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The Philosophy of “Naturalness” in the Laozi and Its Value For Contemporary Society

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This article aims to show that the concept of “naturalness” in the Laozi is able to provide cultural guidance concerning values for contemporary social development. Specifically, the Laozi’s concept of “naturalness”—manifested in the text’s exhortation to “honor the dao and exalt the de” and its statement that “the dao models itself on naturalness”—has profound ontological, political and social implications concerning “naturalness” that are strongly expressed through a variety of propositions including “achieving all through non-action” and “downsizing the state and simplifying the people.” With respect to the question about individuals living a life of appropriateness and establishing their destiny, the Laozi emphasizes such cultivation methods as “sticking to simplicity and authenticity” and “watching in quietude and observing in depth,” which are also infused with the conception of “naturalness,” which stresses the notion that understanding the harmony between man and nature can provide useful lessons for the development of contemporary human society.

Affiliations: 1: School of Philosophy, Beijing Normal University


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