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Lecture 16

01:840:211 Lecture 16: Daoism

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Rutgers University

Lecture 16 – Daoism (the teaching of the dao) Daoism -The identification of a religion called “Daoism” (“Taouism”) appears for the first time in 19 th century European writings about China. -This English term was applied to a set of religious actors, ideas, and practices that in premodern China were variously referred to as daojia (“specialists in/school of the dao”), daojiao (“teaching of the dao”), and daoshu (“methods of the dao”). Proto-Daoism: Laozi and DDJ -As we have seen, “dao” (道) is a central concept in Confucianism. -There the term refers to the harmonious sociopolitical order of the ancient sage-kings, which was understood to represent the “way” of Heaven on earth. -Confucians such as Kongzi and Mengzi argued that through the cultivation of inherent potential virtue, aidedbytheruleofabenevolentking,humanscould returnto andagain realize this heavenly dao - Probably sometime around the 3 century BCE another work on the dao, offering a rather different perspective, was written —Dao de jing (DDJ) —and attributed to an author named Laozi -This Laozi (“Old Master”or “Old Child”)is regardedbylaterDaoist tradition as thehistorical founder of the religion. According to the ancient Chinese historian Sima Qian (145-86 BCE), Laozi lived during the time of Confucius (c. 6 century BCE) and wrote the DDJ after retiring from government -service - However that may rd, there are is no solid evidence for his life, and the DDJ itself would seem to date the 3 century BCE or thereabouts - dao “way”; de “virtue” or “power”; jing “classic,” “scripture” - Many possible translations of the title: “Scripture on the Way and Power,” “Classic on the Way of Virtue,” “Scripture of the Way and its Virtue,” “Classic on the Way and its Power,” etc -Laozi certainly did not envision himself as the founder of a new religious movement, and the DDJ did not become important for Daoists until well after Daoism had begun to form itself as an institutionalized religious organization in the later Han Dynasty (202 BCE–220 CE—the beginnings of Daoism are usually dated c. 2 nd century CE), thus many centuries after Laozi lived and the DDJ was written It is for this reason that it is best to consider the DDJ as a “proto-Daoist” text. -It represents ideas and practices that would become influential for the formation of the Daoist religion. -And indeed eventually Laozi himself becomes recognized as a major Daoist deity. Robson likens the relationship of the DDJ to later Daoism as similar to the influence ancient Greek philosophy had on the d
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