Yin-Yang Dialectical Monism:

An New Attempt to Explore

the Symbiotic Relationship of Man and Nature

through Reformulation of

the Confucian-Taoist Metaphysical System

Tsung-I Dow

[Editor’s Note:] Professor Tsung-I Dow, now Senior Scholar at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, is an internationally acclaimed historian of thought combining range and depth in knowledge of philosophy and science. Graduated from George Washington University in the early 50's, he has taught at several universities both in China and in the U.S. In addition to a number of articles published in professional journals, his major works in English include Confucianism versus Marxism (Washington D.C.: University Press of America, Inc., 1977) and in Chinese, Daily Chronicle of Li Hung-Chang (Hongkong: The Union Press, 1986), etc.

The present paper was originally included in the Proceedings of the Symposium of Universalism, Warsaw, Poland, November 6-9, 1989, Vol. II, 163-180, organized by Dialectics and Humanism: Polish Philosophical Quarterly, Polish Philosophy of Peace Research Project; it is reprinted here, with permission of the author, in honor his former teacher Professor Thomé H. Fang at the National Central University, Chungking, China, in the middle 40s.

I. Introductory

The idea of the symbiotic relationship of human beings and nature has been basic to the Confucian-Taoist philosophical creed throughout history. However, the basis of its conceptual framework in the relation-ship of Yin and Yang has been obscured by the impact of modern science, particularly by Aristotelian logic and Newtonian physics. Severe criticism centers around its over-simplicity and metaphysical, if not occult, nature. The light of its revival first came indirectly through the rise of Marxian dialectical materialism via Hegel. There is strong evidence that the formation of the trilogy by Hegel was influenced by the Yin-Yang concept in the Book of Changes with which Hegel was familiar when he taught the history of eastern ideas at the University of Heidelberg. For it is difficult to differentiate the concept of the unity of Yin-Yang from the concept of the unity of opposites or the synthesis of thesis and antithesis. Subsequently, the advancement of the quantum theory and the new geometry as well as other scientific discoveries in recent years have lent further support to the symbolic expression of the relationship of Yin-Yang. For the concept of complementarity in contra-diction as fundamental to the quantum theory is surprisingly identical to the Confucian concept of "xiang fan er xiang cheng" as enunciated by Don Zhongshu of the Han dynasty. The fact that the adoption of the Diagram of Taiji as his coat-of-arms by Niels Bohr after his trip to China in 1937 cannot be discarded as merely accidental.

During the last few decades new discoveries in subatomic particles, in molecular biology, DNA and RNA and others have revealed a world of potential possibilities rather than a world of observed things and facts, and can best be described symbolically by mathematical signs. In order to make a complete description of atomic activities, theoretical approaches has led to the discovery of details of building materials of the world far beyond those which one could ever have hoped to obtain by means of experimental measurement. The quantum theory has provided us with a logical technique which is, in Aage Petersen’s words, "well suited for analyzing epistemological problems because of the profound kinship between quantum theory and philosophy."[1] The discovery of "fractal geometry" in 1975 has shown us that the revolution which separated the classical mathematics of the 19th century from the mathematics of the 20th century was forced upon us by the discovery of mathematical structures that did not fit the patterns of Euclid and Newton. The shapes of classical geometry are lines, planes, angles, spheres and cones. They represent a powerful abstraction of reality. But, clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, lightening does not travel in a straight line, etc. Fractals are everywhere. A new kind of symmetry has emerged, not of left-to-right, or front-to-back, but of small scale patterns to patterns on larger and larger scales. B. B. Mendelbrot realized that the mathematical description of the patterns seemed to apply just as well to different problems from the fluctuation of cotton prices back through the 19th century to the rising and falling of the River Nile. Fractal geometry has brought together a number of analyses in diverse sciences and presents a new mathematical and philosophical synthesis.

While sciences aim at an exhaustive account of the limited domain of our experience, philosophy focuses on our situation as a whole, in search of a comprehensive view with which to comprehend the overall relationships between nature and human beings, and hence, among human beings. In order to accomplish this objective, philosophical descriptions must be based on scientific observations, but not exclusively. If the ancient concept of self-similarity on different scales can be dusted off to illuminate this special kind of complexity,[2] then, the Confucian-Taoist concept of Yin-Yang can be legitimately considered a new conceptual tool for analyzing world phenomena. This is why we have attempted to reformulate the Confucian-Taoist world view on the basis of new discoveries in the sciences so that it can fulfill the need for a rational new system for the future. This new system may be referred to as a twofold nature of being and becoming in all phenomena as symbolized in the primordial pair: Yin and Yang. Its relationship is polar manifesting itself in the principle of complementarity in contradiction. The two are identifiable yet interdependent, interpenetrable, and intertransformable. The term monism means that there is a harmonious unity or oneness in the diversity of the world in which the unity of Yin and Yang constitutes the being and becoming of all. Neither Yin nor Yang can exist by itself. In the process, complementarity is primary, contradiction, secondary.

We shall proceed in three fundamental categories: nature, human beings, and society, to see in what manner, at what level, and to what extent recent scientific discoveries can be corroborated with our premises and what conclusions can be drawn.

II. The Basic Constituents of the World as Twofold

In their efforts to search for a unified theory of elementary particles and forces to explain the material world, physicists found that all matter is built out of just two classes of elementary particles: leptons and quarks. Frank Wilczek noticed that "all the fundamental constituents of matter came in matched paris: for every kind of particle there is an anti-particle that is identical in mass but opposite in other properties such as an electrical charge. Indeed, a particle and an anti-particle that is identical in mass but opposite in other properties such as an electrical charge. Indeed, a particle and anti-particle have often been discovered simultaneously when the two were created as a pair by a high energy collision in a particle accelerator."[3] If two protons of sufficient energy collide, a proton and an anti-proton pair emerge and an infinitely large number of fragments are produced as well. It has become apparent that all particles are coupled more or less strongly to each other. Scientists do know that the twofold nature of a positive and negative charge constitutes the basic nature of the structure and functioning of matter, but to this day, they do not know why the charge has a twofold nature.

At the present stage the universe is understood to be organized into galaxies of many sizes and shapes and the stars are expanding and contracting in various stages of life. Applying Einstein’s theory Freid-man discovered two world models in the closed as well as in the open models depending on the critical density of the ratio of matter to volume. After the Voyager’s adventure in 1984, scientists speculate that an enormous super-cluster of galaxies share the universe with an equally enormous void. The idea of a "dark" matter existing with a "light" matter has aroused the attention of the world. Astronomers and astro-physicists have argued that the regular oscillation o the solar system above and below the plane of the galaxy drives the periodic mass extinction. However, uncertainty casts doubt on the regularity of periodicity. The possibility that an extraterrestrial influence may have shaped the history of life lingers on even though it is unnecessary to suppose that celestial intrusions have been regular. There is no consensus on the composition of the earth’s core other than it is predominantly iron. A subtle connection between the composition and temperature at the core is related to the source of energy that powers the geodynamo. Two distinct mechanisms, thermal and compositional, have been proposed as the driving forces of the connective flow which generates the earth’s magnetic field within its outer core.

Whether or not man is a microcosm of the macrocosm of the world or a part of it, has continued to invoke debates among philosophers for centuries. What is astonishing is that the deeper the probing of the life process the more is revealed of its two-fold nature. In their efforts to uncover the secret of life, scientists, since the 1950s, have realized that DNA is the key to understanding the evolution of biological change. DNA always comes in pairs, always a short one is joined to a long one. They can exist only in pairs. The subunits of DNA are the nucleotides strung together in pairs to form the two strands of the double helix. Cell growth is due to the synthesis of cellular protoplasm or intercellular materials formed by cells exclusive of waste from the division of the cells themselves. One cell is divided into two cells. this process may be repeated. Each of these two cells results in an exponential growth. The division consists of two processes: mitosis and nunnuclea cytokinesis. In the fertilization, the twenty-three chromosomes of the sperm and the twenty-three chromosomes of the egg pair up to form a single nucleus which then splits to form two new cells, each with its won complete nucleus. The two cells then divide to form four, then eight. After seventy-two hours a human egg has grown to a thirty-two cell-state. Then, myriad cells form.

1 Female Egg 1 Male Sperm

01 1:

0101 1:1:

01010101 1:1:1:1:

0101010101010101 1:1:1:1:1:1:1:1:

One can see that the above sequence of progression in cell growth turns out to be the same as the Yin-Yang sequence of the Book of Changes arranged by Neo-Confucian Shao Yung of the Song time and later ion, Leibniz’s binary table.

Shao Yung Leibniz

-- 01

-- -- 0101

-- -- -- -- 01010101

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 0101010101010101

Is this striking similarity between them a mere coincidence or a reflection of the unity of the diversity of the world in our minds? What we have attempted to do is to describe this so simple yet so complex universal phenomenon in easily understood symbolic terms. However, our previous analyses have dealt with the physical aspects of the world and our bodies, but whether or not our mental activities are subject to the description of a twofold nature remains a question. As Harold Fritzsch has pointed out, we can compute and put together a person who weights 165 pounds (U quarks 7.0 x 1028 + D quarks 6.5 x 1028 + Electrons 2.5 x 1028), but this does not mean that we are able to create life.[4] We can map the brain completely but this does not explain how our consciousness arises. On the other hand, if we categorize our mental activities into reason and emotion, then, it is a twofold nature itself. In the realm of reasoning, there is logic in contrast to intuition, induction in contrast to deduction, and analysis to synthesis, etc. In the most important mental activities of cognition, there is true as opposed to false, yes opposed to no, right to wrong, abstract to concrete, known to unknown, acceptance to rejection, etc. Our emotions display the twofold nature of love and hate, joy and sadness, happiness and anger, hope and fear, like and dislike, etc. Modern psychologists continue to wrestle with the twofold problem of the conscious and unconscious.

Insofar as using the twofold perspective as a method of study and analysis is concerned, Karl Marx provides the best example. In his Capital,[5] Marx claimed that he "was the first to point out and to examine critically this twofold nature of the labour contained in the commodities" (use value and exchange value). In his view, "it is an eternal nature without which there is no life." This two fold nature phenomena operates in economic activities such as: "An increased quantity of material wealth may correspond to a simultaneous fall in the magnitude of its value." "This antagonistic movement has its origin in the twofold character of labour," Marx contended. From this he sees the twofold nature of the production process: the productive force and the productive relation. As a result, the twofold antagonistic classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, evolved through a constant class struggle which constitutes the moving force of social change; and hence his materialistic interpretation of history. While his prediction of the occurrence of a classless society may be utopian, Marx’s analysis of the capitalist mode of production remains to exercise a powerful influence on the world. So long as human beings live an organized life, the state will not disappear as Marx would have it and the twofold nature of development will evolve in every aspect of political phenomena. The relationships of the ruler and ruled, sovereign and subject or citizen, authority and servant, autonomy and integration, central and local, etc. will continue to exist regardless of what forms of government may prevail.

In view of the evidence we have presented, though an extremely cursory and common sense approach, the twofold nature of being and becoming of world development seems to be irrefutable. What is important is the need to go one step further to examine the relationships within this primordial pair to see how the world is evolving and unfolding in the process. This will be our next attempt.

III. The Relationship of Yin and Yang is Polar

It manifests itself in the reciprocal interaction of complementarity in contradiction. Everything contains Yin and Yang as Neo-Confucians have long contended. The most fundamental of all is that the two interact to attain a unity in the relationship of complementarity in contradiction to constitute the source of being and becoming of all things and events in a multilevel and multicompartmental organic whole. The complementarity of Yin-Yang in achieving harmony as a way of existence and change in producing different forms as something new or individualizing things or events to attain diversity and continuity necessitates the unit of Yin-Yang or the unity of opposites or the harmonization of Yin-Yang polarities; the contradiction of Yin-Yang in maintaining balance among and between things and events as a way of achieving structures and functions of development in things and events propels oscillations, to-and-fro movements from one pole to its complementary opposite.

In general, three basic principles can be described from observation of the cooperative, self-regulatory and self-generating processes of change and progression in the Yin-Yang interaction with the evolving world as follows:

(1) One plays a dominant role in maintaining or effecting the changes of the structures and functions of things or events but not to the exclusion of the other so that equal opportunity is preserved for all. There is an element of Yin in the dominant sphere of Yang, and vice versa. As a consequence, uncertainty exits in certainty, chaos in order, and indeterminacy in determinacy. Surprise occurs in every incident. The concept of oscillation in dominancy in a reciprocal conditioning process is from a functional perspective. Every entity has a functional role to play in the whole process which accounts for its reason for being. In performing its function to fulfill the requirement of is being as whole, each individual thing or event or person is unique in itself. For example, the driver of a car in which the president of a country is riding is unimportant in terms of rank or status. But in terms of function, the driver is all important insofar as the life of the president is dependent upon the safety of his driving. The driver is dominant from the functional perspective of maintaining safety in driving. The cost of a single screw in a spaceship may be negligible, but the functional value (use value) of this screw is all important insofar as it fastens the ship together. The screw is dominant in its functional sense. For the values of the world are only relative. The theory of Chan (Zen) Buddhism contends that the abiding essence that gives meaning to life is to be aware of seeking the eternal in the simplest most finite detail.

The study of fundamental particles shows that the two basic constituents of matter, leptons and quarks, constantly interact in four forces. For nature never turns its processes on or off. The four forces are: gravity, electromagnetic force, the strong force, and the weak force. The strong force binds quarks together to make the atomic nucleus. The weak force is responsible for certain kinds of nuclear decay. Thus they are contradictory. The strong force is dominant in the function of binding which accounts for the stable hadrons; the weak force is dominant in the function of decaying which accounts for the mesons which are unstable. In classical physics, electrically charged bodies interact. Two carrying the same charge repel; dissimilar charges attract. Quantum mechanics electron is taken away from a neutral atom, the positive charge of the nucleus predominates. The oscillation of attraction and repulsion is of prime importance to the formation of matter.

It has become apparent in recent years that the core, the mantel, the crust, the oceans, and the atmosphere of the earth can be seen as a complex interacting system in which a vast recycling model corresponds to a physiological model of dynamic equilibrium known as homeostasis. The earth’s orbit around the sun leads to oscillations of the advance and retreat of the ice; the actions of the interior affect the exterior and vice versa. By studying the moon all these ideas have been refined. In recycling the weather and ice, the temperature is dominant; in its influence on the earth’s structure movement, pressure is dominant. In the celestial sphere as a while, the sun is dominant insofar as providing light, heat and energy to the earth is concerned.

In the life process our body furnishes the most precise support to the theory of oscillation of the dominancy in its functional perspective. In considering the heart’s movements during the period of its contraction, it is dominated by the centripetal tendency. In comparison to its period of expansion, it is dominated by the centrifugal tendency. The heart which operates involuntarily has two sets of nerves leading to it: one is to stimulate and one to retard it. The brain keeps such an organ under control with two reins. But the brain itself operates in two hemispheres, the left and the right. Each is dominant with some aspects of its function. Generally, the left tends to be dominant to the function of logic, language, etc., while the right is dominant to emotions, etc. In body chemistry, sodium exerts a biologically contractive role while potassium exerts a biologically expansion role. Inhalation is followed by exhalation. When one walks, either the left foot or the right foot must make a lead step, but never the two together.

In the social phenomena whether it is a capitalist or a socialist mode of production there is always a minority or elite in the position of dominancy over the others either in terms of power status or privileges in the enjoyment of a distinct lifestyle. However, the acquisition of this dominancy is constantly oscillating between those who have and are already in power and those who have not and are not in power. The time for one’s remaining in power and wealth may vary but there has never been one group which remained in the position of power and wealth permanently and exclusively no matter how the power holders may have tried to hold on to what they already had. For the polar relationship of the twofold nature of development operates in a mutual conditioning process which allows chance to play a role within a deterministic setting.

For the first time in the subatomic world it has been found that the electrical charges of objects are not integers but are the sum of quark charges. Anti-protons and anti-neutrons are composed of the correspond-ing anti-quarks denoted as up and down (U, D). The mesons are com-posed of quarks and anti-quarks. A neutral meson has two possibilities, a 50% probability of its being either a UU or a DD system. For the neutral meson is a sort of hybrid. Thus nature does play the dice to a certain degree. If the theory of the "Big Bang" holds, then, there are vast signs which indicate that order was created out of the primordial random turmoil of disorder (The Taoist hung tun). The organization of galaxies began with chance submicroscopic fluctuations which grew in large scales amplified by gravity and always retained something of their past. The fluctuations tend to produce both high density and low density features in equal measure. The laws of physics are not purely deterministic; the principle of uncertainty applies. What we know as law is a static statistical average and not a precise dynamic reality.

The new geometry tells us that a system can have complicated behavior that emerges a s consequence of simple, nonlinear interactions of only a few components and the interacting components on one scale can lead to complex global behaviors on a large scale. The exponential amplification of errors can happen in every instance. A slippage of only a few centimeters along a fault in the structure of the earth can trigger an earthquake and generate seismic waves that travel for thousands of kilometers through the earth’s interior. On the other hand, a creative minority can shift a whole society. A number if incidents unexplainable in any rational terms have changed the whole course of history. Quantum mechanics has discovered that initial measurements are always uncertain and chaos ensures that uncertainties can overwhelm the ability to make prediction. Chance is often seen in terms of the limitations it imposes such as the lack of predictability. Biological evolution demands genetic variability. The evolution of the genes is known merely as a change occasion. Chaos provides a means of structuring random changes which made the control of the evolution of the genes variable. Even the intellectual process relies on the injection of new ideas an don new ways of connecting old ideas. Innate creativity may have an underlying process of chance that selectively amplifies small fluctuations and molds them into macroscopic coherent mental states. In this light, chance could have given us a mechanism which allows for free will within a world governed by deterministic laws.[6]

(2) When the development of the dominant one, either the Yin or the Yang in a thing or an event, reaches its fullest expression or magni-tude, either the direction of the course of its advancement turns to its opposite or the anticipated results of its development becomes counter productive contrary to its original objective, or even both may occur. The polar relationship of the two primordial poles sets limits to each other in restraining the linear and causal development of things or events an degenerates a reversion pattern of cyclical, spiral progressing in infinity. Materialization of individual entity necessitates the formation of a boundary and life span for each entity. That is, everything or every event has its own self-imposed, self-regulated limit or turning point to ensure its being and becoming.

The most clear indication of the phenomena of reversion, limit, nodal point, turning point or exception in all development can be seen in nature, from our ordinary experience. Philosophers long ago made this same observation. In the Tao-te Ching it says that reversion is the way of heaven (Tien tao hao huan); in the I-Ching it says that it is "Piji tai lai." In a single day we all have experienced that the noontime heat signifies the beginning of the midnight cool and the brightness of the noonday sun is followed by the darkness of midnight and back again. The question is: If it is true in the case of day and night, is it also true in all other cases? Quantum mechanics observed a new insight in the subatomic particles. When two protons are one centimeter apart they repel each other because they carry a similar electric charge. If they are forced to get closer, the electrical force of repulsion increases. But when they move so close that they are only 1013 of a centimeter apart, the two suddenly no longer repel each other, and, on the contrary, attract each other strongly. This new force is known as the strong force. Only protons, neutrons and mesons take part in strong interactions, all others lack it.[7] The electrical charge is fundamental to particle phenomena. The relationship of positive and negative charges is polar. A reversal of a negative charge is a positive charge, and vice versa. Together there is a parity in mirror reflection in space where charges exchange left for right and vice versa.

Moreover, when electron and positron collide, a quark and an anti-quark, either a UU-pair or a DD-pair are produced. It is not one to the exclusion of the other, nor the disappearance of the opposite in the succession of replacement. The phenomenon was unknown to 19th century scientists. The quark and anti-quark are annihilated and become two photons; they then go back to where they started in the cycle. For nothing comes to rest in the long run, but instead, cycles periodically through a sequence of stages and so on. This is analogous to the recycling phenomena we experience on the earth and reminiscent of traveling in an airplane. The earth’s surface we now know is spherical in shape, a two-dimensional space, characterized by the directions, east-west and north-south. Though finite in size, it is boundless. If we start out anywhere on the earth’s surface in whatever direction, we will never reach the end, but after a given period of time, we will find ourselves back to where we started from.

The concept of the reversion of time was thought contrary to the scientific view of linear progression. But the "Big Bang" theory contends that the distant galaxies are receding faster than others and taking so long to reach us that they represent conditions in the early universe close to the beginning of time.[8] The magnetic field of the earth has reversed many times. In a reversal, the north magnetic pole switches from pointing north to pointing south or vice versa. Reversal appears not only in the earth but also in the sun. To the earth, with which we are intimately connected, reversal seems not just a passive dying but a rebirth of the field. It has a time scale of regenerating and plays a role in biological evolution. The dynamo is self-reversing. Complex organisms synthesize magnetic components whereby their behavior can be significantly affected by changes in the geomagnetic field. While investigating the structure of simple "curved" space, Alexander Friedman discovered the ratio of matter to volume, the critical density or value which operates as the turning point for a closed model as well as open model of the universe. If the actual density of the galaxies of the universe turns out to be greater than the assumed critical density, the gravity of the galaxies and all the "dark" matter will arrest expansion; if the actual density is less, the universe is open and presumably will expand.

In a sense, the polar relationship of complementarity in contradiction reveals that everything or every event carries its own seeds of both birth and death. The reversal manifested as such does not indicated that an old person could revert back to become a child, but it does signal that when one reaches maturity one begins to decline. The process follows a pattern of the double helix, similar to the DNA, a sort of spiral staircase with alternate steps of the base pair. In the human organism this observation comes easily to mind. We may not know precisely the point at which inhalation changes into exhalation. The two processes, although opposite, are continuous and subtly change from one to the other. Red blood rich in oxygen flows from the left chamber of the heart to the upper and lower extremities of the body. At this level, oxygen and food leave the bloodstream, and carbon dioxide, together with life’s poisonous waste products, enters. Then the color of blood turns bluish and returns to the chamber on the right side of the heart. From there it proceeds to the lungs for an exchange of gases with the environment. Here the temporary blue liquid of death regains its life-giving redness. The chemical reaction on which all lives are built is a twofold harmonic oscillation process such as carbon dioxide and water being transformed into energy, sugar and oxygen, etc., and back. One other example is the oyster. Oysters first become males then change into females, and back to males throughout their life-span.[9]

Reversal in the pattern of oscillation from one pole to another in human activities is everywhere, though it may not be very precise. The expression of our emotions oscillates between love and hatred, joy and sorrow, etc., endlessly. Extreme joy ends in tears. Extreme grief or sadness, if not overwhelming, can be transformed into strength and stronger characters which may accomplish greater objectives in life. The operation of human reasoning in cognition is a process oscillating between known and unknown, synthesis and analysis, etc. In economics, free competition, if developed to its extreme, ends in monopoly. When feudalism reached its highest stage, its opposite, capitalism, emerged. An excessive concentration of wealth in the hands of a few often leads to the deterioration and dissipation of the whole structure. Price control, either enforced by government fiat such as a planned economy or rigged through a private cartel structure, may work in the short run, but in the long run, it leads, without failure, to greater price fluctuation in a black market or to market disorder. It usually turns out that the reference price is either too rigid or lacks the reflection of existing conditions. If the artificial price is higher than the level of equilibrium people may produce more or speculate, and consumers may find a substitute which reduces the use of these products. As a result, the whole system winds down of its own weight and complexity. The stock market which is a reflection of people in action, never repeats a performance exactly, but the recurrence of similar characteristics is sufficient to permit people to identify a reversal of the trend at its turning point. this is possible for the very reason that the market fluctuates, has ups and downs, and oscillates back and forth between a bull and a bear market. As a whole, an economy possesses tremendous momentum, either in the expanding or contracting phase and consists of a host of individual sectors which are operating in different directions at the same time. A business cycle usually takes about five or six years to turn around. Contraction occurs after the peak has been reached; expansion starts when it has bottomed out. The important thing for an economist to do is to look for a major turning point.

In a broad sense, the boundary and life span of an individual entity constitutes a limitation upon itself. Nothing is absolute; nor is there a total solution to the problem of any thing or event. Classical mechanics is applicable insofar as quantum phenomena can be ignored. A quantum explanation is insufficient unless complemented by classical mechanics. There is no absolute zero; no absolute vacuum. The 20th century industrial civilization has doubled the human lifespan and provided cradle to grave social security for whole populations, etc. But it has also applied its unparalleled technological ingenuity to engage in total war, totalitarian politics, etc. The most highly civilized people have dealt savagely with others who may differ with them merely in their points of view.

(3) The harmonization or the unity of polar opposites in producing something new is a process of reciprocal dependency. One helps to generate the other and in turn, generates itself. Neither Yin nor Yang can exist by itself. The process is one of "if then" and "it may be".

In the subatomic world, each hadron is held together by a force associated with the exchange of another hadron, each of which is, in turn, held together by forces to which the first hadron makes a contribution by releasing or rejecting an electron. Electrons always orbit the nucleus. Some atoms have eight electrons and are stable. Others have fewer electrons and the deficiency makes them unstable. Seeking stability, such a deficient atom is always on the move trying to link up with another unstable atom. A very unstable phosphorous atom has electrons that are always seeking to latch onto an oxygen atom to form phosphate molecules. The links of such atoms are high energy bonds which, when broken, release the energy that powers us. The electron is though to emit a photon which is absorbed by the proton (Yukawa hypotheses) or vice versa. In the process, momentum is transferred from the electron to the proton. Thus the electron and proton throw photons (massless) back and forth. Light is transferred by photons. The interaction of atoms is seen through intermediate particles or mesons, the decay of which is due to the mutual annihilation of quark and anti-quark. But this decay only results in two photons. This interaction is known as the weak force. In short, there has never been an ultimate disappearance of matter except for atoms which displace atoms. Reciprocal transformability is inherent in all known elementary particles.[10]

In the life process, this principle of reciprocal dependency is even more obvious. Living organisms rely on reproduction to ensure their continuity. There are two basic types of reproduction: sexual and asexual. The former involves a process of union or fusion between male and female; the latter involves the fission of the present body which grows into a whole organism. Both involve interior interaction with the parents and exterior interaction with the environment. Vertically, it is a process of the replacement of the old by the new, replacing the parents by their offspring. It has to go through certain stages of development. When an organism is young and vigorous, it maintains its metabolism with maximum efficiency; when its variability becomes lowered, aging sets in. The gene is hereditary. Horizontally it is a process of mutual transformation or fertilization. Neither the egg of a female nor the sperm of a male is able to start a new life or even to preserve its own unless it is fertilized. The sperm cell is incomplete and survives only if it finds and mates with the egg cell to form a single nucleus. The preservation of a nucleotide sequence across a broad range of species often implies that the significant functional role in sequence must be maintained in the face of evolutionary divergence. The shared sequence determines the core structure that binds each to the other. Among the four nucleotides of RNA, two pairs are complementary and known as hydrogen bones which provide the basis for the pairing up of the two strands of the DNA double helix and, in similar fashion, two stretches of RNA can form a helical region if they contain so much the problem of the origin of life but the fact that the role of heterozygosity in reciprocal interaction gives greater assurance for survivability than exclusiveness in any situation.[11]

In human activities, reciprocal interaction in the unity of male and female to perpetuate the species may be too simple a process with which to ascertain a scientific statement. What is significant is that this unit tells us that human beings may be born and die alone as Sartre pointed out, but they do not live and exist alone. None of the human needs, even one’s intellectual satisfactions can be met by one’s self. The three fundamental steps in the accomplishment of life are to exist, to enjoy life, and to search for the meaning life; these cannot all be realized without being involved with others. If diversity and variability in the human individual are necessary for evolution, and the evolution of genes is merely by chance, then the concept that human beings were born free and equal is merely an abstract ideal. The division of labor is not only the natural consequence of human relationships. From the standpoint of maintaining human survival, the division of labor is a harmonious cooperative reflection of the unity of human diversity; in terms of the individual in a social organization, the division of labor is coercive and restrictive to one’s freedom and partial to one’s wholeness. The ultimate meaning of reciprocity lies in the simple fact of an exchange of labor for life. In order for one to get something, one has to give something in return. For the unit in the division of labor is transmitted into the authority of command in an organization and diversity is reflected in the obedience of the diverse members of its constituents. No organization can exist without authority or function without the coordinated efforts of its constituents in cohesive obedience.

The division of labor generates social stratification and social classes in the form of the elite and the mass. Whether it is between the ruler and the ruled, the lord and the serf, or the management and labor, etc., one cannot do without the other. The elite who rose to power and wealth are dependent on the support and acceptance of the masses to achieve their status; the masses, in turn, rely on the leadership of the elite to ensure their security. In the meantime, sheer chance plays in genetic endowment and makes it impossible for the elite to control their genetic superiority over the masses. Therefore, the masses have the opportunity of elevating themselves to the status of the elite. The oscillation between the elite and the masses toward a dominant position contributes to social mobility. The division of labor entails the exchange of the value of labor which is linked to the distribution of the fruits of labor. On the one hand, the elite by virtue of their advantageous position and skills always gain a better bargain in renumeration than the masses. As a result, a gross disparity occurs between the two in terms of the availability of the means of enjoyment in life. On the other hand, a luxurious life and extremes of comfort by its very human nature tend to accelerate the rate of "entropy" or dissipation. Alexander the Great did not die in battle but in the arms of a Persian princess. The turning point comes when the vast majority of the masses can no longer secure a livelihood. If this happens, a new elite will arise to replace the old either through violent revolution or by other means regardless of the form of government or type of society. The process of change goes on because the elite and the masses mutually generate each other. History has never proved otherwise.

IV. Complementarity is Primary; Contradiction, Secondary

What we have learned from the above analysis is that the interaction in the manner of complementarity in contradiction of the primordial pair contributes to the existence and development of all things and events in the world. A question naturally arises: Is there an order of priority in the twofold process of complementarity in contradiction, or which one is primary since both aspects are indispensable to change and existence? In the order of existence in which we have immediate experience, complementarity seems primary. In order for an entity to exist, its contradictory constituents, Yin and Yang, must maintain a harmonious balance to attain stability which implies complementarity. Anything or event which exists can change only if it continuously exists. The moment it ceases to exist, it can no longer change. The unity of male and female which sustains the existence of the human species shows that unit is primary. Unity implies complementarity. Both phenomena of birth and death are necessary in maintaining the survival of the human species but birth is primary to our living and being alive. Both phenomena of "in" and "out" are equally but "in" is prior to "out" just as "eating" is prior to living. So the drive gear is prior to the reverse gear for the operation of an engine.

Recent discoveries in science have revealed a world that is not dual but rather a simple one built by a myriad of replications of the simplest structure and operated by a subtle interplay between the two poles of symmetry and asymmetry. Quantum mechanics describe a system of identical particles by wave function with a coordinated vector. The wave function must be either symmetrical, even and stable, or asymmetrical, odd and unstable, with respect to the interchange of coordinates of any pair of particles. The symmetrical ones are called bosons; the asymmetrical ones, fermions. Symmetry is bound with stability for asymmetrical wave function vanishes. The electrons that orbit the nucleus are symmetrical. thus the atoms themselves are stable. The symmetry of left and right spatial configuration is fundamental to all stability. The interactions among the various particles in the face of a subtle interchange are symmetrical, invariant and unchanged.[12] In nature, self-similarity implies symmetry. The function of the equation in mathematics and the time equation in the use of our watches are all based on self-similarity, as is the aesthetic value of beauty. However, in recent studies the phenomenon of spontaneous broken symmetry has been discovered in what is known as the Higgs mechanism. The best example comes from magnetism. At a high temperature, the thermal energy of atoms overcomes the magnetic forces and there is zero magnetization; at a low temperature the magnetic force overcomes the thermal agitation of the atoms causing the internal magnets to line up.[13] Symmetry is static, essential for stability, while asymmetry is dynamic, essential for movement and change. They complement each other. Neither of them is exclusive.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of the primacy of balance is the phenomena known as the homeostasis of our own bodily organs. Most of them perform in the most precise and subtle harmonious balance to ensure the proper integration and coordination of their chemical ingredients in sustaining life. If any one of them is out of balance, death could result. Not only is this process of body balance regulating the internal functions of our organs, but also it is linked with the external cosmic environment such as the cosmic rhythms of day and night, the new moon and old, summer and winter, etc. Sleeping and awakening are tied to the rotation of the earth. The female menstrual cycle coincides with the time it takes the moon to orbit the earth. Our automatic nervous system is divided both structurally and functionally into the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. The internal organs receive their stimulation from both. The impulses traveling in the fibres of the one are antagonistic to those traveling in the other. Whereas the heartbeat is speeded up by the sympathetic system, it is slowed down by the para-sympathetic system. By regulating the antagonistic movement of the body organs and preventing excesses the autonomic nerve system maintains the balance of the body’s internal condition. A recent study of the controlling metabolic system reveals that the balance between the two opposed yet complementary chemical twins, cyclic AMP and GMP, determines whether cells proliferate or stop growing and become specialized.[14] "There is evidence that events antithetical to "growth" and "no growth" may e modulated by the balance CAMP and CGMP." The fact that there has never been known to be a gross disparity between the distribution of the sexes in the world population as a whole may shed further light on this observation. As of today the sex ratio of male to female stands at approximately 1.7 billion each despite all the vicissitudes of events. Otherwise, we would be on the list of endangered species.

The primacy of balance permeates all human activities. In economics, there is a purchase which balances each sale. Thomas Aquinas sees it as justice. If at a given price where there is a preponderance of buyers over the sellers, it follows that the actual price will have to rise in order to bring buyers and sellers into balance. Banking institutions cannot function without a balance sheet. It takes harmonious integration and cooperation, not struggle, between management and labor for any productive organization to generate surplus value so that progress can be made regardless of the mode of production. This dynamic balance between the individual and the organization may have to be adjusted frequently, in order to sustain the adaptiveness of its operation. A balanced approach between reason and emotion in the behavior both of management and labor would yield greater productive results. From a macroeconomic point of view both the prevailing economic theories of those who back a central planned economy, particularly the Marxists, and those who argue for a general equilibrium, notably the Keynesians, would seem to rely on the same framework of balance to advance their causes. For the former sees that a central planned economy would achieve a balanced development as a whole to benefit the entire society, and thereby curtail the disparity in the distribution of the fruits of labor and free it from the vicious business cycles that usually plague the majority to enrich few; the latter perceives a tolerated imbalance in the development of diverse sectors of the economy through financial and fiscal policies which would attain an overall balance of the economy to sustain prosperity and improve productivity. In a sense, the former approach can be seen as symmetry which constrains asymmetry, while the latter can be seen as asymmetry which achieves symmetry. In either case, there is a unity of symmetry and asymmetry which realizes a balanced development of the economy.

In politics the primacy of balance seems as obvious as in economics. No state has ever been established without resort to force. Ultimately the existence of the state rests on the armed forces it possesses. The role of force operates essentially on the principle of the balance of power internally and externally. The reason a single person can command an army of thousands is the fat that no one can e sure what another in the same unit of an organization or out of the unit would do in a situation in which one may intend to question the command or commit oneself to an action contrary to the goal of the organization. The most proper response for one to make is to understand the need to obey the order or refrain from action. For it is the balance of power which makes the organization functional because it is predicated on the acceptance of, if not the acquiescence to, the common will to sustain the organization to which one belongs. Even the military conquest of power operates on the same basic principle that the subdued are presumed to be cooperative even though reluctant. What is usually defined as justice is a balanced dispensation of reward and punishment. Injustice is out of balance. The objective of the principle of checks-and-balances is to prevent excessive imbalance.

Finally, the quantum theory has restored the positive role of the mind in cognition as a creator and harmonizer, instead of a passive mirror reflection of objective reality as formerly believed. In perception, the mind exercises the power of value judgments in the unity of part and whole, and known and unknown, true and false, to identify, classify, and organize the objects resulting in cognition. The apparent motion as distinguished from real motion in motion pictures and television is seen now as a creation of the mind which can "fill" the gaps when an object continuously moves across the visual field.[15] In the conceptualization process, the mind operates as a unifier and coordinator with the power to transcend the visible, infinite diversification of the phenomenal world and conceive an abstract, invisible finite interconnected universal world. Ultimately the mind operates as an adapter or adjuster to reconcile static knowledge with the dynamic changing world bringing about the highest stage of self-realization. Consciousness suggests a profound and coherence of brain functioning. For one can only formulate a concept within one’s own available cultural milieu and from the immediate to the universal which contains the previous immediacy under and within it. The interaction of the left and right hemispheres of the brain may be indicative of this dialectical harmonization that establishes a cognitive relationship between subject and object which Kant described as bringing things-in-themselves to things-for-us.

V. Conclusion

The support we have provided for Yin-Yang dialectical monism may be rudimentary and one of common sense. But the evidence would seem sufficient indicative that the ancient concept of Yin-Yang cannot be shelved because of its antiquity or oversimplicity. The essence of Yin-Yang dialectical monism lies in its naturalistic metaphysics, its empirical epistemology, and an axiology of creativity. Thanks to the insight of the quantum theory the symbolic representation of this new system is perhaps the most suitable conceptual tool which corresponds to reality. In seven steps, the Yin-Yang dialectical monistic world view seems to fulfill the characteristics of world development as pointed out by Stiskin, with minor modifications, as follows:[16]

(1) Displays polar relationships by indicating the beginning and end of all things.

(2) Links the two poles or the primordial pair of existence by showing them to be contradictory yet complementary in a continuum.

(3) Portrays the stages of development in spiral progression.

(4) Suggests an alternate dominance of the two poles at different levels within the diverse and complex world as self-sustaining.

(5) Implies reciprocal conditioning in cyclical change.

(6) Demonstrates the spontaneous self-regulation of the oscillating process.

(7) Recognizes the interconnectedness of our diverse world which generates the creativity of our human mind.

In light of the quantum discovery, Yin-Yang dialectical monism not only can reconcile dialectical logic with empirical logic in a two-level structure without the exclusion of one from the other, but also can remedy the difficulty in the Marxian "qualitative leap" of dialectical materialism that evolved from the age of classical physics by relating the concept of "quality" to the Neo-Confucian concept of Li and the concept of "quantity" to Qi, without altering the basic structure of either one.

The reconfirmation of the cosmic unity that transcends the individual makes us realize that one’s action is unique in the cosmos, just as every second is unique. It is the creativity of the mind which attempts to unlock the secrete of nature in finding ways for civilization to advance. Life is a process operating as movement between the two poles of the universe and unfolding through opposites and cycles in a never-ending rhythm of birth and death.

The human mind can bring abut limited innovation and refinement within the boundaries of the two poles. When one grasps the signifi-cance of the dialectical unification or harmony within the process of change and acts accordingly, one may be said to have attained the ultimate freedom of expressing one’s true and original nature. Training int his principle is a refining of the capacity of the mind to discern the constituent poles of a given whole, and to comprehend their intertwining relationships. As striking as the pattern of the rise and fall of the civilizations is the eternal recurrence of the drive to build and rebuild, to raise each civilization above and beyond its former level. This is the Confucian essence of Jen (Ren) and reveals what the Confucian "timely change to attain harmonious balance (Shih zhong)" meant. Herein lies the basic principle of Yin-Yang dialectical monism.

 

Notes

[1] Adge Peterson, Quantum Physics and the Philosophical Tradition, (Boston: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1968), "Introduction."

[2] Berrait B. Mendelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature, (San Francisco, California: W. H. Freeman, 1983), p. 3.

[3] F. Wilczek, "The Cosmic Asymmetry Between Matter and Anti-matter," Scientific American, December 1980, 82-102.

[4] H. Fritzsch, The Creation of Matter, (New York: Basic Books, 1984), p. 255.

[5] Karl Marx, Das Capital (New York: International Publisher, 1973), Vol. I, pp. 41-42.

[6] J. P. Curtchfield, et al., "Chaos," Scientific American, December 1986, 42-57.

[7] H. Fritzsch, op. cit., p. 123.

[8] John N. Wilford, "The Age of the Universe in the New Age of Astronomy," New York Times, September 15, 1986, 32.

[9] P. S. Galtsoff, The American Oysters, GPO, 1964, p. 314.

[10] M. E. Omelyanovsky, Dialectics in Modern Physics, (MIT Publisher, 1979), pp. 231-248.

[11] G. L. Stibbin, "Evolution of Darwinism," Scientific American, July 1985, 72-82.

[12] H. Haber, et al., "Is Nature Super Symmetric?" Ibid., June 1986, 52-60.

[13] John Gribin, In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat, (New York: Bantom Books, 1984), pp. 262-267.

[14] R. Shields, et al., "Yin-Yang Hypothesis of Growth Control," New Scientists, May 9, 1974, 323-324.

[15] N. S. Ramachandran, "The Perception of the Apparent Motion," Scientific American, June, 1986, 102.

[16] Cf. N. Stiskin, The Looking Glass God: The Study in Yin & Yang, (Tokyo, Japan: 1972), p. 3.