Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds What is the importance of the Dao De Jing for the world today?
Skip to 0 minutes and 17 seconds There is an American philosopher in the 1980s named James Cares who gives us a distinction between finite games and infinite games, Wuxian youxi Games for Carse are the things that human beings do. We do business. We have sports. We have education. We have international relationships.
Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds Finite games, Youxian youxi, are two people, single actors, individuals playing a game according to a finite amount of time, a finite set of rules and you have a winner and you have a loser. That way of thinking is pervasive in the world today. It sets us up in relationships where you have winners and you have losers. It is a way of thinking that has emerged out of the ideology of individualism.
Skip to 1 minute and 36 seconds Individualism, in its own time, was liberating but individualism is a fiction. There is no such thing as something that is separate and individual and discrete, that everything is constituted by its roles and relationships, that we don’t live our lives inside our skins. We live our lives in the world.
Skip to 1 minute and 58 seconds Everything that we do: We walk because we have the ground. We talk because we have the air. We see because we have the sun. That everything that the human being does is social, is irreducibly social. That everything is done as collaboration with other people, with the environment and so on. Nothing and no one does anything by themselves. And so this is the starting point of Dao De Jing’s recommendation for the way that we ought to live our lives in the world. It recommends that we acknowledge the primacy of relationality and that we live our lives accordingly.
Skip to 2 minutes and 41 seconds So this idea of finite games comes out of liberal democracy, comes out of a certain way of thinking, and the reason that it’s an ideology is because today, in a world that is dominated by liberalism, we don’t seem to think that we have an alternative. But that’s where infinite games comes in Wuxian youxi, infinite games, the relations between a grandfather and a granddaughter, it’s a relationship that doesn’t have a beginning and doesn’t have an end. It’s a relationship where the focus is on strengthening the relationship in order to encounter and to resolve increasingly difficult problems that we face in the world.
Skip to 3 minutes and 34 seconds If we need to change the rules, if we need to extend the time, hat these are not problems with finite games. And so in the world that we have today, we have a perfect storm. We have global warming. We have pandemics. We have international terrorism. We have food and water shortages. We have income inequities. We have pollution that is threatening the world. These kind of problems that the world has to face today are not problems that individual actors can solve. These China cannot solve the global warming problem. America cannot solve the global warming problem, but together, we can address these issues.
Skip to 4 minutes and 31 seconds And so just as the climate agreement was reached in Paris, where 185 countries came together in order to strengthen their relationships, in order to produce a treaty that will save the world from global warming that will destroy life in the world and so in the world today, we need to move from finite games to infinite games. And this is the story. This is the world that the Dao De Jing recommends to us. We have this idea of Dao Fa Zi Ran
Skip to 5 minutes and 24 seconds Dao is the whole of the human experience, and the whole of the human experience has to be managed, including the human experience, has to be managed, In the way that follows the natural patterns of the world And so the human being has to integrate the human experience into the relationship that we have with nature, the infinite the relationship that we have with the heavens and with the earth. And so this text, the Dao De Jing is a text that not only is a historical classic, not only is a window on a peculiarly Chinese way of thinking but it’s also a text that has immediate relevance to a better world. That for two centuries,
Skip to 6 minutes and 32 seconds the voice of Chinese culture has been muted by imperialism, by economic and political struggle, but in today’s world, where China is quickly assuming its place as one of the most important countries in the world, the Dao De Jing provides us with an alternative to liberal individualism, the ideology of liberal individualism. It gives us a different way of thinking about the human experience. We’re not things. We’re not spoons in the drawer. We’re like events in history. The human being is relationally constituted and the human being has the opportunity to live the human experience, to live the games of the human life in a way where the strengthening of relationships comes first and we play so that we can win together.
Skip to 7 minutes and 39 seconds In the analogues of Confucius, there’s a passage. It says Ji Yu Li Er Li Ren Ji Yu Da Er Da Ren That the human being can only get ahead by understanding ourselves in this relational way. I can only be a good teacher if I have good students and the better the student, the better the teacher. So everything that the human being does, we do together. We succeed together or we lose together. This is the message that the Dao De Jing gives to us philosophically.
Infinite and finite games
What is the importance of the Dao De Jing for the world today? The starting point of Dao De Jing is that everything is done as collaboration with other people, with the environment. Individualism is a fiction. Thus the Dao De Jing provides us with an alternative to liberal individualism.