MFM E-Letter June 2011 Issue 10

Conceiving Yin and Yang – Towards a Scientific Interpretation (悟在阴阳 - 科学观)

Returning from the East, my mind was transposed by the complex issues of East-West discourse. Recalling Nietzsche’s (尼采) words, ‘the world is deep: deeper than day can comprehend’[1]. I started to wonder why he used the word ‘day’ instead of night. Suddenly I realised that day represents Yang, whereas night represents Yin, and it is obvious that in Nietzsche’s philosophical mind, he represents the Yang force when determining his worldview. Through the Eastern intellectual tradition we learn that the philosophical notions in Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism tend to look at the inward journey into wisdom and the cultivation of inner human consciousness. This tradition represents an essentially Yin worldview that is in contrast to the outward, objective empiricism of the Western scientific worldview. To conceive East-West encounters is like conceiving Yin and Yang and observing their opposite yet mutually dependent dynamics. In the midst of such complexity my mood ascended to a sudden rush of poetic notions transpiring reality,

[1]Frederich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustia, (1844-1900)

We transcend this life,
We transcend this world.
Our happiness,
Our love,
Our humanity,
Dance in harmonious energy
Forever and ever
From consciousness
To sub-consciousness;
In relativity,
To all forms of being
In synchronicity,
We leap from one
Universe to another,
In a trans-universal journey
Through one wormhole
To another.
Different dimensions;
Such joy, such colours
In a rainbow.
Wave after wave,
We emerge
In this universal quantum dance.
Into the light
Through the darkness
Out of black holes,
Wave after wave,
In the translucent sea of photons.


“And God said, Let there be light, and there was light”. Genesis tells us how God pushes back darkness with light, the speed of which – according to Einstein – cannot be exceeded in this universe. We know that the photon particles, rather than pushing back darkness, are struggling to escape the ‘black holes’.

In the East we have a similar concept of light and darkness but in the form of Yin and Yang interactions. It is a fundamental concept used to explain the creative processes of the universe. According to Lao Tse (老子), ‘Tao (道)’ came out of nothingness
(无) and divided into two which are the opposite components whose interactions spark the creation of everything else. Ever since the beginning, Yin and Yang elements are in a constant process of trying to find the balance to achieve harmony in our existence. In the latest Western scientific discoveries, Higgs Boson (希格斯玻色子) is the so-called ‘God particle’ (上帝粒子) upon which matter is born. This is the particle that is being hotly pursued by both the CERN Large Hadron Colllider (大型强子对撞机) and the Tevatron Collider (Tevatron对撞机实验) at the Fermilab in Chicago. But there is a yet another new twist in this story; recent reports from the Fermilab are talking about ‘the technicolour force’ – a new particle spotted as a ‘stream of colours’[2] . It does not fit the Standard Model (标准模型) and might even replace the Higgs boson as one of the key elements of the theory of nature. Reality tends to escape us yet again as the scientists unravel the mystery of our existence.

[2] New Scientist magazine, 13 April 2011, issue 2808

The scientific world of the West has reached the stage in which the matters are crossing from the physical world into the invisible world. The metaphysical mind of the East is also facing the dilemma of coming to terms with how consciousness is the medium between mind and matter. Human knowledge has reached the point where a paradigm shift (知识典范转型) that requires the wisdom of consciousness to progress into the next stage is necessary.

The debate between mind and matter will again characterise the future development of human civilisation. At this moment in time, the immediacy is to continue the pursuit of scientific knowledge of the objective, physical and intellectual world of matters, while in parallel, advancing our wisdom in the pursuit of perception in the abstract world of the mind. Consciousness and imagination will become the medium of physics and metaphysics, and will require decoding by our neuroscientists and thinkers alike in the next paradigm shift of human knowledge that we are about to enter. This paradigm shift will lead the human civilisation into another classification of a higher order.

The intellectual fluidity in both Western and Eastern traditions came from the inspiration of the human spirit and our relentless quest for wisdom. Over the past three centuries or so, since the European Renaissance(欧洲文艺复兴), the theory of science and the physical worldview has taken us to an era of technological innovations. Despite our knowledge of the physical world, our look outward towards the edge of the universe gave us a vision of ‘the multiverse’. This brings us to a cosmos inextricably interlinked with the inward world of quantum particles on the scale of the Planck’s Constant (普朗克常数), and beyond, into the invisible world that can only be explored by consciousness and human imagination.

The human empirical thought is, after all, a product of the human mind. The law of physics and the law of metaphysics are all products of the human intellect. We are now at the point in human history where the recognition of this relationship between mind and matter is both necessary and synergistically required for the next stage of human development.

The romance between ‘mind and matter’ was debated by Chinese philosophers over 3,000 years ago through the concept of ‘Yin and Yang’ which characterised the Chinese civilisation. The Chinese people have a compulsive sense of history, throughout which the social structures of different dynasties and the cultural and artistic expression of her long traditions are intimately linked to the Hundred Schools of Thought (诸子百家) which blossomed during China’s Spring and Autumn period (春秋时代) (100-500 BC). Before that period, during the Zhou dynasty (周朝), the important work I Ching (易经) was created. It described the relationship of men and heaven and the holism of our universe in the dynamics of Yin and Yang. Inspired by these dynamics, an abstract octagram was devised to predict the future.

The Spring and Autumn period (春秋时代) ensued the Warring States Period (战国时代), during which the philosophies of the Hundred Schools were struggling against each other for supremacy as the guiding philosophy for the social, cultural and intellectual development of China.

Following The Book of Piety (礼记) and The Book of Music or Happiness (乐记) which dominated social structure of Zhou Dynasty, Confucius proposed Ren (仁) Kindness, Ai (爱) Love and Yi (义) Nobleness as the criteria for organising the society in which a citizen can conduct their activities. Before that, it was believed that the ideal society should be organised according to the principle of Tao (or Dao) (道) which means the Way derived from Nothingness, and De (德) which is the moral principle that was arrived at after conceiving Tao. This is very much in line with the doctrines of Lao Tse (老子) and Zhuang Tse (庄子) which are expressed in the metaphysics of nature. These two schools of thought contended for influence throughout Chinese history. Both subscribed to the concept of Yin and Yang which was adopted by another school of thought called the Legalist (法家) whose ideas were embodied in the works of Han Fei Tse (韩非子) and proceeded by another famous work – the Sun Tse’s Art of War (孙子兵法) which described the relationship between opposite forces in a conflict and the principle of ruling an empire through the Emperor and aristocrats who maintain their power over the ordinary citizens. The Yin and Yang dynamics have been an important element in the evolution of Chinese history.

Philosophy and social ideology are interrelated within the core of the Chinese civilisation. Chinese history tells us how the Emperor ruled China by using this philosophical concept of Yin and Yang. The struggle between the Daoist world view and the Confuciusian (孔子,儒家) world order ensured that the Chinese society developed through the intellectual debate between the ‘materialists’(唯物主义者)and ‘idealists’ (唯心主义者)’ philosophical worldviews. Rulers tended to cultivate two opposite forces within their governing hierarchy and maintained a balancing act between them to ensure the survival of the Emperor. These two forces can be described as negative and positive. They existed within the governing elites of each dynasty as they struggled against each other while historical episodes unfolded. The ultimate winner of that struggle was the emperor who retained his seat in the middle.

Parallels can be found in the Stock Market between the buying forces of the ‘bulls’ and the selling forces of the ‘bears’. In this process of struggle the clever investor can take advantage. He will sell towards the exuberance of the bulls and buy in the depressing times of the raging bears, but the ultimate winners are the brokers and bankers who, just like the Emperors, can gain from both situations. The interpretation of Yin and Yang and its application within the social, economic and financial cycles will be the subjects for a separate discourse. However it is clear that both the philosophical and the scientific analogy can also be applied to other spheres in our new emerging worldview that requires a deep multi-disciplinary relational and rational intelligence.

The balancing act between the materialists and the idealists in Chinese history maintained a period of relative stability, with punctuations of chaotic interruption caused by uprisings from which a new order was established. This process prevented the development within Chinese society of modern science and technology that we see in the West today. In the past century or so, China has been struggling to catch up in terms of science and technology as well as economic development. She is currently adopting an open door policy and a market economy after the adoption of Marxist ideology. Central to the ideology of Mao Zedong (毛泽东) is the theory of struggle in social development. His philosophical work On Contradictions (矛盾论) represents an intellectual continuation of the Yin and Yang concept, but expressed in Marxist terminology.

The open door policy opened up the current dynamics of exchange between China and the world, though the nature of such an exchange has been largely centred on economic development and involved business, finance, production and technology. Increasingly, economic exchange is now spilling out into wider encounters in culture and values. Chinese medicine is a particularly important area. There, the debate between scientific and philosophical approaches is pioneering other fields in intellectual encounters. Again, this is a subject that deserves deeper analysis in the theory and practice of medicine as represented by Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) (循证医学) and the dialectical differentiation approach to medicine which can be called Dialectical Based Medicine (DBM) (辩证医学). I have written extensively on the comparative study of the two medical systems and their integrative clinical applications. I am currently working on another paper relating to the Yin and Yang analogy in medicine.

Since Western medicine is based on scientific evidence, it is interesting to note that the concept of Yin and Yang – being a fundamental tenet within Chinese thought – is now finding parallels in the most recent discoveries within the Western scientific theories since the works of Einstein and Max Planck (爱因斯坦和马克斯普朗克). The current Standard Model, which is being developed from Einstein’s theory of relativity, echoes the relativistic concept of physical reality that has been expressed in the Yin and Yang theory of everything.

‘The quantum observer’ (量子观察者) and its relativistic relationship with the physical world that is being observed is another expression of the Yin and Yang concept; the consciousness of the observer being Yin and the physical object being Yang. According to quantum physics, the very act of a conscious observer has a causative effect on the physical object being observed (as illustrated by the Shrödinger’s Cat parable). Such processes have been described by Chinese philosophers as Yin and Yang interactions. Human consciousness according to some physicists, is outside the law of physics. Whereas others argue that human consciousness is part of the physical behaviour of the brain and therefore could be quantifiable through physical experimentation with future advances in neurophysiology.

It is my judgement that the truth may lie with the quantum physicists who think in the realm of Planck’s Constant[3] and who consider consciousness as a dynamic within a quantum reality, a scale within which physical certainty is not possible. Following this logically, we can consider that consciousness is a reality within or beyond the quantum scale which links the physical and the non-physical worlds. Within the quantum fields of Planck’s Constant objective reality and subjective reality become indistinguishable and uncertain. Here again the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang is a useful concept for differentiating the direction of this intellectual inquiry in which both science and philosophy are the necessary tools for arriving at a possible truth.

[3] Planck’s Constant – A fundamental quantum measurement for quanta actions in a minute scale greater than a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of our normal measurement unit. In this scale velocity, mass and time become uncertain. According to Steven Hawking in his book The Grand Design, “If we measure the position of an electron to a precision corresponding to roughly the size of an atom, the uncertainty principle dictates that we cannot know the electron’s speed more precisely than about plus or minus 1,000 kilometres per second, which is not very precise at all. According to quantum physics, no matter how much information we obtain or how powerful our computing abilities, the outcome of physical processes cannot be predicted with certainty because they are not determined with certainty. Instead given the initial stage of the system, nature determines its future state through a process that is fundamentally uncertain” (pg.72)

When Newton’s classical mechanics (牛顿的经典力学) and Maxwell’s electromagnetisms (麦克斯韦电磁) are being replaced by Relativistic and Quantum theories, we are looking into matters moving and interacting beyond the normal worldly speed, very much close to the speed of light. Yet at the Quantum Planck scale, particles interact with positive or negative dynamics (Yin and Yang dynamics) in an environment where speed and time are irrelevant. At both the macro level and the micro level the Chinese philosophical concept of Yin and Yang applies.

Physical reality and non-physical world are separated by consciousness. According to Karl Popper (卡尔波普尔), a phenomenon can be real or unreal. We can only distinguish between the two by judging whether it can be conceived as something that can cause a change in the material world. The relationship between the brain and consciousness is also a Yin and Yang relationship. Popper has a candid suggestion that consciousness is “a ghost in a machine (the brain)”.

When physicists talk about how negatively charged electrons are attracted to the positively charged nucleus by an inverted square law of force which determines the electron waves, they are talking about Shrödinger’s equation (薛定谔方程式) which is a mathematical expression of the ‘quantised’ values in particle energies that form the matter-wave. For instance, the energy of electrons is balanced within the atom so that it is not allowed to have a lower value than the ‘grand state energy’ so as not to spiral into the nucleus. At the same time, an electron is prevented from being ‘overexcited’ into higher energy that may cause an outward spin by emitting a photon whose energies equal the difference between the two states of energy (lower and higher) in order to maintain the balance of a stable atom. According to the Daoist philosophical analysis, such a balancing act is expressed in conceptual terms as the balance between the Yin and Yang energetics.

The measurements used by Evidence Based science have also undergone a complete inverted revolution from Newtonian empiricism and reductionism. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (∆ x ∆p > h ÷ 4π) (海森堡不确定性原理) and Planck’s quantum field theory (h = Planck’s Constant) predict that in the scientific measurement of physical reality, i.e. a definite precision of a particle of known momentum, is invalid and meaningless. We cannot precisely measure simultaneously two physical quantities such as the position and momentum of a photon. The revolutionary consequence of this discovery, therefore, is that scientific reality of measurable evidence is not enough, we must go back to the conceptual and philosophical arena to complete the picture of reality.

Physics is the foundation of all sciences. It is also ahead of other sciences such as medical science, biological science, chemistry etc. by a hundred years. Since Einstein perfected his theory of relativity and the birth of modern quantum physics, the recent theoretical research in physics has touched upon the spheres of metaphysics in its inquiry into the origin of physical and non-physical reality. Now, at the cutting edges of the modern sciences, intellectual thought is returning to philosophy. This is an interesting revelation.

How in the 21st Century can we reach a new paradigm in the cross-fertilisation of empirical knowledge and the world of consciousness and abstract wisdom? We are now at the point in the intellectual history of mankind where we must initiate this pursuit for a greater civilisation. This is a civilisation that is not only scientifically and technologically superior but also in touch with the reality beyond the physical world. I think the key is in ‘consciousness’. Our mind has the imaginative power to conceptualise the non-physical world and the reality of formless existence.

Theoretical physicists are already telling us that there are warped passages around us that are beyond the detection of our senses, and that there are dimensions physically impossible to reach. Our ancestors have been trying to reach those dimensions through religious practices, philosophy and metaphysical mysticism. In the 21st century, Newtonian scientific rationale has reached the plateau for a qualitative change in the form of a new paradigm of the physics of relativity, quantum mechanics and the Standard Model (相对论、量子力学和物理标准模型所带来的新范式时代). The mysteries unravelled by modern physicists have gone beyond our imagination, let alone our sense of physical existence. For instance, the story of dark matter and its relationship to antimatter is unfolding with the experiment in the Large Hadron Collider (大型强子碰撞机) at CERN (欧洲粒子物理研究所). While quantum physicists are looking at the sub-particle world, cosmologists are enquiring into the early universe and assessing its creation with the balance of matter and antimatter (物质和反物质) in order to ascertain where dark matter (暗物质) comes from and also to locate the manifestation of dark energy (暗能量).

The Supersymmetry theory (超对称性定理) of the Standard Model in particle physics explains this phenomenon in the concept of WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles 弱相互作用大质量粒子). In fact WIMP was an outcome of the observation of coincidences. Many physicists tend to be in the right place and at the right time with their imagination as miracles are discovered to further the frontiers of human knowledge. This is why we call this discovery the ‘WIMP miracle’.

Indeed our consciousness continuously surprises us with miraculous revelations. The history of those revelations brings us back to the fundamental concept that Yin and Yang is the relationship between consciousness and the physical world. ‘The way (道)’ as expressed in Chinese cosmology, bridges the abstract reality with the physical universe. Daoist philosophy explains that ‘the way’ is the Daoist constant similar to Planck’s Constant, in which uncertain probability exists and manifests within this predetermined constant. Such probability could miraculously reveal itself without predetermination but within the determination of ‘the way’. Therefore, consciousness is a factor in this probability that is relative to the physical laws of nature i.e. physical reality. For instance, the building dynamics of positive and negative charges of quarks, bosons and fermions[4], the relationship between electrons and positrons (电子和正电子), and the electromagnetic forces (电磁力) as well as the gravitational forces (万有引力) throughout our cosmos can be explained by the concept of Yin and Yang.

[4] Please see Steven Hawking’s The Grand Design “…in quantum field theories the force fields are pictured as being made of various fundamental particles called bosons, which are forced carrying particles that fly back and forth between matter particles, transmitting the forces. The matter particles are called fermions. Electrons and quarks are examples of fermions. The photon, or particle light, is an example of a boson. “ (pg 104)

Both the theoretical and experimental scientists have to constantly grapple with these dynamics in their scientific inquiries. Therefore, the scientist is ultimately a philosopher. And the philosopher has to bring out the art inherently manifested in the logic of science. The relationship between science and philosophy is also a Yin and Yang dynamic, and can be expressed in the theory of cognition. We can say that there is Yang within Yin and Yin within Yang, and we can use the same notion and say that there is physics within metaphysics and metaphysics within physics.

We must therefore understand that Yin and Yang are not just mutually opposite, but also mutually dependent and mutually transforming. In Hegel’s (黑格尔) logic of dialectics this is called ‘the unity of opposites (对立统一)’. The formal logic of science cannot yet cope with such a concept. Accepting contradictions was something that scientists were not able to do until the cutting edge discoveries of new physics were made. Even Albert Einstein could not accept the contradictions within the physical world when he learned of the quantum theory of uncertainty and that particles are linked between objects separated by great distances. His reaction was dismissive, and with comments like ‘God does not play dice’ and ‘spooky action at a distance’.

The parallels to the logic expressed by the Chinese philosophers on the nature of Yin and Yang can be found in Hegel’s logic of dialectics (黑格尔辩证法逻辑) as expanded in his Science of Logic (黑格尔大逻辑) in which he used the concept of ‘nothingness and being’ instead of Yin and Yang to explain the logical synthesis of dialectical progressivism (辩证进展论). We can project from this line of analysis that new physics will have to adopt a new form of logic or mathematics in order to explain the dynamic of contradictions so that we can reach a further understanding of existence – seen or unseen, physical or conscious – and to progress towards the relationship of objectivity and subjectivity in reality as seen from the eyes of a quantum observer, as explained in the parable of Schrödinger’s cat (薛定谔的猫).

When scientific thinking needs a range of metaphors to explain the concepts that it uses, the theory of knowledge has crossed from a physical structure to a conceptual structure. The transitions of a new idea that can be physically proven by an evidence based measurement, to another dimension of the mind require additional ingredients. This is where consciousness, conceptual and logical measurement as well as subjective cognition are used. These dimensional processes of knowledge necessitate cognition of both dimensions i.e. physical dimension and conceptual dimension. This involves the relativity analysis of different spatial passages, since everything could be logical and at the same time contradictory. Even if this reality is unknown to us, it is nonetheless a reality that is affecting our existence. Therefore, a scientific enquiry should not dismiss the unknown and should also consider a contradictory phenomenon within relative perspectives which are affecting the transformation of our existence. Such is the complexity of a theory of knowledge that involves the concept of Yin and Yang.

It is my firm belief that the next paradigm for the human quest to reveal the truth of existence, whether it is an absolute truth as pursued by scientists or a truth in relativity where the philosophical enquiries are heading, lies in the dialectical discourse between scientists and philosophers. Whether you are a theoretical scientist or a philosopher, your ultimate aim is to enlighten human civilisation in its understanding of the laws of nature and existence.

The differences between a philosopher and a theoretical physicist lie in the extent of the constraints within which each has to justify their theories. The scientist has to justify their discoveries to their fellow scientists according to the existing accepted scientific laws. The philosopher, in contrast, is subjected only to the theory of logic and rational arguments. Philosophers use the power of ‘pure thought’ just like the theoretical physicists do – without the confines of their scientific and mathematical structures. A philosopher is a free thinker without preconceptions. The differences can be illustrated with the scientific box in which most scientists work and struggle to construct laws of nature. A philosopher thinks outside this box. For instance, the Chinese physician is encouraged to think inside the ‘black box’ in a process called Syndrome Differentiation (辨证), but they think like a philosopher when diagnosing the patient. Yet they are being encouraged to think within the confines of the general principles of syndromes (The Eight Principles 八纲辨证, Organ Differentiation 脏腑辨证, Meridian Differentiation 经络辨证, etc.) by using all the symptoms and diagnostic signs and data from the patient’s tongue and pulse to arrive at the correct picture of the patient’s disease patterns. This process is in parallel to the Western Evidence Based Medicine in that it is being encouraged to discern the truth through Randomised Controlled Trials and meta analysis. Both methodologies need the next breakthrough to build a new medicine of the future. Brilliant scientists like Einstein (爱因斯坦), Dirac (狄拉克), Heisenberg (海森堡) and Shrödinger (薛定谔) are all theoreticians who dared to think outside the box, just like philosophers.

This holistic diagnostic method of Chinese Medicine is being modernised according to modern scientific principles. There are experts who believe that scientific investigation and Evidence Based Medicine methodology should be used to modernise Chinese Medicine by using modern theories in system biology and modern ‘omics’ technology, which are Yang dynamics to influence the Yin dynamics of Syndrome Differentiation. Other experts in China believe that the Yin dynamics of Chinese Medicine should influence the direction of a new medicine. Scientific and technological modernisation of Chinese Medicine will take away the essence of Chinese Medicine, a clinical wisdom accumulated over the past few thousand years. My opinion is that both the Yang dynamic of science and the Yin dynamics of philosophy are necessary to achieve a symphony of the medicine of the future. A harmonious balance is necessary for a healthy development of a new global medicine.

Here we can illustrate vividly the convergence between science and philosophy. The discourse between them will determine the nature of knowledge in the next paradigm. The decline in the philosophers’ contribution to the theory of knowledge which in the past two hundred years has been dominated by the scientific rationale since the rise of science after the Renaissance (欧洲文艺复兴), will end in the 21st Century when philosophy and science will go hand in hand to further the frontier of the human civilisation. After all, intellectual thoughts – whether scientific or philosophical – are ‘pure thoughts’ that come from the same source; out of the consciousness or the neurological interpretations in the human brain. Experimental proof generally lags behind intellectual discoveries due to the limitations in the tools of measurement at the time. For example, the Large Hadron Collider is only now catching up experimentally with the discoveries of particle physics made nearly a century ago by Einstein, Planck and others.

Traversing between Chinese thought and Western science I sometimes feel a tremendous frustration in the difficulties of explaining Chinese concepts in Western terms and vice versa. It is an extremely torturous journey to interpret accurately the Chinese philosophical and artistic notion into a format that a Westerner can comprehend. Equally, many of the Western intellectual notions, cultural and artistic conceptions will find incomprehension amongst the Chinese intelligentsia. To give you a glimpse of a Chinese mind at work I can only turn my frustration into a smile and present you with my own translation of my recent poem written in Chinese.

Dream from England 念奴娇 英伦梦
Written in the exuberant mood of positive energy following a re-reading of History of Chinese Philosophy by Fang You Lan, according to the Song poetic style of Nien Nu Jiao. Man Fong Mei, 23rd Nov. 2010

Dream from England

Written according to the Song poetry style “Nian Nu Jiao”.
Man Fong Mei, 23rd Nov. 2010

Recall my friend,
Far Beyond
In the distant past,
The glorious romance
Between Xiao Qiao and Gong Jin.(1)
Vivid in my mind,
As in the poetic lines
Of our great poet Dong Po.(2)
Abundant riches
In the exuberant times,
Of the Kai Yuan era.(3)
Such inspiration,
From those floating dances
From the uplifting songs.
Such beauty,
At the Great Ming Palace.(4)
I dream the dreams of Zhuang Zhou(5)
Still fresh upon my eyes.
Descend again please,
Upon this tender earth
Our noble kings,
Yao and Shun,(6)
Dare I ask thee,
Our Lord of the Sky,
And the Jade Emperor of heaven.
Up there
Or down here,
Wilted the spirit of harmony?
Much of the time,
In the modern world,
Our eyes
Are now hypnotised
Upon the glittery
Of the golden gowns.
Dare I ask again,
For the return
Of the noble spirits
Of the hundred philosophers(7)
With the way of Tao
Bring upon changes,
With the waves of
The four seas
Bring upon transformations.
Floating on the ocean afar,
In this distant land, England.
I send my words,
Send my passion,
Send my good wishes,
As though I am face to face
With you, my friends.
In the noble hope
That good life will be again,
Upon this magnificent land,
Where nations are at peace,
Where people are heart to heart.
One world, one dream.
Remember to conceive, my friends,
Happiness is
A fish in water(8)
Gliding freely.
Despite this chaotic world,
Let us smile……

(1.小乔公瑾) The love between General Zhou Yu (175-210 AD) and his wife Xiao Qiao, a beauty at the time of the Three Kingdoms.
(2.苏东坡、苏轼) The great poet Su Dong Po (Su Shi 1037-1101 AD) who wrote a poem in the style Nien Nu Jiao which described the romance of General Zhou Yu and Xian Qiao (Song Dynasty 500AD)
(3.开元盛世) Kai Yuan era (Kai Yuan Sheng Shi 713-774 AD) was the greatest era of riches and abundance during the Tang Dynasty in which poetry, song and dance flourished to unprecedented artistic heights.
(4.大明丽宫) The Great Ming Palace of Beauty was constructed by the Empress Wu (624-705 AD) after she took over the reigns from her husband. It was considered to be one of the most magnificent palaces in Chinese history.
(5.庄周之梦) This dream described the idealistic vision of the philosopher Zhuang Zhou (369-286 BC) who dreamt that he became a butterfly and was flying freely. He advocated a free and easy existence just like water flowing towards the ocean without a care about power and gains in this world. His famous idea of ‘Wu Bu Wei (无不为)’ was as a development of Lao Tsu’s concept of ‘Wu Wei (无为)’. As a free thinker he dreamed of an ideal society.
(6.尧帝、舜帝) Yao and Shun were legendary kings in ancient China (circa 1000 BC) who were elected as sage leaders by the community rather than through bloodline inheritance like many dynastic emperors. Democracy as a social concept was very much evident during this period in Chinese history.
(7.诸子百家) The hundred philosophers refers to the hundred schools of thought which flourished between the Spring and Autumn and the Warring State period in Chinese history (400-100 BC). Amongst the thinkers were Confucius, Lao Tsu, Zhuang Tsu and Meng Tsu who participated in the cross-century discourse on philosophical and social concepts.
(8.庄子与惠施之辩) This is a philosophical conversation between Zhuang Tsu (Zhuang Zhou 369-286 BC) and his friend, the logician Hui Shi, on the happiness of the fish in water. How, as a philosophical observer, do you conceive that? Is the fish happy or not happy? How do you logically prove one or the other?

梅万方 2010年11月23日于伦敦

念奴娇     英伦梦


According to Max Planck “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it”. Yet, recalling Wittgenstein (路德维希•维特根斯坦)[5] whose great work Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus inspires me with his words: “a philosopher who is not taking part in discussions is like a boxer who never goes into the ring”. Whether you are using scientific experimentation or mathematical logic you are still confined to what Wittgenstein considered as the structure of logic. I cite his words: “logic is not a body of doctrine, but a mirror-image of the world. Logic is transcendental”. A hard truth can be hypothesised, as again vividly illustrated by Wittgenstein’s words: “it is an hypothesis that the sun will rise tomorrow: and this means that we do not know whether it will rise.” From this analysis and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle we can say that the modern science is not the endgame in knowledge. For example the new frontiers of research in quantum computers[6] and the possibility of a future quantum medicine[7], with which the Yin and Yang concept of dynamics is incorporated, are only the beginning of our exploration into the uncertain dimensions of reality discovered by the new physicists.

[5] Ludwig Wittgenstein (26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was a philosopher at Cambridge and associated with the Bertrand Russell’s school of linguistic philosophy.
[6] Y. Kanamori et al – A Short Survey on Quantum Computers, International Journal of Computers and Applications, Vol 28 No. 3, 2006.
[7] A medicine that moves beyond the current molecular medicine.

Looking into the past, at the present and forward to the future I feel deeply humbled by the great thinkers of this world – both East and West. Their wisdom, intellect and creative imaginations instil a tremendous sense of humility in me. And yet their thoughts inspire me to have the courage to think outside my own discipline and the preconditioned scientific training. I abandoned my rigid beliefs like a frog that jumped out of the narrow world of its own well to see the bigger sky. Experts in our modern world are increasingly specialised and increasingly focused on the micro details of their own discipline. I think it is important to encourage a multi-disciplinary approach for thinkers, scientists and philosophers alike and for them to enquire beyond their own disciplines. As our understanding of the immediate physical reality is limited by the ability of our senses and the degree of sophistication of our measuring instruments, we can extend our vision by using the limitless power of our imagination. I therefore firmly believe that a cross-disciplinary approach will expand our horizon.

While economists predict the future by judging the past and evaluating the pulse of the current economic data, the scientists are discerning experimental evidence. However, the thinkers can only rely on their power of cognitive reasoning. None of these tools alone are sufficient to arrive at the truth, absolute or relative. If we insist that the financiers should avoid being intoxicated by a pure pursuit of money and profit without any social considerations then we should also prevent ourselves from being addicted to experimental evidence. An open-minded scientist respects the value of free-thinking just like a noble entrepreneur is mindful of the contamination of greed. Neither arrogance nor greed can benefit our society. Let us embrace the spirit of nobleness, bring back harmony. Let our civilisation resume the pursuit of a higher order. Open your minds my friends and dare to imagine like our thinking ancestors…then we can move towards a noble civilisation – a future beyond science and technology. A renaissance of the human spirit harmonious with a living earth will ensue……

Man Fong Mei, London


28th May 2011


I am grateful for the invaluable academic comments and suggestions from Professor Claus Schnorrenberger, Dr Qihe Xu, Dr Andre Des Etages, Dr Zulia Frost, Dr Sun Hua, Professor Kelvin Chan, Mr. Marc Weinzweig, Professor Chen Keji, Professor Zhang Boli, Professor Ai-Ping Lu, Professor Wang Hongqi, professor He Bingwen, Dr Sophie Chen, and the tireless proof reading from my son Don Mei, my researcher Herman Loginov, Sherry Zhang, Nicholas Williams, Monica Linford and reader’s comments from my daughter Liselle Mei and my son Han Mei.

THE MFM E-LETTER expresses the personal view of Professor Man Fong Mei on health, medicine and other East-West intellectual issues. He is currently the Chairman of the Chinese Medical Institute and Register (CMIR)Chairman of The Chinese Medical Council, UKCMC, and Executive Chairman, Consultative Working Committee of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS). Professor Mei has published and delivered numerous papers in the past two decades. He is also a professor and visiting professor at three Chinese medical universities and an active member of several medical specialty research committees. If you are interested in receiving future issues of the MFM E-Letter, please visit to subscribe for free.

You can also follow Professor Mei on Twitter: @Prof.Mei

The content of this e-letter does not constitute a statement of guarantee of any kind. It is subject to change without notice and without prejudice.

梅万方教授现任英国伦敦中医学院院长、英国中医管理委员会主席、世界中医药学会联合合工作咨询委员会执行主席。近二十年以来,发表和出版了大量的学术报告与文章,并担任国内三所医药大学的教授,同时参与数个医药专业研究机构的工作。MFM电子通讯表达了梅教授在健康、医药和其他中西文化思维方面的相关观点。 如果您对他的电子通讯感兴趣,欢迎点击这里免费订阅。

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