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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Front. Philos. China    2018, Vol. 13 Issue (4) : 574-584
Hegel, Schelling and Laozi on Nothingness
Kwok Kui Wong()
Department of Humanties and Creative Writing, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China
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This article looks at Hegel’s and Schelling’s discussions of Laozi’s wu 無 in History of Philosophy and Philosophy of Mythology respectively, and then relates them back to those two Western thinkers’ own understandings of the concept of nothingness. This exploration demonstrates that while Hegel sees nothingness more as a logical concept not different from being, Schelling equates Laozi’s wu with Nichtseiende of the first potency in his theory of the potencies of God. This article will further put the question in perspective by examining or speculating how the three philosophers would address the problem of ex nihilo nihil fit. Finally, it will highlight the striking similarity between the views of Schelling and Laozi regarding the role of the will or desire (yu 欲), in our knowledge about nothingness: While Schelling’s first potency, Nichtseiende, is a “not willing will,” the second potency is “willing” and therefore the beginning of existence. Laozi, on the other hand, believes that without desire we can discern the ultimate mystery, while with desire we can only see the outer fringe of things. However, Laozi differs from Schelling in that the latter’s willing God is absent in his philosophy.

Keywords nothingness      being      will      desire     
Issue Date: 03 January 2019
 Cite this article:   
Kwok Kui Wong. Hegel, Schelling and Laozi on Nothingness[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2018, 13(4): 574-584.
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