Chapter 38 of the <i>Dàodéjīng</i> as an Imaginary Genealogy of Morals

Jiwei Ci

in Ethics in Early China

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9789888028931
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9789882209800 | DOI:
Chapter 38 of the Dàodéjīng as an Imaginary Genealogy of Morals

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This text discusses two short passages from Chapter 38 of the Dàodéjīng. The first passage (called the “decline” passage) tends to be approached without any distinction between an ordinary historical narrative, a historically true genealogy, and an imaginary genealogy. The second passage (called the “consciousness” passage) is about what it is for one to have and not to have and what consciousness has to do with it. It thus invites a moral-psychological reading. Although only is treated in this passage, the rationale that informs the treatment seems to cover rén, , and equally well. In discussing both passages, this text discusses rén, , and . The conjoining of these three concepts cannot but remind one of the four virtues (sìdé, the fourth and last being zhì,) in Confucian thought, especially as developed by Mencius.

Keywords: Dàodéjīng; decline passage; genealogy; consciousness passage; ; rén;

Chapter.  5538 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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