I now know enough to know that I don’t know. Chapter 71 speaks well to this state of mind, To know yet to think that one does not know is best; Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty. Chapter 56 is even blunter, One who knows does not speak; one who speaks does not know. So, why do I post? My answer is simple: I am either gossiping, or ‘raising the alarm’. I can trace both of these roots back to the biology of a social species. In one way or another, that’s what ducks do, chimps do… I do.
Gossiping or raising the alarm is behind everything from casual chit-chat to in-depth research. Of course, I suppose many with a professional stake in speech, like educators, commentators, politicians, preachers, etc., would dispute this.
This makes me sound like a skeptic and perhaps a cynic too, at least in the original sense of the word. Let’s see what Wikipedia says about this…
Skepticism is generally any questioning attitude or doubt towards one or more items of putative knowledge or belief. It is often directed at domains, such as morality (moral skepticism), religion (skepticism about the existence of God), or the nature of knowledge (skepticism of knowledge). Formally, skepticism as a topic arises in the context of philosophy, particularly epistemology, although it has also found its way into popular-level social and political issues like climate science, religion, and pseudoscience.
Philosophical skepticism is a systematic approach that questions the notion that absolutely certain knowledge is possible. Classical philosophical skepticism derives from the classical Greek verb, skeptomai, “to search”, implying searching, but not finding. Adherents of Pyrrhonism, for instance, suspend judgment in investigations. Skeptics may even doubt the reliability of their own senses. Religious skepticism, on the other hand, is “doubt concerning basic religious principles (such as immortality, providence, and revelation)”. Scientific skepticism is about testing beliefs for reliability, by subjecting them to systematic investigation using the scientific method, to discover empirical evidence for them.
The Cynics (Greek: Κυνικοί, Latin: Cynici) were an influential group of philosophers from the ancient school of Cynicism. Their philosophy was that the purpose of life was to live a life of Virtue in agreement with Nature. This meant rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, health, and fame, and by living a life free from all possessions. As reasoning creatures, people could gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way that was natural for humans. They believed that the world belonged equally to everyone, and that suffering was caused by false judgments of what was valuable and by the worthless customs and conventions which surrounded society. Many of these thoughts were later absorbed into Stoicism.
Philosophy for a Stoic is not just a set of beliefs or ethical claims, it is a way of life involving constant practice and training (or askesis, see ascetic). Stoic philosophical and spiritual practices included logic, Socratic dialogue and self-dialogue, contemplation of death, training attention to remain in the present moment (similar to some forms of Eastern meditation), daily reflection on everyday problems and possible solutions, hypomnemata, and so on. Philosophy for a Stoic is an active process of constant practice and self-reminder.
It appears that the ancient Greek worldview has a lot in common with the Taoist worldview, as I see it anyway. That isn’t too surprising because they were contemporaries, more or less. Both faced a radical paradigm shift brought on by the advent of iron technology — the Iron Age.