an immortal soul. Consequently, all impermanence and change (a fact that can be observed in everyday phenomena) became relegated to the body. This body born out of the platonic type and then christened into mortal flesh puts forth mutually exclusive dualisms like mind-body, subject-object, internal-external, form-matter, private-public, self-world and so on. These distinctions allow us clear categorisation towards a tidy form of knowledge for analyses, or in other words, to divide and conquer. However, such dualisms ensure that the body is always set up against an other, which it must overcome. Naturally so, since the mainstream of dialectical reasoning demands the bifurcation of mutually exclusive entities as the first order of things, from which the body and the performance of it becomes an expression of the private, internal, authentic, authoritative, signified selfhood – a means to an end.
The body is the site of identity. As a site, it is a bounded space, its boundary
fencing off the singular identity differentiating it from what it is not. This boundary gives all substance its determination, a this, which is not that; a negation which is the parsing out of the one from the manifold – the self from the other. To be able to identify something is also to be able to identify what it is not and much of western philosophy rests on this basic premise of non-contradiction. Metaphysically, the western body, as a site, is a border erected against trespass.
For readers of Chinese, it is hard to miss the fact that the simplified Chinese ideogram used to indicate the body (ti, 体) is made up of two parts, the left is that of the human radical and the right is the character indicating "root" – literally, the root of a plant growing beneath the trunk of a tree/wood. This association to plant life and vegetative growth is very prominent in the way body is discussed in classical Chinese, and that should not come as a surprise in a largely agricultural society where the survival of the community depends solely on farming.
This theory of body stems from the organic structures of the plant and its reproductive features. Its key idea: the technique of vegetative propagation. This agricultural technique simply is the severing of a part of the plant, like a shoot or a scion, to be replanted in order to reproduce the whole of the tree. The plant is then able to multiply by means of division. By multiplication, the plant is able to regenerate the whole of itself asexually via a dismembered part. In the language of contemporary science, the mature child-plant is a sort of clone of the single parent, sharing similar traits. What is important to note here is that the scion or shoot already contains within it the whole of the parent plant, and given due course, the part will eventually mature into the whole. Conceptually, the whole is always present in the part.
What we can derive from such a theory is that parts and wholes are one and the same, although their somatic boundaries are different. The Chinese conception of body lies in the key idea of the indeterminacy of boundaries,
leading to a kind of schizophrenia, which I will elaborate further at a later point. The boundaries shift depending on where the practical functioning occurs but crucially, the part is never self-standing outside the whole and the whole always includes its parts; an effect on the part is an effect on the whole and vice versa. I term this the synecdochical relationship between parts and wholes. As the literary device goes, it is not that the part becomes the whole over time. Rather, the parts and wholes come into existence(s) at the same time. Thus, we avoid the question of a temporal priority. However, they are not merely synchronous. Conceptually, they are one and the same.
A helpful metaphor raised by the Huayan Buddhist patriarch Fazang (法藏) is that of the house and pillar. That the pillar as being a part of the house already contains within it the whole of the house; just as pillar is already present in the concept of the house. There is no house without the pillar, roof, floor and wall. Conversely, there is no