The Notion of the Machine Heart (ji xin 機心) in the Zhuangz i:the ethical relationship between technology and nature.

Krajewska, Krystyna (2012) The Notion of the Machine Heart (ji xin 機心) in the Zhuangz i:the ethical relationship between technology and nature. Masters thesis, University of Wales, Trinity St David.

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In Chapter One, my discussion starts with an appraisal of what the ancient Chinese understood by the human Heart (xin 心). It points to the unhelpful avenues that can occur so easily with interpretations that involve ideas concerning mind, emotions, physical organs and the like as they lead us to the limiting dimensions of dualism that depicts human beings in terms of mind and flesh. The concept of Heart epitomizes everything that is the core of humanity, and for each individual encompasses the personality, psychological, physiological and behavioural traits as well as ideas that we more readily associate with it within the emotive sphere. The Heart is the energy-centre that influences the whole person; the life-giving force that can so easily become diverted by thought patterns arising from a thirst for knowledge and classification of the world. The Zhuangzi urges the Heart to be stilled in order to find the true knowledge that arises from innate nature (xing 性). A central premise of this dissertation is that the Heart should be considered as the personal locus that defines our relationship to nature, whether that relationship is symbiotic and co-operative or anthropocentric and exploitative.Chapter Two surveys the Gardener’s dialogue with Zigong from a variety of contemporary ethical perspectives. It aims to discover whether, from today’s point of view where technology has become the hallmark of modern culture, we can find an analysis of the relationship between technology and nature that helps us to understand the Gardener’s radical position that those engaged with machinery are bound to develop a ‘Machine Heart’. Chapter Three explores ‘machine’ part of the Machine Heart (ji xin 機心). It discusses the etymology of ji (機) in order to fully understand what such a Heart might entail. The discussion focuses on the idea, proposed by Barry Allen that only certain kinds of machine belong to dao technology. I ask whether there can be a dao technology, given the strictures in the Zhuangzi. In Chapter Four I turn to Heidegger’s analysis of technology as framed in his essay The Question concerning Technology to elucidate the technological mindset that corresponds to the Zhuangzi’s Machine Heart. Heidegger’s premise that we have used technology to work on recalcitrant matter in order to make its hidden essence constantly available for a complex mesh of interrelated human needs may be expressed more coherently and extensively than the ideas contained the Zhuangzi’s parable of the Gardener; however, the underlying concerns are the same. Technology disempowers nature; rivers are not allowed to flow according to their natural rhythms; trees are not allowed to reach maturity; and animals must flee from human beings in order to preserve their lives. In a world so harnessed and forced into the various uniform moulds of technology, human beings can no longer share the rhythms of the cosmos, and imperil their innate inner nature that thrives on a non-acquisitive co-being with the natural world. Chapter Five, the final part of this dissertation, examines how the Zhuangzi depicts the emergence of the Machine Heart from the development of language. I argue that the Zhuangzi’s polemic against Confucian nominalism is connected to two important strands in the text. Firstly, it relates to the idea that the Heart needs to be stilled, to be starved of external stimuli that result in the constant verbal analysis of the world. Secondly, the Zhuangzi associates naming and classifying all entities in the world as a form of harnessing the inner essence or power of the thing. The Zhuangzi, as indeed the Daodejing, both warn against excessive cutting up of reality through language. I conclude the dissertation by commenting on Zhuangzi’s warning that all perspectives and values are relative. Bearing in mind the imperative that technology places on us to value the useful, the Zhuangzi controversially suggests that we may have much to learn by studying the useless.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Series: Carmarthen / Lampeter Dissertations;10412/293.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Zhuangzi, Technology, Nature
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
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Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2014 13:37
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2016 11:53

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