Philip J. Ivanhoe's richly annotated translation of this classic work is accompanied by his engaging interpretation and commentary, a lucid introduction, and a. These are the Dao de jing (道德經, The Classic of the Dao and of Virtue) by Laozi 老. 子 and the works of the quirky recluse Zhuangzi 莊子, which appear in a. The Daodejing Of Laozi PDF Download, PDF The Daodejing Of Laozi Popular Download, Free Download The Daodejing Of Laozi Full Popular Laozi, Philip J.
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The Daodejing of Laozi – Philip J. Ivanhoe Dao De Jing: The Book of the Way – Moss Roberts. Steven Shankman. University of Oregon. The Daodejing of Laozi. Translation and Commentary by Philip J. Ivanhoe. (New York ment is sometimes clearer, while Roberts attempts to recreate Laozi's. Editorial Reviews. Review. Why another translation of the Daodejing? Ivanhoe manages, unlike some scholarly translators, to respect the intellectual, social.
As the story goes, Laozi is said to be an older contemporary of Confucius and the author of the Daodejing. However, he is now considered to be a mythical character and the Daodejing, in its turn, is seen as a composite work. The titular conjunction of the Way and virtue qua power means that to offer some guidance i. This claim to efficacy, power, or influence seems to be in a provocative tension with the emphasis on weakness as a privileged way of existence, which we will see to be the case shortly. Instead of dismissing this tension as an unfortunate contradiction and a theoretical weakness in and of itself, I will take it as an invitation to examine the notion of weakness that is at work in the Daodejing.
One indication of its enduring appeal and hermeneutical openness is the large number of commentaries devoted to it throughout Chinese history—some seven hundred, according to one count W.
Chan , The Laozi played a significant role in informing not only philosophic thought but also the development of literature, calligraphy, painting, music, martial arts, and other cultural traditions.
Imperial patronage enhanced the prestige of the Laozi and enlarged its scope of influence. In C. In religious Daoism, recitation of the Daodejing is a prescribed devotional practice and features centrally in ritual performance.
The Daodejing has been set to music from an early time. The influence of the Laozi extends beyond China, as Daoism reaches across Asia and in the modern period, the Western world. During the seventh century, the Laozi was translated into Sanskrit; in the eighteenth century a Latin translation was brought to England, after which there has been a steady supply of translations into Western languages, yielding a handsome harvest of some LaFargue and Pas , , with new ones still hitting bookstores and internet sites almost every year.
A forthcoming translation is Minford The influence of the Laozi on Western thinkers is the subject of Clarke From nature lovers to management gurus, a growing audience is discovering that the Laozi has something to offer to them. The reception of the Laozi in modern Asia and the West falls outside the scope of this article; nevertheless, it is important to note that the Laozi should be regarded not only as a work of early Chinese philosophy, but also in a larger context as a classic of world literature with keen contemporary relevance.
The next three sections are intended for readers who are interested in the textual history and commentarial tradition of the Laozi, including the major manuscripts recovered through archaeological excavations or from the antiquities market.
They are important to understanding the Laozi, but one may go directly to section 5 on the main interpretive approaches to the text if one wishes to bypass them. Date and Authorship of the Laozi The date of composition refers to the time when the Laozi reached more or less its final form; it does not rule out later interpolations or corruptions.
The traditional view, of course, is that the Laozi was written by Lao Dan in the sixth or early fifth century B. This seems unlikely, however, if it is assumed that the Laozi was written by a single author. As the archaeological evidence to be presented below will indicate, bodies of sayings attributed to Laozi were committed to writing probably from the second half of the fifth century B.
These collections grew, competed for attention, and gradually came to be consolidated during the fourth century B. By the middle of the third century B. It is possible, as A. Graham suggests, that the Laozi was ascribed to Lao Dan around B.
It seems reasonable to suppose that Laozi, whether or not his real name was Li Er, attracted a following and that some of his sayings entered the world of Chinese philosophical discourse during the fifth century B. A process of oral transmission may have preceded the appearance of these sayings in written form. It is conceivable that a succession of editors or compilers brought together diverse bodies of Laozi sayings, resulting in the mature Laozi. According to Bruce Brooks and Taeko Brooks, the Laozi contains different layers of material spanning the period between and B.
Although in this sense the Laozi may be regarded as a composite work, the product of many hands over a long period of time, it should not be assumed that the sayings that now inhabit the Laozi were put together at random. The language of the Laozi does provide some clues to its date of composition. Much of the text is rhymed. Focusing on rhyme patterns, Liu Xiaogan and concludes that the poetic structure of the Laozi is closer to that of the Shijing Classic of Poetry than that of the later Chuci Songs of Chu.
The dating of the Shijing and the Chuci is by no means precise, although generally the poems collected in the former should not be later than the early fifth century B.
For this reason, Liu Xiaogan argues, the traditional view first articulated by Sima Qian should be upheld. Both Liu and Baxter provide a concise analysis of the different theories of the date of the Laozi. Why is all this important? It may be argued that date and authorship are immaterial to and may detract from interpretation.
Issues of provenance are important, however, if context has any role to play in the production of meaning. There are different ways to date the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, but they do not affect the discussion here. As the political conditions deteriorated, philosophers and strategists, who grew both in number and popularity as a social group or profession during this time, vied to convince the rulers of the various states of their program to bring order to the land.
At the same time, perhaps with the increased displacement and disillusionment of the privileged elite, a stronger eremitic tradition also emerged. If the bulk of the Laozi had originated from the fourth century, it might reflect some of these concerns. From this perspective, the origin of the Laozi is as much a hermeneutical issue as it is a historical one. Textual Traditions The discovery of two Laozi silk manuscripts at Mawangdui, near Changsha, Hunan province in marks an important milestone in modern Laozi research.
The Hunan Provincial Museum website also provides useful information. Before this find, access to the Laozi was mainly through the received text of Wang Bi — C. There are other manuscript versions, but by and large they play a secondary role in the history of the classic.
But first, a note on the title and structure of the Daodejing. According to the Shiji Later sources added that it was Emperor Jing who established the text officially as a classic. However, the title Daodejing appears not to have been widely used until later, toward the close of the Han era. Most versions exceed five thousand characters by about five to ten percent, but it is interesting to note that numerological considerations later became an integral part of the history of the work.
This claim cannot be verified, but a number of Laozi manuscripts discovered at Dunhuang contain 4, characters. The current Daodejing is divided into two parts pian and 81 chapters or sections zhang.
Part one, comprising chapters 1—37, has come to be known as the Daojing Classic of Dao , while chapters 38—81 make up the Dejing Classic of Virtue. In this context, it is easy to appreciate the tremendous interest occasioned by the discovery of the Mawangdui Laozi manuscripts. The two manuscripts contain all the chapters that are found in the current Laozi, although the chapters follow a different order in a few places.
For example, in both manuscripts, the sections that appear as chapters 80 and 81 in the current Laozi come immediately after a section that corresponds to chapter 66 of the present text. One scholar, in fact, has adopted the title Dedaojing Te-Tao ching for his translation of the Mawangdui Laozi Henricks It seems unlikely that the Mawangdui arrangement stems simply from scribal idiosyncrasy or happenstance—e.
This raises important questions for interpretation. The division into 81 chapters reflects numerological interest and is associated particularly with the Heshanggong version, which also carries chapter titles. It was not universally accepted until much later, perhaps the Tang period, when the text was standardized under the patronage of Emperor Xuanzong r. Traditional sources report that some versions were divided into 64, 68, or 72 chapters; and some did not have chapter divisions Henricks The earlier Guodian texts see below are not divided into two parts, but in many places they employ a black square mark to indicate the end of a section.
The sections or chapters so marked generally agree with the division in the present Laozi. Thus, although the chapter formation may be relatively late, some attempt at chapter division seems evident from an early stage of the textual history of the Daodejing. Until about two decades ago, the Mawangdui manuscripts held the pride of place as the oldest extant manuscripts of the Laozi. In late , the excavation of a tomb identified as M1 in Guodian, Jingmen city, Hubei province, yielded among other things some bamboo slips, of which are inscribed, containing over 13, Chinese characters.
Some of these, amounting to about 2, characters, match the Laozi see Allan and Williams , and Henricks The tomb is located near the old capital of the state of Chu and is dated around B. Robbers entered the tomb before it was excavated, although the extent of the damage is uncertain. The bamboo texts, written in a Chu script, have been transcribed into standard Chinese and published under the title Guodian Chumu zhujian Beijing: Wenwu, , which on the basis of the size and shape of the slips, calligraphy, and other factors divides the Laozi material into three groups.
Group A contains thirty-nine bamboo slips, which correspond in whole or in part to the following chapters of the present text: 19, 66, 46, 30, 15, 64, 37, 63, 2, 32, 25, 5, 16, 64, 56, 57, 55, 44, 40 and 9. Groups B and C are smaller, with eighteen chs. There is one important clue, however. Ding , 7—9.
Taking into account all the available evidence, it seems likely that different collections of sayings attributed to Laozi expanded and gained currency during the fourth century B. They would have been derived from earlier, oral or written sources. During the third century B. Even more recently, the growing family of Laozi texts welcomed another new arrival. In January , Peking University accepted a gift of a sizeable collection of inscribed bamboo slips, said to have been retrieved from overseas.
Among them, we find a nearly complete version of the Laozi. Although the published material to date did not mention any carbon dating of the slips, the consensus among the scholars who have worked with them is that they date to the Western Han dynasty. The Beida Laozi agrees with the Mawangdui manuscripts in another important respect; that is, Part 1 also corresponds to chapters 38—81 of the current chapter version, or the Dejing, and Part 2, chapters 1—37, or Daojing.
Like the Mawangdui manuscripts, the Beida Laozi also records the number of characters at the end of each part. In terms of wording, the Beida Laozi agrees with the Mawangdui manuscripts in many instances, although in some places it agrees rather with that of the received text.
However, the Beida text agrees with the standard version at the beginning of Chapter 2, as opposed to the shorter formulation found in the Guodian and Mawangdui versions. What is equally significant is that the sequence or order of the chapters is exactly the same as that in the received Laozi. The difference lies in the division of some of the chapters.
Chapters 17—19 of the received text form one chapter in the Beida Laozi. The same is true for chapters 6—7, 32—33 and 78— However, the current chapter 64 appears as two chapters in the Beida slips.
Altogether there are 77 chapters. Each chapter is clearly marked, with a round dot at the start, and each chapter starts on a separate bamboo slip.
The Beida Laozi is almost intact in its entirety, missing only some 60 characters when compared with the received text. While it offers fresh glimpses into the development of the text, it does not provide any significant new insight into the meaning of the Laozi.
A series of articles on the Peking University bamboo slips were published in the journal Wenwu , no. The Beida Laozi was published in December and launched in February Although the majority of scholars accept the authenticity of the find, a notable critic is Xing Wen, who argues strongly that it is a forgery Xing ; for a critical discussion in English, see Foster In summary, two approaches to the making of the Laozi warrant consideration, for they bear directly on interpretation.
Some of these sayings were preserved in the Guodian bamboo texts. On this view, the Laozi underwent substantial change and grew into a longer and more complex work during the third century B.
The Mawangdui manuscripts were based on this mature version of the Laozi; the original emphasis on politics, however, can still be detected in the placement of the Dejing before the Daojing. Later versions reversed this order and in so doing subsumed politics under a broader philosophical vision of Dao as the beginning and end of all beings.
As distinguished from a linear evolutionary model, what is suggested here is that there were different collections of sayings attributed to Laozi, overlapping to some extent but each with its own emphases and predilections, inhabiting a particular interpretive context. Although some key chapters in the current Laozi that deal with the nature of Dao e.
This seems to argue against the suggestion that the Laozi, and for that matter ancient Chinese philosophical works in general, were not interested or lacked the ability to engage in abstract philosophic thinking, an assumption that sometimes appears to underlie evolutionary approaches to the development of Chinese philosophy. Laozi pretended to be a farmer when reaching the western gate, but was recognized by Yinxi , who asked to be taught by the great master.
Laozi was not satisfied by simply being noticed by the guard and demanded an explanation.
Yinxi expressed his deep desire to find the Tao and explained that his long study of astrology allowed him to recognize Laozi's approach.
Yinxi was accepted by Laozi as a disciple. This is considered an exemplary interaction between Taoist master and disciple, reflecting the testing a seeker must undergo before being accepted.
A would-be adherent is expected to prove his determination and talent, clearly expressing his wishes and showing that he had made progress on his own towards realizing the Tao. Yinxi received his ordination when Laozi transmitted the Tao Te Ching, along with other texts and precepts, just as Taoist adherents receive a number of methods, teachings and scriptures at ordination.
This is only an initial ordination and Yinxi still needed an additional period to perfect his virtue, thus Laozi gave him three years to perfect his Tao. Yinxi gave himself over to a full-time devotional life. After the appointed time, Yinxi again demonstrates determination and perfect trust, sending out a black sheep to market as the agreed sign. He eventually meets again with Laozi, who announces that Yinxi's immortal name is listed in the heavens and calls down a heavenly procession to clothe Yinxi in the garb of immortals.
The story continues that Laozi bestowed a number of titles upon Yinxi and took him on a journey throughout the universe, even into the nine heavens. After this fantastic journey, the two sages set out to western lands of the barbarians.
The training period, reuniting and travels represent the attainment of the highest religious rank in medieval Taoism called "Preceptor of the Three Caverns". In this legend, Laozi is the perfect Taoist master and Yinxi is the ideal Taoist student. In discussing this problem, I will be relying on a highly illuminating article by D. According to this view, circular movement e.
Both systems refer to the same character and transcribe the same sound. This is also why we get two different spellings of the supposed author of the Daodejing: Laozi and Lao Tzu.
Without this differentiator, the image that comes to mind is a clock without hands, a clock whose ciphers are equal in their static nature. He reminds us that the lower is more valuable than the higher and that it is best to keep to the soft. However, circularity is incompatible with this view. Thus, Lau forces into crisis this attempt at simply getting rid of contradictions or opposites. Another common way of interpreting the role of opposites in the Laozi is in terms of interdependence.
The beautiful is what it is because of the ugly, the strong because of the weak, etc. We know and understand the opposites in their necessary relationality. Thus understood, the import of the text is due to a kind of glimpse into the interdependence of things that it allows for. However, Lau points out that the question here is precisely one of knowing or thinking about the opposites.
In other words, the route of linguistic relativism does not give us the full picture of the role that the opposites play in the Laozi. Dissolving the opposites into relationality is a powerful way of addressing the philosophical problem that they pose, but only in a limited way. According to Lau, the main problem with these interpretations is that they all rely on the notion of circular change.
In other words, the guiding idea behind these interpretations is that words have no fixed application and things have no identity, for change subsumes everything in its circular movement. Thus, we can talk about either one opposite becoming its extreme on the ontological level or dissolving into something else because of the way in which our thinking functions.
In either case, circularity equalizes everything.
Decline, when a thing reaches the highest point, is inevitable, but development is not. Decline can be abrupt, but development is gradual. Decline is inexorable, but development may require up, reckon, count, tell, speak, say, utter.
To think about things is to see them both in similarity between and differences from each other. Thus understood, thinking about various phenomena necessitates a kind of circularity, insofar as the thought of one phenomenon invites the thought of a different one.
Change as development may require more effort than change as decline. By formulating his solution from this specific angle, Lau introduces a degree of differentiation, complexity, and inequality into the seemingly homogenous process of change.
In other words, circularity erases contradiction or, perhaps better, the different dynamisms that different things might have. More specifically, if we understand the processuality of the Way as circular, we are at loss as to what to do with the construal of weakness as the use of the Way.
The process annihilating its own application can be meaningful only to some extent. Which is to say that it is equally possible to analyze a particular opposite in such a way that its dissymmetry from its counterpart comes to the fore, thus giving us the reason to question the understanding of change and contradiction we might have already had.
Interpretation: Putting Weakness to Work This finally brings us to the main task of endowing weakness with a more robust character, which means giving it a greater specificity than the mere absence of strength 26 Ibid. The route I will take in order to do this is to tie together the phenomenon of weakness and the various descriptions of water that appear in the Daodejing. First, let us recall that weakness is the using of the Way, i.
It was suggested that the weak was given such a privileged status because of the flexibility it entailed. The Way, in its turn, often becomes associated with water. If we understand weakness as fluidity, the conjunction of the Way, water, and the weak assumes a deeper meaning.
To gain a better understanding of this conjunction, we need to say a bit more about likening the Way to water. Let us look at several important passages in the Daodejing in order to do this. First, we read the following: The highest good is like water. Water is good at benefiting the myriad creatures, while not contending with them.
It resides in the places that people find repellent, and so comes close to the Way. Furthermore, it is to be found in unlikely places, in the places people do not like to frequent. The function of water is infinitely powerful, but it remains hidden and thus humble.
Flowing to the left and to the right. Since the Way expresses itself both in the infinitely small and the infinitely great, it occupies the distance between these two extremes as a flow, thus converting the distance into a paradoxical proximity.
It is the female of the whole world. By being like the humble and often inconspicuous origin of a river, a successful state will attract the world to itself, all without any unnecessary effort. All of this is reinforced by the direct reference to the feminine, for the feminine is another key image the Daodejing uses to talk about the nurturing source of all things.
This idea becomes amplified in Chapter Sixty-Six: The rivers and ocean are able to rule over a hundred valleys, because they are good at placing themselves in the lower position. This is important insofar as the valleys are another powerful image in the Daodejing. The power of something as visible, stable, and accomplished as a valley is subjugated to a humbler power of oceans and rivers.
Valleys are fertile, but water is the origin of this fertility. Another passage to be discussed here reads: In all the world, nothing is more supple or weak than water; Yet nothing can surpass it for attacking what is stiff and strong.