A few weeks back, Joel Dietz had a guest post on mysticism. Here is another posting from Joel; as before, please address your comments and questions to Joel!
The Dao De Jing has been used to justify political regimes at many points in history and there are fairly obvious reasons for this, concomitant with the idea of philosophy more generally. The idea that there are gradations to knowledge implies that there are those who know more. The idea that there are those who know more implies that probably those who possess “true” knowledge should rule over those who do not. The apparent problems growing from this are aggravated when the process of “true” knowledge is attributed to those who possess and/or practice certain secrets that are not equally distributed — as is the case in here, in the Bhagavad Gita, and in texts part of the Platonic lineage.
Joel Dietz, a regular follower of the blog, has written up the following summary of research he has been doing into the nature and background of “mystical” texts like the Dao De Jing. It’s fascinating stuff; enjoy! Please address comments to Joel.
A review by Ellen Zhang of Keping Wang’s Reading the Dao: A Thematic Inquiry has been published at the Notre Dame review site. Here is an excerpt:
Reading the Dao: A Thematic Inquiry has its own agenda. As Wang suggests in the Acknowledgement, the book is meant to be read by those who are interested in Chinese language and “the Chinese way of thinking,” and as such it defines the frame of reference for non-specialists in the English-speaking world rather than Daoist scholars or Laozi scholars who are looking for a more substantial and original scholarly work. That being said, the book has a virtue of its own. It is a comprehensive overview of Laozi’s Daoism for anyone unfamiliar with the DDJ and Daoism. It is clearly written, thematically formulated, and supplemented with helpful commentaries.
I’ve been recently thinking about an issue that comes up in both the Daodejing and the Analects. DDJ 63, specifically, is commented on in Analects 14.34. In the two texts, we see different positions concerning how one should respond to enmity 怨 yuan. DDJ 63 reads:
為無為，事無事，味無味。大小多少，報怨以德。圖難於其易，為大於其細；天下難事，必作於易，天下大事，必作於細。是以聖人終不為大，故能成其大… Continue reading →