Friday, June 1, 2007
The Taoist Doctrine of Wu Wei: What is meant by the Taoist doctrine of Wu Wei? By most scholarly accounts, Wu Wei translates from traditional Chinese to English as "without action." Arguably the most fundamental tenet of philosophical Taoism, the ultimate objective of Wu Wei is to fashion the human condition according to the Tao. For the most part, the Tao is the Way to Virtue, which is marked by its steady and unwavering nature. The Tao can also be appropriately equated to the notion of Being, as espoused by pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides. Being and the Tao are unformed, ungenerated, and unchanging. In effect, Wu Wei is the vehicle through which one travels down the Tao. Given its widespread prevalence in the classic Taoist text of the Tao Te Ching, Wu Wei constitutes a central pillar of Taoist thought. As for the author of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, he most likely proclaimed the doctrine of Wu Wei in an effort to help common Chinese people understand the inherent value of what is not. Therefore, Wu Wei adequately testifies to the idea that inaction is often just as important as action.