about that – the emphasis on the way deals with radical uncertainty by focusing on action rather than knowledge. The emphasis on the truth focuses on reducing uncertainty by gaining better knowledge.

  3. Nice juxtaposition!

    I like to use The Matrix as an example of how the Way and the Truth can in some situations be contradictory, or incoherent with respect to each other.

    The Oracle tells Neo that he is not the One, so that (?) he walks the Way that eventually turns him into the One. From the perspective of eternal Truth, it is diffucult to ask if the Oracle was lying or telling the truth. From the perspective of Tao, the words are simply nudges to get you on the right road.

    In one sense, the scene with the vase prefigures the film from that point onward. :)

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