Cybernetics of Tao

Zude Ye (Centre for the Creation of Coherent Change and Knowledge, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)
Maurice Yolles (Centre for the Creation of Coherent Change and Knowledge, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Publication date: 4 May 2010



Taoist thought is not easily penetrable for Westerners, though it has growing importance with the globalisation of Chinese commerce. The purpose of this paper is to explore some aspects of Chinese and Taoist thought, and how they can be expressed in cybernetic terms, using a knowledge cybernetics (KC) schema.


KC operates through metaphor the role of which is considered with respect to its application to the specific area of urban landscaping.


A new methodological approach is indicated that is capable of linking Western landscape theory with Taoist feng shui. The traditional approach to critical planning has been in principle enhanced through the idea of landscape canonical harmony that comes from Taoist feng shui. It is also shown that the activity phases in urban landscape design are ontologically different, and use distinct types of energy measures.

Research limitations/implications

The research uses KC as a vehicle for the development of a landscaping methodology that draws on both traditional Western and Chinese Taoist approaches. It requires application to real situations to draw out its practical capacities.

Practical implications

This is apparently the first time that a synergy between Western and Chinese approaches to landscape design and development has been attempted that results in the proposal of a complete methodology.


The successful use of this methodology could demonstrate that Western and Chinese approaches to landscape design are relatable.



Ye, Z. and Yolles, M. (2010), "Cybernetics of Tao", Kybernetes, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 527-552.

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