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A Brief Discussion on the Daodejing and Daoist Teachings

- How does the Daodejing characterize early Daoist teachers?
- How would you characterize Daoist teachings in their entirety?

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The Daodejing is perhaps the most un-Chinese text from the Warring States period. No other text from that period of Chinese history even closely resembles it in style! The two other Daoist texts from the same period, the Zhuangzi and the Liezi, although having some similarities in content, make their points through anecdotes whereas the Daodejing more closely resembles a work of poetry. The Confucian, Mohist and Legalist texts of this period - Analects, Mencius, Xunzi, Mozi, Hanfeizi etc are all totally different in style and content! This makes understanding the Daodejing a difficult task.

With this in mind lets turn to the first question.

1. How does the Daodejing characterize early Daoist teachers?

Well, firstly I'm inclined to say that it doesn't, simply because it's unlikely that other Daoist teachers of that era (Zhuangzi and Liezi) ever met Laozi. Historical records of the time claim that Zhuangzi was a man of Song. Recent archaeological discoveries Ma Wang Dui place the oldest version of the Daodejing in the Chu (the southern most state in the Warring States) script. What this means is that Zhuangzi and Laozi if they did ever meet would, most likely, be unable to converse with each other. However, a strong argument exists saying that the Daoism of the Daodejing is a ...

Solution Summary

A brief overview and discussion (500 words) examining the nature of the Daodejing within the Daoist canon and Daoist teachings in their entirety.