Tao and Method: A Reasoned Approach to the Tao Te Ching

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SUNY Press, 1994 - Religion - 642 pages
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While the Tao Te Ching has been translated and commented on countless times, interpretations are seldom based on systematic theoretical treatment of the problems of interpretive method posed by this enigmatic classic. Beginning with a critical discussion of modern hermeneutics including treatments of Hirsch, Gadamer, and Derrida, this book applies methods developed in biblical studies to the Tao Te Ching. The following chapters discuss systematically four areas necessary to recovering the Tao Te Ching 's original meaning: its social background; the semantic structure of the brief aphorisms contained in the book; the concrete background of the more cosmic sayings; and the origin and genre of the 81 chapters of the Tao Te Ching. These essays propose relatively new theories in each of these areas, leading to a new approach to the interpretation of the text. This approach is illustrated in the translation and the detailed commentary on each chapter.
 

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Contents

Interpretation and Meaning Two Histories Hermeneutics
5
A History and a Proposal
12
Philosophical Foundations for Interpretive Method
23
Language and Reality
34
The Idea of Competence
36
This Hermeneutics Compared and Contrasted with Recent Trends in Hermeneutics
38
Sociohistorical Background
45
Introduction
47
Some Parallels between the Tao Te Ching and the Nei Yeh
191
The Vocabulary of SelfCultivation in the Chuang Tzu and the Tao Te Ching
201
The Vocabulary of SelfCultivation in the Tao Te Ching
208
The Wonderful and Cosmic Tao
229
Softness Overcomes Hardness
230
Sayings Linking One Quality to Another
232
Normative Descriptions
233
Sayings Describing the Wonderful Benefits of the Qualities Laoists Cultivate
236

The Self Understanding of Warring States Shih China in the Late Warring States Period
51
Choyun Hsu on the Rise of the Shih
53
ShihIdealists
57
How did ShihIdealists Gain Recognition?
60
The ShihSchool as an Environment for Idealism
64
Mencius on the Role of the ShihIdealist
69
Doctrinal Worldviews vs the Mencian Worldview
70
Mencius Stakes Out an Expanded Role for ShiftIdealists
75
Other ShihSchools
90
Mencius on Virtue
95
The Content of Mencius Instruction to Kings
96
SelfCultivation
104
The Mencian Shih vs the Modern Philosopher
112
Mencius and the Tao Te Ching
118
Verbal Form and the Structure of Laoist Thought
123
Introduction
125
The Semantic Structure of Aphorisms
133
Conversational Implicature
135
Speech Acts
137
The Target of Proverbs
138
The Attitude Expressed and the ValueOrientation Motivating It
139
Understanding Laoist Polemic Aphorisms
145
Definiteness
148
Making Sense of the Paradoxical Style of Laoist Aphorisms
153
The Problem of Coherence
156
A Concern for Organic Harmony
160
Sayings about Nature Heaven and the Ancients
172
Sayings and SelfCultivation
175
The Nei Yeh
181
A General Thesis
243
Stillness Is the Norm of the World
249
Cosmogonies
251
Contradictions and NonLiteral Understanding
263
A Pluralist but Critical Theory ofWorldviews
267
A Broadened Theory of the Good as an Irreducible Ontological Category
270
Conversion and the Transformation of the Lebenswelt
277
Transcendence
282
Subjects View and Outsiders View
288
The Laoist System
292
Some Comments on Contemporary Relevance
294
The Art of the Sayings Collage
301
Indirect External Evidence
303
Internal Evidence that the Tao Te Ching is Composed of Sayings from an Oral Tradition
304
Internal Evidence for Deliberate and Artful Composition of the Chapters
307
Substantive Associations of the Composers
333
Translation Commentary and Topical Glossary
337
Introduction
339
Translation and Commentary
345
Additional Textual Notes
521
Topical Glossary
529
Notes
559
References
601
Subject Index
617
Author Index
627
Index of Passages Discussed
631
List of Chapters in the Traditional Arrangement
641
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About the author (1994)

Michael LaFargue is the author of Language and Gnosis and teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

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