A classic Chuang Tzu tale that explains how human beings actually do what we do, and live how we live, irrespective of modern rationalism’s claim to have captured all human knowledge in theory:
Duke Huan was in his hall reading a book.
The wheelwright P’ien, who was in the yard below chiseling a wheel, laid down his mallet and chisel, stepped up into the hall, and said to Duke Huan, “This book Your Grace is reading—may I venture to ask whose words are in it?”
“The words of the sages,” said the duke.
“Are the sages still alive?”
“Dead long ago,” said the duke.
“In that case, what you are reading there is nothing but the chaff and dregs of the men of old!”
“Since when does a wheelwright have permission to comment on the books I read?” said Duke Huan. “If you have some explanation, well and good. If not, it’s your life!”
Wheelwright P’ien said,
“I look at it from the point of view of my own work. When I chisel a wheel, if the blows of the mallet are too gentle, the chisel slides and won’t take hold. But if they’re too hard, it bites in and won’t budge. Not too gentle, not too hard—you can get it in your hand and feel it in your mind. You can’t put it into words, and yet there’s a knack to it somehow. I can’t teach [explain] it to my son, and he can’t learn it from me. So I’ve gone along for seventy years and at my age I’m still chiseling wheels. When the men of old died, they took with them the things that couldn’t be handed down. So what you are reading there must be nothing but chaff and dregs of the men of old.”
-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...