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Exploring the Non-objectified Character of Dao in the Laozi : A Modern Articulation

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This article focuses on the interpretation of heng dao 恆道 (sometimes translated as “the constant dao”) and its fundamental character in the Laozi. It argues against the prevailing interpretation of dao as an unchanging metaphysical substance or reality, and maintains that the fundamental feature of heng dao is both dynamic and eternal. Heng dao is beyond language because of its dynamic character, but the Laozi nevertheless strives to express it in three aspects: 1) its flexibility and adaptability as represented in the metaphor of water; 2) its movement of reversal and return; 3) and in its existential significance as a guide for life. Heng dao can be called the non-objectified dao, which produces law, principle, rule, method, and so on. Looked at in this way, the dynamic character of heng dao can be called non-objective.

Affiliations: 1: School of Chinese Classics, Renmin University of China


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