As I read Yuk Hui’s enormously complex argument, he claims that we are now in a position where we can see what is of value in the Thesis only after we fully dwell within the Antithesis. This leads us to the generative idea of “multiple cosmotechnics.” First, what does Hui mean by the peculiar word “cosmotechnics”? “It is the unification of the cosmos and the moral through technical activities, whether craft-making or art-making.” That is, a cosmotechnics is the point at which a way of life is realized through making.
The point may be illustrated with reference to an ancient tale Hui offers, about an excellent butcher who explains to a duke what he calls the Dao, or “way,” of butchering. The reason he is a good butcher, he says, it not his mastery of a skill, or his reliance on superior tools. He is a good butcher because he understands the Dao: Through experience he has come to rely on his intuition to thrust the knife precisely where it does not cut through tendons or bones, and so his knife always stays sharp. The duke replies: “Now I know how to live.” Hui explains that “it is thus the question of ‘living,’ rather than that of technics, that is at the center of the story.”
This unification — of making and living — might be said to be the whole point of Daoism. Though the same theme is woven through certain Confucian texts and the I Ching, it is particularly notable as the incessant refrain of the Daodejing, or, as it is more commonly called in the English-speaking world, the Tao Te Ching. The title means something like “The Classic of the Virtue of the Way” or “The Classic of the Way and of Virtue.” In both cases “virtue” (Te) should be understood as something close to the Latin virtus or the Greek aretē, meaning a kind of excellence, an excellence that has power.
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