Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching

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Livia Kohn, Michael LaFargue
SUNY Press - History - 330 pages
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Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching presents a coherent collection of materials on the ancient Chinese classic and its author, describing traditional and modern Western interpretations. Written and edited by recognized international specialists in the field, this book brings Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching together to present current scholarship on their history and interpretation. Contributors include William H. Baxter, Alan K.L. Chan, A.C. Graham, Julia M. Hardy, Yoshiko Kamitsuka, Livia Kohn, Michael LaFargue, Julian Pas, Isabelle Robinet, Benjamin Schwartz, and Liu Xiaogan. Divided into four parts, the book provides a wealth of information on the influential Chinese classic.

Part One, "Ancient Myths," discusses who Lao-tzu was, how he developed into a god of religious Taoism, and how his divinity was represented in medieval Chinese sculpture. Part Two, "Chinese Interpretations," discusses the role of the text in traditional China, studying the major commentaries by Wang Pi and He-shang-kung, looking at about thirty commentaries and their philological and doctrinal interpretations and examining the ritual uses the text found in medieval Taoism. Part Three, "Modern Readings," contains a critical discussion of the Tao-te-ching's reception in the West, a general analysis of its major doctrines, and a contemporary Chinese vision of its possible relevance for life today. Part Four, "Critical Methods," presents recent findings on the Tao-te-ching's linguistic structure and probable date, a historical, hermeneutic enquiry into its original meaning, and an evaluative guide to seventeen major English translations.
 

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Contents

Editors Introduction
1
The Origins of the Legend of Lao Tan
23
The Laotzu Myth
41
Laotzu in Six Dynasties Taoist Sculpture
63
IIoshangkung
89
Textual Polysemy
119
The Taoteching in Ritual
143
Influential Western Interpretations of the Taoteching
165
The Thought of the Taoteching
189
Its Ancient Meaning and Its Significance Today
211
On Translating the Taoteching
277
Index to Citations from Taoteching Chapters
303
List of Contributors
313
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About the author

Livia Kohn is Associate Professor of Religion at Boston University. She has written many books including most recently The Taoist Experience: An Anthology, also published by SUNY Press, and Laughing at the Tao: Debates among Buddhists and Taoists in Medieval China.

Michael LaFargue is Lecturer in Religious Studies and Director of the East Asian Studies program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author of The Tao of the Tao-te-ching and Tao and Method: A Reasoned Approach to the Tao-te-ching, both published by SUNY Press.

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