Daoism: Laozi and Zhuangzi

Liu Xiaogan

in The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780195328998
Published online September 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Daoism: Laozi and Zhuangzi

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This article provides an introduction to the two earliest representative thinkers of Daoism—Laozi and Zhuangzi—and the two texts that carry their names, which are likewise recognized as Daoist philosophical classics. Laozi may have been the first person in Chinese intellectual history to develop a theory about the source and ground of the universe and all things; this theory is represented in the concept “Dao” (Tao). Dao is the primordial root of all beings and creatures; all beings and creatures in turn depend on it, and it never turns away from them. As the ultimate source and ground of the universe, Dao seems equivalent to a metaphysical concept in Western philosophy. For Zhuangzi, right and wrong, good and bad hold the same values, while life and death, fortune and adversity are equally as acceptable as the alternating day and night. Thus, Zhuangzi's thought involves an ideal notion of human existence. Unlike most other thinkers, Zhuangzi develops and conveys his philosophical ideas and theories mainly through fables, tales, anecdotes, and dialogues.

Keywords: Chinese philosophy; Chinese philosophers; Daoism; Laozi; Zhuangzi; universe; human existence

Article.  5132 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy

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