“Do horses have an innate need to be disciplined?” Is there a natural relationship between the horse and the whip? And this question of “nature versus nurture” is at the very core of all psychology, to be sure, but also of all philosophy, philosophy, theology, metaphysics, and metaphysics–and, to be sure, of politics, as well. It is a question which, like every other question, we will find ourselves asking, and which, like every question, can only be answered by the philosopher’s reply. And this reply I will try to give in the fourth of my lectures. In fact, I will begin to deal with it now, because I know that it will be the very first question I will have to give to anyone who ever sees the movie “The Last Samurai.”
The history of the sword in ancient China is a very complex history, in that the sword, with all its various forms and powers was very nearly the only weapon with which warriors fought and defeated their enemies, until, at last, an equally valuable weapon came to light. This weapon had not, as yet, reached the East, but it was there, and it was called the scimitar. If you think of it in these terms, scimitar and sword can be seen as two aspects of a single organism. You have a scimitar that’s attached to the horse; you have a horse that’s attached to the scimitar. You have two parts. That is a scimitar part, which may be small or huge, but it’s essentially one part. In the West, people refer to it as the whip. This is a more recent development in our culture–it may have been a development in western civilization only recently–but it’s been around for a long time. It became more and more popular, in the form of the whip, during the period in which it began to be used in Europe. If you believe that the scimitar was a sword originally, then it fits into that tradition. It fits perfectly and will fit perfectly into all Western cultural traditions.
The Chinese word for scimitar, in fact, literally means “sword sharpener,” and it literally means “savage knife.” To get a better grip on that, we can ask a question that we have been asking in the last several lectures. I want to have a look at a simple answer to that question, as I was explaining it to the gentlemen I have mentioned. You see, here in America
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