Category Archives: Taoism

Body and Cosmos in China: An Interdisciplinary Symposium in Honor of Nathan Sivin

The Department of East Asian Languages & Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania is delighted to announce an interdisciplinary symposium in honor of Nathan Sivin at Perry World House, 3803 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104, on Oct. 14-15, 2017.

The symposium is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required.  Just click here if you’d like to attend:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/body-and-cosmos-in-china-an-interdisciplinary-symposium-in-honor-of-nathan-sivin-tickets-37455848451.

Continue reading →

WuWei Revisited

Scott Barnwell revisits one of our favorite topics:

Off and on over the past 18 months I’ve been working on a new essay for my blog series “Classical Daoism – Is There Really Such a Thing?” The essay is on Wuwei 無為 and whether it could be considered a defining feature of a group or tradition we call (early) Daoism. I’ve got some thoughts I hope some may feel like addressing. As far as I can tell, wuwei does not have just one meaning or usage. I think there are a few different uses and would like to know if others would differentiate them as I do.

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Daoist Philosophy: Enigmatic Texts | Thursday May 29th, 4-6pm | Segal Theatre, CUNY Graduate Center

The Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy is thrilled to co-sponsor this event, featuring several distinguished scholars. Details below:

Daoist Philosophy: Enigmatic Texts

Thursday May 29th, 4-6pm | Segal Theatre, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 5th Ave, NYC

Daoist philosophy has been highly influential in East Asian thought, and is becoming increasingly so in the West.  Yet its texts are often inscrutable. Most notably, they frequently seem to express themselves in contradictions and paradoxes. In this meeting, a number of world experts discuss how to understand this.

Participants: Continue reading →

Book Review – The Tao of Chip Kelly by Mark Saltveit

I just finished reading Mark Saltveit’s book The Tao of Chip Kelly. For anyone curious about the book, I’m posting an informal review here.

The Tao of Chip Kelly is an enjoyable read on the leadership and coaching strategies of Philadelphia Eagle’s head coach, Chip Kelly. The book presents lessons on leadership from Kelly’s coaching career, the majority of which are drawn from his four seasons at the University of Oregon. While Saltveit’s introduction claims the book is aimed towards management strategy, the book is accessible to anyone and potentially of interest to anyone interested in team strategies, football, or contemporary applications of ideas drawn from Laozi or Zhuangzi. Continue reading →

Barnwell on Classical Daoism, part 4.2

Friend of the blog, Scott Barnwell, has posted part 4.2 of his work on whether there really was such a thing as classical Daoism, over on his Baopu blog. Here’s a snippet. Feel free to comment here or there.

In what follows I will often translate Tian as “the heavens” to specify the referent as the sky above, including the sun, moon, stars and planets and sometimes as “Nature” to widen the referent to include the earth and imply the natural, dynamic forces at work in the universe.

We may now ask, who (or what) was believed to have created the heavens and earth? An excavated text called the “Chu Silk Manuscript” (Chu Boshu 楚帛書) contains the earliest evidence of a myth involving Baoxi 雹戲 (a.k.a. Fuxi 伏羲) and Nüwa女媧, who, in a time described as “indistinct and dark”(夢夢墨墨), gave birth to four children, who helped separate above and below (上下), that is, the heavens and the earth. Eventually, after thousands of years had passed the sun and moon were somehow born. Later[9] myths tell of Nüwa creating living things (out of already existing materials); for example, the late-Han Shuowen Jiezi 說文解字 records that (Nü)Wa was an “ancient female deity that transformed (=made) the myriad things” (古之神聖女,化萬物者也).

Aside from this text, it would appear that some of the authors of the Laozi and Zhuangzi were the first to attempt a “non-mythological” answer…

Saltveit’s new project: Taoish.org

Friend of the blog, Mark Saltveit, writes:

Hello.  I have a new project that may be interesting to readers of WW&W: http://www.taoish.org, a place for irreverent spirituality.  My focus is on manifestations of contemplative religion/philosophy in the modern West, primarily Daoism of course but not limited to that.

My current post might be especially interesting to your followers: an analysis of one line of chapter 10 of the Daodejing by Steve Bokenkamp of Arizona State. http://www.realchange.org/taoish/mirror-mirrormirror/

(Earlier, I reposted his classic 1993 Daoism FAQ, which is pretty fun.  http://www.realchange.org/taoish/authoritative-answers-to-questions-about-taoism/ )

Classical Daoism – Is There Really Such a Thing? Part 3

[Scott Barnwell posts Part 3 of his series “Classical Daoism – Is There Really Such a Thing?,” parts 1 and 2 of which also appear here and here at WW&W. We’re using the “Reblog” function for the first time. Feel welcome to initiate discussion here or on his own site. In any case, please direct all comments or questions to Scott.  – Manyul]

Huainanzi – shorter edition

Huainanzi update: A couple of years ago — has it really been that long? — WW&W posted an announcement and hosted some discussion that included the authors of the unabridged Huainanzi translation published by Columbia University Press. FYI, I just received in the mail an abridged version of the translation (272 pages instead of 1016), which is now available: The Essential Huainanzi.

Unrelated book note: The WAC (“Writing-across-the-Curriculum”) Clearinghouse at Colorado State University is offering, free of charge, electronic access to Chinese Rhetoric and Writing: An Introduction for Language Teachers by Kirkpatrick and Xu.

Enjoy.

Popular Daoism

Mark Saltveit, professional comedian and author, guest-posted last year on comedy and Daoism. Subsequently, he published his thoughts on that topic with MeFiMag (available for download). Mark is back with some questions that he has about popular Daoism, to get some discussion and opinion from members of our forum. He plans to publish an article about this topic as well (note Mark’s comments below about seeking permission to quote or cite from those who comment in this forum). Please address all comments or questions directly to Mark.

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Hello.  I’m working on a feature article (for an intelligent general audience) about criticism of popular Daoist authors (particularly Ursula K. Le Guin and Benjamin Hoff) by certain academics of Eastern religion who are centered around the University of San Diego and the Center for Daoist Studies (http://www.daoistcenter.org/homepage.html).

Some of this criticism seems rather polemical, rooted in an anti-Orientalist critique of the concept of Philosophical Daoism as a Western (and arguably Protestant) gloss. (I’m using the term “Culturalists” as shorthand for this group, and positing Michael Saso as its founder.)  Russell Kirkland calls Le Guin a “fraud” and Louis Komjathy won’t even write “Philosophical Daoism” without applying strikethrough to the words to show his disapproval. Kirkland goes so far as to argue that the Daodejing itself distorts Daoism, “sanitized” by its 3rd Century BCE redactor in a “marketing ploy” designed to strip it of “cultural baggage” and make it more presentable to Northern Chinese courts.  Continue reading →