An Introduction to Daoist Philosophies by Steve Coutinho

By Steve Coutinho

Steve Coutinho explores intimately the basic techniques of Daoist proposal as represented in 3 early texts: the Laozi, the Zhuangzi, and the Liezi. Readers drawn to philosophy but surprising with Daoism will achieve a accomplished knowing of those works from this research, and readers eager about historical China who additionally desire to clutch its philosophical foundations will have fun with the readability and intensity of Coutinho's explanations.

Coutinho writes a quantity for all readers, whether they have a history in philosophy or chinese language stories. a piece of comparative philosophy, this quantity additionally integrates the suggestions and strategies of latest philosophical discourse right into a dialogue of early chinese language inspiration. The ensuing discussion relates old chinese language concept to modern philosophical matters and makes use of sleek Western principles and techniques to throw new interpretive mild on classical texts. instead of functionality as ancient curiosities, those works act as dwelling philosophies in dialog with modern idea and adventure. Coutinho respects the multiplicity of Daoist philosophies whereas additionally revealing a particular philosophical sensibility, and he offers transparent motives of those advanced texts with out resorting to oversimplification.

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Nevertheless, for ease of discussion, I shall follow the tradition in using the names as though referring to actual people. It should not be inferred that I believe that any of them actually existed. While the question of their existence might matter from a historical or religious perspective, nothing of consequence hinges on it from a philosophical point of view. 3 And it is the ideas, theories, and worldviews they present that are of primary interest to a philosopher. Furthermore, the Laozi and the Liezi certainly have sufficiently distinctive characters and styles of thought to warrant attribution of each text to a particular perspective, even if not to a single author.

To say that the discourse of dao is pragmatic is to say, in part, that the context of even the most theoretical questioning is always how it works, and how we might learn from it. 5 To say that a methodology is hermeneutic is to say, in part, that it uses meanings, images, narratives, and metaphors to interpret and make sense of our experience of the world.

The very choice of narrative as a philosophical medium should call into question such realist presuppositions. The hermeneutic techniques required for reading fiction would be an odd choice for someone intending to describe literally the structures of an independent world. On the contrary, this method of writing, thinking, and reading requires the reader actively to interpret and reinterpret the structures of the world represented. Lastly, Chinese philosophy does not divide into separate areas in the way that Western philosophy does.

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