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Zaohua 'the Creator' issue

Posted by rodo on 04 Mar 2016 at 00:46 GMT

The phrase 'the creator' has nothing to do with a designer god from the two-party-state, the Afro-Eurasian sky deity, or Mr Paley's writings, but is a well-known ancient Chinese way of saying something alike "nature" or "evolution", by way of zaohua zhe ??? 'the Creator, creation' (or, more literally, "the one who forms and transforms", or "what forms and transforms").

Others would say:

"zaohua ?? "creation"
The term zaohua, which means " to inform (zao) and transform (hua)," derives from the *Zhuangzi and is generally used as a synonym for the cosmos. Zaohua zhe ???, lit., "what informs and transforms [the world]," is the Dao itself or its *qi (pneuma), the energy of life that does not create anything, but, like a potter, gives a determinate and transient form to the indeterminate. The analogy ends here, because the zaohua zhe is neither a person nor an entity, and does everything naturally and spontaneously without working. In this sense, zaohua is a synonym of *ziran (natural or spontaneous).
Zao is the coming of something out of nothing (*wu), and hua is the return to emptiness. Zao is movement, and hua is quiescence (see *dong and jing).
In other instances, zao is said to be the foundation (*ti) and the One, hua its operation (*yong) and the Two, and zaohua their interaction or the Three. The "great zaohua" (da zaohua ???), however, neither forms and transforms, nor does it not form and not transform: it is the permanent Dao.
In *neidan, the alchemical process aims to go out of or beyond zaohua to a different zaohua. This points to a dialectic between movement and quiescence, or between the generation of the world by the mind (*xin) and the return (*fan) to the emptiness of the Dao. The borderline that simultaneously joins and separates these two facets is the "secret of creation," the infinitesimal first movement of the beginning of life (*ji) and of the mind (xin), which alchemists wish to "steal" (dao ?) to go beyond zaohua."

(Robinet in Pregadio ed. 2008, Encyclopedia of Taoism, vol. II, p. 1214. More on zaohua in the Brill reader Concepts of Nature. A Chinese-European Cross-Cultural Perspective.
Editors: Hans Ulrich Vogel and G�nter Dux (2010).)

Moreover, we were reminded of the ancient science writer Galenos of Pergamon, who wrote on a similar topic as the paper's concern in De usu partium:

It was, then, for the sake of these activities [????? ??? ?? ??????] that the convexities at the ends of the ulna and radius came to be; but nature also makes use of them to secure another advantage [?????? ?' ?????? ??? ???? ???? ?? ???????], just as she is accustomed frequently to make something that has come to be on account of one thing serve other uses as well [?? ??? ?????? ?? ???????? ?????????? ??? ???? ????]. For she located the heads of the tendons moving the fingers in the concavity between these eminences, thus establishing as if with a wall or tower a safe refuge for the tendons.
(UP 2.11, 1.97.19-98.2 H, 3.133 K) etc.

(See Schiefsky, Mark J. 2007. Galen's teleology and functional explanation. In Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 33, ed. D. Sedley, 369-400. Oxford: Oxford University Press.)

We suggest not a retraction, but an additional note that clarifies the zaohua issue.

No competing interests declared.