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The Pristine Dao
Metaphysics in Early Daoist Discourse
The Pristine Dao
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Thomas Michael - Author
SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Price: $64.50 
Hardcover - 182 pages
Release Date: May 2005
ISBN10: 0-7914-6475-X
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6475-5

Quantity:  
Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 182 pages
Release Date: May 2005
ISBN10: 0-7914-6476-8
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6476-2

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

A new reading of Daoism, arguing that it originated in a particular textual tradition distinct from Confucianism and other philosophical traditions of early China.

The Laozi (Daodejing) and the Zhuangzi have long been familiar to Western readers and have served as basic sources of knowledge about early Chinese Daoism. Modern translations and studies of these works have encouraged a perception of Daoism as a mystical philosophy heavy with political implications that advises kings to become one with the Dao. Breaking with this standard approach, The Pristine Dao argues that the Laozi and the Zhuangzi participated in a much wider tradition of metaphysical discourse that included a larger corpus of early Chinese writings.

This book demonstrates that early Daoist discourse possessed a distinct, textually constituted coherence and a religious sensibility that starkly differed from the intellectual background of all other traditions of early China, including Confucianism. The author argues that this discourse is best analyzed through its emergence from the mythological imagination of early China, and that it was unified by a set of notions about the Dao that was shared by all of its participants. The author introduces certain categories from the Western religious and philosophical traditions in order to bring out the distinctive qualities constituting this discourse and to encourage its comparison with other religious and philosophical traditions.

“Some readers will undoubtedly disagree with the very nature of his project, but his scholarly textual analysis is compelling even for skeptics. Many will be inspired to revisit the original works well-cited by Michael and take time to rethink their own assumptions about the divide between philosophy and religion.” — China Review International

"The overall argument is a direct challenge to the prevailing tendency to read much early Daoism politically. The author confronts this issue directly and makes a very strong case for an essentially religious reading. As a result of this work, we can now proceed to make more intelligent and interesting comparisons of Chinese Daoism with other religious traditions." — Stephen W. Durrant, coeditor of Early China/Ancient Greece: Thinking through Comparisons

Thomas Michael is Assistant Professor of Religion at The George Washington University.


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Note on the Texts

1. Early Daoism and Metaphysics

2. Early Daoism and Cosmogony

Before the World
The Xicizhuan: An Alternative Cosmogony of the Confucian Tradition
Abyssal Waters
Placental Waters

3. Early Daoism and Cosmology

The Harmonious World
Was There an Early Daoist Cosmology before the Laozi?
The Hidden Sage Is Not a Public King
Why Politics and Religion Don’t Mix; or Do They?
The World Was Born, Not Made
Sages Live the Adventure

4. Early Daoism and Ontology

The Fractured World
Splitting Binary Differences: The Ontological Vision of the Laozi
Human Labor Gets a Turn: The Ontological Vision of the Qiwulun

5. Early Daoism and Soteriology

The Healed World
The Neiye Describes the Body as Jing
The Laozi Describes the Newborn Body
The Zhuangzi Describes the Body as Heaven
The Huainanzi Describes the Correlative Body

6. Early Daoism and Modernity

Notes
Bibliography
Index



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44022/44023(NE/LDS/SP)

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