New Book: Kohn, Pristine Affluence

Pristine Affluence: Daoist Roots in the Stone Ageby Livia Kohn, is now available for pre-order. For more information, please see below.

Order now, ships in early April: Paperback US$ 34.95–Prepublication special US$ 27.50 plus S & H. Please go to


The golden age of Daoists, rather than being imaginary, closely matches life in the Mesolithic, ca. 9000-5000 BCE, a sedentary form of hunting and collecting before the full development of agriculture and the rise of stratified societies and discriminating consciousness. The book examines fundamental Daoist values, modes of thinking, dietetics, communities, leadership ideals, nonviolence, gender equality as well as methods of self-cultivation in relation to prehistoric patterns. An enlightening account of Daoism in the context of human development since the Paleolithic, Pristine Affluence offers a new vision of the Daoist tradition, Chinese history, and essential human choices.


Livia Kohn, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita of Religion and East Asian Studies at Boston University. The author or editor of over 40 books, she now lives in Florida, serves as the executive editor of the Journal of Daoist Studies, and runs various workshops and conferences.


This book is a groundbreaking study of the roots of Daoism that go far beyond the Celestial Masters or the Daode jing, into the Stone Age, the early stages of humanity on earth. It makes such impressive sense to explore those uncharted territories as they open us to a greater understanding of Daoism today. Methodologically innovative, this work pulls together multiple disciplinary threads and items of archaeological evidence to promote a vision of Daoist pristine affluence that includes the principle of sufficiency, Paleolithic lifestyle patterns, health enhancement, and joyful living. All readers, whatever they know about Daoism, will find much to stimulate their thinking and reflection. The book’s breadth and scope, the variety of data explored, and the stark nature of the issues provoke both thought and emotion.—Robin R. Wang, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles

Pursuing Daoist concepts and practices into the Stone Age, Livia Kohn presents a highly refreshing, novel approach, integrating her deep knowledge of the Daoist tradition with archaeological and historic data and with anthropological and sociological insights. Using Marshall Sahlins’s concept of “pristine affluence” to demonstrate how early modes of human behavior continued to affect the ideologies and actions of humans during many later periods and under very different social and economic circumstances is a very intriguing anthropological insight as essential for our understanding of core Daoist concepts, ideologies, beliefs, and rituals as it is relevant to the study of human society worldwide. Pristine Affluence makes an important contribution to Daoist Studies and, more generally, to the study of Chinese culture and religions. Written in a clear and fluent style the work presents extensive knowledge but is not overburdened by details, making even complex issues accessible to all readers, including those not well versed in Chinese culture. The book is highly recommended to scholars and the interested public alike.— Gideon Shelach-Levi, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

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