The Structure of the Daodejing

It is widely accepted that the Daodejing, like most Zhou-era texts, was produced over a considerable period by a process of accretion– the gathering of existing units of text (possibly oral in origin) into larger bodies of discourse. It is thus the product of more than one author from more than one period, and probably also derives from more than one tradition (or from clearly contrasting phases of a single tradition).[1]  In this article I divide the Daodejing into three groups, of which two are themselves plural in origin: an early contemplative / self-cultivation group, a middle strategic-philosophical group, and a final ethical-political group which probably represents the point of view of the final editor. (I have reluctantly called the first two groups “early” and “middle”, but am not committed to any specific theory about either their dates or about the process which brought them together.)[2] (more…)

Published in: on March 28, 2009 at 6:32 pm  Leave a Comment