WeiQi’s Third Eye

WeiQi, unlike most other games, seems to demand skillful use of both aspects of mind — the analytic, careful, algorithmic side (left brain) and the big-picture, artistic, feeling side (right brain).  When playing, a player can often feel which side of the brain his opponent favors and thus help in defeating.  A key to advancing in the game is to learn how to jump skillfully between these two viewing methods– analytic (small and focused) and the big-picture method.

David Chapman has a blog-book called “Meaningness” where he analyzes religious attitudes toward life into the classic two responses of “Eternalism” and “Nihilism”.  He proposes that while both of these views offer strengths, both are incomplete and mistaken so that even a compromise or “Middle Path” between them is also mistaken.  He suggests that “Meaningness” is the correct third perspective.

He has an excellent table here comparing and contrasting these philosophical/mental stances.  His table reminded me of WeiQi where, similarly, big-picture viewing (think, “Eternalism”)  has its strengths but can be blinding just as analytic thinking (think, “Nihilism”) is critical to success but dependence on it also limits advancement in the game.  I have felt like a balance between the two is ideal, but perhaps very high ranking players have naturally discovered a third view (think, “Meaningness”).  OK, my tendency to draw parallels in diverse areas of knowledge may be stretching things here, but something feels right about it.  For me, at my low level of WeiQi skill (a mere 8-kyu),  WeiQi has helped me see the defective sides of both aspects of my mind as well as their usefulness.  Maybe someday, glimmers of a third way , a third eye, will become clearer.  So may I proselyte again: even at a rudimentary skill level, WeiQi invites philosophy like no other game I know.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

4 responses to “WeiQi’s Third Eye

  1. Have not played the game yet, but I will now. As for “Meaningness”, I looked at the tabled and found myself nodding to most of his descripitions of nihilism vs eternalism. The sales pitch thing he wrote “Accurate understanding of meaningness allows both freedom and purpose” I also found quite astute, though that is based on my idea of what he means by meaningness as to be the same in Zen as if we would say not 1 and not 2, but both 1 and 2. Wow, did I just use the word astute? Anyway, as for the middle way being an incorrect view vs “meaningness” I think it’s a bit of semantics, however I guess I’d need to read more of the context of what he is saying.

    BTW, are you on twitter?

  2. Sabio, thank you very much indeed for the pointer to my site.

    I’m not sure if you realized that it describes many “dimensions of meaningness”, not just eternalism vs. nihilism, and there is another one of these geeky “schematic overviews” for each. These have lots more examples of the emotional dynamics that drive various “stances”.

    It occurred to me that it would be useful to have an overview of the overviews, so I’ve created a new page here:


    Most of the book will consist of explaining what all the entries in the little boxes mean; which mostly means explaining the emotional traps that make it easy to fall into wrong ways of relating to meaning, and how one can do better.

    I’ve never seriously played WeiQi. It was popular among my fellow graduate students back at MIT. I found it intriguing, but didn’t quite see the point. I think I have a knack for tacking back and forth between big-picture thinking and getting the details right, so perhaps I’d enjoy it.

  3. Sabio, I’ve I’ve never played WeiQi. But I am enjoying this discussion about meaningness. I’ve reviewed David’s all-dimensions-schematic-overview and find it most interesting.

  4. Wow, three people may try the game. My mission to reach out and convert those who have not yet heard the gospel is working ! 😀

    Kyle :
    I have a twitter account “Triangulations” but never use it. Maybe I should experiment. I experimented with FaceBook for 3 years so as to learn it and then canceled by account after I understood it and did not enjoy it. Twitter seems to be an even shorter sound-byte world which is what I did not enjoy about FaceBook.

    David :
    Thanks for the new page ! Very helpful and fun. I think you would kick-butt royally in WeiQi.

    Dan Gurney :
    I love David’s way of wrestling with responses to reality also.

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