Readings from Laozi and Zhuangzi.pdf - u N — — The term Ddoist the school or family of the Dao did not enter the Chinese vocabulary until the Han

Readings from Laozi and Zhuangzi.pdf - u N — — The term...

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Cc0Q u? N Chapter 5 THE WAY OF LAOZI AND ZHUANGZI Next to Confucianism, the most important and influential native philosophy of the Chinese has undoubtedly been Daoism. In many ways the doctrines of Confucianism and Daoism complement each other, funning side by side like two powerful streams through all later Chinese thought and literature. To the solemn gravity and burden of social responsibility of Confucianism, Daoism opposes a flight from respectability and the conventional duties of society; in place of the Confucian concern for things worldly and human, it holds out a vision of other, transcendental worlds of the spirit. As the two streams of thought developed in later times, Confucianism has often been understood to represent the mind of the Chinese scholar in his officeor study, concerned with matters of family and society, while Daoism represents the same individual in a pri ‘ate chamber or mountain retreat, often seeking surcease from the cares of official life. METAPHYSICS AND GOVERNMENT IN THE LAOZI The term Ddoist the school or family of the Dao did not enter the Chinese vocabulary until the Han dynasty, around the second century B.C.E. In earlier periods this current of thought was referred to as “the teachings of the Yellow
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78 THE CHINESE TRADITION IN ANTIQUITY Emperor and Laozi” (Huang-Lao, in Chinese) and, later, of “the teachings of Laozi and Zhuangzi.” Though the Yellow Emperor is a legendary figure, we do possess two books attributed to Laozi and Zhuangzi. The name Laozi simply means “the oldmaster.” Who the philosopher known as Lhozi was, when he lived, and what his connection was with the text that has come down to us, are questions that have been debated for centuries. There have also been lively controversies about when the text was compiled andwhether it actually appeared any earlier than the third century B.C.E. Con temporary scholars are generally inclined to agree that the book known as the Laozi or Daodejing was likely the work of more than one author, writing over a period of time, and that it contains different textual strata. Still, the compiler or compilers of the work seem to have had a rather consistent integrative vision, and despite or perhaps because of— its brevity the document that has come down to us is one of the most provocative and inspired works in all Chinese literature. In a sense the Laozi, like so many of the works of this period of political chaos and intellectual ferment, proposes a philosophy of government and a way of life for the ruling class, probably the only people who were capable of reading it. Yet its point of view and approach to the problems of government are vastly broader than this statement might suggest.
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  • Fall '08
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