Talk:Taoism/Archive 1

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I kinda disagree with the dualism part in the middle somewhere there, under taoist philosophy. I think taoism wants us to see through the dualism?? In's a false dichotomy. Everything is one. haha, not sure if that makes any sense to anyone, but I'm scared to edit the article and make a booboo out of it. I hope someone more learned can take a look at it :D


Hmm, better make this clearer.

Sure, there are 2 forces. But, its emphasising the harmony of the two, the non-distinction of the two (by the dots within the swirls). Hope that makes some sense hehe.


As with most things within Daoism/Taoism there can be apparent contradictions. The text in the article is correct. There IS a dualism and yet there ISN'T. There are two seperate entities and yet they are the whole. Both angles are correct. The argument is similar to: You have no fingers. You have a hand. You have no parts. You have a whole. Both are correct dependant on the viewpoint.


Random stuff

One All Together [The seagull and the crow] Confucius called upon Lao Zi to discuss benevolence and righteousness. Lao Zi then told him," The whiteness of the seagull is not the result of daily baths in the sea. And the blackness of the crow is not the result of daily dyeing in the ink. Seagull argued that white is beautiful, and the crow argue that black is beautiful. Black and white are natural qualities, we can't say one is beautiful and the other is not. To distinguish good and bad by concept of benevolence and righteousness, is like a man well-versed in the great Tao, and make the same mistake as the crow and the seagull." ---sin wei


Is there some way we can weave this joke in to the article?

--Q:What did the Taoist say to the Hot Dog Vendor? 
--A: Make me one with everything.

MPS 16:31, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Probably not. Plus, all the previous times I heard that joke, it used "Buddhist". But it is a good joke. Here's another (admittedly, having nothing to do with Taoism:
"They say 'You are what you eat'. That can't be true, because I don't feel like a large Italian with everything." Marteau


"Taoism" is a word in the *English* language, not Chinese, and has been there for >150 years. It doesn't and shouldn't follow fashions in transliteration schemes. "pinyin is better than Wade-Giles" is a subjective statement one can agree or disagree with. "Taoism is a word in the English language, used much more often than its newer variant Daoism" is an objective fact, attested to by all major dictionaries.

Now whether to use Tao/Dao is another question, and also not altogether clear. --AV

Interesting argument!!

See Daoism and Daoism/Talk

Yes, but the newer variant Daoism is more correct. The idea behind "Taoism" is "Tao" (Chinese word) + "ism" (English suffix). If we were to take the Chinese word Tao/Dao into English, we should write it as "Dao" anyway, since that is how it is pronounced in Chinese, and therefore how it should be written with English orthography. In Wade-Giles, "T" is not the English "T", it is closer to the English "D"; "T'" (T followed by an ayn) is closest to the English "T". And it's Tao in Wade-Giles, not T'ao. The English word originates through confusion between Wade-Giles and English orthography.

And so what if its more common; surely we should encourage people to use more correct terms? Note I have placed the older forms after the more correct ones in practce.

Finally, you might disagree, but pinyin vs. Wade-Giles isn't just a fashion in transliterations; pinyin is in general better than Wade-Giles, which is one of the reasons it is being increasingly used in preference to Wade-Giles. -- Simon J Kissane

"more correct" is not a linguistic argument. Modern linguistics abhores prescription. It is a judgement call, nothing more than that.

Are you also in favour of abolishing the word "Confucius"? It being a result of a "less correct" transcription, of course. Even if you are in favour, I believe that even majority of scholars would disagree, not to mention common English speakers.

Well, its a lot smaller change from "Taoism" to "Daoism" than it is from "Confucius" to "Kung fu zi" or whatever the transliteration is. -- Simon J Kissane

It is simply incorrect to say that "Dao" is so pronounced in Chinese, because it isn't. "D" at least partly voiced in the English "Dao" and is completely unvoiced in Mandarin. Wade-Giles Tao and pinyin Dao are both compromises, meant to preserve this or the other feature of the Chinese word in English (voicelessness vs. aspiration).

I'm not saying that Chinese "D" is the same as English "D"; all I am saying is that it is closer to English "D" than English "T"; and for an English speaker trying to approximate Mandarin, they'd be closer if they said "D" than if they said "T". -- Simon J Kissane
Actually, the spelling for 道 (dao) in Wade-Giles romanization is tao in which the lack of apostrophe means the "t" is UNaspirated (and unvoiced). The fact that a "t" is used and not a "d" is a hedge against speakers mistaking it for a voiced consonant. So, you might say Wade-Giles is closer to the real pronunciation than Hanyu Pinyin. -- 04:24, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)

You say:

And so what if its more common; surely we should encourage people to use more correct terms? Note I have placed the older forms after the more correct ones in practce.

Again, "more correct" here is a judgement call, while the undisputable fact is that one is a well-rooted word, another is a new and rare variant. 'All words in language are arbitrary, and are backed up only by tradition of use and common agreement.

As for pinyin being better than Wade-Giles: I didn't dispute it's better. From many scientific points of view it is. But something better yet may come along in 50 more years. It's no reason at all to change spelling and pronunciation of English words, and Taoism is such a word. --AV

Dao in pinyin is not "more correct" than Tao in Wade-Giles. In Wade-Giles, Tao is not pronounced "'tau". I argue pinyin is "more intuitive" but not "more correct" because the actual pronounciations in both systems are pretty similar. In addition, Mandarin is very likely the youngest Chinese spoken language (currently the most common one), but in older Chinese spoken languages, "Dao" is pronounced "Doe" with the tone similar to its counterpart in music. I know for a fact in two examples of older Chinese spoken languages such as Cantonese and Min Nan, the written word is pronounced "Doe". In Japan and Korea, the word is also pronounced "Doe". Interaction among the three countries began at least as far back as the Tang dynasty. Therefore, at the time of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, the word was very likely pronounced "Doe". Logically, we should call it Doe (Doeism/Doeist). :p --dro

"Daoism". We gotta go with "Daoism". We don't write "shew" for "show" or "hlaf" for "loaf".

Nonsense. We would, in fact, have writte "shew" for "show" if the former variant was more common than the latter. Since it isn't, we don't. The same should be the approach with "Taoism". --AV

I agree with AV. I think pinyin (especially with tone marks) is better than Wade-Giles, but what I or anyone thinks is not relevant when faced with the fact that English usage overwhelmingly prefers Taoism to Daoism. We don't write "shew" for "show" or "hlaf" for "loaf" for the very same reason, even if someone thinks "shew" and "hlaf" are objectively better. --Zundark, 2001 Oct 1

LOL -- we aren't real big on wu wei around here, are we?  :-)

ROTFLMAO -- You mean there are people working on this article that aren't Dowists? I find that hard to believe 7:^]

Okay, new argument -- if we are going to use pinyin and write Dao, we should write English Daoism, to make it clear that Daoism is the -ism of Dao. It would seem rather incongruous to say something like "The Dao is a central doctrine of Taoism." -- Simon J Kissane

This might appear confusing, but not after one reads the introductory paragraph which explains the discrepancy. In fact, Google search for "dao taoism" finds 3,440 pages, much more than the search for "dao daoism" - only 1,870 pages. So twice more people prefer to use "Dao" with "Taoism" than with "Daoism" - for a good reason, since "Taoism" is a well-recognised word, which "Daoism" isn't.
I'm still uncertain over whether we should in fact use "Dao" and not "Tao". The same arguments I used earlier apply here but with much lesser force, since "Taoism" is much more entrenched in the English language than "Tao". I remain ambivalent. --AV
    • I ambivalent about this controversy but had to comment on the poor use of Google pseudo-logic. Googling "Buddha" and "Christianity" together yields 165,000 pages. Googling "Buddha" and "Taoism" yields 46,800. Therefore you would have me conclude that 30 times more people would associate Buddha with Christianity than Taoism." MPS 17:00, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Just to throw in my .02, my professor of Chinese religion, a man born and educated in China, did indeed pronounce "Taoism" with a "D" and write it with a "T."

Thanks for that example! I also continue to see much more "Taoisms" than "Daoisms" around me, in layman writings as well as in expert articles. --AV
On the other hand, it also supports my contention that English "Dao", while not identical to the Chinese pronounciation, is a better approximation than English "Tao" -- Simon J Kissane
Let me try to explain: when a Chinese native says the Chinese word, a native of English will hear what he thinks is "Dao", though it isn't. In Mandarin, there're two versions of "t": with/without aspiration, but no "d" at all. In English, on the other hand, "t" at the beginning of a word is pronounced with aspiration, "d" without. The Chinese consonant in question lacks aspiration AND voice, so it has one feature from English "t" (lack of voice) and one from English "d" (lack of aspiration). In this particular context it often renders itself as "d" in the English speaker's consciousness, but it is still not "d", and objectively from a phonetical point of view it's as far from English "d" as it is from English "t".
The conclusion is that there're solid linguistic reasons for which "d" is better to use for that consonant than "t", but it is by no means an open-and-shut case. Don't get me wrong: I prefer pinyin myself, I just protest against characterising its superiority in such black-and-white terms. ANd in case of existing English words like Taoism, I think it terribly wrong to try and force them to change after a new transliteration scheme emerges.
Okay, well whatever the objective phonetic nature of the sound, the fact remains that English speakers hear Chinese speakers say a "d". And if they hear Chinese speakers say "d", surely they should be encouraged to say what they think they are hearing, not something which sounds to them to be completely different. If they can't easily say the Chinese "d", at least they should say what sounds to them like the Chinese "d". Especially since how they would naively pronounce the pinyin happens (coincidentally or not) to be closer to what they subjectively hear. (It would be interesting to know what a Chinese speaker interprets the English "d" as, closer to pinyin "d" or something else?) --- Simon J Kissane
A Chinese speaker can't hear voiced stops at all precisely because they don't exist in his language. For him that distinction (voiced/unvoiced) doesn't exist in this case, only aspirated/unaspirated. Since English 'd' is unaspirated, he hears Mandarin unaspirated (voiceless) consonant, which is pinyin 'd', yes.
I agree with you that we should encourage use of the consonant that English speakers actually hear for pinyin 'd', which happens to be English 'd', regardless of objective phonetical differences. I just disagree over how far this encouragement should go; in my opinion it definitely shouldn't intrude upon existing and well-known words in the English language. If in fact "taoism" was an obscure technical term only used in academic journals of Chinese studies, I wouldn't mind turning it into "daoism". But it's long ago become an English word of general stock. With "Tao", as I wrote before, things are less clear (to me).--AV

Okay, I relent for now on the Daoism/Taoism issue. Might I suggest that you incorporate the abovementioned discussion of phonetics into Daoism? (I could, but I think you understand it better than me.)

Since many links to Daoism expect to be about the philosophy rather than about transcription systems, is there any objection to moving that article (perhaps to Spelling of Daoism) and making Daoism itself a redirect to this article? (See Talk:Daoism) --Brion 20:33 Sep 3, 2002 (PDT)

This Daoism/Taoism phonetic isuue was yet another brillant example of how Wade-Giles and Pinyin system keep confusing the scholars. Taoism was invented by westerners as they first met the subject and Daoism was the transliteration from Pinyin of the Chinese word. When the Chinese word is pronounced, it sounded more like Daoism. IMO I'm not offended by using either of the terms as scholars know they refer to the same subject. But for the title nomenclature on wikipedia, popularity among English-speaking readers is more important than anything. Thus IMO Taoism would be a better choice here. Daoism will then merely a redirect.The phonetics should be referred to pages on Wade-Giles and Pinyin. user:Ktsquare

Done; I've moved the diatribe for now to Daoism versus Taoism. --Brion 22:41 Sep 3, 2002 (PDT)

Could a bit on the different translations be included? I love Witter Bynner, personally, but there really are a ton, and I don't know much about 'em.

There has been some talk, in real life, about the creation of a Wiki that explains Taoist practices and traditions in much more depth than Wikipedia has done. Would anyone have an interest in a TaoismWiki?

  • there is for metaphysics and occultism. I am interested in esoteric-philosophical-etc wikis. In case you start something inform me. But a Taoism-only Wiki is too specific; not a good idea. Optim 20:42, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

i heard/read that lao tzu was working in a library or an imperial archives collection of some kind. what you think?

Are Taoism and Zen sufficiently complementry and compatible to include a reference to Zen in the Taoism article? I'm inclined to think so - But I wonder what are other people's opinions.

Sure, they're pretty compatible, at least from the perspective of the latter. Maybe the Daoists don't considered Zen to be compatible, same way that Jews don't consider Christianity to be compatible. I don't know. But I don't see how it could hurt to include a reference. - Nat Krause 12:40, 15 Apr 2004 (UTC)
But it's important to recognize that there's a lot of interconnection between Taoism and Buddhism in general (Well, Chinese Buddhism and Buddhism that comes through China to other countries); it's not just Zen.कुक्कुरोवाच 01:17, 16 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Suggestion for further reading

I apologize if I am not going about this in the right way, this is the first time I have made a suggestion to Wikipedia. I am also no expert on Taoism.

But I have a suggestion for further reading and for a possible link. Michael Saso has written a couple of books on Taoism that seem reliable to me. From what I understand, he has made a serious study of the topic in China. My suggestion for an external link is the "Taoist Restoration Society" at

Thank you for your time, I hope this is useful.