Primitive Daoism

Like life, Daoism stubbornly refuses to be just one thing. In this course we read the classical philosophy of the Dao De Jing and Zhuangzi. Other writings by philosopher Francois Jullien and David Hall provide counterpoint. Expect to gain insight into optimizing your personal life and contributing with more fluidity and suppleness and with less force to social life.
1 Basic concepts
2 Dao De Jing – atheism and the Daoist understanding of personality
3 Dao De Jing – small-statism
4 Zhuangzi – anti-statism
5 Zhuangzi – DIY life
6 Jullien, Hall: additional takes on Daoism
Chinese works will be read in translation. It would be best if among the students a number of versions were represented, so that we can compare translation attitudes and how this affects the meaning of the texts.

  • Daodejing/Tao te ching. Suggested versions: The translation and commentary by Roger Ames and David Hall, Ivanhoe's, Le Guin's, Mitchell's, Lau's, Chen's, Addiss and Lombardo's, Mair's. (The translations of the 19th and early 20th century are less desirable, but useful in the way of contrast.)
  • or Zhuangzi/Chuang-tzu. Suggested versions: trans. by Brook Ziporyn; The Inner Chapters, trans. by A.C. Graham; the poetic transformation of Thomas Merton; Hamill and Seaton's selections.
  • Excerpts from Francois Jullien's Vital Nourishment.
  • David Hall's "Process and Anarchy: A Taoist Vision of Creativity"

Method/Procedures: shared inquiry (question-provoked discussion), formation of thematic links between texts
Schedule: Mon, Thur 7 - 9 pm
Location: Democracy Center
Fees: negotiable
Teacher: Eric Buck
Week-to-Week topics

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