Daodejing: empty space

Chapter 11 of the Daodejing elaborates on Chapter 2, using the examples of a wheel, pot, and room to show that we should take a holistic view of things and not look at them in isolation.What use would a wheel be if you couldn’t hook it up to a carriage? What use would a bowl be if it couldn’t hold water inside it? And what use would a room be if you couldn’t step inside it?

「三十輻,共一轂,當其無,有車之用。埏埴以為器,當其無,有器之用。鑿互牖以為室,當其無,有室之用。故有之以為利,無之以為用。」
You can join thirty spokes together to make the hub of a wheel;
But it’s on the empty space at the center of it that its usefulness depends.
You can mold clay into a pot;
But it’s on the empty space inside it that its usefulness depends.
You can cut doorways and windows to make a house;
But it’s on the empty space inside them that their usefulness depends.
Thus, what has substance brings advantages;
What has no substance creates utility.

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