What does it mean that all entities have a Tao? How did the connection between the Theory of Mind and the Tao give rise to a belief in spirits? What is the problem, if there is any, with attributing a Tao to things? Do disembodied forces have a Tao? Is there anything superstitious about attributing the human Tao to things? What is the problem with objectification? How does this lead to spirit appeasement, sacrifice and religion? Why are the features of the Tao debatable? How good a job has Science done with defining the Tao of Matter? Why do layers of emergence create inherent Imprecision about knowledge of the Tao? How many basic Taos does it take to describe human behavior? Why is the Tao described by BD a separate Tao?
Part of the Tao of the more advanced life forms is the ability to discern the Tao of their environment. As each entity has its own unique modality – way of being – Tao – a process of existence, this critical ability allowed humans to successfully adapt to the Tao of different geographies to facilitate survival. This included understanding the Tao of the animals in order to hunt prey and avoid predators – the Tao of the surrounding flora to harvest and employ as medicine or nutrition – the Tao of the year to prepare for the scarcity of winter and the abundance of summer. Although plants are hardwired to survive in specific environments with very little latitude for adaptation, most animals also have the ability to discern the Tao of predators, prey, food sources, and sexual partners. This talent was essential for survival. It seems this sense of the environmental Tao combined with the talent for adaptation is on a continuum in all life forms – from hardwired into lower life forms and subject to greater and greater latitude in the higher forms. (Note that this has nothing to do with spirits – just knowledge of the Way of things.)
At the top of the continuum are Homo sapiens sapiens, who somehow developed a sense of underlying motivations (labeled Theory of Mind) to augment their understanding of this environmental Tao. Instead of taking everything at face value they began to look beneath the surface. Those who have a higher degree of this talent than the rest are the best leaders, salesmen, and lovers – as they are able to accurately ascertain underlying motivations in order to sell, lead or please their fellow tribe members. When this sense is underdeveloped or distorted, as it seems to be in a great bulk of the population, there will be a tendency to read behavior wrong – ascribing faulty motivations – which leads to relationship problems (misunderstanding or not seeing clues) and manipulation by the power elite (as these unfortunate individuals are easily fooled by appearances.)
However this unique evolutionary ability to ascribe underlying motivations to fellow humans (possibly the basis of tribe formation) was inadvertently applied to the rest of the Flux as well. This animated the entire Universe as each Tao was objectified – turning every natural process into some kind of intentional being with human motivations. This tendency led to the belief in the spirits of places and things. In the process of objectification these anthropomorphic spirits were assigned permanent Personality traits as well, which were derived from their modality – their Tao. Even Matter was assigned a unique Personality – with an abundance of River, Rock, Mountain and even Planet Spirits.
Nothing is fundamentally wrong with this way of thinking – as every Mountain, River, and Valley do have unique modalities – ways of being – Tao – due to location and geographical factors. As an example the Tao of certain mountains might be deemed treacherous due to gusty winds, sharp ascents on shale, and unpredictable weather, while the Tao of other mountains might be deemed benign due to light breezes, gentle slopes, and mild weather. In this way of thinking each geography has its own Tao, which must be learned and honored to survive. Those that master the Tao of Everest make it to the top and back. Scott didn’t understand the Tao of Antarctica and died. Hence inanimate things do have their own modality – a unique Tao, which has distinct characteristics.
In a similar fashion, despite the fact that the Universe is a disembodied force, she also has a distinct modality, which also must be honored and respected to enhance prosperity, vitality and/or longevity. For instance eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining a positive attitude are part of the Tao of Vitality. Many maintain that Balance is a feature of the Universal Tao. In this way of thinking it is imperative to balance rest and activity – work and play – the hard and soft to facilitate existence. This attribution of a modality – Tao – to the Universe is not a superstitious way of thinking, but realistic. Although the existence of a Universal Tao is self-evident many might argue about her features – some insisting that Biblical alignment is essential for success – others that the scientific metaphor is the most valid – while these modules of thought maintain that alignment with process is the Key.
However the superstitious or ignorant shift occurs when the modality of non-human entities is equated with the human modality. For instance many inadvertently, including my wife, treat their pets as if they are humans, assuming that their underlying motivations are equivalent. This frequently leads to counterproductive results. Any dog specialist knows that the Tao of Dogs, although intersecting with the Tao of Humans, is distinctly different in key aspects. Similarly the Tao of Mountains and Streams obeys different rules than the Tao of Humans – automatically responding to imbalance rather than intentionally thwarting plans or arranging events for ulterior motives – such as jealousy in the case of the Homer’s Iliad. Similarly while the Universal Tao includes the Human Tao they are different. As such the human tendency towards anthropomorphizing the external world is deemed superstitious or ignorant as this stance ignores empirical reality with the implicit assumption that the entire flux has human motivations.
Even worse in many ways is the confusion of the entity with its Tao. The Person or Thing become what they do, rather than just participating in the process. This spurious logical shift occurs when the recognition of the transient features of the modality translates into the misattribution of permanent traits for the entity. ‘The Universe balances’ versus ‘the Universe is balanced’. The terminology itself leads to distortions and/or misguided thinking – a hairbreadths difference turns into a chasm rather quickly. When one speaks of the Tao of a mountain or the Universe the meaning is indisputable – as each geographical entity and even disembodied forces such as corporations have their own Tao – modality – way of being. No thinker can challenge this statement. It is merely descriptive. One might dispute the specific features of the particular Tao, but it is indisputable that each of these entities – although not alive – has their own unique modality. However when one makes the slight shift to calling the mountain treacherous – or referring to the Universe as just and good - a huge leap of faith has been made – the assumption of a direct correspondence between the human Tao and the rest of the Flux with the subsequent attribution of human motivations to inanimate objects or disembodied forces.
It could be just a careless way of speaking – a verbal shorthand. Instead of saying that the Tao of the mountain is treacherous, we say that the mountain itself is treacherous – or the Tao of the Universe is impersonal versus God is impersonal. However, unless exceedingly careful, the sloppy speech leads immediately to false conclusions. For the words imply that the inanimate has human features or qualities, which has an immediate and inadvertent corollary. If it has human features it must have intentionality as well. And if it has intentionality it must be appeased so that it will cooperate – granting victor in battle, a child, or prosperity. An obvious and self-evident statement is turned into an anthropomorphic God – complete with theology – and this just from the omission of the qualifier Tao. It is the modality of the entity, not the entity itself, which has features. Instead the attributes of the process are assigned to the thing. Or we might say the process is objectified. This is a fundamentally flawed way of thinking as processes and things follow entirely different laws – for instance the former are eternally transient and the latter are relatively permanent.
Further, as we discovered in our examination of process and object sets, things either have an attribute or don’t, as contrasted with processes and their attributes, which only exist when they are happening and only occur in stages. So the mountain isn’t treacherous – only the process of climbing the mountain in late spring when the weather is frequently turbulent. Further this presumed treachery only occurs on the most exposed sections of the path. When hiking on the sheltered parts the process is not treacherous at all. So due to misattribution the Godhead assumes permanent human attributes – ‘good and just’ – while the Universal process has transitory attributes qualities that occur regularly under specific circumstances. This is the essential reason that the world Tao or modality must be attached to the noun to indicate process – else the noun, whether human, plant, mineral or disembodied, assumes permanent characteristics – which in actual manifestation are transitory and irregular – situation specific rather than absolute.
Here is the flawed reasoning that seems so plausible.
As an example a friend perceives a woman bitching at her husband when he came home late without explanation. The friend then refers to the wife as a bitch. In actuality she might be kind most of the time and only bitchy when the husband worries her unnecessarily. An army wins a difficult battle, which they attribute to the reigning Deity. The Deity is proclaimed good and just, when he is only good and just when they are winning battles. After performing the necessary rituals and sacrifices to their God or gods accompanied by the proper prayers the Roman, Persian, Islamic or Chinese Empires with all their customs and traditions are able to successfully conquer their neighbors. Most attribute this to the power of their God, when it is actually due to the vibrant process of their culture.
Now that we have discussed the inherent dangers and flaws of process objectification, let us return to the Tao. Everything nameable – whether inanimate or animate – embodied or disembodied has its own Tao. Further classes of things – like humans, dogs, mountains and corporations – also participate in a common Tao. For instance a feature of the Tao of Chickens is that they peck for food during the day and roost at night like – which means move to a higher place - perhaps the branches of a tree – presumably to protect the species from night time predators. Although there are individual differences this is part of the Tao of all chickens. Although the possession of a collective Tao is indisputable the features of each Tao are entirely debatable. This is why there are so many religions – each with their own interpretation of the Universal modality – the Tao of Heaven – although most equate this process with an overlord with permanent human traits. Oops!
In contrast to the ambiguity of the Heavenly Tao Science via Newton has precisely identified the Tao of the Dynamics of Matter absolutely – Physics. Nobody disputes this statement –as the marvels of technology are a mute testimony to its truth. Further the Tao of the combinations of elementary matter – Chemistry – is almost as exact - another hard science. The next step down into the messy world is not quite so precise - the Tao of Matter as it turns into Life – Biology. When this Life emerges into Humans it becomes messier still – Psychology. Even though the Tao of human behavior is incredibly imprecise and highly disputed a general scientific consensus has been achieved about certain specific aspects of this modality – allowing it to be called a science. This is the general progression from the hard to soft sciences – from ultra to ambiguous precision.
This growing imprecision is not due to lack of insight or understanding (despite the belief of some fundamentalist scientists that precise equations will eventually be discovered), but due to the multiple layers of complexity. With each level of emergence - the previous Tao must be added to the mix adding a new layer of imprecision. As such human behavior is the least precise as the Tao of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology and even the Tao of Mathematical Process, as proposed by the theory of BD, have an influence. With the addition of each subsequent layer a new level of imprecision is added to the mix due to mixture and intersection.
Note that while it is a fact that each layer has its own Tao – certain scientists incorrectly assume that eventually the entire flux will be reduced to the Tao of Material Dynamics. This is not true due to the Tao of Emergence, where unique features emerge due to combination or size. For instance as elementary particles combine – Chemistry – they assume different features which are unique and independent of the dynamics of Physics, and yet connected with it. As the combination of elementary particles turns into Life – Biology – these emergent features assume yet another form independent of Chemistry and Physics although still intimately and bound by the Taos of these fundamental sciences. Then when Life turns into Humans yet another level of emergence/complexity occurs with its own unique features and Tao – Psychology.
Note that the Arrow only points one way. In other words Psychology has no influence on Biology except to catalyze biological processes. Biology has no influence on Chemistry, which has no influence on Physics. Note also that these disciplines are based upon the emergent principles of matter only. Note further that despite being influenced by the prior level that each subsequent level of Emergence has its own laws. Therefore the following diagram, although favored by Physicists as exhibiting their fundamental supremacy is flawed. Accordingly there will never be a one Science of Everything.
Adding to this complex mixture the theory of BD asserts that the Tao of Mathematical Processes also influences the Tao of Life and Behavior – God as mathematician. Of course the unique and immutable features of BD intersect and interact with the rest to influence unpredictable Life. Hence the Tao of Human Behavior entails the integration of the Taos of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, and BD into one package – thus its complexity and imprecision.