from tao to linux

I received a submission for my trivia list stating that the phrase, “What goes around comes around” originally appeared in the Tao Te Cheng. I was a bit skeptical so I did some research. I found three different translations of it and none of them had the phrase.

I responded with the links to the three translations, asking if the submitter had any way of verifying his claim, and he replied that it was from chapter 30 of Charles Muller’s translation. I did some research on Charles Muller to see if he was a leader in his field or if his translation was considered the most correct. From what I can tell his translation is a modernized version and one of many, but I learned something else about him that was pretty cool.

Originally from Long Island, New York, Charlies Muller is a Professor in the Humanities Department at Toyo Gakuen University in Chiba, Japan. His self introduction goes into more detail, but what I found most interesting was . . .

he’s a Linux user (currently running the Debian distribution).

He’s not the stereotypical Linux user and freely admits he’s not an IT specialist, but he made the change based on his idealogical principles.

He writes,

A further reason for my interest in Linux in particular, and Open Source software in general, lies in my occupation as an intellectual historian. The philosophical idealism, coupled with the practical successes that are being demonstrated by Free Software and Open Source . . . movements deserve attention, I believe, as some of the most important intellectual trends of our generation. Given the pervasive reach of digital technology, it is hard to imagine that these trends will not bring some amount of influence to bear on the nature of scientific research as we know it.

Simply put, proprietary software that is built with the control mechanisms decided by Microsoft is incompatible with ideals of true scientific research, and thus does not belong on the desktops of academics.

I love the fact that he uses Linux because of the freedom it affords. He explains, “You can basically do everything you need in Linux, although there is definitely more responsibility placed on the user to get things set up and working correctly—part of the price of freedom.”

From what he’s written, I’m convinced he has the perfect attitude for a Linux user and I admire him for his decision.

Back to the original issue of whether or not that phrase originated in the Tao Te Cheng, I think it’s the other way around. I believe Muller used that phrase in his translation after already being familiar with it from other sources.

I reviewed the other translations and didn’t find anything close to that phrase.

Instead, I found three very distinct phrases.

1. Achieve results but not through violence, for it is against the natural way, and damages both others’ and one’s own true self.

2. For violence has a habit of returning;

3. Using force always leads to unseen troubles.

In summary, I’m not going to add it to the trivia list, but it’s great to hear that Linux is being used in more fields, especially non-technical ones.

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