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The Tao Is Silent

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  437 ratings  ·  33 reviews
The Tao Is Silent Is Raymond Smullyan's beguiling and whimsical guide to the meaning and value of eastern philosophy to westerners.

"To me," Writes Smullyan, "Taoism means a state of inner serenity combined with an intense aesthetic awareness. Neither alone is adequate; a purely passive serenity is kind of dull, and an anxiety-ridden awareness is not very appealing."

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Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 21st 1977 by HarperOne (first published June 1st 1977)
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Tao Te Ching by Lao TsuThe Tao of Pooh by Benjamin HoffThe Te of Piglet by Benjamin HoffSiddhartha by Hermann HesseTao by Alan W. Watts
Best Books on Taoism
13th out of 74 books — 57 voters
Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas R. HofstadterPermutation City by Greg EganThinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel KahnemanAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollGood and Real by Gary L. Drescher
Less Wrong Recommended Reading
11th out of 23 books — 19 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 973)
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Dimitris Hall
Πολλές φορές δεν είναι ένα βιβλίο αυτό καθ'αυτό, το τι γράφει δηλαδή, που σου μένει στο μυάλο, που το κάνει ιδιαίτερο για σένα. Το πώς έμαθες για την ύπαρξη του, με ποια άτομα το έχεις συνδέσει, ο τρόπος γραφής αντι του περιεχομένου, ακόμα και το αν συμπάθησες ή ακόμα και θαύμασες τον συγγραφέα, παίζουν πολύ σημαντικό ρόλο στην εντύπωση που θα σχηματίσεις για αυτό. Μπορεί ακόμα και να κάνουν τη διαφορά ανάμεσα στο αν θα σου μείνει κατα κάποιον τρόπο, αν θα κουλουριαστεί σε κάποια φρέσκια νευρική ...more
Algirdas Brukštus
Pradėdamas skaityti, tikrai nesitikėjau, kad vakarietis gali taip įtaigiai pasakoti apie Dao. Kažkada jau nudegiau pirštus skaitydamas The Te of Piglet (, todėl labai atsargiai imuosi panašių knygų ir vengiu komentarų, skaitydamas Dao De Jing ar Zhuangzi. Bet Smullianas pakeitė mano nuomonę. Jis - matematinės logikos specialistas, parašęs ne vieną šios srities knygą, pianistas. Atrodytų, logika turėtų trukdyti pasiekti tokios sąvokos kaip Dao esmę, bent t ...more
This book being my only introduction to Taoism thus far, I'm a little confused about all this. The idea that all humans are born good but are all corrupted by the environment to some extent is a fascinating one, also one that I've been considering for a long time, but what use is it to believe this, since nobody, not even the Taoists (I'm sure they would just quote Buddhists about "anger being the common enemy") has any idea of how to undo that corruption, since nobody really has the right to fo ...more
"The Tao Is Silent" is a remarkable little book about Taoism, Zen, and Eastern philosophy/religion. Smullyan writes with a very light touch- most of the essays are wry and amusing, and his fundamentally playful approach to his subjects makes the book and easy read. I was first introduced to Smullyan when I read Hofstadter and Dennett's "The Mind's I", which contained one of the essays in this book ("Is God a Taoist?") So it's not surprising that Smullyan frequently speculates about the nature of ...more
Not much here. Kind of cute, as if Feynman was into Taoism. I liked some of his logic-wordplay, I'm interested in reading something else of his maybe.
Gypsy Renhart
I loved this book! I will go back to it many times.
It is delightfully humorous with witty dialogues created between characters. Each full of mind opening insight in the very simplest forms all while leaving you with your own interpretation.
A lot of books about the Tao are quite elaborate and though the Tao can never really be explained no matter what book you read this book brought it into perspective more than any other.

We are often over thinking everything. When we stop seeking and over thi
This was a re-read and I liked it better the 2nd time. A little bit hippyish, but still some interesting points. If you like philosophy.
The Tao Is Silent is great small book. I just swallowed it over the weekend. A mathematician Raymond Smullyan tells us about his own perception of Tao from the point of view of analytical philosophy. It is not as scary as it sounds , because fortunately (for me at least) he does not go beyond Aristotelian logic in his formal analysis :) and fills the book with good humor and many hillarious stories from both Tao's books and his own life.
At first I was mildly irritated by his attitude, but once I kind of caught on to what he was on about and became familiar with him, recognizing how he could say things that would be a little arrogant in anyone else but were completely not so in him, I couldn't help but be charmed. So much of this book is so right on that I forgive the small parts here and there where he caves.
Keith Davis
A wonderful book about Taoism by an American mathematician best known for his books of logic puzzles. Unlike any god, the Tao is silent, so it can never contradict itself. The Tao does not get angry or have a plan to judge the world. The Tao is empty, and because it is empty it is useful. One of the few books I regularly reread.
Gustavo Chaves
Some amazing pieces: Is God a Taoist?, Taoism Versus Morality, Wouldn't It Be Funny If, When the Time Is Ripe
A re-read for me (kind of annoying that goodreads won't let you have a book simultaneously in your "Read" and "Currently Reading" categories) and just as good the... I guess 4th time now. Originally lent to me by Sandra Mihordea, a high school sweet heart and current friend.
Vijay Veeraraghavan
More than the Tao and Zen he teaches logic, which I call 'Taogic'. A good book for those who know little about Toa and Zen, but for starters they might find little, that too if they have western scientific/philosophic background, it will be a little tough read.
One of the few descriptions of Tao that is concrete enough for my western mind to grasp. Smullyan doesn't answer the questions, but at least I know what the questions are, now.
Right up there with the Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet. As essential as the Tao Te Ching. A great commentary on Taoist philosophy for modern Westerners.
I loved it. A very clever little book on Taoism. Smullyan playfully dissects the finer points of taoistic philosophy in a a very down-to-earth readable way.
Morris Nelms
Raymond Smullyan. He's wonderful, delightful, witty, etc. Even when I disagree with him I'm amused. A marvelous writer who should be more well read.

Raymond Smullyan is my Logician Dumbledore. I own and read every book of his I can get my hands on. Which is well over a dozen.
A Western mathematician describes, in simple humorous English, the Taoist Way of life. It's funny because it's true.
Excellent intra-level discourse around the paradox of consciousness and how its treated in Eastern vs. Western thought.
Jul 25, 2007 Jay rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
If you follow you lead. And if you lead you follow. And if you are inbetween you both lead and follow.
Richard Baker
This charming book is exactly what you might expect of a logician writing about the Dao.
Dec 05, 2008 Sam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people interested in religion/spirituality
Recommended to Sam by: assigned for a religion class
This is book and this authors writing style is exactly why I love Taoism.
A logical, hilarious, and honest analysis of how to think about existence.
Nice book, easy words but a real mind worker. Simply Taoistic..
Timon Karnezos
Paradox of consciousness, blah blah blah.
Not a great writer, but wise and funny.
Mar 02, 2007 Matt rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: If Taoism is old hat for you, Smullyan just might give you some new insights.
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Raymond M. Smullyan is a logician, musician, Zen master, puzzle master, and writer.
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