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A Process Interpretation of Daoist Thought

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Despite the fact that the Dao De Jing 道德經 is one of the most frequently translated texts in history, most of these translations share certain unexamined and problematic assumptions which often make it seem as though the text is irrational, incoherent, and full of non sequiturs. Frequently, these assumptions involve the imposition of historically anachronous, linguistically unsound, and philosophically problematic categories and attitudes onto the text. One of the main causes of the problem is the persistent tendency on the part of most translators to read the first line of the text as referring to or implying the existence of some kind of “eternal Dao.” These are what I term “ontological” readings, as opposed to the “process” reading I will be articulating here.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, University of Delaware


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