Class #19

Overview of the Dao de jing

1. Dao de jing, pp. 1-9 (Introduction);
Dao de jing, Selections I 

Lecture PowerPoint Deck

The Dao de jing is a difficult book to make sense of.  The writing is impressive, but the meaning is elusive -- it is unlikely that any interpreter has ever understood it fully.

Your readings are in two sections. The .pdf file called "The Dao de jing" includes an introduction and a translation of the entire work. You should read the introduction for Wednesday. The full translation is provided as a reference; your specific readings in the text for Wednesday and Friday are in two smaller files: Selections I and II.

The Dao de jing is very short, but it will require more than one reading for you to hang on to any but its vaguest ideas.  There are a few simple questions which you should be asking of the text on first reading.  What is the Dao?  How does it differ from our concept of "Nature?"  What characteristics does it have?  If these characteristics are facts, what values does the text urge on us, and how are facts and values linked? What are our imperatives? What does the text want us to learn (what facts; what skills)?