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The logical ballerinas: “Yin-Yang”




We all contemplate, astonished, bewildered, also fascinated, the incessant turns of our inner and outer realities. We all have suffered the shocking mutations of our own soul and of the souls of others: the good-natured turns out to be a devil, and the devil, suddenly, looks at us with infinite tenderness. Nature, at times, loves us and raises us with its beauty, and, at other times, it crushes and denigrates us without mercy. The slopes of the mountains of the soul are lit and also darkened under a sky that can not be quiet. The stupid suddenly becomes a mighty sage, and the wise, or the saint, suddenly behave in the lowest, ugliest limits of the human condition.

“Yin-Yang”. Change, contradiction, interpenetration, complementarity of opposites. I believe that we are dealing with a single but also bicephalous word that, according to Chinese tradition, symbolizes the internal machinery that moves the world. But within that single word are actually dancing (always embraced, embraced even to guts of the other one, and to the guts of the other one’s guts) two beautiful dancers who were born in China, in ancient China.

And that intimate dance reflects a terrible but also fertile tension. We are not facing two opposing forces, but complementary ones. Neither of them can live without the other. They never grow or decrease together: when one of them expands it is because the other one is reduced. But these expansion and reduction immediately triggers a change to its opposite: what goes up starts to fall if it reaches its maximum, and what goes down, when it gets enough denigration, begins to ascend. Light becomes darkness and darkness becomes light. Hell becomes heaven. And hell heaven. Everything is permanently turning, changing. But, if we asume the ideas of this philosophy, we are obliged to say that it has a huge contradiction: the very reality of change and its internal logic doesn’t seem to be thought of as changeable… I will deal with this contradiction on the last part of this text.

So, installing in its consciousness, through the word, always through the word, the metaphysical reality of this eternal dance, Chinese wisdom may be able to combine hope (any hell will transmute into paradise) with prudence (beware, you should consider that everything will change; take precautions, do not relax too much in boom times). Balance. Prudence. Temperance. Middle point. Avoid extremes, excesses. Be wise…

Before presenting my ideas about the logical ballerina “Yin-Yang”, I think it might be useful to take a look a the following themes:

1.- China… Schopenhauer included an interesting chapter in his work On the Will in Nature under the title “Sinology”. In the beginning of that chapter the great philosopher deems China as a top civilized country, and does so primarily on the grounds of its high -and permanently increasing- population: 396 millions in 1857. Today that population has reached 1.400 millions of people: millions of minds and heaths and working hands which are interwoven shaping a mighty civilizational and even racial meta-human being. I am anyway quite fascinated by the fact that China’s basic civilizational program remains almost intact, and that it was coded and activated, it seems, by a family -the Shang- which gave their name to that area of ​​the planet and which governed it between the 17th and 11th centuries BC. From that ‘family’ comes Chinese writing, which is still alive: logical dancers who emerged out of the Yellow River millennia ago and who, unlike those that appear in this philosophical dictionary, are drawn full body, not in pieces. I also find remarkable the relative self-sufficiency of China. I also see this ‘country’ as a kind of very old animal -a kind of a god- where the human individual, as such, would not have reached a determining ontological location beyond its performative function inside such animal-god. Perhaps China was always, in general, communist and bureaucratist. Except for the irruption of Buddhism (that Indian program), I do not see that this fabulous living system segregated by the Yellow River has opened its consciousness to concepts such as freedom or creativity. Taoism, while propitiating individual anarchy in the human-social realm, would set the human individual into a natural, yes, but also  radically legalized flow: an unstoppable metaphysical force with which human beings should harmonize in order to be really happy. Buddhism, on the other hand, as a worldview imported from India, would offer to the Chinese mind -and heart- the concept of absolute freedom (Moksa): the possibility of leaving the wheels of Karma, the possibility of liberating from the very Tao even (if we understand the Tao as a universal law), the possibility of liberating from the very concept of “liberation”…

2.- Meanings for “Yin-Yang”. It seems extremely complicated to set a unique meaning for this/these symbols. Some scholars speak of weak (Yin) and strong (Yang), of feminine (Yin) and masculine (Yang), of dark (Yin) and luminous (Yang), of Earth (Yin) and sky (Yang). In the amazing I Ching (or Yijing according to the pinyin phonetic transcription) we find a very efficient use of two types of strokes: a) The broken stroke (or two consecutive strokes) that would correspond to the Yin concept (perhaps due to its similarity with the vagina); and b)The continuous stroke, which would correspond to Yang (perhaps because of its similarity with the penis).

3.- Yin-Yang in Chinese philosophy. This concept reached a decisive place in the thought of Zou Yan (305-240 BC). But its philosophical development was driven mainly by Dong Zhongshu (179-104 BC), a Han-era thinker who wrote a work whose title -of astonishing beauty- was something like Luxuriant Dew of the Spring and Autumn Annals  (Chunqiu fanlu). In this work a model of totality is shown in which the Earth, the sky and the human being are intimately connected.

4.- Yin-Yang in the I Ching (or Yijing). The fundamental idea of ​​this mighty book is that of change. Everything changes. And that change would be produced by the interaction of the Yin-Yang opposites. The I Ching is a strange, beautiful and abyssal being that has been part of my life for many years. I use the translation of Richard Wilhelm, with the brilliant introduction of Karl Jung. With this book, within this book, I have lived and leaded decisive moments of my life. The introduction made by Jung is part of the masterpieces of the philosophical art. I think that, for the subject that concerns us now, there are two fundamental symbols: Qian and Kun. The first is pure Yang, is active and refers to the sky. The second is pure Yin, which is passive and refers to the Earth. We can think of the duality between the Mediterranean goddesses of the Earth and the gods of heaven. We can also think of the purusa-prakriti duality of the Indian Samkya. But from the Chinese worldview (at least that which is implicit in the Yin-Yang doctrine), it is not possible to speak of dualisms: within the goddesses of the Earth there would be gods of heaven. And vice versa. All together, interwoven, inter-fertilized.

5.- The diagrams. The best known is the Taijitu (literally “symbol of the highest, most extraordinary”). It is a symbol that shows polarity and movement; and that also appears, with few morphological differences, in the Celtic, Etruscan and Roman cultures. As far as China is concerned, I believe that a great philosophical expressiveness has been achieved by including within each color a circle of the opposite color, which, according to the Chinese sages, could always be subdivided into another diagram of two interlaced colours. And so on to infinity. To infinity. This must not be forgotten. But it would be better, in my opinion, to try a diagram in which within the Taijitu would appear a symbol that represents its absolute other… ‘that’ that is completely outside of that human and cosmic wheel and, therefore, of all its laws. I think that this would be the true symbol of “the highest”, and it should encompass what is presented to consciousness, and also consciousness itself (that infinite void).

6.- Some sources on Chinese philosophy. I suggest these two internet sites:

www.sacred-texts.com (created by John Bruno Hare).

www.sino-platonic.org. This last site is edited by Victor H. Mair (Department of Asian Languages ​​and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania) and offers a large number of essays on Chinese culture in general.

I also recommend these works on Chinese philosophy:

– Feng Youlan: A History of Chinese Philosophy, Princeton University Press, 1952 (translation of Derk Bodde).

– Marcel Granet: La pensée chinoise, Paris 1934.

– Needham, Joseph: Science and Civilization  in China, Cambridge University Press, 1954-2016 (7 volumes in 25 books).

– Bauer Wolfgang: Geschichte der chinesischen Philosophie. Konfuzianismus, Daodismus, Buddhismus, München 2001.

– Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy (ed. Antonio S. Cua, Routledge, 2002).

Now I will try to organize my ideas, my intuitions, about the “Yin-Yang” logical ballerina:

1.- Yin-Yang. Permanent (and also metaphysically regulated) change. But, if we do really philosophize (if we do really think) we discover that change is impossible, illogical. As it is impossible -illogical- the movement (let’s remember, let’s not stop doing so, Zeno of Elea). In fact, everything that happens seems to be impossible (maybe because everything that happens is purely magical, the masterpiece, the outcome of the unlimited power and creativity of a prodigious magician). In any case, in order to just testify about changes, an observer should remain immutable (precisely the one who affirmed that something has changed… the one who is supposed to have noticed that the reality surrounding him has changed). But that observer, according to the Chinese tradition, at least as far as I get, and, even according to the current world view of Physics, is also constantly shaken by the great dance that moves everything. Therefore, there would be no place to locate (even to think) a fixed point from which to affirm that, a few minutes ago, there was not a hawk in the sky and now there is.

2.- Changes occurs only in Maya (in the magical spectacles of our conscience, or “mind”, or “brain” if you like). Change is fantasy (chemical-biological fantasy, for those who do not want to abandon the neurophysiological worldview). And there, only there – in that fantasy- it is possible to visualize the tension of complementary opposites. However, this tension seems to me finally linguistic (like everything that can appear in sentences): the Yin-Yang presupposes a certain structure of words. It is said that Yang would be the luminous slope of a mountain, and Yin the shadowy one. But “mountain” or “hillside” are the result of a certain mental form: they are the product of one of the infinite ways of cutting out what is presented as real. The opposite of something requires assuming the ontological reality of that something. Think of the possible tension between God and the Devil (which requires a theism), or of the tension between matter and antimatter (a tension only possible if the models offered by current Physics are assumed to represent reality).

3.- Changes and their internal logic only happen in the theatres of consciousness. They are artistic needs. They are necessary for it to happen -for us to feel- a world in our consciousness. In meditation state [See], and, certainly, not only in that state, it may happen that we realize that we are always still, ‘there’, immutable, in a meta-spatial and meta-temporal workshop, utterly capable of any Creation (Creation with capital letter). In meditation state we are aware of our infinite quietness and unchangeability. We become aware that we are that immobile Being which Parmenides considered the true, only reality.

4.- The model of totality implicit in the doctrine of Yin-Yang presupposes a legaliform metaphysics. I have the feeling that most of the Chinese philosophical approaches (except those derived from Buddhism, which is an ‘imported’ wisdom) offer ideas in order to optimize the position of human beings within an already regulated cosmos. I do not see in Chinese philosophy-sotoriology a quest for transcendence. The Chinese sage wants to optimize his stay in immanence. The Chinese seek accommodation in a changing cosmos that changes according to an order that the wise must detect, but not modify, erase or re-create. In general, system-escapes are not sought, but optimization in the system. Confucians seem to be willing to incorporate human society and even its bureaucracy into a cosmic and sacred whole. Taoists, in general, seem to reject that radical pure-human-socialism, but they also seem to aspire to a fusion with a kind of cosmic-natural-metaphysical bureaucracy. In both cases, individual freedom seems to be meaningless. We are facing legaliform metaphysics. Buddhism -that Indian sotoriology- would perhaps be the only form of freedom (of freedom in the absolute sense) that the Chinese spirit would have known. It could be said that Chinese wisdom is an imposing Apara-Vidya [See]. And, as far as I get, that “inferior wisdom” of China is based on the search for balance -harmony- inside a universe of changing but also metaphysically ‘coded’ forces; and also on the search for techniques that allow channeling, for the benefit of human beings, those same forces.

5.- From the worldview of modern neurophysiology we should consider the hypothesis that Yin-Yang schematizes, in a rudimentary way, the functioning of the two parts of the human brain and their physiological, vital needs (energetic needs if you want), to stay balanced [See “Brain”].

6.- I return to the possibility that I pointed out before: to draw a Taijitu (the classic Yin-Yang diagram) in which its own opposite is shown. I mean the opposite of the whole model of totality that that symbol wants to subject.

The Yin-Yang system allows human being to survive inside a cosmos, inside a cosmos of words, but it does not allow to see beyond. In order to see beyond the theatres of our consciousness we have got to be silent. To be the silence.

In any case, I hope to have time enough so as to contemplate with calm the majestic flutter of Chinese civilization: that huge, astonishing butterfly.

David López




The logical ballerinas: “Brain”

“Brain”. It is supposed to be the crucial but also imaginary organ of this sculpture of Rodin. As physical, tangible reality, the brain is the most sophisticated and dazzling object of the known universe. I have one of those inside me. And you, by the very fact that you are reading these words, have another one. Another one of such amazing living diamonds. Do we own such a jewel or are we owned by it? 

“Brain”. The purpose of this philosophical dictionary is not to give meanings to words, is not to confine their semantics, but to calibrate their spell ability: their strength to configure contents of consciousness. Worlds.

Let’s go now into a fabulous labyrinth of mirrors. One first step: Who or what wants to study, to see, to consider, to measure, to modelize, etc., the so called “human brain”? Who or what wants to create in its own brain an image, an idea, an atlas, of its own brain? Can the brain be object and subject of knowledge at the same time?

It was reading Schopenhauer when I was dazzled for the first time by what is called “brain paradox”. It can be stated as follows: the brain, as a thing between things, is part of the world (like trees or snails or cars or stars). Seen like this, as a concrete cut of the visual impact of the world, it appears as something three-dimensional, tiny, vulnerable, and apparently created, configured and also pitiless submitted by the laws of Nature.

But, on the other hand, according to Schopenhauer (who was a lover of Kant´s Philosophy), it is precisely inside the brain, and only there, where occurs that what we call “world”. 

If we do not philosophize  (if we are not conscious of our thinking) we will not notice that we are identifying that what the neural connections of our brain are able to build and call “Brain”, with ‘that’ that is supposed to be surrounding the brain itself: the ‘outer world’, including it it, of course, the very matter of the brain itself and of the whole body itself. The theories of a neurophysiologist (if we accept and follow those same theories) are phenomena within the electrical and viscous inner-cosmos of their own galaxies of neurones. That inner-cosmos would be the habitat of the models of brain of a neurophysiologist.

It could be said, from the current scientistic materialism, that the brain is one of the things that can be contemplated inside the brain if the brain works properly (inside that magic box can also happen an Autumn breeze that bristles the skin of memory). And from that materialism it can also be said that we will be more cognizant of the brain the closer we get to a certain neuronal conexions-path, to a certain form, or dance if you want, in the matter of our brain: the precise one that propitiates a suitable representation of what is the brain in itself.

Let’s look at what is behind the word “brain”. Let’s do it with the infinite eyes of the Goddess Philosophy, which, according to neuroscience, is just a cerebral activity (the cerebral activity modelling itself, looking at itself… From where?).  The word “brain” (that powerful logical ballerina) is going to give us a wonderful opportunity to philosophize seriously: without laziness, with extreme courage, ready to swim in the ocean of the infinite, of the unbearable even (but unbearable, sometimes, because of its extreme beauty).

The great intellectual ecstasy of Philosophy begins. I truly believe that our philosophizing can receive an extremely fertile rain if we look at what is said about the brain from the current models of neurophysiology  (from these determined configurations of the chemistry of our brain, if we accept those very models). 

But, what do those models say? 

I will focus on the human brain. As far as I know, it is said that the brain is a concrete part of the human body, an organ which is considered the centre of the nervous system. It contains billions of a special type of cells called “neurones”, which, amazingly, connect with each other, or not, creating, or not, clusters of connexions, or associations (let’s say societies). I have read that the neurones can cooperate in societies of millions of members and that it is still uncovered the mystery of the way that cooperation really works. It is also said that the brain tissue produces energy, electricity indeed (like a small, organic nuclear power station), which, if many neurones work together, can be powerful enough to get out of the skull (the box of the brain) and be measured outside. That organ, that crucial ‘machine’ [See “Machine”], is comprable with a computer. Actually, some current models of neuroscience use that comparison to improve their insight of the brain. And they do it on the grounds that the brain is a centre of perception and processing of data. The scope of such perception, as far as it is commonly accepted in today’s science, is quite amazing: light, sound, chemical composition of the atmosphere, temperature, head orientation, limb position, chemical composition of the bloodstream… The hypothalamus, which is one part of the brain, can even check the sodium level, the glucose level and the blood oxygen level, and send some of those outputs to the pituitary gland, which reacts introducing hormones into the bloodstream that are capable of changing cellular activity.

It is also said that learning and memory are core activities of the brain. Santiago Ramon y Cajal might have explain such capacities arguing that they were just changes in the synaptic connexions between neurones. Such theory could have started to be fully proved by a stream of investigations triggered by a paper of Tim Bliss and Terje Lømo published in 1966 in Journal of Physiology. The key discovery of that paper was the so-called “long-term potentiation”: the strengthening of the synapsis between neurones caused by recent activity. There is also the opposite: the “long-term depression”. Both phenomena might be showing what is now called “synaptic plasticity”, which implies that the connexions between neurones can strengthen or weaken depending on their activity during a period of time. Thousands of millions of neurones capable, willing to connect among each other… What might occur if that total connexion takes place? The brain (that huge mystery) being completely conscious of itself? Philosophy, viewed from the current models of neurophysiology, could be described as a bomb of conscious thoughts set inside those galaxies of neurones in order to trigger its final, ecstatic connexion: the infinite synaptic plasticity.

The scientific models of reality I have just shown are the framework of some amazing projects that I would like to mention (and to thank too): 

  • https://alleninstitute.org/what-we-do/brain-science/ . On the webpage of this institute (which was founded by Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft along with Bill Gates) we are said what follows: “The human brain is the most complex piece of organized matter in the known universe. We use our singular approach to uncover its mysteries and share valuable resources with the global community of neuroscientists”.

Our civilization is now fascinated with the human brains: with those complex pieces of organized matter. Inside those cosmic jewels might be the key of everything.

Neuroscience. Philosophy. Let’s see what the following individual thinkers (individual brains) say about the brain:

1.- Schopenhauer. The paradox of the brain. Let’s go back to it:  the brain, as thing of the physical universe, is in space, but space (the continent, the ‘box’ of the physical universe) is only in the brain (Pararega and Paralipomena II, p. 48, according to the classic edition of Arthur Hübscher, revised by his wife Angelika, and published in Mannheim in 1988). The philosophical system of Schopenhauer overcomes such paradox placing the physical brain as part of the created world, as a kind of tool used by our deepest I in order to contemplate our own creation.   

2.- Humberto Maturana. Biology of Cognition (Biological Computer Laboratory Research Report BCL 9.0. Urbana IL: University of Illinois, 1970). Maturana is one of the three creators of the concept “autopoiesis”, which refers to the alleged capacity of self-generating and self-maintaining of the so-called “living systems” (It is said that the other two creators of such concept are Francisco Varela and Ricardo B. Uribe). The brain: Maturana says the frog can not see all the animals (it does not see those that are especially large and slow). The activity of the brain is the result of the demands of the living system that nourishes it. Reality is made by living systems. Is it also the very theory that generates the brain of Maturana something (let’s say bio-artificial) that nurtures the living system that owes him? How can that theory be true if it is generated by a biologically enslaved brain whose sole purpose is to nourish something called “living system”? It deserves to be read the schematic study on the thought of Humberto Maturana offered by John Lechte in this work: Fifty Key Contemporary Thinkers: From Structuralism to Postmodernity (Routledge, London 1994).

3.- The computational functionalism of Hilary Putnam [See here, still in Spanish] as solution for the mind/brain problem: the mind is the software; the brain is the hardware. The criticism of John Searle in his paper “The Chinese room argument” (“Minds, Brains, and Programs”, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1980): a computer can behave as if it understood Chinese, but it would nevertheless not be a mind, because it can not think, be conscious, of its own behaviour. Searle does focus its criticism on digital computers. But, what kind of machines are still to be created? Schopenhauer already considered the brain as our most sophisticated artificial creation. Because, indeed, we would not be “human beings”…

4.- Antonio Damasio [See here, still in Spanish]: The error of Descartes. That error was to believe that the most refined operations of the mind are separated from the structure and functioning of the biological organism. The brain and the rest of the body constitute an inseparable organism composed of biochemical and neural regulatory circuits that relate to the environment as a whole, and mental activity arises from that interaction. So…  Does our brain have the size of the whole physical universe? Do we think with all that?

5.- Richard Dawkins: The God delusion, 2006. In this book there is an epigraph that takes by title “The mother of all the burkas”. From the groove of his own burqa, and always through the kaleidoscopic lens of scientist materialism, Dawkins states that what we see of the real world is not the real world, but a model of the real world, regulated and adjusted by sense data (a model that is constructed in such a way that it is useful to deal with the real world). Dawkins   also states that the nature of that model depends on the type of animal we are. According to that theory we could ask: Is not that very theory (the model of reality that Richard Dawkins exposes) just something useful that his brain (his body) needs in order to deal with the real world? So: Do brains reflect reality or create it? Does the survival of the system require ‘reality’ reflected cerebrally or just fantasy capable of triggering will to live? [See here my full article on Richard Dawkings still in Spanish].

Now I will try to convey what seem to be my own thoughts (the secretions of my own brain) about the mystery of the brain:

1.- “Brain” is, first of all, a word. Nothing else. Nothing less… It can also be said that it is the result of applying a certain system of cuts in the visual reality of the so-called ‘universe’. I see no brain beyond a certain mental software (if we use the metaphor of Hilary Putnam).

2.- We are always bewitched by language. To see the exit, if you want, you have to be able to feel that both “atom”, “neuron”, “brain” and “science” are words: artificial fruits of mental models: secretions of something ineffable that, given that I am now inside a phrase, I have no choice but to name it ‘brain’. In fact, it is posible that in a very close future a new model of “brain” might emerge. For example a model that affirms the identity between what we now name “brain” and what we now name “universe”.

3.- The logical ballerina “Brain” usually dances together with another: “Mind”. It is said that from the last third of the twentieth century the philosophy of the mind is acquiring a privileged place in what we call philosophical reflection. But the leading idelogy nowadays is the one which asserts the material dimension of the brain. [See “Matter”]. Okay. But every physical object, according to current Physics (M-Theory), is supposed to have eleven dimensions, not only three. Therefore,  the current models (the draws) of the brain are mutilated: the brain itself (even considered as a pure physical object) is impossible to draw. Impossible to see. Even impossible to imagine.

7.- The brain… I don’t really know what is that, but, if I close my eyes, I can feel it, ‘there’, like a huge magical, infinite whale. And I can also send it calm, silence, even love… That is something I do almost everyday. Believe me: After no more than one minute, that mysterious, unsayable ‘thing’ seems to be born again, ready to go on loving life, producing worlds if you want.  The question is: From where do I feel my own brain? Where really am I?

Enough. Let’s take Philosophy out of the dance room where the logical ballerina “Brain” needs to dance. That beautiful ballerina is part of a mighty dream: the dream of scientific materialism, which offers fabulous worlds, and fabulous expectations.

David López

Las bailarinas lógicas: “Yin-Yang”


Todos contemplamos, atónitos, desconcertados, fascinados también, el giro incesante de nuestras realidades interiores y exteriores. Todos hemos padecido las mutaciones del alma propia y del alma ajena: el bondadoso resulta ser un diablo, y el diablo, de pronto, nos mira con infinita ternura y nos tiende su mano -firme y cálida- cuando ningún santo nos la tiende. La naturaleza, a veces, nos ama y nos sublima con su belleza, y, otras veces, nos tritura y nos denigra sin piedad. Las laderas de las montañas del alma se encienden y se apagan bajo un cielo que no puede quedarse quieto: el estúpido es un sabio descomunal, y el sabio, o el santo, de pronto, se ubican, ante nuestro estupor, en los límites inferiores de la condición humana.

Yin-Yang”. Cambio, interpenetración y complementariedad de los contrarios. Creo que estamos ante una sola palabra que -según la tradición china- simboliza la maquinaria interior que mueve el mundo. Pero dentro de esa palabra única -“Yin-Yang“- en realidad bailan, abrazadas siempre, abrazadas incluso a su vísceras, y a las vísceras de sus vísceras, dos preciosas bailarinas que nacieron en China, en la China antigua, si es que China ha dejado de ser alguna vez “antigua”.

Y ese baile intimísimo refleja una terrible pero fértil tensión: no estamos ante dos fuerzas opuestas, sino complementarias. Ninguna de ellas puede vivir sin la otra. Las dos se desnutren recíprocamente. Nunca crecen ni decrecen juntas: cuando una de ellas se expande es porque la otra se reduce. Pero ese expandirse y reducirse provoca enseguida un cambio a sus contrarios: lo que sube empieza a bajar si alcanza su máximo, y lo que baja, cuando consigue una denigración suficiente, empieza a ascender. La luz se vuelve oscuridad y la oscuridad luz. El infierno se hace cielo. Y el cielo infierno. Todo girando, cambiando, sin que cambie nunca la realidad del cambio ni su lógica interna.

Así, instalando en su conciencia, mediante la palabra, siempre mediante la palabra, la realidad metafísica de este baile eterno, la sabiduría china quizás fue capaz de combinar la esperanza (todo horror transmutará en paraíso) con la prudencia (cuidado, considera que todo cambiará, toma precauciones, no te despreocupes demasiado en los tiempos de vacas gordas). Equilibrio. Prudencia. Templanza. Punto medio. Equilibrio. Evitar los extremos, los excesos.

Antes de exponer mis ideas sobre el Yin-Yang, voy a detenerme en los siguientes lugares:

1.- China. Me llama la atención el hecho de que su programa civilizacional básico siga casi  intacto, y que lo activara, según parece, una familia, los Shang, que dieron su nombre a esa zona del planeta y que la gobernaron entre los siglos XVII y XI a.C. De ellos proviene la escritura china, aún viva: bailarinas lógicas que surgieron del Río Amarillo hace milenios y que, a diferencia de las que aparecen en este diccionario filosófico, están dibujadas de cuerpo entero, no a pedazos, no con piezas lingüísticas inertes. También me parece destacable la relativa autarquía de China. La veo como una especie de animal viejísimo -ya casi un dios- donde el individuo humano, como tal, no habría alcanzado una ubicación ontológica determinante. Quizás China siempre fue, en general, comunista y burocratista. Salvo por la irrupción del budismo, no veo que este fabuloso organismo segregado por el Río Amarillo haya abierto su conciencia a conceptos como el de libertad o el de creatividad. Al ocuparme de Tao [Véase] ya expresé mi sensación de que el taoísmo,  si bien propiciaría una anarquía en lo social, arrojaría al individuo humano a una corriente natural, sí, pero hiper-legalizada: a una fuerza metafísica imparable con la que sólo cabría armonizarse. El budismo, por el contrario, como cosmovisión importada de la India, sí ofrecería a la mente china -y a su corazón- el concepto de la libertad absoluta: la posibilidad de salir de las ruedas de lo real, de liberarse del Tao incluso, entendiendo el Tao como ley universal.

2.- Significados para Yin-Yang. Parece extremadamente complicado fijar un significado único para estos símbolos. Se habla de débil (yin) y fuerte (yang), de femenino (yin) y masculino (yang), de oscuro (yin) y luminoso (yang), de tierra (yin) y cielo (yang).  En el I Ching (o Yijing según la transcripción fonética pinyin) encontramos un uso eficacísimo de dos tipos de trazos: el trazo partido (dos líneas consecutivas) que correspondería al concepto yin (quizás por su similitud con la vagina); y el trazo continuo, que correspondería a yan (quizás por su similitud con el pene). Jordi Vilá, en su introducción a ese libro descomunal  afirma que “el concepto del yin y el yang es una de las aportaciones más universales de la cultura china, que considera este binomio el mecanismo que mantiene el equilibrio de un sistema. Yin y yang no son, en absoluto, fuerzas primarias ni poderes cósmicos, sino “utensilios” de clasificación. Etimológicamente, los conceptos yin y yang se referían exclusivamente a las laderas sombría e iluminada de una montaña […] De esto no debe deducirse una noción antagónica de dualidad, sino un sistema dinámico de complementariedad y equilibrio, una visión cíclica y relativa del Universo, en la que el yin llegado al extremo originará el yang y viceversa; yin y yang no son cosas independientes, sino dos fases de un mismo fenómeno. Los textos canónicos Zhou que exponen la teoría del yin y el yang la relacionan con las diferentes técnicas de adivinación vigentes en tiempos de las antiguas dinastías. Se puede suponer que la teoría del yin y el yang apareció en la Edad del Bronce, en el seno de la casta chamánica, y que desde su origen se asoció con las ideas de adivinación y pronóstico” (Yijing, traducción, prólogo y notas del texto de Jordi Vilà; traducción, prólogo y notas del comentario de Wang Bi por Albert Galvany, Atalanta, Girona 2006, p. 19).

3.- Yin-Yang en la filosofía china. Estos conceptos alcanzaron un lugar decisivo en el pensamiento de Zou Yan (305-240 a.C.). Pero su desarrollo filosófico fue impulsado sobre todo por Dong Zhongshu (179-104 a. C.), un pensador de la época Han que escribió una obra cuyo título -de sublime belleza- fue algo así como “Rocío exuberante de los anales de la primavera y el otoño” (Chunqiu fanlu). En esta obra se muestra un modelo de totalidad en el que la tierra, el cielo y el hombre están íntimamente conectados.

4.- Yin-Yang en el I Ching (o Yijing).  La idea fundamental de este libro fundamental es la de cambio. Todo cambia sin cesar. Y ese cambio se produciría por la interacción de los opuestos Yin-Yang. El I Ching es un ser extraño, bello y abisal que forma parte de mi vida desde hace muchos años. Yo tengo la edición española de la traducción de Richard Wilhelm (Edhasa, Barcelona 1977). Con este libro, dentro de este libro, he vivido momentos decisivos en mi existencia. El prólogo que en su momento hizo Jung forma parte de las obras maestras del arte filosófico. Creo que, para el tema que nos ocupa ahora, hay dos símbolos fundamentales: Qian y Kun. El primero es Yang puro, es activo y se refiere al cielo. El segundo es Yin puro, es pasivo y se refiere a la tierra. Podemos pensar en la dualidad entre las diosas mediterráneas de la tierra y los dioses del cielo. También cabe pensar en la dualidad purusa-prakriti del Samkya indio. Pero desde la cosmovisión china (al menos la que está implícita en la doctrina del Yin-Yang) no cabe hablar de dualismos: dentro de las diosas de la tierra habría dioses del cielo. Y viceversa. Y dentro de la prakriti india habría siempre, y siempre debería haber, purusa (simplificando cabría decir que desde la doctrina del Yin-Yang no cabría pensar un alma sin cuerpo, ni lo contrario).

5.- Los diagramas. El más conocido es el Taijitu (literalmente “símbolo de lo más elevado, de lo más extraordinario”). Es un símbolo que muestra polaridad y movimiento; y que aparece también, con pocas diferencias morfológicas, en las culturas celta, etrusca y romana. En el caso chino, creo que se ha conseguido una gran expresividad filosófica al incluirse dentro de cada color un círculo del color contrario, el cual, según descubrieron los sabios chinos, siempre podría subdividirse en otro diagrama de dos colores entrelazados. Y así hasta el infinito. Hasta el infinito. Esto no debe olvidarse. Pero cabría, en mi opinión, ensayar un diagrama en el que dentro del Taijitu apareciera un símbolo que representara su otro absoluto… lo que está completamente fuera de esa rueda humana y cósmica y, por tanto, de todas sus leyes. Creo que ese sí sería un símbolo de “lo más elevado”: abarcaría lo que se presenta ante la conciencia y la conciencia misma (ese vacío infinito).

6.- Algunas fuentes sobre la filosofía china en general.

Sugiero estas dos páginas de internet:

–  www.sacred-texts.com (creada por John Bruno Hare)

–  www.sino-platonic.org. Esta última página está editada por Victor H. Mair (Departamento de lenguas y civilizaciones asiáticas de la Universidad de Pennsylvania) y ofrece una gran cantidad de ensayos sobre la cultura china en general.

Y como obras sobre la filosofía china sugiero las siguientes:

– Feng Youlan: A History of Chinese Philosophy, 1934 (Princeton University Press, 1983, traducción de Derk Bodde.).

– Marcel Granet: La pensée chinoise, Paris 1934.

-Needham, Joseph: Science and Civilization  in China, Cambridge University Press, 1954-2016 (7 volumes in 25 books).

– Bauer Wolfgang: Geschichte der chinesischen Philosophie. Konfuzianismus, Daodismus, Buddhismus, München 2001.

– Chantal Maillard: La sabiduría como estética (China: confucianismo, taoísmo y budismo), Akal, Madrid 1995.

– Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy (ed. Antonio S. Cua, Routledge, 2002).


Expongo a continuación algunas de mi ideas sobre el concepto Yin-Yang:

1.- Ying-Yang. Cambio permanente. Y reglado. Pero el cambio es imposible -ilógico. Como es imposible -ilógico- el movimiento (recordemos, no dejemos de hacerlo, a Zenón de Elea). En realidad, a mi juicio, todo lo que ocurre es imposible (porque todo lo que ocurre es puramente mágico). En cualquier caso, para que pudiera haber cambio debería mantenerse inmutable un observador (precisamente el que afirmara ese cambio… el que ve que se modifica la estructura de lo que se presenta). Pero ese observador, según la tradición china, al menos hasta donde yo llego, e, incluso, según la propia cosmovisión de la Física actual, está también sacudido permanentemente por el gran baile que lo mueve todo. No habría por tanto dónde ubicar un punto  fijo desde el que afirmar que, hace unos minutos, no había un halcón en el cielo y ahora sí lo hay.

2.- Creo -siento- que el cambio ocurre sólo en Maya (en los espectáculos de nuestra conciencia, o “mente”, “cerebro” si se quiere). El cambio es una fantasía (fantasía químico-biológica, para los que no quieran abandonar la cosmovisión neurofisiológista). Y ahí -en esa prodigiosa fantasía- sí cabe visualizar la tensión de contrarios complementarios. No obstante, esa tensión me parece finalmente lingüística (como todo lo que pueda aparecer en frases): el Yin-Yang presupone una determinada estructura de universales [Véase].  Se dice que Yang sería la ladera luminosa de una montaña, y Yin la sombría. Pero “montaña” o “ladera” son resultantes de una determinada forma mental: son producto de una de entre las infinitas formas de recortar lo que se presenta como real. Lo contrario de algo requiere asumir la realidad ontológica de ese algo. Pensemos en la posible tensión entre Dios y el Diablo (que requiere un teísmo). O en la tensión entre materia y antimateria (una tensión sólo posible si se asumen como reales los bocetos que ofrece la Física). [Véase “Física“].

3.-  Los cambios y su lógica interna sólo acontecen en los teatros de la conciencia. Son necesidades artísticas: resortes necesarios para que ocurra -para que sintamos- mundo en nuestras conciencias. En estado de meditación [Véase], y, por cierto, no sólo en ese estado, puede ocurrir que retomemos la conciencia de que siempre estuvimos quietos, ahí, en un taller meta-espacial y meta-temporal, capaces de cualquier Creación. Creación con mayúscula.

4.- El  modelo de totalidad implícito en la doctrina del Yin-Yang presupone una metafísica legaliforme. Tengo la sensación de que la mayor parte de los planteamientos filosóficos chinos (exceptuando los derivados del budismo, que es una sabiduría “importada”) ofrecen ideas para optimizar la posición del hombre dentro del cosmos. No veo en la filosofía-sotoriología chinas que se aspire a la transcendencia: el sabio chino quiere optimizar su estancia en la inmanencia. Los chinos buscan acomodo en un cosmos cambiante, pero cambiante según un orden que el sabio debe detectar. No se buscan, en general, salidas del sistema, sino optimización en el sistema. Los confucianos incorporarán la sociedad humana e, incluso, su burocracia, en un todo cósmico y sagrado. Los taoístas, en general, rechazarán ese socialismo radical, pero aspirarán a una fusión con una especie de burocracia cósmico-natural. En ambos casos, la libertad individual carecerá de sentido. Estamos ante metafísicas legaliformes. El budismo -esa sotoriología india- sería quizás la única forma de libertad -de libertad en sentido absoluto- que habría conocido el espíritu chino. Cabría afirmar que la sabiduría china es una imponente Apara-Vidya [Véase]. Y, hasta donde yo llego, que no es mucho, esa “sabiduría inferior” de China se basa en la búsqueda del equilibrio -la armonía- dentro de un universo de fuerzas cambiantes; y la búsqueda de técnicas que permitan canalizar, en beneficio del hombre, esas mismas fuerzas.

5.- Desde la cosmovisión de la neurofisiología moderna (que yo no comparto) cabría quizás sostener la hipótesis de que el Yin-Yang esquematiza, de forma rudimentaria, el funcionamiento de las dos partes del cerebro humano y su necesidad, fisiológica, vital, energética si se quiere, de mantenerse equilibrado [Véase “Cerebro“]. En el futuro intentaré investigar algo más esta posibilidad. Cualquier sugerencia o indicación será enormemente agradecida.

6.- Vuelvo a la posibilidad que apunté en los primeros párrafos de este texto: ensayar un Taijitu (el clásico diagrama del Yin-Yang) en el que se mostrara su propio contrario: el contrario del propio modelo de totalidad que ese símbolo quiere sujetar: lo absolutamente otro de lo que es pensado a través de esa tradición de sabiduría china. Quizás la dialéctica hegeliana ofrecería la posibilidad de suprimir y elevar el dualismo cambio-quietud; legaliformidad metafísica/libertad absoluta… [Véase “Aufhebung“].

Dios, como Dios metalógico [Véase], estaría más allá de los contrarios (incluso más allá de la tensión existencia/no existencia de Dios). Pero creo que lo que se nos presenta, ahora mismo, esto mismo, también puede serlo. El sistema Yin-Yang permite sobrevivir en un cosmos de palabras, pero no permite ver.

Para ver hay que estar en silencio. Ser el silencio. [Véase “Silencio“]. Más allá del baile del Yin-Yang.

En cualquier caso, espero tener tiempo para contemplar con sosiego el majestuoso aleteo de la civilización china. Esa mariposa descomunal.

David López