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                       On Proper Naming
    --- The reflection on modern society 
                 of ancient Chinese philosophy
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        That of being nameless is the origin of the universe, 
         that of giving names is the creator of the universe! 
 

   Throughout human history, no matter in the east or in the west, there would be chaotic 
situation taking place every few decades in human society. In ancient time when the material 
production was at low level with tools not yet developed, the cause of chaos could be easily 
understood by the Chinese sayings: "People die for wealth, while birds die for food." and 
"Food is the heaven for the people". In face of starvation and losing of homes, or extreme 
unfair treatment by government in distribution of wealth and benefits, there were always 
people who would rebel or stage a military or political coup.

   But in today's world, where technology is highly developed and material productivity 
greatly exceeds the demand, why is there still constant social turbulence? Whether In China 
or many western countries, we can see the stores displayed with all types of merchandises, 
stocked with goods unable to sell, and warehouses of factories overstocked with products 
unable to go to market. It's not because the overall purchasing power of the society is 
insufficient, but because of production and consumption level of the society has reached 
its excessive high point. Nowadays, merit boxes, which are public boxes for donations, are 
popular things everywhere. Still good and usable items can often be found discarded at the 
garbage room of the community. What does that mean? It demonstrates that the demand for 
living goods is not the primary concern of human society any longer. Thus many skilled people 
have been liberated from the production sector to engage in various social management work 
in our society, and division of work is becoming more and more precise. In this way, it seems 
that people on earth should have nothing to worry about? On the contrary! There are much more
problems in now days, and the society is in a chaotic situation that is almost unprecedented.

   Why is that? Some people may attribute it to the social complexity brought about by the 
highly developed civilization, but I don't think so. As we all know that no matter how advanced 
science and technology are, it is based on the laws of science discovered by our predecessors. 
Because the scientific workers strictly follow some basic laws of science and the commonly 
accepted rules of logic, they have made the rapid development of science and technology in 
modern times, and created miracles of one after another in human society, while produced some 
reliable scientific and technological products to serve mankind, which have greatly helped 
improving their living standards. I haven't heard that a certain type of sophisticated 
technology products had acted recklessly due to their high complexity level, or they would 
do things against their purposes to be produced. Although I personally think that modern 
science and technology did have their share of burden of blame in jeopardizing the life of 
modern people, during the short period of their glorious history, the professionalism and 
the qualification of those scientific and technological workers are indeed worthy of admiration 
for people from other industries. At least they clearly know the concepts of the terminologies 
in their own domains. Otherwise, they won't be able to produce anything good.

   One of the most important issues, as what the ancient people called "name", might have 
been ignored by people of many industries. The ancients said, "if an appropriate name is not 
applied for the thing, then it is not a reasonable name and it would cause confusion about 
any work related to the thing, and  lead to the failure of work." That is to say, if the name 
is not properly placed, or the meaning is not correctly explained, it would be difficult to 
explain the principles and mechanism of the thing and thus unable to execute its purpose. 
Perhaps some people may feel that this is just such insignificant thing, why bother making 
such big fuss about it? I am afraid it is not quite so. Actually in the first chapter of Tao 
Te Ching(One of Chinese people’s bibles), it is clearly written: "The beginning of the universe 
is in the status of being nameless, while the creation of all things in universe is accomplished 
during the process of giving names” These words don’t conflict with the scientific postulate 
of the start of the universe at all, but are intended to interpret the different side of the 
nature of universe. Thus, we can see how important it is to name things. People create and 
give names to things according to their respective attributes and our understanding about 
them, and it were those names that composed the structure of our civilization. They are like 
the codes of our civilization, and provide answers to our questions. Chinese people are the 
ones addressed the importance of names just like the westerns addressed the importance of 
atoms in nature science. So no matter you believe it or not, it is there doing its work. At 
the same time, names give things eternal life. Without a name, when things are used up or 
destroyed, they are gone for ever. With names, things can regenerate and appear again.

   In field of culture or philosophy, this phenomenon of “name” problems may be most prominent, 
especially in today's world, where the division of labor is fine, and the economic interdependence 
of each country upon others is so strong. The world can't do without petroleum from the Middle 
East, just as it can't without high-tech software from the United States, as well as all kinds 
of life necessities made in China, and so on. Economic interdependence will inevitably lead 
to the exchange of cultures and the confrontation of different ideologies. Whether the result 
of communication and confrontation is acceptance, expulsion or integration may largely depend 
on the common understanding of the concepts in those domains.

   While the civilization is evolving, along with it, there were many new fancy words coming 
out in all fields. There are good ones, also bad ones. Just as our forefathers have foreseen: 
strange words with ambiguous meanings, and improper names appeared to make people unable to 
distinguish right from wrong, even the government officials or the law enforcement officers 
are confused themselves. How would we expect them to make the right decision and enforce the 
law properly? Each country has their own languages and cultural origins, in addition to which, 
the inappropriate translation of words may also lead to misunderstanding of the same philosophical, 
political or legal terms from other cultures, or even the same culture by different people. Has 
anyone run into such embarrassing situation as if a scholar gentleman argues with a single-minded 
soldier off the battle, the result of which is hardly optimistic, because the two can never 
stand on the same ground. The logic on which the mode of Human’s thinking is based is very 
similar, just as mathematics has been accepted among all nationalities in basically the same 
way. So the fundamental problem that leads to difficult communication of different nations 
is caused by the different understanding of the same concepts, or the “names”. In other words, 
the varied depth of knowledge about things and the interpretation of the meaning of things 
from different aspects leads to many incomprehensible and unnecessary conflicts in the world.

   Probably some people will say that it would be naive to think it the way mentioned above, 
and that many conflicts in the world were actually caused by some governments fighting for 
the best interests of their own countries. If that is true, it would only explains another 
case of misunderstanding concept in politics, which is about the confusion on the concept 
of "national interest". On the appearance, some countries may be able to gain certain material 
benefits because of their powerful military forces, but they will certainly lose the faith 
upon them, not only of the people of other countries, but also of their own people. What they 
lose is the capital of relationship, which is the true long-term benefit for all entities. 
Some people might say that some governments are fighting with other countries in order to 
promote their culture and advocate their belief and make other countries accept their cultural 
advantages so that they would gain the greatest recognition in the world. Then, they must make 
it clear first what is their cultural advantage and how it should be expressed through the 
right concepts. Humans mostly admire bravery, industriousness, nobility, generosity, benevolence 
and humanity, wisdom, faith, and sense of responsibility, etc., but not stealing, slandering and 
framing, getting weaker into worse situation, and raping human nature to humiliate themselves. 
Different nationalities may be inclined to different social values. They may also have different 
understanding of those values. In the antique time, the Europeans advocated chivalry; the British 
advocated the culture of gentlemen; the Americans respected the cowboy spirit; while the ancient 
Chinese liked to use their favorable term "Junzi", similar to gentleman, but not the same, to 
express their national spirit; and so on. Unfortunately, I can't cite all the examples here one 
by one, only I don't know what kind of national spirit the modern countries are advocating. If 
they haven't come out with a clear idea, maybe they should first consult with their ancestors, 
then surf the Internet, and then discuss with their neighbors in this global village, before 
they are going to do such great deeds for their nations. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t even 
know what they are fighting for before they’ve blooded their face or gotten their skull broken 
into pieces. Perhaps after they have really come to understand what that idea is, they would 
suddenly realize that there is nothing to fight for at all. All humans are nurtured by the same 
root – that is mother earth. Why must they act so earnestly to eliminate one another? It's OK 
to have some fun by playing games like in sports matches, but it should be a match of gentlemen. 
Like some ancient people said, if you have to compete with others, courtesy always goes first. 
After the contest, the opponents could still befriend each other by toasting together with 
greetings and cheers wholeheartedly. What is the point to fight each other to death! The 
adventure of humans has reached the top of all mountains and the bottom of all oceans, while 
seldom giving an second thought by taking away all that they can. There is not much left on 
earth but a few glasses of liquor and several pieces of peanuts made of metal? It is definitely 
not worthy of powerful human force to fight for the pitiful leftover on earth. It would be so
much better to use the human wisdom and power to engage in some meaningful work to make a positive 
transformation of human society and find new resources and new way out. In modern world, raw 
materials are playing much less important roles in people’s life and countries’ economy than 
before. Whether or not a country can succeed in the new era, largely depends on how they can 
effectively organize and deploy their social and economic forces, how they can efficiently 
utilize and recycle their resources, how they establish their rapport among their partners, 
and how they built their relationship with other countries. Fighting for the territories and 
raw materials are the games of wild animals and primitive people, which should be ended as 
soon as possible among highly civilized beings. 

    There is still an important concept here I would like to mention. That is, the fights 
between the governments are not the same thing as the fight between the civilians. The 
government, acting on behalf of the state, seems to devote themselves to the people of the
country. However, it is not exactly the same thing. Although the government is elected by 
the people, once it is formed, it becomes an instrument of the state as a separated entity 
with its own will. It is obviously indebted to the people, but its ultimate goal is to 
demonstrate the reasonableness and purpose of its existence, which is the nature of all 
individual entity and should not be blamed for. The people have given the government all 
kinds of supplies and privileges to do its job, and they are no longer obliged to bear 
other pressure and burdens for the government, unless they are employed by the government 
temporarily or part-time (full-time personnel, of course, have been included in the government), 
or in the extraordinary events of natural disasters or when the country is facing immediate 
takeover or extermination under the attack of their enemies. Why? because every ordinary 
citizen has his/her own share of burden and responsibility in this human’s survival game. 
Therefore, it is not wise or practical for the government to frequently get civilians involved 
in their fights against their opponents, in order not to disturb or even ruin their normal 
life, once the damage is done, it could come back on the government and jeopardize the base 
of their power. The common people are the foundation of a country. Losing the common people 
means shaking the foundation of the country and the government.

    If people from all trades of the world can share a set of common terms and follow a set 
of well-accepted laws and rules from the beginning to the end of anything they are doing, 
then the irresolvable problems would be greatly reduced, because they can communicate freely
with common understanding of things they are talking at any time with a designed work language
constitute of clearly defined concepts.