Dao has established The Annual Best Essay Award since 2007. In addition to a certificate of achievement, the award comes along with a prize of US$1,000. The award winners are noted in the website of this journal as well as the website of Springer, the publisher of this journal. The award ceremony is held each year at the American Philosophical Association Annual Meeting (Eastern Division), where a special panel on the theme of the award winning essay is held.
The selection process consists of two stages. At the beginning of each year, a nominating committee of at least three editorial members, who have not published in Dao in the given year, is established. This committee is charged with the task of nominating three best essays published in the previous year. These three essays are then sent to the whole editorial board for deliberation. The final winner is decided by a vote by all editorial board members who are not authors of the nominated essays.
The editorial board has just finished its deliberation on the best essay published in 2016, and the award is given to:
Thomas Ming, “Who Does the Sounding? The Metaphysics of the First-Person Pronoun in the Zhuangzi.” Dao 15.1: 57-79
Demonstrating both command of the secondary literature and grasp of the original text, Thomas Ming’s “Who Does the Sounding?: The Metaphysics of the First-Person Pronoun in the Zhuangzi” furnishes an original reading of the Zhuangzi by focusing on its use of the two first-person pronouns, wu 吾 and wo 我, in the famous saying, “I lost myself” (wu sang wo 吾喪我).While much of the scholarship on the Zhuangzi subscribes to either the “single-reference” view (SR), i.e., the two pronouns refer to the same self, or the “double-reference” view (DR), i.e., the two refer to two different selves, Ming proposes what he calls the “no-reference” view (NR), i.e., neither has a reference. According to this novel reading, just as there may be sound without a sound maker as the Zhuangzi shows with the metaphor of piping of heaven, the Zhuangzi is telling us that there can be thought without a thinker. What matters in this deep and thick analysis of the semantics of the two characters is the deliberate, and successful, endeavor to generate a more nuanced understanding of the text. Conceptually and methodologically, it also brings the interpretive and explanatory power of contemporary philosophy of language, particularly that of Wittgenstein and Anscombe, to bear on the parsing of the lineaments and meanings of the metaphysics of Zhuangzi. It represents the type of comparative studies that Dao aims to promote.
HUANG Yong, Ph.D. & Th.D.
Editor, Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy