Chinese Thought in a Global Context: A Dialogue between Chinese and Western Philosophical Approaches

By Karl-Heinz Pohl | Go to book overview

THE DAOIST PROJECT AS A “POSSIBLE”
METAN ARRATIVE

YIP W AI-LIM


1. A New Tower of Babel?

In one of the paper architectures by Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin, “Forum of a Thousand Truths” (1987), we find thousands of humans, each a loner, marooned on the tops of skyward columns, incapable of touching or communicating with one another. Again, in their “A Glass Tower” (1984) and “Wandering Turtle in a Maze of a Big City” (1984), we find ourselves wandering through thousands of glass fragments, or through huge urban mazes, bombarded by unpredictable, constantly changing and mysterious spectacles, a schizophrenic condition where common language and vision are no longer available. In this both prehistoric and futuristic terrain, we are painfully reminded of the Tower of Babel - a new Tower of Babel?

Suddenly, as if to tease the euphoria of the well-networked Global Village, the once interwebbing composition of things has disintegrated into countless separated, individualized, and mutually-exclusive disciplines. The three separated, differentiated, and self-referential orders after Kant - what Max Weber characterizes as cognitiveinstrumental, moral-practical and aesthetic-expressive spheres - have further broken down into a pluralism of “gods and demons.” We have lost all effective metanarratives, says Jean-François Lyotard in his The Postmodern Condition, by which some kind of consensus can be obtained, and are left with a series of language games with rules that are only locally and temporally determined. Instead of consensus, we now have paralogy.1

1 Lyotard, Jean-François, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge,
trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi, Minneapolis/MN.: University of
Minnesota Press, 1984, pp. 37,41,60,65,66.

-145-

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