Taoism

By the wondrous ways of procrastinative web-surfing, I came across the work of Raymond Smullyan, mathematician, writer and, rarely seen, genuinely humorous.

I can’t appreciate the maths much, but the philosophical humour is spot-on. I’ve only read this one piece called “Is God a Taoist?“, which cheekily tackles the big questions of free will, morality and the nature of God in an absolutely irresistible way.

I don’t know if he really is a taoist, anyway.

Apropos taoism, I also came across a nice interview with, or, rather, a big bunch of random questions answered by, Ursula Le Guin. Le Guin has written a good number of the best anthropologically speculative Science Fiction novels I know, and she is also very inspired by taoism. She’s even produced her own translation of the Tao Te Ching – apparently by comparing 20 different available translations and combining the various translations and paraphrases to her best liking.

In the interview, she says that Taoism is both a religion and a way of thinking, the latter “is profoundly subversive and permanently anti-establishment. It’s a tough act to be a radical for 2000 years, but Lao Tzu did it.”

Combined with the ideas presented in the Smullyan text, it presents a curious thing on which to ponder: Can God be anti-establishment?

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