Be Like Wa­ter

China Scenic - - Idioms - By Cheng Long

When work­ing on his Sci­ence and civ­i­liza­tion of china, Joseph Need­ham no­ticed that wa­ter an driv­ers have run right through Chi­nese his­tory, thought, its land, life and cul­ture as the blood-stream of its ex­is­tence and sur­vival. From the ear­li­est times to the present, as Joseph Need­ham traced it, man’s in­ge­nu­ity has been forged to in­vent ways to har­ness the rivers for the ben­e­fit of life. For ex­am­ple, Con­fu­cian of­fi­cials in­clined to­wards more in­ter­ven­tion­ist engi­neer­ing, with higher, nar­rower dykes.

How­ever, Taoist philoso­phers of an­cient China, dif­fer­ent from Con­fu­cian of­fi­cials’ per­spec­tive of tech­nol­ogy and engi­neer­ing, favoured a light touch, draw­ing off the ex­cess with canals and al­low­ing the river to flood widely, de­posit­ing rich silt on the flood plain. Be­sides, they also fo­cused on

Pho­to­graph by Wang Tian­rui

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