Talk:Tao Te Ching/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

Historical existence of Lao Tzu

COMMENT: The historical existence of Lao Tzu in unconfirmed according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. What is your source for the statement that the existence of Lao Tzu is historically confirmed? That the Tao Teh Ching is not the work of one man is generally accepted.

I'd suggest you simply make the change that you believe is necessary; this will save time, and if the author doesn't like it, he can always change it back (and then you could discuss the problem). Just my suggestion. -- Larry Sanger

COMMENT: There is no justification for any such categorical statement. To take but the matter of Ssu-ma Ch'ien, I quote:

Even the 'biography of Lao Tzu' which may be found
in the 'Historical Records' (Shih-chi) of Ssu-ma Ch'ien (second
century B.C.) is not without its inconsistencies. This record
describes Lao Tzu as having been an archivist of the Court of
Chou, and further states that he is said to have
personally instructed Kung Fu Tzu (Confucius). (Which is
inconsistent with other supposed information about Lao Tzu.)

Indeed, the author of the 'Historical Records' himself expresses doubt about the authenticity of the available information. Thus, although you may of course personally hold the opinion that Lao Tzu existed and the Tao Te Ching is the work of one man, it is altogether inappropriate to present these views as accepted fact.

I am a Chinese myself, and though the historical existence of the sage Laozi was rumoured in several important Chinese historical works, the real life of the man was surrounded in shadow where most people who claimed to have known him were not the most authentic. The existence of Laozi was still currently a debated issue in China and common public knowledge of him was only 'a rumoured sage who left the Tao te Ching'. Indeed, in many common folklores he was even made out to be some sort of incarnate Deity who returned to the Heavens or a shamanistic wise- man who received the favour of the gods. Given these resources I would argue that a more doubtful voice is needed upon the introduction to Laozi than that is currently available on Wikipedia. — Preceding unsigned comment added by DoctorW (talkcontribs) 21:24, 8 December 2005‎ (UTC) --User:Luthinya 31 October 2005

Move: Capitalization

Also, even if it is more suitable to use the pinyin transliteration, shouldn't all the words in the title be capitalized (Dao De Jing) instead of the current one? (Just like we have The Art of War but not The art of war.) --Lorenzarius

I personally like the all capitalized version better. I think "Tao Te Ching" would be a more appropriate article title, despite the greater accuracy of Pinyin, simply because the article is in English, and the vast majority of English language versions of the work spell it in Wade-Giles. User:kwertii
Since neither the original writer nor anybody else spoke up in favour of retaining the lowercase, I have deleted the redirect and moved the page. --Menchi 23:25 29 Jun 2003 (UTC)
And the history of the deleted redirect page is:
--Menchi 23:27 29 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Te, not Teh

The pre-pinyin common romanization "Tao Te Ching" is the Wade-Giles romanization, not "Tao Te'h Ching". There's no syllable teh in Chinese, in either pinyin or Wade-Giles. The yunmu eh in Wade-Giles is not the schwa as in 德 (pinyin: de, Wade-Giles: te), but it is like the English interjection eh!, as in 葉/叶 (pinyin: ye, Wade-Giles: yeh). The Wade-Giles ehs zhuyin equivalent is ㄝ and pinyin equivalent is e (like the schwa, but they never occur in the same context, save for one tiny exception of 誒, and in this case, it is rendered in pinyin as ê, which also happens to be what the schwa in Wade-Giles is when it stands alone. The table below should help clarifying).

Zhuyin Pinyin Wade-Giles Character Example
e ê, -e or -o (after h- or k-) 鵝 'goose' 德 'virtue'
ê, -e eh 誒 'eh!' 葉/叶 'leaf'

The hyphens in the table above signify that there's something (shengmu) proceeding it. So -e could be te, de, etc. Menchi 05:53 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)

The -h in Teh is a relic of a pre-Wades-Giles convention to mark words that have the entering tone (rusheng) in non-Mandarin dialects. Google gives about 3000 hits on Tao Teh Ching, mainly for old publications (and about 73000 hits for Tao Te Ching) Stephen C. Carlson 04:32 Feb 13, 2003 (UTC)
Thank you for the insight, Stephen! What more do you know about this pre-W-G transliteration? Do you know what it's called? Thx. -- Menchi 06:21 Feb 13, 2003 (UTC)
There was no real standard and it does not have a name other than pre-Wades-Giles, but this convention was used by James Legge, an early 19th cen. translator of the Chinese classics. Another convention was to use two different spellings for what pinyin j- corresponds to: either k- or ts- depending on how that sound was pronounced outside of Beijing (or Peking as Legge spelled it). Stephen C. Carlson 06:34 Feb 13, 2003 (UTC)


Is there a Bibliography anywhere in here on the Tao Te Ching?

There are many possible translations of the book's title, as the meaning of the Chinese characters is somewhat ambiguous. 道 is usually translated into English as "the way ahead", "the path ahead", or simply "the way". This term has special meaning within the context of Taoism, where it implies an innate, nameless property of the universe. Though commonly referred to as the 道德經, the title is actually a fusion of the two books of scriptures, namely 道經 and 德經. Strictly speaking, the two are usually referred to as one book, however, the combined name of both books has no real intended meaning.

I've never read of this 'fusion of two books of scriptures' theory, but I've read in several places something like the previous explanation of the translation of the title... the text below this in the article says that the oldest 2300 year old copies of the Tao Te Ching found are substantially the same as modern editions. What evidence supports the two books of scripture fusion theory? Kwertii 18:41, 25 Nov 2003 (UTC)

You're right imho: It's more interesting to say that Daode Jing can mean both The Book of the Way and Power and The Book of the Way and its Power (I think Waley's translation uses the latter). These sligth difference is useful to understand what is inside the book. gbog (Sorry for my poor English, I'm a French nioubi) You may see also [1]
To my knowledge, both the GNL (Merel) and Muller translations acknowledge the Daodejing as being comprised of two seperate volumes, the Daojing and the Dejing. In particular: In its original form, the Tao Te Ching (as it is now known) is believed to have consisted of eighty-one short chapters, these being arranged in two sections, known as the 'Tao Ching' and the 'Te Ching'. [2]. Additionally, the trio of characters has no hidden meanings in Classical Chinese, contextually. --Taoster

This seems to contradict what the article here says a few paragraphs later: "The 1973 archeological discovery of complete Chinese "scrolls" (actually silk rolls called the Ma-wang-tui Texts after the village where they were found: Text A, with more lacunae, thought to have been written sometime before Text B which has been dated to 200 BC) reveals that the Dao De Jing as modernly reported is in substantially the same form as that which was written in antiquity, thus limiting the time period during which the writings might have been changed or contributed to." This says that the oldest known versions of the TTC are "substantially the same" as modern versions. This is incompatible with the idea that there were at some point two seperate texts which were joined together... I'm not sure how to go about sorting this one out. Ideas, anyone? Kwertii 23:16, 2 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Well, given that the archival data presented is so insubstantial, I say we let the readers stick to their own interpretations of the title's meaning. --Taoster
There is no contradiction. If you notice, Henrick's translation (based exclusively on the Ma-wang-tui texts) is titled "Te Tao Ching" (rather than "Tao Te Ching"). This is because, even though the text is substantially the same, the two halves of the book are in reverse order. This suggests that they were divided at one point. --C.B.

I've modified few things and removed some trying to explain that Confucius is evil and Laozi good... I think the article is still a little bit POV, cause it doesn't tells us much about the political side of it, which is not negligible at all, and a filliation of Lao Zi can be found in the Hanfeizi and Legalism

I'm wondering if it could be possible to add the title, or a sentence, in big chinese chars, with a div. Let's try :


bla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test bla bla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test blabla test bla

What do you think about this ? gbog 16:05, 1 December 2003 (UTC)

How does Guodian(郭店) text compares to other texts? Discovered in 1993, written on bamboo slips, it predates Mawangdui(馬王堆) text by about 300 years.

The Leguin translation..

It's not really a translation, as she is not a Chinese speaker.. it is an interpretation based on another book that lists the Chinese characters and possible english meanings. Additionally, in the commentary of her book she gives a brief exposition about the ma-wang-tui scrolls. I will find my copy of it and post the relevant information to this discussion.

I had a problem with hers too. I am a Chinese myself and have read the Tao many times, certainly often enough to realise many ill- translations that existed within the version of Leguin. In chapter 15 especially where Lao Tzu was trying to 'describe' those who knew the Way, one line was being presented by Leguin as 'blank, like uncut wood', where a much more accurate translation would have been 'pure and natural, like unchiselled gems.' Also, when compared to the classical Chinese, her translation of the penultimate paragraph was far off the mark and simply made not very much sense. It is, as you said, an interpretation more than a translation. But then again, considering that it is impossible to actually translate a language as if it was a code, and that anything dealing with such a mysterious and multifaceted writing can only be one's own interpretation, I think Leguin managed quite well without actually being a Chinese herself. -- User:Luthinya 10:31 13 January 2006

Le Guin was assisted by an acknowledged expert in the field, Jerome P. Seaton. He has 5 or 6 books of poetry translated from wenyan. I took several classes under him at UNC-CH, and learned a ton. Did you get the mawangdui material together? Soltera 15:39, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Is this really there?

I read on this page that two of the main concepts in the Tao Te Ching are:

(1) The wise are responsible for the foolish. (2) The honest are responsible for the dishonest.

May I ask where such is implied? I admit I haven't read it in a long while, but I don't recall this. If it is there, what is meant by "responsible"? From the whole work, I can only conclude some form of "responsible non-action" (did that just make any sense?).

Some translations/interpretations point in the same direction as statement (1) above. The wise ruler keeps his people ignorant, and quietly organizes society in such a way that they come to no harm. However, I personnally think those statements take it too far, and I think they are best removed.--Niels Ø 11:57, Jun 10, 2005 (UTC)

I think you need to revise on your understanding of Laozi's 'Ignorance'. In the Tao te Ching, he does not make use of that word to imply a return to the animal instincts where we knew nothing and cared for not very much either, but rather as a 'knowledge' of the cruel and tragic 'artificial world' we have constructed in raising intellectualism above intuition and going against the laws of nature. A knowledge of this artificial world, as is believed by the Taoists, disturbs the spirit and makes a man shallow and worldly in the truest sense, so thus they are not interested in this world and began to follow the Tao. That is the reason why the leader must keep his people 'ignorant', so their hearts will not be perturbed by the colourful lusts of the world and will not go against the laws of nature to achieve their aims in ambition, lore etc. This freedom of ambition is part of the ignorance of Laozi, as is quite looked down at by the pragmatic rulers that followed later and who had turned to Confucius. As for coming to no harm, it is more like assuming a natural and pure lifestyle which is in harmony with the way the world works, and which shall obviously come to no strife whatsoever. A lot of uses in words like 'learning', 'ignorance' and 'personal will' are quite different in Laozi than other sources and needed sometimes a more 'intuitive' mind to comprehend. OK, I do agree that some of the statements seemed a little too extreme on a first reading, but at the time the Tao te Ching was written the country was just torn from the war and intrigue of the period before, and the rural people of China longed for nothing except peace from war at least for a while where they could finally get on with their lives, so thus the Tao te Ching was quite welcomed by the new emperors who decided to 'trust the people's will', for once. -- User:Luthinya 12:18 13 January 2006

Could someone provide a reference for "The more you go in search of an answer, the less you will understand." being a theme? It doesn't seem consistant with what I've read about Taoism. -- (talk) 16:01, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

The key word in the passage you quote is "search." With the Tao, there is no need to search because the Tao is always present. I exclusively use the Mitchell book, and here are some quotes. Chapter 4 "It is hidden but always present." Chapter 6 "It is always present within you." Chapter 7 "thus it (the Tao) is present for all beings." Why would we search? Not seeing the Tao is a false impression. In terms of a meditative practice, whenever we have the thought the eternal creator is not present, we understand the thought is false, and let go. (If we doubt the Tao's presence, we ask the Tao to guide us.) Chapter 7 also says, "Because she has let go of herself, she is perfectly fulfilled." This gives a powerful, poetic sense of not being worried about our personal development. We are using the Tao; the Tao is handling it.

Additional, pointed commentary on this subject can be found in Mitchell's Commentaries for Chapters 1 and 11. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Siggy65 (talkcontribs) 06:11, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

Emptiness or Nothingness ?

The word emptiness should be replace with nothingness. The reasons:

1. The character in the original text(無)means nothing. The original text used the character 無 and nothingness is the proper translation for it. Whereas 空 (empty) is the character we use in sentence like "The box is empty." We don't use the character 無 to describe that.
2. Meaning of the character in Taoism's context is definitely more than a completely empty vacuum.
3. Usefulness of uselessness is also one of the essentials in Taoism. The word nothingness can provide this sense too.
4. Let's check the meaning of empty: "1. containing nothing...3. foolish, meaningless, vacuous" (The Oxford Reference Dictionary) "1. with nothing in it...without substance...totally without...without foundation...silly , without seriousness." (Webster's Dictionary)
These mean there could be mud-throwing intentions in English translations.
Nothingness can provide some kinda impartiality in the translation.
5. Try google taoism nothingness and u can get loads of my supporters. These are just a few of them:

--ETTan 03:27, 1 August 2005 (UTC)

Be bold and change it yourself ! gbog June 29, 2005 17:46 (UTC)

Well, be cautious for a moment. Everyday, modern use of language isn't always (or even usually) a good guide to the translation of ancient, philosophical terms. The question is: which makes more philosophical sense in the context, "emptiness" or "nothingness". It's not clear to me that "nothingness" is better. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 29 June 2005 18:01 (UTC)
Well, maybe... I'm not native english speaker and I don't remember what's the common usage in translations. 無 Wu is usually the negation of "having", as I have learned. BTW I have read an intersting text of Simon Leys stating, in short, that Wu could be compared with the western "being"... I have the text if you read French, here (search for WU). gbog June 29, 2005 18:49 (UTC)

The books at which I've looked (just on my own shelves; if I get a chance tomorrow, I'll try to check what's in the College library), the translation is mostly "emptiness", and sometimes "non-being" (though the latter, in particular, is usually hedged round with qualifications); no book uses "nothingness". Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 29 June 2005 22:18 (UTC)

The context of the original text

Nothingness has been badly criticized philosophically (Sartre) and theologically(Karl Barth). This could be the reason why most translations prefer using emptiness to distinguish it. However, if we read the text carefully, 無 is actually an adjective that contain and yet far beyond "being". Some may provide emptiness a taoistic meaning in their translation, but the improper sense of vacuity is still there for a reader.

--ETTan 1 July 2005 07:17 (UTC)

To be honest I doubt that any othe translators were influenced by Sartre or Barth; the use of "emptiness" as a trnaslation predates both, and most English translations would be likely to be produced either by Chinese-philosophy specialists or by philosophers in the analytic, not the continental tradition (I don't know, but I'd be surprised if Waley were influenced by Sartre or Barth). Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 1 July 2005 10:51 (UTC)

Well enough, but the core issue here isn't when, who or how many of them use the word "emptiness". Afterall, it's the sense of vacuity it provides that is improper to decribe Tao that contains "being". --ETTan 3 July 2005 04:13 (UTC)

I think emptiness actually is a better description of the Tao than nothingness. To me, emptiness more directly implies its container than does nothingness somethingness. This is important. --Benna 4 July 2005 03:07 (UTC)
I rather prefer the translation in most Chinese-English bilingual dictionary: the character 無 means nothing.
--ETTan 4 July 2005 17:36 (UTC)
I agree. Also the use of "nothingness" tends to lead to misleading and pointless paradoxes, giving an impression of pseudo-profundity. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 4 July 2005 10:35 (UTC)
"Right words as if paradox"(Chapter 78) Likewise, Chapter 34,45,81 also show that paradoxity (sometimes sarcasm) is an essential expression in taoist writings. Pseudo-profundity, for u, maybe. However, if u could get a slightest picture of how profound taoism has influenced Chinese literature( the works of Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian is just a drop in the ocean and not to mention other domains), u would like to take those words back, I think. Btw, taoism is a philosophy that embrace the usefulness of uselessness or pointlessness.
--ETTan 4 July 2005 17:36 (UTC)

I'm afraid that you didn't read what I said carefully enough; I made no comment about Taoism, only about the effect of certain translations. I do have an idea of the influence of Taoism (I have, in a minor way, written about it), and though I find much of it to be very interesting, it should be noted that having a profound influence on others is independent of its intrinsic value. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 4 July 2005 21:27 (UTC)

Sorry but no sorry about that, as I've learnt from taoism to interpret text from its context(textual or non-textual) and its real implications.
Tao itself is profound and it also seems paradox and useless.
Profundity,rhetoric or not, normally brings about great impacts. Just to mention a few, taoism, Nietzsche and Derrida are good examples. Thus a real sense of profundity should be included in translation of the character 無。
--ETTan 5 July 2005 02:29 (UTC)

The problem is that you've mentioned two writers neither of whom I hold to be a genuine philosopher, both of whom I hold to be perfect examples of pseudo-profundity (to say the least). On the other hand, I don't think that Taoism is paradoxical and useless; much of it, at least, is vastly more philosophically interesting than either of the two you mention (the former an arrested adolescent, the latter a shallow charlatan). Just my opinion, you understand. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 5 July 2005 10:23 (UTC)

Laozi does show that Tao appears paradoxical and inappreciable:

The great Dao floods freely
Be it left or right
All things born in Dao
Yet utter not a word
Yet no name in haveness
Clothes and nurtures all things
Yet no domination
No greed
So to speak
All things vest in
Yet no domination
So to speak
Its greatness
As no self-glorifying
Thus its greatness complete
--Chapter 34 Daodejing

Btw, usefulness of uselessness is also one of the essentials in Zhuangzi. The word nothingness can provide this sense too.

--ETTan 5 July 2005 12:27 (UTC)

A summary for using nothingness instead of emptiness

!. The character in the original text(無)means nothing.
2. Meaning of the character in Taoism's context is definitely more than a completely empty vacuum.
3. Usefulness of uselessness is also one of the essentials in Zhuangzi. The word nothingness can provide this sense too.

I shall make the changes if there is no proper objection within one week. --ETTan 03:47, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Ah, Mr Tan (talk · contribs); the name suggested it, and the nature of the English, but this confirms it. Why have you abandoned your old account? If you make the changes without consensus, they'll be reverted — you should know that by now. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:20, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

I never abandoned my old account as I don't have one in English version here. Why do u throw mud at me? I demand an apology for that! Could u please share something more relevant and constructive, if possible?

--ETTan 14:07, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

The character 沖 used in chapter 4 was an adjective describing containment rather than vacuity.

--ETTan 21:33, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

And what do you see as the difference, such that it supports your changes to the article? (Note also Wikipedia:No original research.) --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:45, 28 July 2005 (UTC)
Its a proper translation, not the original research as mentioned in Wikipedia policy.--ETTan 09:04, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

I'm sure it will make a difference if u read and treat the original text as a whole rather than garbling. --ETTan 12:34, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

??? --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 18:02, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

Please provide proper reasons and don't revert wilfully.

--ETTan 08:58, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

Your approach hasn't improved since your time here as Mr Tan and Chan Han Xiang. It will have exactly the same effect. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:20, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

I only joined actively as a user since the begining of this month. This is the one and only account I have here. I shall issue a complain against u if u don't take your words back.

Back to the relevant issue. Perhaps u can try to persuade all the publishers of Chinese-English dictionaries to add empty as a meaning for the chinese character無 which means nothing.

--ETTan 11:58, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

  1. You started editing on the day that Mr Tan (talk · contribs) stopped (and he started the day that Chan Han Xiang (talk · contribs) stopped).
  2. Your attitude to other editors is the same — the same poor attitude to consensus and collaboration, the same insistence on making reverts against consensus, the same (pointless) tactic of pretending that, if people don't reply to the latest reptition of the same point, then they agree with you, etc.
  3. If you can demonstrate that I'm wrong, I shall be pleased to withdraw my claims.
  4. Are you looking at modern-Chinese dictionaries, or ancient? Are you looking at philosophical dictionaries? My Chinese dictionaries are unfortunately in boxes in the garae, waiting for my library to be finished, but I shall seek advice from qualified colleagues. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 16:59, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

A big fat lie. Since u have disregarded my warning, I shall issue a complain against u.

Back to the relevant issue again. Let's check the meaning of empty: "1. containing nothing...3. foolish, meaningless, vacuous" (The Oxford Reference Dictionary) "1. with nothing in it...without substance...totally without...without foundation...silly , without seriousness." (Webster's Dictionary) These mean there could be mud-throwing intentions in English translations. So, besides those 3 reasons I mentioned above, I'd like to add that "nothingness" can provide some kinda impartiality in the translation. Thus, I'll revert the text again until u can show me more and better reasons. Taoism is pragmatism of its own kind with emphasis on the usefulness of uselessness, moderated naturalism, wholistic health, political liberalism etc. Therefore, it is contrasted with ontology which presumes essence's total explicability in language. Taoism is de-ontological rather than ontological. There're 3 domains of human values: absolutely absolute, relatively absolute/relatively relative and absolutely relative. It's the absolutely absolute truth that taoism has rejected its possibility of containing in human language. Finally, please don't imply that I could be another avatar. This is the one and only account I have here. I shall issue a complain against whoever bring this implication again. --ETTan 04:14, 31 July 2005 (UTC)

Never heard about your "three domains of human values", and it has little if any relationship with the topic (emptiness/nothingness in Taoism). "Taoism is de-ontological" seems very strange as there is no ontology at all in ancient Chinese thought. Again, has only tiny relationship with our topic and is not a reason to change articles and revert the way you do. If your are really new here, what I doubt much and what I should try to proof if I had time, I can explain a little : If you want a controversial proposed change to be accepted, discuss on Talk pages before, wait for answers and see if a consensus by usual editors of the article is attained, (and please stick to the topic). If most other contributors here (and on Taoism) would say nothingness better than emptyness, I would accept it sans problème. But it is not the case and the way you reverts changes and impose your views (and links) isn't the usual here. gbog 05:58, 31 July 2005 (UTC)
Yes, some even argued ancient chinese has no metaphysics. Anyway, it's not that relevant here. They r just my "btw" answers. Please read them properly, u might find them useful in your life.
What if I happened to meet someone who take grudge against me and have multiple accounts? Proper reason should be more important than consensus.--ETTan 13:19, 31 July 2005 (UTC)
To ETTan:
  1. The English-dictionary reference doesn't apply; the word is being used in its main meaning, and no-one would (except with deliberate malevolence) read it as meaning anything else in this context. When I say that my coffee cup is empty, or refer to the empty set in maths, I'm not implying anything about foolishness.
  2. "Deontological" means "concerned with or based on duty".
  3. I asked about the kind of Chinese-English dictionary you used: modern or ancient? Ordinary or philosophical? You haven't replied. There are many terms which have very different definitions in an ordinary Engl;ish dictionary and in a philosophical dictionary, and I'd be very surprised if the same weren't true of Chinese.
  4. Speculation about someone having had another account isn't prohibited; it's not even in itself negative as there's nothing against changing accounts in Wikipedia policy, nor in hiding the fact that one has done it). If someone has changed account, though, it can be useful for other editors to know and discuss it, as it can explain an editor's approach, and throw light on her methods. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 09:34, 31 July 2005 (UTC)

All of them. So far I never come across any chinese-english dictionary that use empty as meaning of Wu. I use the word de-ontological in its philosophical sense, not deontology. Is that so? Then I can also speculate that Mr Tan (talk · contribs) is your own creation to throw mud at someone to whom u have take grudge against. I already see that u'll never agree what I said. I'll treat these as word games that will end nowhere. Chit-chat with me whenever u r lonely. U r welcome.--ETTan 13:19, 31 July 2005 (UTC)

The word "deontological" has only one philosophical sense; there's no word "de-ontological".
For Web references, you might look at: [3], [4], [5]
I've seen "wu-i-wu" translated as nothingness, as opposed to "wu", emptiness.
The nearest I can find (in literature concerning Taoism) to a translation of wu as "nothingness is in Charles Wi-hsun Fu;s "Daoism in Chinese Philosophy", in which he refers to wu as "No-thingness", emphasising that it's not merely "nothingness". --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 17:51, 31 July 2005 (UTC)
I should add this site, which also explictly states that "wu" is not synonymous with nothingness. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 17:57, 31 July 2005 (UTC)
So tell me the other way to express "de-ontological" in its philosophical that I want to express.
As I told u b4, the using of emptiness in taoist text is a mis-interpretation of the past. Try google taoism nothingness and u can get loads of my supporter. These are just a few of them:
Congratution! u've finally manage to persuade someone to add your lines into the site. But the more authentic way should be:
1. Find someone who knows chinese character.
2. Ask him/her to check each and every chinese-english dictionaries, copy down the bibliographies.
3. Send letters to those publishers.
4. Wait for the results.
Good luck! --ETTan 02:29, 1 August 2005 (UTC)
The word nothingness makes me think of Sartre, whose bleak existentialism should be distinguished from Taoism.
You must not begin by selecting meanings from English dictionaries filled with traditional West/Greek thinking! An introduction to Buddhism might help you better, though.

-Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. --User:Luthinya 12:20 13 January 2006

The Way

I am of the opinion that we should leave the word Tao untranslated, instead of calling it the Way. The Way is a very rough translation and enlgish really does not have an equivolent word. I think it would be better to allow the tranlations to describe the Tao itself. --Benna 2 July 2005 02:07 (UTC)

Good point. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 2 July 2005 10:13 (UTC)
But the quotation is supposed to be the translation of A. Waley... We must indicate that his work has been modified, I think. gbog July 2, 2005 10:26 (UTC)

When the word comes in a quotation, then yes — using the normal convention of square brackets. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 2 July 2005 13:59 (UTC)

OK --Benna 3 July 2005 03:53 (UTC)

Also, Tao does not really mean, "The Way". But Tao is, Tao is just everything and nothing at the same time, this it is not just the way, but is everyway, and is everything.-- 02:52, 30 December 2005 (UTC) Andrew Scott

Good point! Tao is that- which- is! Can't be translated or described! --User:Luthinya 12:23 13 January 2006


COMMENT: I am sorry to have to say this but to me, as someone reading the article without knowing anything about Taoism, it is so poorly written that I cannot understand the facts contained in it, never mind the niceties I see debated here. I tried to correct the grammar but since the intended meaning was unclear it was impossible. The preceding unsigned comment was added by Johnrayjr (talk • contribs) 23:02, 7 July 2005.

Well, yes — that's why I added the "copyedit" template. The only thing to do when the English is so poor that its meaning can't be worked out is to comment out the problem passage (or move it to the Talk page). I've been meaning to copy-edit this article thoroughly, but haven't yet found time. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 8 July 2005 07:39 (UTC)
Sorry to criticize but personally I have never had any problem comprehending this article. I think this is because that you knew so little about Taoism for a start and will find some of the harder intuitive thoughts a bit confusing. It is like in Zen where you had to battle thousands of koans before finally able to be "excited" into enlightenment. My background as a native Chinese speaker may have helped me, I do not know, but I would suggest doing some extensive reading before you tackle the article or attempt to read the Tao te Ching as well. --User:Luthinya 11:28, 13 January 2006‎ (UTC)


It seemed to me that the article was in need of restructuring, so I have done so. The Content section and the Principles section seemed to me to be closely related, and I thought they should be together. I also added a sentence here and there. I made all the changes in one edit to make it easy to revert should the previous version be preferred. The article still needs work, but I hope this is an improvement. A more polished introduction would do wonders here! -Jmh123 08:18, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Ok, not one edit, because I messed around with it in minor ways afterwards. -Jmh123 08:34, 22 July 2005 (UTC)
Nice work, very nice work. Thanks a lot, as I'm fully responsible for the "bad English" that you cleaned :) (As you can see, I'm not native English speaker)
BTW, I don't know how you (and others) feel about the "Principle" section. I do think this list of short sentences (that are not in the book, and not explained) may be confusing and/or biaised and/or too simplistic. I guess they are "relics" of ancient states of the article that could/should be removed as long as the themes they cover are already covered in the sections above. Some common quotes of the book could be listed this way, however. gbog 08:08, 24 July 2005 (UTC)
I agree gbog. I didn't want to jump in and delete it, having never contributed to the entry, but I think my added comments to the preface of that section betray my feelings about it. Oh, and thanks! -Jmh123 19:48, 24 July 2005 (UTC)


In the English translations, I see no reference to Red Pine's translation (from Mercury House). Is it that this translation not good or simply that it is not well known? Edited by: The Individual

I hadn't come across it — but do add it to the article (that's what Wikipedia's all about). --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 14:33, 19 July 2005 (UTC)
added -Jmh123 07:43, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

I personally like the Red Pine translation and would put it somewhere in the top twelve for fidelity to the Chinese.

Question for readers: I tried twice to post a link to my free online Daodejing translations on my non-commercial website, but this posting was twice deemed to be spam. Is anyone familiar enough with my work to give an opinion? I was asked to ask here if anyone would support or object to another submission, in the online translations section. Bradford Hatcher 23:45, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

As was explained to you after the first addition, Wikipedia guidelines rule out adding links to your own Web site, commercial or not. The thing to do is to add the link to the relevant Talk pages (at the bottom, rather than in the middle, as people are likely to miss it otherwise), and then leave it. If editors think that it's worth adding, they'll add it. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:24, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Bad luck, to be a real expert, dear Bradford ... please, ask a friend to add your great website, so you will avoid the strange rule invented by mork from ork! (Dr. Hilmar KLAUS) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:27, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

removed redundant part

Below is a part that is partly redundant and tha I have remove (from the "principles" section, now "other themes" and one should check if there is something here that isn't in the article's intro.

Many variations of religious Taoism are replete with polytheism, ancestor worship, ceremony of various kinds, and alchemic efforts to achieve longevity. The obscureness of the book allows virtually anyone to find anything in its 81 concise and poetical chapters, but scholars often agree that its content focuses mainly on mystical, political, and practical wisdom.

Many chapters advocate quietism, harmonious living, and unconditional love, similar to later systems of belief and faith. However, many of these things which are promoted as virtues throughout Taoism are said by Lao Zi to be lesser goods with their complementary evils (see Chapter 18) and they come because of man's deviation from the original 'Way' or Tao. Above all, the book celebrates simplicity as the way, the achievement of Tao.

Whereas the structure and philosophy of the book militate against the very idea of principles, it can be argued that The Tao Te Ching demonstrates understanding of such principles as these:

Behind all this, the Tao Te Ching speaks of the ineffable Tao, or the "Way", which is described as the indivisible and indescribable unifying principle of the universe, from which all flows. It is without time, form or substance. The simpler one becomes, the greater hope one has of co-existing with the Tao, which is the only way it can be truly understood.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Gbog (talkcontribs) 06:26, 1 August 2005‎ (UTC)

Is Tao Te Ching A Self Help Book?

I am a Chinese and I read many times through Tao Te Ching. I know not why it is categoried as 'Self Help Books'. I dare not to say this book is self helping. Ayway, Lao Tzu was teaching the art of 'Quitting', not 'Winning'. And Napoleon Hill said:"A quitter never wins and a winner never quits." Therefore unless being well-off already, a man who practise Tao Te Ching everyday can never success.Pourfemme 08:22, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

Let me just give you another twist to Napoleon Hill's logic. If you believe that materialistic life is full of sufferings and burdens, then "quitting" early is the best way to "win", rather than never "quitting" and letting the sufferings continue. But then again, Tao Te Ching emphasized "wu-wei". Knowing when to act, and when not to act. So it basically boils down to your common sense and you can think whatever you want to do by yourself. Books like this including other books (bibles for example) does not contain truth or self-help in life. It only provides guidance, and you as the reader are encouraged to think independently and see what fit best under different circumstances. Flexibility is best Heilme 09:41, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree that the category was odd; I've changed it to a more appropriate one. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 12:57, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

You might change your mind after reading this succint introduction.

--ETTan 05:37, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

I've read it, and it hasn't changed my mind. It hasn't gone down too well at Wikisource, either, and I doubt that it will stay there long. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 14:26, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

Tao Te Ching is not a Self Help book, it is merely a book that teaches you the way of being. And that is to just be "it". And that is all that it wants...

Lao Zi

I realize Lao Zi is closer to the propper pronounciation of the name than Lao Tzu, but Lao Tzu is definatly the most used spelling. A google search for Laozi yields 235,000 hits. Lao Tzu shows 391,000. Perhaps it could read "Lao Tzu (pronounced Lao Zi)." What do you all think? --Benna 10:28, 12 August 2005 (UTC)

As so often, the problem is that there's not one answer to the question: " what is the most commly-used spelling of the name?" It may be that the lay public who are aware of the name are most familiar with the old-fashioned "Lao Tzu", while it's certainly the case that "Lao Zi", "Lao-zi", and "Laozi" are by far the commonest spellings in the literature and among academics. (Google is of limited use, because it constitutes a differently selected group of sources.)
We shouldn't go along with mistakes simply because they're commonly made, though, so the choice should be between "Lao Zi" and "Laozi". A quick and unscientific survey of fairly recent reference books to hand, plus some Web-based texts:
  • Laozi
  1. Companion Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy (edd Carr & Mahalingam)
  2. A Companion to Wolrd Philosophies (edd Deutsch & Bontekoe)
  3. A Companion to the Philosophers (ed. Arrington)
  4. Eastern Philosophy: Key readings (ed. Leaman)
  5. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  6. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  7. Chad Hansen's Philosophy Pages
  • Lao-zi
  1. One Hundred Philosophers (Peter J. King}

"Lao Zi" doesn't appear anywhere, and "Laozi" is the clear front runner. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 13:33, 12 August 2005 (UTC)

Laozi is my preference as well. Unfortunately the title of the entry for Lao Zi is spelled thusly--unless there can be a redirect page created to Laozi, I think folks may be following the form used in that entry title. -Jmh123 22:38, 16 August 2005 (UTC)
ETA - I should have checked first. The redirect has already been done. Laozi is now "official", so to speak. Interestingly, the "official" title for Zhuangzi is still Zhuang Zi. -Jmh123 22:40, 16 August 2005 (UTC)
There's an attempt at Talk:Laozi to move the article to "Lao Tzu"; you might want to join in. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 12:48, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

Political implications

For the ruler's point of view, nothingness is not far from the liberal laissez-faire approach: letting things happen by themselves is the best way to help them grow. Wouldn't "libertarian" be more accurate? --Tydaj

Depends. In the U.S., perhaps; in Europe, "liberal" still holds its original meaning (though it is now tending to the american usage). Mayhap "classic liberal" would be best?--The Individual 16:50, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

Name change for article

For reasons of consistency as discussed in Talk:Laozi. Hanyu Pinyin is the standard romanization today, cf. Laozi, Zhuangzi ..., it should be used here as well. --Junyi 06:47, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm curious about the decision to place the main article under the Pinyin transliteration. The Wade-Giles is by far the most common in general english usage, and indeed has almost been adopted as a part of the English language. Merriam Webster lists an entry for Tao but none for Dao, furthermore a brief and informal survey of my bookshelf has revealed that all three of my translations of the Laozi have Tao Te Ching written on their spines, and even in the footnotes to the two copies of the Analects I have, both use the Wade-Giles tranlit. w/r/t Tao, even though both texts usually use pinyin for non standard western words. Finally, The text of the article itself uses Confucius rather than Kong Fuzi as would be expected by a strict adherence to pinyin. I understand that pinyin is the preferred method of transliteration, but in many ways, the earlier spelling has become so common in English usage as to make the pinyin usage in this case irregular.

It would be a big task to redirect this article to Tao Te Ching, so if whoever made the initial decision could please speak up with their reasoning, it would be much appreciated. I don't want to do all the redirects and then just have someone swoop in and undo them all.JFQ

If you may refer to Daoism-Taoism Romanization issue, Tao Te Ching is going the way of Daodejing. Either we at wikipedia choose to reflect the old (and slightly wider usage but only for a small demographic group: The non-Chinese westerner familiar or at least having heard of this work), or the obvious current trend and usage by at least one fifth of the world's population.--Huaiwei 20:18, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
Huaiwei says that Tao Te Ching has only "slightly wider" usage than Daodejing. Not so. Internet usage is as follows:
  • Tao Te Ching - 61,500
  • Daodejing - 3,920
—Source: Geoff's Google Duel
With the term Daodejing only about six percent as prevalent as Tao Te Ching, perhaps we should hold off on this change for now. Sunray 22:47, 7 November 2005 (UTC)
Agreed. I'm also prompted to favor Tao Te Ching because of the fact that the Chinese characters are not actually pronounced exactly the same as D and J characters in English. Rather, the pronunciation is, to my knowledge, best described as an unaspirated T and a voiced CH. apotheon 12:00, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

What is the standard that should be used to transliterate something? Pinyin is the official romanization system of the PRC, and is used by the vast majority of Chinese speakers, and Chinese learners in the United States. I have never come across a current Chinese langauge program in the US that uses Wade Giles. The only people who use it in academic writings are people who learned under Wade Giles, and haven't changed to Pinyin. Thus, I think that it is fare to say that Wade Giles is out dated. And Pinyin has the benifit of actually reflecting the pronunciation of the word in Chinese. It is not pronounced with Ts in Mandarin, so why use a romanization system that is inacurate?Alabasterj 00:11, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

Date system

Well, I just wanted to know, Why BCE? What is with "Before Common Era" instead of B.C. "Before Christ". Though I am not a christian myself, this is how it was ever since the calendar was invented by Julius Ceaser, Why change it now?

The BCE/CE system has commonly been used in academic and scholarly works for some time, and is felt by many to be more neutral than BC/AD. As Wikipedia is committed to a neutral point of view, this is an obvious usage for us, though we have a very large number of editors who are, for whatever reason, committed to the older, less neutral system; hence our inability to reach consensus on the matter. Articles are thus written in the system that the first major editor prefers, and generally changed only if there's very good reason and a consensus on the Talk page.
Incidentally, the BC/AD usage is a lot more recent than Julius Caesar; it wasn't used before the 8th century, and only became at all common in modern times. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 13:01, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Also, time did pass between before christ was born and when he died, by using BC/AD its stating that the years of his life didnt exist 00:30, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

A sage called Laozi?

Lao Tzu never claimed to be a sage. The Tao Te Ching says that its teachings cannot be taught by a sage. Tradition has it that Lao Tzu was a record keeper, so where does this title of "sage" come in? What noteworthy person has ever called Lao Tzu a sage? --O9.59.14.111 16:37, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

This is a curious argument. First, people aren't described as sages because that's how they describe themselves. Secondly, we don't describe people on the basis of the contents of the Tao Te Ching. Thirdly, Laozi is frequently referred to as a sage (see, for example, [6], [7], [8] (PDF), [9]). it's not clear what you think that "sage" means; it's not a job description like "record keeper". --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 22:58, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
Like I said, do you know any noteworthy person who has ever called Lao Tzu a sage? I wouldn't expect the "Cosmic Internet Academy" to know the difference between someone who records the sayings of others and someone who embodies that wisdom. --O9.59.14.111 03:09, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
I'm certainly no expert, but doesn't "Lao Tzu" mean "old sage" (or "old master")? See, e.g., [10]. I agree with Mel Etitis that it is irrelevant whether Lao Tzu referred to himself as, or considered himself to be, a "sage." (Only a jackass would refer to himself as a sage, anyway.) dbtfztalk 03:57, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

TTC Chapter 1, 39 & 42

Proposed changes to the Name & Tao Paragraph as follow:

These are the first words of the text in its present form (Waley translates "Tao" as "Way"). The Tao Te Ching does not specifically define what the Tao is. Laozi himself averred, "My words are very easy to understand [...] yet no one under heaven understands them." (chapter 70) Tao in this opening refers to the Absolute, the First Cause or the resultant Singularity (Chapter 39, 42). The closest parallels in the west can be found in the Traditionalist School in the writings of Ananda Coomaraswamy, Rene Guenon and Fritjof Schuon on the Perennial Philosophy started by the philosopher Gottfried Leibniz and on the Primodial traditions. In other religions, this Tao that can not be named would equate to the divinie or God. This passage can be better understood when read with Chapter 42 in which the divisions from Tao into unity, duality and tripartite, and the yin yang complemental attributes as the crux of all creation, is an alternative take on Genesis in the Old Testament. Please comment. Alex 25Feb06
I don't follow all of this (and I find the claim that Leibniz started the school of "philosophy" to which you refer somewhat bewildering, as well as the claim about the relationship with Genesis), but you seem to be making the same mistake that the person in the previous section makes: because the Tao Te Ching doesn't say what "tao" means, neither can we. (It reminds me of one of my favourite lines from an exam script: a Finalist, sitting an exam on Aristotle, wrote: "If Aristotle had intended eudaimonia to mean "happiness" he'd have said so".) --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 11:00, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Versions of name

The article had this in the summary:

Korean: 도덕경; Vietnamese: Đạo Đức Kinh

The reasion given by the anon who uncommented it 9after I'd comented it out) was that the book was influential in Korea and Vietnam. I don't doubt it; it was also influential in Japan, and has at various times been influential elesewhere too. The point, surely, is that in an English-language encyclopædia we need to give the title in Chinese and the English transliteration(s), but more than that is surely unnecessary. If there were an article on Taoism in Korea or Vietnam, then this might be relevant, but not in an article on the Tao Te Ching in general. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:22, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

I see that Đạo Đức Kinh sounds roughly similar to Tao Te Ching - it is because of cognating or borrowing? (talk) 17:42, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
It is because of descending of these languages from common ancestor. (talk) 20:54, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Requested move 1

The following discussion is an archived debate of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the debate was no move. Patstuarttalk|edits 21:19, 25 December 2006 (UTC) I vote against the proposal that Tao Te Ching be renamed and moved to Daodejing. Tao Te Ching is widely known in almost any language in existence in the public domain. Changing the name to Daodejing is like reinventing history. There is no need for such a move except for political reasons. Coladie 07:24, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Connection with Christianity ?!?

I'm a Christian myself, and I agree with the early missionaries that the Taoist texts are compatible with Christianity. However the assertion that any part of the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi could be interpreted as a prophecy of a sage who will bring complete peace to the world is slightly ridiculous. That section in this article was flagged as "citation needed": I have no idea where one would find the assertion that Zhuang's text is a prophecy of Christ, but the text they are referring to is almost certainly the 12th section of the chapter entitled "On the Adjustment of Controversies (齊物論)." While this passage does make reference to a great sage who may or may not ever come, to translate it as a Christian prophecy is such an egregious misinterpretation of the text that I think even the most ambitious of missionaries would have blushed to contemplate it. I recommend that the reference to Zhuangzi be deleted, as either spurious or, at best, based on a grave misunderstanding of the Zhuangzi Neipian and of the classical Chinese language. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:42, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

I don't really understand the purpose of this section. Yes, missionaries tried to recast Daoism as having connections to Christianity. They did this in the context of a) the colonial powers' repeated invasions of China and b) their active destruction of Chinese religion. They weren't trying to find common themes between Christianity and Daoism, rather they were seeking to recast certain texts as containing precursers to Christian "Truth". This has nothing to do with Daoism, or the Laozi. Is there any connection between the Christian Trinity and the passage quoted in the article beyond the fact that it has the number 3 in it? Alabasterj 01:29, 4 January 2007 (UTC)The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 04:24, 3 January 2007 (UTC).

Well, Alabasterj, that's a lot of issues in one paragraph! I've heard it said that there might be a connection between Tao and Jesus Christ. Never one to defend the unfortunate bent of so very many missionaries to destroy the cultures to which they should have been sent to "lift up", rather than "put down", I nevertheless understand why those missionaries should want to compare the two theologies. I agree, it "has nothing to do with Daoism, or the Laozi." But there is so much more potential for profound new understandings of both Tao and Jesus than just numerological comparisons, gematria, or whatever you want to call it. In grad school, perhaps since I studied with an expert in tantrism, we were shown primarily the sexual connotations of 'the one, leading to two, and baby makes three', as it were. You can do an entire reading of the TTC from the tantric standpoint of yin/yang standing for female/male and egg/sperm and the blood/semen. But this passage is replete with the 'creation of the world' in Ch 1 and other Ch's, where so very many aspects of reality leads to the "ten-thousand things". Personally, I don't see the numerology of the Trinity as being important to my own relationship with Jesus, but the concept of Tao as being Way, as perhaps pointing just a bit in the direction of the Way of Jesus...that's really fascinating to a lot of folks. One must be careful to not impute upon the Asian ancients any sort of pointing to the future Jesus as being the culmination or fulfillment of the TTC or the Chuangzi, as that would clearly be, IMHO, a case of "orientalism". Do you think there should be some sort of unbiased article for Wiki on the plethora of (mostly New Age) books and magazines which explore the Taoism/Christianity comparisons? Don't know that I'd be the one to do that, but what do you think? Want to discuss it further? Cheers! Soltera 17:18, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

There are two different ways that you can approach a religious text - historical or confessional. Historical looks at it as a historical document and asks what did the author mean by it, how did specific individuals at specific points in time interpret it, integrate it into religious practices, etc. Confessional asks what does it mean to me.

Drawing paralles between Christianity and the Daodejing is a confessional approach to the text. Its perfectly valid if thats what people want to do. I don't know how to integrate it into an encyclopedia entry on the subject, though. I think it definitely needs to be separated from a historical look at Daoist practice and thought within China, and set within the historical context of colonialism.

I'm new to Wikipedia, so don't really know the etiquette of dealing with something like this - it would be easy to say that its useless and delete it, but I doubt that would be in keeping with the community focus of the site.

And there was a bit of exchange between Tantric and Daoist traditions. I haven't been able to find too much detail about it, but aparently there was a "West Indian Daoism" that existed in the middle ages in Southern China as an offshoot of Quanzhen that was influenced by Hindu Tantrism. There are also Daoist sexual practices that drew on imagry from the Daodejing. So, thats not too much of a reach. Alabasterj 19:21, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

I think this section should be removed. The Tao Te Ching could not be more invalidating about religion - see poems 38, 57 and 72, for example. Any person who uses this book to validate their religious authority is purely misinterpreting its meaning. There are no passages that imply there is a correct religion, and every passage implies, or directly states, the search for and naming of a correct religion is not the Tao. Of course, this applies to "Taoism," a blatant misnomer, but Taoism has an important historic connection to the Tao Te Ching and this connection should be elucidated within the context that those creating a religion inspired by the most irreligious yet spiritual book in history have some explaining to do.

I took an axe to it. the bit on chan buddhism needs to be expanded greatly (since chan is basically buddhism rebuilt on a taoist foundation), bthe bit on christianity may need further trimming. --Ludwigs2 06:26, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Translations and Things that Aren't

Several of the works listed under Translations are not actually translations, because the people who made them do not speak Chinese. These include the versions by Witter Bynner, Stephen Mitchell, Thomas H. Miles, and (as stated earlier on this page) Ursula K. Le Guin. Shouldn't these, as well as any others, be put under a different heading? Maybe following the Printed English Translations section should be an Intepretations section. abexy 07:09, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

I second that, an interpretation is different than a translation, and Stephen Mitchell, for one, takes a lot of liberties with the original text. Alabasterj 22:00, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

I am not sure we can make these distinctions, without engaging in original research. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 04:38, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
It's not original research. Well, not more than making the list in the first place is. These writers are all very upfront as to the nature of their work and only a few are not translations. Not to mention, if needed, there are several sources out there that make the distinction if you feel it is important to be citing which list they belong in (though I don't see how there would be conflict). abexy 19:39, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
Sure. Let's make this simpler, shall we? Those that are presented as translations by their authors, should be in the category translations. Other works that we do not know about, can go in a generic section "Related works". ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 21:21, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, right now, everything presented as a translation by the author is under Printed English translations, everything presented as not translations is under Printed English interpretations. I think that section definately needs a different title. abexy 22:02, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

Original research? There is a lot of research on the subject out there. Read "The Taoism of the Western Imagination and the Taoism of China" by Russell Kirkland - [11] He has some pretty rough things to say about the various non-scholarly translations, and interpretations that have only a vague resemblance to the original text. Also read Lafarge and Kohn's Lao Tsu and the Tao te Ching's section on translations. I added a brief introduction to the Printed English Versions section - changing the heading to "Printed English Modernist Interpretations" to explain that they are interpretations based on modern ideas of nature, spirituality, etc. Alabasterj 01:59, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

That may be the case, but I am concerned about labeling some works on the basis of our opinions of these. In Wikipedia we described what reliable published sources say about a subject. See WP:ATT. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 02:02, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I wasn't giving my own opinions, I was sumerizing available scholarship on the subject. I attributed my edits to published works by Russell Kirkland, Livia Kohn and Stephen LaFarge. All of them are professors at reputable schools who have published extensively on Daoism. Everything that I wrote was contained in the sources that I cited. Did you read the Kirkland source that is available online? Do you feel that I misrepresented him? Have you read the Kohn, Lafarge book that I cited?
Do you feel that they are not reliable sources? I'm certainly not suggesting that their conclusions are beyond question. And if you're going to question them, perhaps you could add that to the entry in order to give a more extensive treatment of scholarship on western interpretations of Daosim and the Daodejing. But I don't see why you're dismissing them as authorities offhand. Alabasterj 03:21, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Looking back at what Alabasterj wrote, it seems helpful, reference, and relevant. I don't understand why it was deleted nor why there is an original research tag on that section. There has been thorough discussion here about the sources for separating sections, and I will assume we don't need to talk about the importance of distinguishing a scholarly translation from a personal interpretation. abexy 05:21, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Unless anyone can tell me specifically why the section that I wrote was either factually wrong or unacceptable per wikipedia rules, I'm going to change it back. It is backed up by scholarly sources - If there is disagreement to the points that Kirkland et al make, perhaps it would be better to include it in the section to give a more complete discussion of contemporary scholarship on the daodejing. Alabasterj 12:05, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I edited the section, attributing it to 5 sources - 2 peer reviewed academic journals, 2 books published by academic presses (presumably also peer reviewed) and a paper delivered at an academic conference. Alabasterj 16:05, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

I added a section to the Tao page about the difficulty of translation. I feel the talk of translation difficulty could be elaborated upon here, using one detailed verse or portion of a verse as a model. Therefore, I suggest adding such info, perhaps the section that I've already written. I've included it here below for your consideration:

Speaking briefly of the problems of translation of the text into English, a translator must take into consideration the language in which the original text was composed. There are various different translations and therefore debate among translators and scholars. The opening and perhaps most recognized verse of the Tao Ching chapter (often, but not always, the first of the two chapters) of the Tao Te Ching is subject to much of this debate. Anglicized, the first part of the verse reads thus:

tao k'o tao fei ch'ang tao
ming k'o ming fei ch'ang ming
wu ming t'ian ti chih shih
yu ming wan wu chih mu

Of this, the first two lines are often translated by many as:

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.

However, this presents a problem as the concept of eternity (in the Western sense) did not exist in China at the time when the text was supposedly written. The Chinese of the time may have very well had an idea of things going "on and on", but they did not have a sense of "lasting forever". The Chinese word being translated as "eternal" is ch'ang. In the first line of the verse, ch'ang modifies tao, and then ming ['name'] in the second line. Considering this, many translators have chosen to not translate ch'ang as "eternal". In D.C. Lau's 1963 translation, ch'ang is rendered as "constant". In Arthur Waley's 1939 translation, ch'ang is translated as "unvarying". An even earlier translation by James Legge in 1891 translates ch'ang as "enduring and unchanging". Another point of interest is the word k'o in the first and second lines. K'o here serves a grammatical purpose; it shows that the following word is a passive verb. Therefore, k'o tao suggests that Tao here is action, and likewise for k'o ming suggesting that name here is an action. Commentaries on the Tao Te Ching from ancient China mostly agree that the usage of Tao and name here as verbs means "to speak of" or "to tell" and is in fact used as a pun. Some have taken this point into consideration when translating. Alan Watts put it:

The course which can be discoursed...

Here we can compare three translations of the first few lines of the verse:

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

- Stephen Mitchell

The Tao that can be put in words is not the ever-abiding Tao;
The name that can be named is not the ever-abiding name.
The Nameless gives rise to Heaven and Earth.
The Named is the Mother of the Ten Thousand Things.

- Keith Seddon

The way that can be spoken of is not the constant way;
The name that can be named is not the constant name.
The nameless was the beginning of heaven and earth;
The named was the mother of the myriad creatures.

- D.C. Lau --Bentonia School 05:40, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

I think that is an excellent section to show people a variety of issues in translating. Would is be possible to have that combined with the two paragraphs already present in translation difficultues? Also, and this is only a suggestion, you may consider having only the first two lines (about dao and name) in the examples and perhaps including a few more. abexy 07:58, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
Do you have a reference for the thing about pre-classical Chinese conceptualizations of the eternal? Its something that I would like to look in to more.
Also, would it be possible to have it in pinyin, rather than wade giles. I can see the logic behind rendering Tao and other words that have entered into mainstream English use in WG, but this is different. As Pinyin is the standard for contemporary scholarship, why not use it here?
that would be: dao ke dao fei chang dao, ming ke ming fei chang ming, wu ming tian di zhi shi, you ming wan wu zhi mu Alabasterj 02:50, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, references can be found. The most accessible that I can give you at the moment is the introduction written by Sarah Allan to D.C. Lau's Tao Te Ching (Everyman's Library, 1994). There are others, but I'll have to search around. Regarding pinyin/WG, I'm indifferent. As far as scholars go, I'm not one, and find at times the striving for scholary articles on Wikipedia to be a bit pretentious rather than sincere. I think encyclopedias are information guides for laypeople, not scholars. However, with that said and as mentioned, I'm indifferent to which Anclicized version of the verse is used.--Bentonia School 16:07, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree this connection is questionable to say the least. --Caddcreativity 03:00, 08 November 2007 (UTC)

A writer above says the following: "However, this presents a problem as the concept of eternity (in the Western sense) did not exist in China at the time when the text was supposedly written. The Chinese of the time may have very well had an idea of things going "on and on", but they did not have a sense of 'lasting forever'."

I am appalled that someone would claim he knows what Chinese people thought about eternity thousands of years ago, and therefore Mitchell's translation is inferior. This assertion is a clear example of the false knowledge Lao Tzu discusses so beautifully.

I learned in acupuncture school that Chinese thought means I understand deeper concepts to my depth, and you understand them to your depth. We assume there are some ways in which our understandings overlap, and some differences as well. We endeavor to go deeper and broader as we age (or develop our skills as a doctor). This philosophy is harmonious with the Tao. "If you want to know me, look inside yourself," for example.

Clearly, Mitchell's translation sounds as good or better than other translations. When I hear "eternal," in Chapter 1, I actually interpret it as true, real, or "the one we are here to address." I believe anyone who loves the Tao would want today's reader to be impacted more or less the way the legendary border guard who first read the Tao Te Ching was. We all understand the need to modernize in order to communicate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Siggy65 (talkcontribs) 17:01, 27 December 2008 (UTC)


Looking at the interpretation section, there are several statments that are not attributed to any sources and strike me as suspicious. "Many believe the Tao Te Ching contains universal truths that have been independently recognized in other philosophies, both religious and secular." "Perhaps the Tao, like the Dharma, is what physicist David Bohm means by "that which is", perfectly being what is, both all and nothing"

I think that this section needs to be cleaned up to make a clear distinction between historical reconstructions of what the DDJ meant to any given Daoist back in the day, and what people in the contemporary West see in it.

There are two ways of looking at a religious text confessional - which asks "what does it mean to me" and historical, which asks "what did it mean to the author, or any other specific individual group or person". This article moves between these two frames pretty freely, which is a problem. Both have their place, but certainly Lao Zi didn't make parallels between himself, Bohm and Buddhism.

There are some who like to see the universality of all religions, and a discussion of how people like Alan Watts tried to fit Daoism into conceptions of a Perennial philosophy would be very useful. But I don't see how you can attribute that to the Daodejing - its in the writings of Watts, Capra and various other Modern Western interpreters. There have been schools of interpretation in China that tried to integrate Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism - but these were part of an ongoing discourse between and within various religious sects and should be presented as such. Alabasterj 02:08, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

I would go so far as to say that Wikipedia is no place for a confessional approach, and personal interpretations by individuals should not be in this article. I would point out, however, that the Dao De Jing's transmission to the West and the response to it is a historical event, and with the transmission of many eastern religions. There are always major shifts in a religion when it encounters a new society, this is evident simply looking at Buddhism as it moved through India, China, Japan, and to the United States. So, this article should include a look at how the West has received the Dao De Jing. abexy 06:35, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Article Size

This article is at 36 kilobytes now, and even though WP:SIZE no longer requires it remain below 32 kilobytes I still think we should look into splitting off sections. One that comes to mind (but chances are it only comes to mind because it is the only one I've worked on) is Translations section. Since there is so much to be said about translations, and more is being added, and seeing as it is the second most translated book in history (according to some), should we create a separate article: Tao Te Ching translations? abexy 08:07, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Recent changes and pinyin name

I removed several section: the trivia and online versions. The trivia section because we should avoid trivia sections and the online versions because Wikipedia is not a repository of links. I also wanted to inquire about the name in pinyin. I know the debate has been had endlessly about changing the name of the article from the outdated Wade-Giles romanization to the widely used pinyin, but that's not what I'm asking about. Since we do have the name in pinyin in an infobox, is it suppose to be Dào Dé Jīng or is it Dàodéjīng (which would make our common use Dao De Jing or Daodejing)? I have seen it many times both ways, and since Laozi is made into a single word, what is the system for doing this? abexy 06:13, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

I've been looking into it, and it seems Daodejing is the preferred spelling. It has 68 results on JSTOR, only 39 for "dao de jing," 41 in ProjectMUSE for "daodejing," 16 for "dao de jing." I have also seen it used in most scholarly books, such as Allan and Williams' The Guodian Laozi and Wagner's translation. abexy 04:12, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Watch out for vandals

How will people read the book if there are no links? Watch out for whoever vandalized this article.

  • Sorry for the strong language previously used. I was just very annoyed by people who vandalize articles for no reason. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:08, 4 June 2007

Online English Versions

There is no question this article had undergone a lot of vandalism lately, but my edit was not one of them. I was following a wikipedia policy, as stated above. How will people read it? Wikisource has three versions. Also, it is not the job of an encyclopedia to provide people with the material of the text. abexy 21:03, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

How many of these links are dead? (talk) 12:58, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

I have just added a {{linkfarm}} to this section. I am afraid this section is not in the spirit of the 'What wikipedia is not' - not an internet directory - policy. May I suggest total deletion of this section. --Dirk Beetstra T C 16:30, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

I believe the section "Online English Versions" serves a very useful purpose. The Tao Te Ching is one of the most translated books in history, and the variation, or differences, from one translation to the next is greater than any other book in that "most translated" group. It is very helpful to the reader to be able to compare translations easily in this way. So such a list is more valuable than a similar list for any other Wikipedia article topic I can think of. -DoctorW 21:14, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

Interpretations, Links, Other themes

I definitely agree that separate listings for translations and for interpretations are a good idea. But the introduction to the Interpretations section seems unnecessary. Some renditions describe themselves as faithful translations, others describe themselves as interpretations--it's as simple as that. We have to be careful not to come across as angry or to endorse the opinions of any particular scholar.

Perhaps some of the Interpretations intro could be incorporated into the main Translations and interpretations intro. As well could the Translations difficulties section: a full subsection might be appropriate in Classical Chinese, but perhaps isn't necessary here--maybe a {{main|Classical Chinese}} link would do the trick.

The large number of external links are currently split over two sections arbitrarily. I hope I'm not intruding on consensus here. However, Wikipedia is not a directory of links--we have dmoz for that (there's a dmoz link on the page: you could try adding your translations to that directory; it's sorta unfair to put yours here, plus there's WP:N). Also, some of the links are redundant, as Wikisource has 8 versions. Perhaps an external link and/or online translation section is far too tempting. It may turn out to be necessary to remove the online translation section, turn the online sources into cited footnotes, and leave only a link to the dmoz listing.

Lastly, the Other themes section reminds me of a "quotes" ("almost quotes," really) or "trivia" section (WP:ATS). I'm apprehensive about recommending limiting it to 4 or so themes, because trivia sections tend to grow unchecked. The listings aren't even strictly themes like the others ("Emptyness" etc) are. And if the listings get into non-consensus stuff, attribution to particular scholars is necessary. In any case, the non-themes and non-basic interpretations (ie, the entire Other themes section) could perhaps be removed as irrelevant and/or unattributed; real themes in this section (if any) could be expanded like the others.

--gwc 20:00, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

"But the introduction to the Interpretations section seems unnecessary. Some renditions describe themselves as faithful translations, others describe themselves as interpretations--it's as simple as that. We have to be careful not to come across as angry or to endorse the opinions of any particular scholar."

I strongly disagree, the interpretation of Chinese religion in the West has been the subject of a fair amount of scholarship. The translation of the Dao De Jing into English is a site where American notions of Chinese spirituality are constructed. I don't see what purpose is served by simplifying it to the extent that some translations are literal, and others interpretive. If you think that a specific scholar is being given too much weight - cite an opposing view, don't cut out the subject entirely. Alabasterj 17:31, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

The section on interpretations was far too much of a soapbox, so I did not attempt to restore it after it was deleted. If the criticisms can be made in a way that is neutral in tone and encyclopedic, it seems it would be a welcome addition. In some cases it may be difficult to gauge whether a certain author has sufficient knowledge of ancient Chinese language and literature. If editors agree to attempt to make this evaluation anyway, an alternative to having a separate section for interpretations is to add "(interpretation)" in parentheses after an entry. -DoctorW 23:41, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Hi gwc. On the first issue, I don't know how I feel about dividing the section on translations again. I know I started it, but it seems like a witch hunt even though there are only three major translation which aren't, well, translations. They are upfront and open about it in the text, but there seems to be a lot of resistance to it. Secondly, I think the Translation difficulties section is necessary to give a good and concise understanding of the wide diversity of translations, and I feel it should be kept. Thirdly, I completely agree that the excessive amounts of external links is ridiculous, there has been no consensus on it either. I removed it once, it was replaced with some harsh words being used, I added the linkfarm tag, it was removed. I would be happy to see it gone and a link to dmoz added. Fourthly, I have never touched the themes sections because they seem problematic throughout. Anyone doing work on them would be appreciated.
Alabasterj, I completely agree with you. I re-added your paragraph about the problems with un-scholarly translations. DoctorW, it was a bit of a soapbox, yes. Though it was in pursuit of acknowledging the presence of biased information. I think the best solution would be acknowledging Mitchell's, Le Guin's, and Bynner's editions as ones written without the knowledge of the Chinese language or the history of Chinese thought in the re-added paragraph. abexy 00:18, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
In case anyone wonders why some "Other Themes" are backed up and some not - I'm going to start adding (in brackets) some chapter numbers pointing to examples of each inferred "Other Theme." I won't get them all - I'm just starting it. - 长舟丫 (talk) 13:52, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Section name

The section name was changed from "Christian Interpretations" to "Interpretations in relation to some (religious) traditions", but there is one short sentence each for Buddhism and for Confucianism (neither of which has much real content) and all the rest of the section is about Christian interpretations. Perhaps the comments on relation to Buddhism and Confucianism could be filled out a bit and subsections created? The situation at present doesn't really seem ideal. -DoctorW 14:28, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Article Title

Is there any particular reason why the article is entitled "Tao Te Ching," but the introduction starts off with "Dao De Jing?" I know these are both legitimate names for the topic at hand, but why the disparity between the article title and the term used to start off the introduction? ~ Homologeo (talk) 06:38, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

I added "Tao Te Ching" to the head of the intro. Now, both ways of spelling/pronouncing the title in English are presented. ~ Homologeo (talk) 21:06, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

Infobox: Dao is Wade-Giles?

??? I thought the W-G romanization was Tao Te Ching, but the infobox currently lists it as Dao De Jing. Does this need to be corrected? Aristophanes68 (talk) 18:32, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Contemporary Interpretations

I have read with interest the discussion above and make a couple of comments;

An excellent job on Historic and Translation matters, congratulations much improved over my last visit. However to the average reader it might look a bit of an academic site, about past history.

If all that wisdom is to be seen as relevant today then surely there is room to include a separate heading, discussion and list of contemporary interpretations? I don't mean the Tao of Physics but would include work such as John Heider's!

The links I think are important to have.

How about discussion on its influence on more recent philosophers such as Carl Jung, now I know there are references to that.

In reading Wiki Articles one could be mistaken in coming to beleive that the work was written by Taoists. It needs to be spelt out here that Taoism developed much later.

With regard to Internal Structure my understanding is that there is some significance mathematically to the 81 verses being based upon 9 Principals and 9 Themes, in a nested matrix of some sort?


ThaySangLawCin.jpg This user acknowledges the ancient Wisdom of,
Tao Te Ching.

Logo links to Image

Lao Tzu - Project Gutenberg eText 15250.jpg This user acknowledges the ancient Wisdom of,
Tao Te Ching.

Logo links to Image

(User does not follow proper punctuation.) Just so that you do not think I am overly critical I have designed and created a couple of User Page Userboxes, These are included here, and anyone is free to use them. Just copy them off the Edit page if you want. They both link back to this Article.

Jagra (talk) 07:04, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Who doesn't follow proper punctuation? That comma does not belong in the sentence in the images.

Changing the Overall Theme

I find this Wikipedia entry disappointing for numerous reasons. The main purpose is to relate the facts surrounding the book. However, since we know virtually nothing for certain; for example, the writer’s identity is questionable, we cannot deliver a typically useful product.

A second problem is that focusing on the facts is contrary to the purpose of the book. The TTC is not about being special or sacred. It is an ordinary book with (mostly) ordinary thoughts for ordinary people, which makes it extraordinary. Parsing words and chronicling the past take us away from being inspired. The extended historical discussion is great for TTC wonks and therefore should be reached by hypertext, not positioned on the main entry. We should address these issues enough to show we don’t know, and it's OK to not know.

Third and more important, since the TTC is the preferred “manual for the art of living,” for many of us, we have a golden purpose available. We can show people the spirituality in the book by mirroring its character.

Our entry ought to be even simpler than the book - virtually impossible yet fun to try. We can begin by saying we know little about the TTC’s history, and to recommend it we wish to say little more than it has inspired many generations. The authorship is disputed, (present some theories), the meaning of the title is disputed, (present some interpretations), and, of course, the meaning of the book is interpreted differently by each reader.

The meat of the entry could include three or four, say 440 words or less ;-) summaries of the book’s meaning from “experts” who tend to disagree with each other. Right now, I think the summaries, with sections titled “Ineffability, Mysterious Female, Returning, Emptiness, Knowledge and Humility” are misleading. That’s fine, we expect and enjoy differences of opinion. We simply should not present any synopsis as the consensus. Let’s show the different, often contrary, directions readers take. Trying to put our finger on the Tao is part of the problem. Having transparent discussions is part of the solution.

For a conclusion, we can say, “We all do agree the Tao Te Ching is a short book, worth the investment of time. To have a good sense of what it is about, we recommend trying some of the translations listed below.”

P.S. If we want to comment on the merits of various translations, we should be careful. There is almost no use to criticizing a specific translation when we present so many options. It is obvious there are great disagreements, and these disagreements are passionate among people who care. Why prejudice a Wikipedia reader?

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Siggy65 (talkcontribs) 14:33, 25 December 2008‎ (UTC)


The page has moved from after all. What is the scoop? At the least there should be a redirect from the old location. 2008-11-29 update: It appears that the page is now under the Tao_Te_Ching title again. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:06, 29 November 2008 (UTC)


"According to tradition, it was written around the 6th century BC by the Taoist sage Laozi (or Lao Tzu, "Old Master"), a record-keeper at the Zhou Dynasty court, by whose name the text is known in China." - Laozi was not a Taoist, since Taoism only appeared many centuries after Laozi. I will remove the term Taoist meanwhile, if you disagree let's discuss it here... JonatasM (talk) 16:30, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Laotzi was not a taoist, Buddha was not a Buddhist, Christ was not a Christian, yes, yes. however, most faiths consider themselves universal, which implies that the 'truth' the faith reflects existed prior to people understanding the faith, which implies that the founders of such faiths can in fact be referred to as members of the faith since they discovered and taught the principles of the faith. but not really an important issue... Face-smile.svg --Ludwigs2 00:58, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Wade-Giles vs pinyin

I re-did the Google comparison (originally, here) of the Wade-Giles and pinyin spellings, and the proportion of Google hits for the pinyin versions has moved up from 6% to roughly 20% since 2005 when the original comparison was made. See: [12] and [13]. SharkD (talk) 16:44, 23 January 2009 (UTC)


anyone know who added this tag, or why? I don't really see specific issues to fix, and the tag is garish. If know one knows the reason for it, I'll go ahead and remove it. --Ludwigs2 01:00, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

no comments after 20 days, so I'll remove the tag. --Ludwigs2 18:07, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Historical Significance of timing of translations into English

In my review of the english version of the Tao Te Ching article I saw no reference to the dates of translation. It is my understanding that the earliest english translation is the 1891 translation. I believe that this is important information that should be included in the article.

It is important because the primary text of one of humankind's oldest and largest religions has only been available to english speaking scholars (or those of any human language other than the one it is written in) and others for a little over 100 years. The religion and the book, regardless of which scholar you believe, is clearly over 2000 years old. That means that the first opportunity for someone to compare the fundamental theology of Taoism (based on the original text and regardless of the quality of translation) to other religions has only occurred very recently.

The Dhammapada (Buddhism), Bhagavad Gita (Hinduism), and Confucius Analects (Confucianism), have been available in english, based on my research and recollection, for only a few years longer. The point is that Humankind's first opportunity to compare th major world theologies without knowing a number of languages (and their ancient dialects) is very, very recent.

I am not a theologian. Having said that I have read all the books on the list above in English and find many theological similarities. I do not believe that there is a good understanding in our civilization of how little opportunity we have had to perform any meaningful comparisons in any single language.

I suggest that that insight be included in the Tao Te Ching article as well as the articles related to the other major religions in the world —Preceding unsigned comment added by Drucker0905 (talkcontribs) 09:49, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

well, you have to be a little careful with assertions like that. all the great 'world religion' texts were translated in to english by pretty much the same crew of theosophists, and so they tended to get interpreted into that particular paradigm. for a quick check, look a little more closely at the various words that got translated as English 'spirit' or 'soul' from Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and etc. they don't have a lot in common. not that I'm disagreeing with you; I'm just pointing out that it's hard to distinguish the actual similarities between world religions from the imposed similarities of the translators.
other than that, though, the article ought to have dates of translation. does anyone have a resource for that? --Ludwigs2 18:16, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Regarding the Comparison between the Daoist 'Emptiness' and the Buddhist 'Emptiness'

I believe there is a significant difference between the underlying meanings of the Daoist emptiness ('wu') and the Buddhist emptiness ('kong'), and the conclusion that they are resonant with each other should not be drawn so readily as done in section 2.4. The Buddhists believe that the world that we cling to has no meaning and significance; it is 'empty' in the sense that all of life's glory is but a facade, meaningless in the end. The Buddhist belief teaches one to see things and know that they are not really there. On the other hand, 'emptiness' in Daoist contexts signifies the opportunity to hold, like a clay vessel can hold water in its cavity, a house can hold people, etc. It means to know that emptiness and invite things to come in, which in a way is quite different from the attitude of obliteration of the Buddhist belief. Maybe if someone can find some paper on this subject? I think making the conclusion that the Buddhist and Daoist 'emptiness' converge to the same meaning constitute some degree of original research without supporting bibliography, since it is not a readily obvious fact, and invites further elaboration as to the meaning of each. Yangli2 (talk) 22:20, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Regarding 'Banish wisdom, discard knowledge, And the people will be benefited a hundredfold'

I do not see this as direct contradiction to the fact that "Tao Te Ching praises self knowledge". The way I see it, in this paragraph the author is demonstrating the dualistic nature of the concepts of knowledge and wisdom and so forth: one only comes to know 'bad' when one comes to know 'good'. Without the comparison, there is no knowing either. Not to say that I believe you can stop anyone from knowing wisdom and knowledge as good, but as a hypothetical exercise, this passage presents the argument that if you banish the *name* of wisdom and knowledge, then those who possess more intelligence will not use it to perform petty actions that enhance their own social stations. If people revere knowledge and wisdom, those revered will use that reverence. The author is simply showing that shunning these *names* will discourage the generation of harmful feelings among people. Similarly, in the third chapter, it is said "Not to value and employ men of superior ability is the way to keep the people from rivalry among themselves; not to prize articles which are difficult to procure is the way to keep them from becoming thieves; not to show them what is likely to excite their desires is the way to keep their minds from disorder". To me, I think the author intended to discourage people from pursuing wisdom as if it's just another valuable commodity, but to just follow the way of things and obtain it through the harmony of that. It coincides with the theme of the rest of the work as well. All in all, I don't think that one should claim there is an inaccuracy in the current interpretation based on the perceived paradoxical lexicon, since there are alternate interpretations which make sense. Unless there is supporting literature (which needs to be cited), I don't believe this kind of suggestion should appear on the article. Yangli2 (talk) 22:20, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

An external link issue

Hi, Recently I posted an external link to a page with an interpretation of the Tao Te Ching, but it was deleted with the comment "this seems to be a personal, web-based interpretation (unlike the others (all, I believe standard published texts). self-published sources aren't generally allowed".

I really think this interpretation is of great value, especially when you read the introduction. It shows in what context the Tao Te Ching is written, and what it means in present-day life. A quote from the introduction: Understanding Lao Tzu means: live like Lao Tzu. Living like Lao Tzu means: escape from the world, have no opinions and convictions anymore, have no interests at all and don't be tied to anything. To live like Lao Tzu is to not believe anything anymore, to realize you can’t really know a thing, to have no point of view anymore, to have nothing to lose and therefore nothing to defend. With this view I believe this interpretation of the Tao Te Ching is written, and thus makes it different from all other interpretations.

I hope everybody sees the (educational) value of this and agrees that the URL should be on the page. --Controle2 (talk) 19:43, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

I don't normally edit in this area, so won't offer an opinion at the moment. However, there is a related discussion on my talk page. Johnuniq (talk) 01:34, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

I strongly disagree with this interpretation. In the Tao, we escape from attachment and judgment, but not from the world. In the Tao, we have opinions and interests, no one is more interested than those who surrender to the Tao. We love and care completely. There are also many beliefs, there is knowledge and so on. When you say, "you can't really know a thing," that is a self-contradicting statement. One beautiful thing about the Tao Te Ching is those types of self-contradiction, which you and I so easily fall into, do not exist. Siggy65 (talk) 04:21, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Poor writing.

The Tao Te Ching praises self knowledge with emphasis on that knowledge coming with humility, to the extent of dis-acknowledging this knowledge. An interpretation on this knowledge being irrational in connection with Chapter 19 of Waley's translation on "Banish wisdom, discard knowledge, And the people will be benefited a hundredfold." seem to be inaccurate stemming from Feisheng qizi which is a reverse phrase meaning the truly exalted (sheng) and intellectual (zi) never claimed they are, which might as well be abolishing the notions of exaltation and intellectuality, meaning humbleness and humility of one's enlightenment is crucial. Knowledge, like desire, should be diminished. "It was when intelligence and knowledge appeared that the Great Artifice began." (chap. 18, tr. Waley), similarly another examplar on lost in translation by a sinologist, the third and fourth stanzas reads Zihui zu You Dawei, which should be read in reverse as the first and second stanzas, that when the world is full deceit and falsehoods (Dawei), wisdom and intellectuality shall arise.

Point by point:" An interpretation on this knowledge being irrational in connection with Chapter 19 of Waley's translation on "Banish wisdom, discard knowledge, And the people will be benefited a hundredfold." seem to be inaccurate stemming from Feisheng qizi which is a reverse phrase meaning the truly exalted (sheng) and intellectual (zi) never claimed they are, which might as well be abolishing the notions of exaltation and intellectuality, meaning humbleness and humility of one's enlightenment is crucial." I am a native speaker of English, but I cannot make out what this very long sentence is trying to convey.

"An interpretation on" should be "an interpretation based on," or maybe "an interpretation of," depending on the writer's intent.

I'm guessing, but the author seems to be claiming that Waley's translation of words in chapter 19 was wrong, and that this inaccuracy "stems from" something called "feisheng qizi." I am an experienced speaker of Chinese yet I still would have to guess what this romanized phrase is supposed to be. The average well-informed reader will have absolutely no way of deriving any meaning from it. If I had the Chinese characters I could get a better idea. Whatever it is, it is hardly likely to have controlled Arthur Waley's ideas on what the Dao De Jing was saying. If I have managed to strain any meaning out of this badly crafted sentence it is that there is some view held by some Chinese that says people ought not to let their knowledge and wisdom come to the attention of others, which is true, and that the text in question was actually trying to convey this idea. The writer has given himself/herself a loophole by saying "seems to be," but the standard of an encyclopedia entry should be what standard commentators of antiquity such as Wang Bi have to say about the passage, and what the best modern scholarship has to say about it. For a modern interpretation informed by a lifetime of study see Lao Zi Da Jie by Yan Ling-feng, p. 72f.

"similarly another examplar on lost in translation by a sinologist, the third and fourth stanzas reads Zihui zu You Dawei, which should be read in reverse as the first and second stanzas, that when the world is full deceit and falsehoods (Dawei), wisdom and intellectuality shall arise."

An "exemplar" is somebody or something who stands as a kind of standard of quality for some class of things. I think the writer may have meant "example." "Example on lost in translation" doesn't make sense either, however. I think the author is trying to say there there is another example of something lost in translation. The author of this English passage then sticks in another Chinese phrase, and in this case I can see what it is supposed to be. I am guessing that this whole thing is some kind of personal commentary that really ought to be on this discussion page and not in the article itself. The phrase is supposed to be "智慧出有大偉“ zhi hui chu you da wei. The writer says it "should be read in reverse," but in context it is perfectly clear that what it means is that when (so-called) knowledge and wisdom emerge then we get great artifice. (See p. 70 of Yan's book.)

Saying something is so does not make it true. Any book is subject to some degree of interpretation, but the object of encyclopedia writing should not to be to replace the understanding of generation after generation of scholars with the personal opinions or research of one writer. P0M (talk) 04:38, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

I just checked the Wang Bi commentary. If anybody wants to offer another interpretation it at least has to be attributed to a peer-reviewed article or other generally qualified source. Wing-tsit Chan (Cheng Rong-jie) was the dean of American teachers of Chinese philosophy, the only one in the U.S. who could be mentioned in the same breath with Qian Mu, Tang Jun-yi, Mou Zong-san, et al. His translation is: "When he great Tao declined,/ The doctrines of humanity (jen)" and righteousness (i) arose./ When knowledge and wisdom appeared,/ There emerged great hypocrisy." (Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 148.) P0M (talk) 23:55, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

false assertion

The text said that "de means love." This statement is simply wrong. See the on-line version of the Ministry of Education (Taiwan) dictionary: P0M (talk) 03:28, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Yes!Siggy65 (talk) 04:11, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Knowledge/Discard Knowledge and Overview

Regarding the issue of understanding the self or discarding knowledge, I would say that in the Tao, we say what we have to say. We are genuine and we are not defensive. When we are done talking, we return to Beginner's Mind. We do not actively deny knowing ourselves. I believe the operating idea is "Understanding is delusion. Not understanding is indifference."

Overall, I wish the whole main entry were trashed and we started over. Tao Te Ching scholars should hide in a corner, not show their ideas proudly. Being a Tao Te Ching scholar is like studying love or beauty. The Tao Te Ching is to be taken to heart, one person at a time. It is a best friend or trusted advisor.

I will go out on a limb and say this entry should have fewer words than the book.Siggy65 (talk) 04:09, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

While I agree with you that the main entry should be trashed for the most part (e.g. Eliade is cited as a source? He may be an expert in religion, but he is not a Sinologist let alone an expert in the TTC), there is no way that an adequate article on this work could be shorter than the TTC. Three good introductions to the TTC which I happen to own -- Holmes Welch's Taoism: The Parting of the Way, Kohn & LaFargue's Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching, Max Kaltenmark's Lao Tzu and Taoism -- are all longer than the TTC. Which should not be a surprise, since the TTC is around five thousand words in size. Any decent article would need to not only discuss the book & its ideas, but its influence (e.g. Chinese scholars alone have written between 700 & 2,000 commentaries on this work) not only on Chinese & Western philosophy, but also on Taoism itself. And I don't mean going into any detail on these points; simply listing which individuals or schools of thought were influenced, & when these people lived, would occupy a surprising amount of space. -- llywrch (talk) 04:40, 14 October 2010 (UTC)

Changes to Translation Section

There are some parts of the translation section that I would question the accuracy of.

"Most translations are written by people with a foundation in Chinese language and philosophy who are trying to render the original meaning of the text as faithfully as possible into English." Is this true? How would you validate that assertion?

also: "Others say that Laozi communicated colloquially and simply, and a true translation will do the same in its place and time. If Laozi attempted to communicate eternal truths, it is the translator's work to do so as well."

Who are the others that say this? The language of the Daode Jing is not colloquial or simple - its fairly complex and very formal. And wouldn't the work of a translator be to communicate what Laozi wrote?

Unless someone can back these assertions up with references, I'm going to cut them out.--Alabasterj (talk) 07:56, 8 December 2009 (UTC)