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2 Daoist Inner Cultivation Thought and the Textual Structure of the Huainanzi

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Chapter Summary

The issue of the intellectual filiation of the Huainanzi has vexed scholars for generations. The concepts form a unique field of discourse and techniques that can be used to differentiate distinctive intellectual lineages in pre-Han China. The direct results of apophatic psychological practices are similar across many early texts of the inner cultivation tradition, thus indicating a consistency of actual methods and some sharing of ideas and texts. "Integrating Customs", while superficially about the importance of maintaining a fluid approach to enforcing customs and rituals throughout the empire, is really a treatise that proffers the clearest statement of a Daoist theory of human nature written to this point. There are some who would challenge this assertion, insisting instead that the philosophy of the 'Inner Chapters' of the Zhuangzi is distinctly different from that of the Laozi and that both differ in kind from the ungrounded 'eclecticism' of the Huainanzi.

Keywords: apophatic psychological practices; Daoist theory; Huainanzi; Laozi; pre-Han China; Zhuangzi



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