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Chapter One of the Tao Tê Ching: A ‘New’ Interpretation
Author Loy, David (著)
Source Religious Studies
Volumev.21 n.3
Pages369 - 379
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publisher Url
LocationCambridge, UK [劍橋, 英國]
Content type期刊論文=Journal Article
AbstractThe Tao Tê Ching is probably the world's second most translated and annotated book (after the Bible), yet it remains among the most enigmatic. Of its eighty-one chapters, no one denies that the most important is the first, and many scholars (e.g. Wing-tsit Chan, Chang Chung-yuan) go further to claim that it is the key to the whole work: if it is understood fully, all the rest may be seen to be implied. Unfortunately, the first chapter also happens to be the most ambiguous. But even so, after so much attention can there be anything left to say? It seems to me that an important point has been missed or at least obscured, and that the popularity of certain translations has made this obscuration more prevalent recently. To correct this, I shall offer below a line-by-line explication of this crucial passage. The following interpretation first demonstrates the parallel structure of the first eight lines as signifying two different ways of experiencing: lines one, three, five and seven refer to the experience of Tao, and lines two, four, six and eight to our more usual way of experiencing the world. I shall suggest that the difference between these ways is the difference between our familiar dualistic experience (or understanding of experience) and a much less common nondualistic way of experiencing in which there is no bifurcation between subject and object. Second, we shall see that the parallel structure unfolds dialectically: each succeeding pair of lines elaborates upon the issues that naturally arise in response to the preceding pair. In the process of showing this, I shall take sides on the two main controversies over this chapter: first, whether it should be interpreted cosmologically or ontologically/epistemologically (I have already revealed my preference for the latter), and second, whether lines, five and six should be punctuated to translate yü as ‘desire/intention’. My main thesis is that the traditional understanding of yü as ‘desire’ or ‘intention’ is an essential part of the meaning of the chapter. This is by no means an original claim, but why it is so important does not seem to have been noticed before and provides the reason for this paper. Wing-tsit Chan's criticism of such translations, that ‘intention interrupts the thought of the chapter’, 1 is thus a serious misreading of the text.
ISSN00344125 (P); 1469901X (E)
Created date2023.03.15
Modified date2023.03.15

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