This chapter discusses how the “one and the many” problem is ontological, and that any presupposed ontological reality must answer the question of how the changing world either rises out of or hinges upon the irreducible. Both Ge Hong and Plato arrived at an irreconcilable propositional difference: Plato's “being without not-being” defined by logical exclusion of the two, and Ge Hong's “not-being with being” articulated in terms of the relational inclusion of both. Comparative ontology takes Plato's “being without not-being” and Ge Hong's “not-being with being” as two propositions for a dialogue. Though the dialogue operates at an abstract level and uses language closer to modern philosophy than to that of classic Daoism, the basic issues are only two. One is to address the relationship between being and not-being; while the other is the implication for cosmogony.
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