Dewey, Suzuki, and the Elimination of Dichotomies

by HAROLD E. McCARTHY
Philosophy East and West, 6, No. 1 (1956)
(c) by The University Press of Hawaii.
p.35-48


. P.35 JOHN DEWEY AND D. T. SUZUKI, as Van Meter Ames has pointed out on more than one occasion,(1) are not as alien to one another, philosophically, as might appear at first glance. If one could really get past the unfortunate assumption that Suzuki is the spokesman, par excellence, for Eastern mysticism at its most obscure, paradoxical, and esoteric, whereas Dewey is the spokesman for American common sense, scientific reason, and educational know-how, one might discover that Dewey's naturalism and Suzuki's Zen have much in common. Such a thesis may not be welcomed by those who would turn Zen into a special cult, with or without mescaline as a short-cut to satori; and, in similar manner, such a thesis may not be welcomed by those who feel that one of Dewey's significant virtues as a philosopher was his tough-minded, thoroughly "scientific" approach to every phase of human life and experience. But if both Dewey and Suzuki are approached in terms of their writings rather than in terms of preformed opinions, important resemblances can certainly be found without, at the same time, attempting to deny equally important differences. In this paper, then, we shall limit ourselves to a very modest task: that of noting the attitude of both Dewey and Suzuki with respect to the conceptual (or intellectual) dichotomy as an instrument of analysis and description. We shall not be concerned, accordingly, with over-all evaluation, nor shall we be concerned with suggesting, for instance, how a "synthesis" can be (or should be) brought about. It is possible that Dewey and Suzuki can, in the end, be viewed as supplementing (or complementing) one another; but, if so, that is not the present concern. Above all, in this paper we shall not be concerned with pointing out how Dewey and Sutuki differ from one another either in central or in peripheral matters; and we leave open the possibility that the differences may be far more significant than the resemblances. Our only assumption is this (and what a dangerous assumption _____________________________________________________ (1) van Meter Ames, "America. Existentialism, and Zen," Philorophy East and West, I. No. I (April, 1911), 35-47; "Zen and Pragmatism," ibid., IV, No. 1 (April, 1954), 1933. p.36 it is): that, although a complete, comparative study involves a concern with both resemblances and differences, an incomplete study, concerned with either resemblances or differences, is possible and may be of value. I However much Dewey and Suzuki may differ in some respects, they do, at least, have this much in common: a deep and distinctive suspicion of dualisms, all rigid dichotomies, and all logic which is built upon dualisms and dichotomies. This suspicion of the dichotomy as integral to the core of Suzuki's thought may sometimes pass almost unnoticed; but it should be perfectly clear to students of Dewey by this time that the rejection of the ultimacy of the dichotomy as a tool of scientific and intellectual analysis is one thread which binds all of Dewey's writings together and, in the end, gives to Dewey's naturalism its particular and (in the West) almost unique flavor.(2) And when Dewey does examine and reject a dichotomy, it is almost nev er to deny one side of the dichotomy or to "reduce" one side of the dichotomy to the other, but, rather, to substitute for the dichotomy itself a continuity of resemblances and differences which involves no absolute tensions and no unbridgeable gaps. With respect to the traditional distinction between truth and falsity, Dewey worked indefatigably to replace the usual dichotomy with a continuity, and partly by challenging the dichotomy between experience and Nature in such a way that thought could avoid, once and for all, the hopeless position which claims that a statement possesses truth by virtue of an inherent relationship to "things as they are in themselves" as opposed to a progressively established relationship to things in the context of human experience. Defining truth in terms of things as they are in themselves leads inevitably to a distinction between absolute and relative truth, God's truth and man's truth. By way of this distinction, the reality of absolute truth is established, but is also established as unknown and unknowable relative to man since, by definition, it transcends human experience and human operations altogether. Thus we are left with a rather unfortunate distinction between an unknown something we could not know what and an unknown nothing at all. But once truth is defined in terms of the procedures of verification, and once it is recognized that the process of verification can be carried out only within _____________________________________________________ (2) See, for instance, Matron G. White, "The Analytic and the Synthetic: An Untenable Dualism, " in Sidney Hook, ed., John Dewey, Philoropher of Science and Freedom (New York: The Dial Press, 1950), p. 316. p.37 the context of experience, and that in this context verification is never final but at best a matter of degree, the truth-falsity dichotomy gives way to a continuity of warrantabilities, and the way is prepared for a reconstruction, in logic and a better understanding of scientific method.(3) As for reconstruction in logic, Dewey was surely motivated in part by, a desire to remove the dualism between logic and the existential mechodology of inquiry. As he writes: The primary postulate of a naturalistic theory of logic is continuity of the lower (less complex) and the higher (more complex) activities and forms. The idea of continuity is nor self-explanatoty But its meaning excludes complete rupture on one side and mere repetition of identities on the other; it precludes reduction of the "higher" to the "lower" just as it precludes complete breaks and gaps.(4) During a period in which reconstruction in logic almost automatically means in most quarters the rejection of Aristotelian logic and the development and elaboration of symbolic logic, it may be difficult for some to take Dewey's critique of formal logic as anything but beside the point. It is easy to say that Dewey was simply not cut out to be a logician; but the fact remains that Dewey has set forth a demand for a logic which is more sensitive to the complexities of human experience and the operating concepts and procedures of contemporary science, a logic in which, in the end, the rigid dichotomies between the formal and the material, reason and experience, and truth and falsity are eliminated on the grounds of experiential inadequacy. Dewey is not a critic of logic as such, but he is certainly a critic of traditional logics.(5) When Dewey calls for an extension of the scientific method and the scientific attitude of mind into all areas of human inquiry, he is rejecting, of course, the ultimacy of verification in terms of tradition, intuition, and pure reason. However, and in spite of these rejections, no one could recognize more clearly than Dewey the fact that inquiry moves within a sociohistorical context, is guided by reason, and may well make interesting jumps and leaps by way of what is often called insight, intuition, hunch, and the _____________________________________________________ (3) It is true, unfortunately, that Dewey often made statements about the concept of truth which were misleading; and one suspects that at times Dewey was capable of misleading himself. Thus, he should nor have recommended Peirce's definition of truth as the "opinion which is fated to be ultimrrely agreed to by all who investigate," since, from Dewey's own procedural point of view, a definition in terms of "fated ultimate agreement".. is as empty of empirical meaning as a definition of truth in terms of ideas in the mind of God. See John Dewey, Logic, the Theory of Inquiry (New York: Henry Holt and Co.. 1938), p. 345. (4) Ibid., p. 23. (5) It is important to note that Dewey apparently rejects any two-valued logic. He writes, "If by 'two-valued logic' is meant a logic that regards 'true and false' as the role logical values, then such a logic is necessarily so truncated that clearness and consistency in logical doctrine are impossible. Being the matter of a problem is a primary logical property." Ibid., p. 107. p.38 visions of the sleeping self. In calling for an extension of the scientific method, moreover, Dewey is not guilty of monolithic methodology, since his position, again and again, is that scientific method is concrete only in particular procedures, and these procedures are necessarily pluralistic, since --if effective--they must be relevant to what is being investigated, the questions being asked, and the specific conditions of inquiry in the diverse and changing contexts. Dewey does not identify, say, the procedures of physics with the general method of science; and perhaps nowhere else is continuity within diversity more obvious than in his analysis of scientific method. His only absolute demand is the tautological demand that statements about the experienced refer to the experienced and be (progressively) checked against the experienced before being recommended for acceptance and action. As for the distinction between the natural and the supernatural, it might be argued, and perhaps convincingly, that here is one instance in which Dewey--being temperamentally in over his head--resolves the dichotomy by the simple expedient of denying one of the terms, i.e., by denying the supernatural and insisting that whatever is is connectible within the realm of Nature. On the other hand, if the supernatural drops out, the transcendent does not drop out. Man, for Dewey, is a creature who projects ideals. These ideals are possibles as opposed to actuals and hence do not constitute their own realization; but they are not completely chopped off from actuals. Where significant, projected human ideals have their roots in the nature of man, his needs, and his shifting and changing problems; and, where effective, they function as guides to action and goals to be actualized in concrete contexts. As ideals, they transcend the actual; but, where they transcend the actual absolutely, they cease to be ideals and become pie-in-the-sky or booby prizes for those who, having failed in the game, stand in need of consolation. It is possible to resolve the dichotomy of the natural and the supernatural by way of this dynamic analysis of the actual and the ideal. A more comprehensive and deeper resolution is surely possible, but Dewey's sensibilities lie in other directions. As for the other dichotomies that Dewey attacks, a few more may be noted, but there are too many to discuss in detail at this rime. The distinction between mind and body is rejected and gives way to a pluralistic distinction between the physical, the psycho-physical, and the mental as shifting levels of increasing complexity of interaction among natural events. The dichotomous distinction between man and Nature gives way to continuity: man not only lives in a natural world, but he is of the natural world in which he lives, an expression of what Nature can do under specific conditions of organization and interaction. But the recognition that man, biolog- p.39 ically speaking, is a mammal cancels out none of the observable differences between man and any other living creature (plant, animal) one may choose to specify. In axiology the dualism of fact and value (sometimes regarded as one of the abiding achievements of modern philosophy from Hume on down) gives way to multidimensional continuity as Dewey insists that warranted assertions about "matters of fact" presuppose (and hence are "relative to") a variety of evaluations or evaluational choices and that evaluations themselves are completely subject to empirical control in terms of origins, relations, and outcomes. Finally, in the field of art, Dewey tells us quite bluntly that his task, as he sees it, is "to restore continuity between the refined and intensified forms of experience that are works of art and the everyday events, doings, and suffering that are universally recognized to constitute experience."(6) When this continuity, warranted in theory, has been established in attitude and practice, art, Dewey feels, will no longer operate as something separate from the rest of life-activity; it will no longer be an escape from life. Rather, the distinction between "pure art" and "functional art" will become, once more, as non-existent as it normally is in a primitive society, where aesthetic artifacts may be at one and the same rime expressive and functional without the slightest hint of contradiction. All in all, one may say with considerable confidence that completely central to Dewey's thinking is the attempt to think past the dichotomy and to think to the broader notion of a functional and dynamic continuity of process which preserves differences without turning them into absolute gaps. Dichotomies for Dewey are, at best, unrealistic and a priori intellectualistic constructions which operate only as obstructions to sound analysis and barriers to fresh experience. Such dichotomies, socio-historically speaking, may even reflect the operation of dichotomizing social forms and processes. At the same time they may help to preserve these forms and processes by giving them philosophical sanction. Errors in philosophy are not always "only ridiculous." II But if Dewey is the consistent enemy of the intellectual dichotomy in science and philosophy, Suzuki is almost as much an enemy. It may be argued that allies against a common foe need have little in common; and it certainly cannot be argued that the enemy of the dichotomy is necessarily a Deweyian naturalist. The Vedaantist denies dualisms, but this does not make him a naturalist. The fundamental question is: Why is the dichotomy _____________________________________________________ (6) Juhn Dewey, Art as Experience (New York: Minton, Balch and Co., 1934), p 3. p.40 attacked and how is the dichotomy resolved? When this question is raised with respect to Suzuki's Zen, the proper answer (which is bound to be complex) reveals that we are surely dealing with a naturalism, and a naturalism which both resembles and differs from the naturalism of Dewry. As for the distinction between Suzuki's Zen and Zen as such, it must be pointed out now that for this writer there is no such thing as Zen as such but only Zen such as it is presented by this thinker or that thinker. It is pointless to keep up the fiction chat Suzuki is only a neutral historian or an impersonal mouthpiece. Even if he writes as a Buddhist, Kierkegaard wrote as a Christian, and Kierkegaard is as much a creative thinker as Santayana, who may have supposed that he was doing no more than giving the final touches to the long tradition of materialism. Among those who are professionally concerned with the problems of men we may distinguish (broadly and loosely) creative thinkers and academicians, both of whom work within some tradition. No creative thinker works in a vacuum, and there is nothing remotely academic about Suzuki. From a purely philosophical point of view (and no one has disliked the dichotomous distinction between philosophy and religion more than Suzuki, whose implicit claim is that both religion and philosophy are properly negated and preserved in the notion of the spiritual) , the correct approach to the understanding of Suzuki's attack upon dualisms is by way of his criticism and rejection of the claims of traditional logic. As he writes, "the dualist view of reality has been a great stumbling block to our righ t understanding of spiritual truth,"(7) and thus "Zen ... if anything... is the antipode to logic, by which I mean the dualistic mode of thinking."(8) Suzuki. at least by Western standards, is not a technical logician and his exhibited grasp of traditional logic (either Eastern or Western) is neither comprehensive nor detailed. Yet, he sees keenly what he does see and knows precisely what he is about. His attack comes from at least three different directions as he seems to formulate, both directly and indirectly, three interrelated contentions: 1. Traditional logic is constructed, ultimately, in terms of the dichotomy of truth and falsity; but, however useful such a dichotomy may be in purely formal analysis, the dichotomy is hopeless within the context of a full grasp of the complex, changing, multidimensional processes of experienced Nature. 2. Logic has to do with the ordering (in terms of the duality of truth and falsicy) of linguistic symbols; but the non-symbolic processes of empirical _____________________________________________________ (7) D. T. Suzuki, Living by Zen (Tokyo: The Sanseido Press, 1949). p 25. (8) "D. T. Suzuki, An Introduction to Zen Buddhism (New York: The Philosophical Library, 1949), p. 38. p.41 Nature (the "ten thousand things" that spontaneously arise) transcend, or at least are different from, the logico-sentential constructions that purport to refer to these processes. 3. Logic, as the epitome of intellect, claims to be the only appropriate guide to significant living; but life is biological and psychological bsiore it is rational and logical, and thus a life of reason only is a life of biological narrowness, psychological blindness, and spiritual frustration. Each of these contentions points to something of importance, and each one is full of implications for the full-blooded naturalist who, with Suzuki, in asserting the primacy of experience, would agree that "when words cease to correspond with facts it is time for us to part with words and return to facts."(9) Thus, not only are the concepts of truth and falsity, as absolute and dichotomous, misleading and unwieldy within the context of scientific practice, but, even if these concepts were not unwieldy, it would still be important to remember that they are applicable to statements only; in short, they are not applicable to factual processes, and it is clearly absurd (at least in the middle of the twentieth century) to suppose that Nature (as opposed to science) can somehow be analyzed into logically ordered sets of statements. The ten thousand things spontaneously arise before mathematical laws of science are constructed and logically related. The power of the scientist to construct such laws and find them useful does not presuppose that Nature is only mathematical in its structure; indeed, such power does not even presuppose that Nature is in part mathematical in its structure any more than it presupposes that Nature is (in whole or in part) a political commonwealth in which every entity is endowed with an unfailing passion for obeying laws. Science can be analyzed into statements but not the winds that come and go. Moreover, there are dimensions of and approaches to Nature which have nothing to do with the logical ordering of concepts and statements. Natural processes may be contemplated, natural processes may be celebrated in rite and ceremony, natural processes may be participated in, and natural processes may be taken up and expressed in poetry, painting, song, dance, and drama. The notion that logic and rational science provide the only avenue to reality is juvenile in its simplicity and has never really been entertained by anyone who has left his calculating machine or electronic brain long enough to take a walk, play with his children, or ride the surf on a sunny afternoon. These things we know without knowing that we know. When we want to know what we know, the bifurcating drive of the intellect _____________________________________________________ (9) Ibid, p. 59. This does not mean, of course, that a return to facts involves an unbroken vow of silence. Having returned to facts, one may go on to more appropriate words. p.42 takes over (unless ruthlessly held back) and we may be tricked into taking dichotomies for the tacts of reality-at which time attention should be drawn to such a statement as: "last night a wooden horse neighed and a stone-man cut capers." With the intellect alert and the sensibiliries dull, insight may require years in a Zendo or equally long years in a psychoanalyst's office. In the end, perhaps the goal is the same: to break through the maze of intellectualizations, rationalizations, projections, and distortions (originally set up by the ego as defense or operating measures, but at the eventual price of being trapped in its own constructions, the burden being psycho-financially too great to bear), and to learn once more what can never really be taught: that life is biological and psychological long before it is rational, and, therefore, if health is cherished, must not be made the victim of a two-valued intellect. Along with the rejection of traditional logic, based as it is upon the rigid dichotomy between truth and falsity (Ouick! (Quick! and neither yes nor no!), other dichotomies are challenged, either directly or implicitly. To begin with (and here is one mark of Suzuki's naturalism), the dualism ot the natural and the supernatural is, in principle, challenged to its roots. But, for Suzuki, the rejection of this dichotomy does not mean that there is no supernatural, which is what it meant for Dewey. It means that the dichotomy does not correspond to fact and hence is intrinsically misleading, directing attention in the wrong direction. There is a mondo quoted by Suzuki which may be of use here. A student--an absolute idealist, as a matter of fact-came to a Zen master and asked: "With what frame of mind should one discipline oneself in the truth?" Said the Zen master, "There is no mind to be framed nor is there any truth in which to be disciplined."(10) The mondo goes on, but this much can stand alone. And one meaning is clear, namely, that a mindless or witless question (particularly on the part of an absolute idealist who claims chat all is mind) deserves what appears to be an answer in kind, though nor really in kind, since the master, mindful of his role, delivers an answer which is both witty and to the point. What the master knows and the student does nor know is that one who wants directions for a frame of mind in which truth will be disclosed (like one in the West who wants directions for making world-shaking discoveries in science) has already exhibited himself as incapable of having the appropriate frame of mind; indeed, he has no mind, and hence his question is pointless. In like manner, one who is spiritually so dull that he wants to know the way to the supernatural realm qua distinct from Nature is already looking in the _____________________________________________________ (10) Ibid., p. 57. p.43 wrong direction and is already exhibiting himself as incapable of finding what he might be looking for. He can only be told char there is no supernatural realm to seek out and nothing supernatural to be found; or, more concretely, he may be given an old dirt-scraper. In short, if one starts with the dichotomy of natural vs. supernatural one is starting in terms of a com- pletely unrealistic dichotomy and hence will never discover what should be discovered and what perhaps Spinoza, in his way, did discover: the natural in the supernatural and the supernatural in the natural, or eternity in the midst of birth and death.(11) If one is looking for something more supernatural than the ephemeral reflection of a mountain in a lake, or if one is looking for something more natural than the unhappy process of projecting deities so as to be able to win their favor, then one will find neither the natural nor the supernatural, but only the brutally material shorn of its spiritual radiance. One who starts by viewing the supernatural in absolute opposition to the natural may well finish up by regarding Suzuki's Zen as atheistic or pantheistic. This is just one more intellectual error. Both atheism and pantheism represent, ironically enough, the acceptance of a dichotomy and the complete or incomplete denial of one of its members. To see things clearly one must start by challenging the underlying dichotomy itself. When the challenge is carried though, naturalism is not necessarily left behind. Whar emerges may be a more profound naturalism than anything Dewey has been able to offer. It is clear (to pursue this last point for a moment) that no one could have less to say in favor of traditional concepts of the supernatural than Dewey, and no one is more desirous of extirpating the notion of the supernatural once and for all. Agnosticism, from Dewey's point of view, is only a "halfway elimination of the supernatural," a "shadow cast by the eclipse of the supernatural."(12) On the other hand, Dewey hesitates to identify the elimina- tion of the supernatural with traditional atheism, which he finds to "have something in common with traditional supernaturalism" and also to be "affected by lack of natural piety."(13) Thus the goal of Dewey's religious thinking is the naturalization of the Deity. God ceases to be a particular, personal, unchanging, supernatural Being, and becomes--by may of a rather _____________________________________________________ (11) "To Zen, time and eternity are one. This is open to misinterpretation, as most people interpret Zen as annihilating time and putting in its place eternity, which to them means a state of absolute quietness or doing-nothingness. They forget that if time is eternity, eternity is time, according to Zen. Zen has never espoused the cause of doing-nothingness; eternity is our every-day experience in this world of sense-and-intellect, for there is no eternity outside this time-conditionedness. Eternity is possible only in the midsst of birth and death, in the midst of time-process." D.T.Suzuki, "The Philosophy of Zen," Philosophy East and West, I, No.2 (July, 1951), 8-9. (12) John Dewey A Common faith (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934), p. 86. (13) Ibid., pp. 52-53. p.44 fearful semantic magic--the dynamic unity of values, or ideal ends, to, which one is supremely devoted.(14) Such a conception, however repugnant to the true believer, is still within the Western supernatural-religious tradition; and from this point of view Dewey's redefinition of God is little more than what is left when the traditional, divine substratum drops out, leaving the divine attributes (now become mutable) circling in the sky like planets which have lost their crystal spheres.(15) Dewey assures us that God, relative to his redefinition, has ideal but no actual (or metaphysical) status, for values, projected beyond the actual, have their roots in the actual and function properly as goals to be achieved. Unfortunately, the truth remains, from a Zen point of view, that Dewey is as much a victim of (transcendent) God-consciousness as the atheist who devotes his life to the denial of the Deity he cannot for a moment forget. In like manner, Suzuki himself, in spite of his protestations to the contrary. has nor completely achieved (in his writings, at least) what he speaks of as a Zen goal: the obliteration of the last trace of God-consciousness.(16) At times he is capable of sounding like a rather traditional theologian, whereas Dewey, al worst, sounds only like a Unitarian. With the criticism of the dichotomy between the natural and the supernatural there goes the equally trenchant criticism of the dichotomy between man and Nature. Thinking in terms of a man-Nature dualism is, for Suzuki, one more intellectualistic distortion of fact, a distortion of fact which Suzuki finds particularly characteristic of Western thinking, and a distortion which, when carried over into individual and social practice, leads to the alienation of man from Nature and thus to spiritual impoverishment. These themes are recurrent in Suzuki's writings. The dichotomy itself and as it functions in Western thought issues, Suzuki suggests, "from the Biblical account in which the Creator is said to have given mankind the power to dominate all creation,"(17) creation having been divinely established for man. There is surely insight here. Both the Christian and the Jew (apart from such notable exceptions as St. Francis and Albert Schweitzer) have been traditionally loath to acknowledge and to live the fact of belongingness to the rest of _____________________________________________________ (14) Ibid., p. 42. (15) This is not quite fair to Dewey, for whom the "movement" of ideals is no more mysterious than the movement. of planets. (16) The koan, "Empty-handed I go, and behold the spade is in my hands " (An Introduction to Zen Buddbism, p. 60) is interpreted to mean, at one juncture, that "God's hands are also holding the spade" (Living by Zen, p. 51). This is pure intellectualism at its worst and probably represents no more than an attempt to communicate with those who want to know and to preserve their ignorance at the same time. (17) D. T. Suzuki, "The Role of Nature in Zen Buddhism,"in his Studies in Zen(New Yord: The Philosophical Library, 1995), p. 177. p.45 Nature, as if the only way to preserve the dignity of man is by degrading the rest of Nature. Even at the present time (not to mention a hundred years ago) men who should know better are, in principle, unable to accept themselves as highly complex mammals or, for that matter, to accept with friendliness their mammalian and reptilian ancestors. But there is more than Biblical background here--for, if in the science of Aristotle man was inherently a part of Nature (albeit a Nature conceived in terms of a natural hierarchy of being), and such a part of Nature that knowing on the part of man was as natural as digesting, the whole tendency of modern classical science was to alienate man from a Nature defined exclusively in terms of quantitied processes, to make human knowledge itself a mystery or impossibility, and to reduce the relationship between man and Nature to a thoroughly practical one--a relationship of controlling or being controlled, of man manipulating Nature before Nature victimizes man. There is more here than either Biblical or Hellenic ideology. Modern classical science, from a socio-economic point of view, reflects the shift from the earlier agrarian society to the modern industrial-urban society, and hence reflects an actual, progressive, alienation of man from the soil and the water as defined in terms of the pre-industrial techniques of farming, hunting, and fishing, with the concept of co-operation within precariousness giving way to the concept of conquest, subjugation, and control: social, political, geographical, economic, and scientific. Here, for Suzuki, is one of the sources of the spiritual impoverishment of the modern West and the progressive spiritual impoverishment wherever exclusively Western ideas go.(18) Thus it is that one of Suzuki's aims is to stress again and again (directly and in terms of an entire arsenal of metaphor and poetical imagery) the actual unity of man with the rest of Nature. This unity is not presented as an abstract or mystical unity but as a functional unity. Sutuki does not deny for a single moment the differences between man as a mode of Nature and any other mode of Nature one may select. As Suzuki writes: While separating himself from Nature, Man is still a part of Nature, for the fact of separation itself shows that Man is dependent on Nature. We can therefore say this: Nature produces Man out of itself; Man cannot be outside of Nature, he still has his being tooted in Nature....(19) _____________________________________________________ (18) In these prosaic days of ours, there is a craze among the young men of Japan for climbing high mountains just for the sake of climbing; and they call this conquering the mountains.' What a desecration! This is a fashion no doubt imported from the West along with many others not always worth while lenrning. The idea of the so-called 'conquest of nature' comes from Hellenism, I imagine, in which the eatth is made to be man's servant, nnd the winds and the sea are to obey him. Hebraism concurs with his view, too." D. T. Suzuki, "Zen Buddhism and the Japanese Love of Nature," The Eastern Buddhist, VII (193&1939), 67. (19) Suzuki, Strtdies in Zen, p. 183. p.46 I am in Nature and Nuture is in me...When we come to this stage of thinking pure subjectivity is pure objectivity, the en-soi is the pour-soi; there is perfect idenriry of Man and Nature, of God and Nature. of the one and the many. But the identity does not imply the annihilation of one at the cost of the other. The mountains do not vanish; they stand before me. I have not absorbed them. nor have they wiped me out of the scene.... Nature as a world of manyness is not ignored, and Man as a subject facing the many remains conscious of himself.(20) Granted that Dewey would not use some of these terms and expressions, we still have in these statements the core of a humanistic naturalism which Dewey would have responded to immediately. We also have a poetical apprehension of truth which transmutes without altering what for many starts out by being too obvious to mention and finishes up by being too false to discuss seriously: the identity in difference which constitutes the continuity between man and the rest of Nature. In affirming, in principle, that man is as much a part of Nature as the pine tree on the mountaintop, Suzuki is not denying that men and pine trees are different. Nature, he tells us, lacks consciousness: "It is just the reed and not a 'thinking reed.'"(21) But it does not follow from this that consciousness is not a part of Nature or that man is absolutely "alienated" from the rest of Nature because he possesses, or carries on his activities with, consciousness. Even if it is consciousness that distinguishes and thus "separates" man from every other creature, or natural mode, it is still consciousness which is the basis of the recognition of the fact that conscious man is as much a part of Nature as unconscious pine tree and unselfconscious dog, even though misguided intellectual reflection as a mode of consciousness may persuade some men that man is really not a part of Nature at all. What distinguishes man does not necessarily separate man. Actually, nothing can separate man from his natural matrix, not even his own self-delusions. A man, like a dog, has no alternative to living in Zen if he is to live at all; but, unlike a dog, he can live by Zen: "man alone can live by Zen as well as live Zen."(22) In terms of this recognition, man is not alien to the rest of Nature, and the rest of Nature is not alien to man. On the other hand, Nature was not created to serve man's needs and interests, and yet man is dependent upon Nature for his very being. Nature, therefore, is not (in the first instance) something hostile to conquer and subdue; nor is Nature something which, in being alien, can be contemplated only at a distance and with a hotelwindow eye. Nature is something to live with, to co-operare with, to sympathize with, and with the directness and sincerity with which a man would live with and co-operate with his own self. The man-Nature dichotomy is as empirically empty and as misleading as the God-Nature dichotomy, and _____________________________________________________ (20) Ibid., p. 188. (21) Ibid., p. 181. (22) Suzuki, Living by Zen, p.3. p.47 they are both difficult to shake, as Dewey knew as well as Suzuki. As Suzuki writes: the two categories in Western thinking of... God and Nature. or of Man and Nature...are all of human creation. and we cling to them as...something inextricably, fatalistically unescapable We are our own prisoners. We defeat ourselves, believing in defeatism, which is itself our own creation. This is our ignorance, known as avidyaa in Buddhism. When this is recognized we realize that we are free, "men of no-business" (Wu-shih chih jn).(23) Just as the man-Nature dichotomy is an intellectual error, so, for Suzuki, the mind-body dichotomy is also an intellectual error. As he writes, with a directness and concreteness that a Western naturalist might emulate. Whatever the philosopher or spiritualist may say about our bodily existence, we are hungry when we do not eat, we are thirsty when there is nor enough to drink--such are concrete facts of human experience; we are all made of flesh and blood and it is in these facts that the truth of Zen is made manifest.... But from the Zen point of View it is a great mistake to make a distinction between mind and body, and to take them as irrevocably differentiated the one from the other. This dualistic view of reality has been a great stumbling block to our right understanding of spiritual truth.... One of the objects of Zen training is to crush the dualistic idea of mind and body.(24) From a traditional Western point of view, the "crushing" of the dualistic idea of mind and body might be viewed with alarm as the crushing of one of the basic truths to which philosophers must return again and again whether they like it or not; or it may be viewed with joy (by some, though not by all, warring sects) if the crushing involves the reduction of mind to body or body to mind. But Suzuki, like Dewey, is not concerned with anything so simple (or so impossible) as a simple reduction. Indeed, if everything is literally reduced to one, then to what, one may ask, is the one reduced--a question which, if properly understood, is precisely similar to the question posed to the proponent of the cosmological argument: If everything in Nature is ultimately caused by the supernatural One, then by what is this One caused? Suzuki's implicit contention is that there is no need for a theory to relate the mind to the body, let alone a theory to reduce the mind to the body or vice versa, since we do not start with a mind and a body but with a human being. Suzuki's goal is not to provide a theory of mind-body, but to provide insight into the nature of man and his "original face"--of man who, of Nature and in Nature, lives and works and talks with his friends and commemorates the past and peers into the future long before the distinction of mind-body supervenes upon his reflection (which, ceasing to be _____________________________________________________ (23) Suzuki, Sludies in Zen, pp. 202-203. (24) Suzuki Living by Zen, pp. 24-26. p.48 mythological, ceases to be poetical) and proceeds to mold and to compel his practical attitudes and orientations. In tentative summation, we appear to have in the writings of Suzuki the rejection of the ultimacy of the dichotomy between truth and falsity, and with all that this entails; the rejection of the dichotomy between the natural and the supernatural, and perhaps with greater naturalistic insight than even Dewey shows; the rejection of the related dichotomy of time and eternity, a dichotomy which Dewey is seldom concerned with because of his one-sided obsession with temporal processes, although, as Randall po ints out (with friendly apologies to Dewey), there is in naturalism room "for man's concern with the eternal and with what Plato calls the 'deathless and the divine'";(25) the rejection of the dichotomy of man and Nature, and with insight that Dewey marches and Santayana sometimes misses; and, finally, the rejection of the dichotomy of mind and body. At no time, however, does the rejection of these dichotomies mean with Suzuki a reduction to, or a mechanical denial of, one of the original terms of the dichotomy. In each case, the dichotomy itself is challenged by way of a return to the facts, and what emerges is a dynamic and functional unity in difference. Or, from another point of view, perhaps it can be said that what emerges, or what should emerge, is the recognition of what Santayana saw so clearly in terms of his naturalism: that whatever is spiritual has its material roots, and that whatever is material has its spiritual culmination. Finally, there emerges what appears to be from the point of view of Zen an ironical by-product of Suzuki's analysis, ie., the growing recognition that, although the intellect may be the never-failing source of conceptual bifurcations, the intellect in turn may turn upon any particular bifurcation and destroy it. The destruction of one bifurcation, however, does not mean that every bifurcation is destroyed, since a new bifurcation may arise to carry on at l east some of the work of the discarded bifurcation. Moreover, the intellectual recognition that all bifurcations are suspect does not guarantee that the recognition will be carried over into practice to become a quality of living itself. What, from this point of view, seems to be particularly important about Suzuki's orientation is this: that, having disposed so completely of certain vicious dichotomies, he is happy, apparently, about keeping other dichotomies (specifically the distinction between the natural and the unnatural and the distinction between praj~naa and vij~naana as ways of knowing) which a more thoroughgoing naturalist would regard as equally vicious. To this matter we may return at a later date. _____________________________________________________ (25) John Herman Randall, Jr.," Epilogue, The Nature of Naturalism, " in Y. H. Krikorian, ed., Naturalism and the Human Spirit (New York: Columbia University Press, 1944), p. 358.