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Daoism and Anarchism


KWAN, Sui Chi (PhD Student, Humanities, HKUST; Tutor, OUHK)




The current debate[1] between Liberalism and Communitarianism in the West since the publication of John Rawls’ classics, A Theory of Justice,[2] centers, in a sense, around the image of man. Man is perpetually puzzled over his existence as an individual and at the same time as a member of society. The irreconcilable difference apparent in these two roles underscores a tension that holds him firm in his grip. Liberalism derives its force from its concern over human rights and as such is methodologically individualistic. Communitarianism, by contrast, sees man from the perspective of the whole of society and relates his existence to the entangling network of social relationship. The debate between these two views is sometimes taken to be an “either-or” type of dilemma, that one can only take side with either should he choose not to remain a spectator. But is there really no way to break the horns of the dilemma?

Daoism[3], as a system that primarily concerns itself with individual freedom made possible in the ever-unifying Daoa,[4] or the Way, seems to set forth a model for us to break the horns of the Liberal-Communitarian dilemma. For sure, Daoism’s focal concern for fully realizing the true self in a spontaneous manner seems to lend an Oriental support to Western Liberalism which abhors coercion whatsoever. What is much less discussed but definitely deserves attention is that Daoism seems to lend weight as well to Communitarianism to the extent that it places very heavy emphasis on the full realization of the true self by way of a (re-)unification of every organism into one with the Dao. Daoists from Laozib, Zhuangzic in the Pre-Chin Period to Wang Bid in Wei-Jine Period invariably concern themselves with the question of whether man should detach himself from society. Laozi and Zhuangzi are often dubbed as Liberals, Libertarians or even Anarchists[5] by virtue of their alleged claims on the desirability of man’s detachment from society; and Wang Bi, as I see it, tries to find a way out by proposing that ziranf, or the Nature, and mingjiaog, or the establishment (or the institutions) are in a continuum, that there is no conflict between them.[6] Whichever version of Daoism we are considering, it is clear that it is apparently antagonistic to metaphysical atomism,[7] which is what Communitarianists have been trying their best to denounce, and the Liberals have been constantly blamed upon. Put this way, though crude, a closer look at Daoist conception of man in society is certainly in place.[8]

The Liberal-Communitarian debate is set in the context of political philosophy. Given this, one of the questions that should be dealt with in relation to what is said above concerns the political nature of Daoism. Ames et. al. argue that Daoism is a primitive form of Anarchism.[9] This paper seeks to assess their arguments and the alleged evidences they offer and would determine the extent to which it is appropriate to dub Daoism Anarchism. Since Ames is one of the chief proponents of this view, his article will be closely examined. I will contend that both the conditions he lays down for characterizing anarchism and his interpretation of Laozi’ verses are inadequate, if not mistaken, and that even if they are not, the conclusion can be drawn otherwise. In what follows, I will first lay bare the distinctive features that most forms of Anarchism should have, then paraphrase the reasons Ames gives in support of his arguments. In the course of this, I will venture into why I think Daoism cannot be justifiably considered anarchistic by probing into its theory of human nature.


The distinctive features of Anarchism


Anarchism, in theory, is a doctrine that champions a stateless society. What demands our attention here are, first, it does not advocate a total abolishment of human society, that society is congenial to human well-being has never been thrown to serious doubt by anarchists and second, that society should be stateless is not solely directed at the existence of the state, but to all coercive form of authority in all areas, including government, family, church, education, commerce, and, well, what-not. In practice, though, there is vast discrepancy among anarchists in how this state of stateless society can be brought about. Some call for a drastic and thorough overthrow of all forms of authority through, for example, revolution while others have reservations for violence. Despite the lack of a single defining position, the family resemblances they shares, to borrow Wittgenstein’s term, are enough for them to be considered anarchists.[10]

Ames has put forward four “necessary conditions” for characterizing a comprehensive theory of Anarchism in terms of which he assesses Daoism and concludes that Daoism is strongly anarchistic.[11] Let us now examine them and see if they are exhaustive or not. So, for Ames, for a theory to be considered anarchistic,

(1)                  it should have a metaphysical conception of human nature such that “freedom” is necessary for consummation,

(2)                  the rejection of coercive authority,

(3)                  some notion of how a non-coercive society can be worked out, and,

(4)                  a concrete program for moving from the present coercive reality to the non-coercive ideal.

As implied, Ames takes all these four to be individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for an anarchistic theory. He then examines Daoism accordingly and reaches the conclusion that Daoism is a form of Anarchism. His arguments, in my view, are untenable and his interpretations of the Laozi and the Zhuangzi on which he bases his arguments erroneous, thus rendering his conclusion unjustified.


Ames’ interpretations of Daoist Classics


Ames first holds that Daoists are convicted “that the realization of human being lies in the achievement of freedom”[12], that “inasmuch as political Taoism [Daoism] starts from a conception of human beings such that his consummation is approached via freedom, it satisfies the first condition for an anarchist theory.”[13] But the identification of Daoism as an anarchist theory merely by pointing out the paramount importance of freedom for consummation is, definitely as I see it, not enough. This rendition, however neat, has unfortunately concealed the vast difference of the meaning of “freedom” as espoused between the Daoists and the Western Anarchists. “Freedom”, for the latter, has to do with the self-determination of the agent and his unchecked behavior, both internal and external, as an expression of his innermost self. Isaiah Berlin in his oft-quoted essay, “Two Concepts of Liberty”, draws a very famous distinction between negative freedom and positive freedom.[14] A man is negatively free insofar as he acts unobstructed by others; he is positively free to the extent that he is the master of his own actions. Thus, they are sometimes rendered as “the freedom from X” and “the freedom to do Y” respectively.[15] In the light of this, the kind of freedom that Anarchists cherish most seems to be the negative freedom. For they lay heavy emphasis on how they can flourish without the coercion of any form of authority.

For Daoists, however, both negative and the positive freedom are assigned with equal significance in helping human beings reach the state of consummation. Liezih as described in the Book of Zuangzi, who has almost reached consummation as evidenced in his being capable of  yu-feng-er-hengi or “riding on the wind”, is still far from being a zhirenj in Zuangzi’s eyes solely on account of the fact that he still has a daik, or “dependence”, on something external, in this case, the wind.[16] Wu-dail, or the freedom from dai, from my point of view, has multiple meanings quite beyond mere “in-dependence”. It implies being unconstrained, uncoerced, unattached as well as autonomous, self-governed, self-sovereign, but by no means completely individualistic, entirely atomistic, mutually exclusive, unconditionally unassociated or uncompromisingly distant. Thus, for Daoists, to reach consummation via being free does not imply, as their Western counterparts would have it, being totally free from the association with society[17]. Quite on the contrary, Daoists see individuals as mutually defining and mutually inalienable by virtue of the fact that all organism in the Universe originate from the Dao to which they shall return and within which are to be (re-)united. I will return to this in the last part of this paper when Daoist’s metaphysical conception of human being is discussed. Meanwhile, I would like to point out that insofar as there are different conceptions of “freedom” conceived by the Anarchist and the Daoist, it would be too hasty to conclude that Daoism is a form of Anarchism.


As for the second condition, Ames has unreservedly claimed that Daoism has satisfied it on the ground that there is an abundance of Daoist literature devoted to the criticism of coercive authority.[18] It is certainly true that Daoism is strongly against any form of coercion. It condemns coercive authority as one of the most serious impediments for any organism to reach its full realization. This view of Daoism is rooted in its metaphysical conception of Nature. For Daoism, the Dao as the ultimate reality is distinctively ziran. There are at least two meanings of ziran. First, to be ziran is to be natural; for anything to be natural is in turn for it to be itself, to be what it is and not to be what it is not. In Chinese, the character, zi, means the self; and ran can mean the state one is in. Together, ziran can mean the state of being one’s self. This should be the primary meaning of the term ziran. Second, the character zi is an opposite of tam, meaning the other. Ziran, taken together, can mean an opposite of taran which literally means to be made to become something by an outer force or authority.[19] This metaphysical conception of the Dao, when applied to the political, is the basic principle of (non-)governance, or wu-wein. Just as the Dao is natural, the ruler should likewise be ruling without governance. It is only by being without governance that people within the State can flourish on their own.

Ames claims that wu-wei is strikingly similar to the concept of Anarchism. He explains the concept of wu-wei as “the negation of the authoritarian determination of one thing by another…the negation of impositional, dictatorial authority.”[20] But given that Anarchism can be so characterized, what can be characterized in this way does not necessarily entail that it is Anarchism. The characterization is at best a necessary condition for Anarchism, but may not be a sufficient one. Now even if Daoism can be described as Ames does, it does not necessarily follow that it is a form of Anarchism. Why do I say this? The answer lies in the fact that although Daoism endorses a policy of non-governance, to abolish altogether the State or any form of government is, however, not within the Daoist agenda, whereas this is exactly one of the most salient features of any form of Anarchism.[21] Laozi says, “The best of all rulers is but a shadowy presence to his subjects,”[22] and also, “Do that which consists in taking no action, and order will prevail.”[23] In these passages, notwithstanding his approval of a withdrawal of the ruler from the ruling scene, Laozi does not seem to eschew the very existence of the State. Ames, however, seems either to have discarded this too prematurely or to have ignored this altogether. He lays down “the rejection” of any coercive authority as one of the necessary conditions for a comprehensive theory of Anarchism in the first part of his essay but ventures to prove his observation that Daoism is a form of Anarchism by arguing that Daoism has a strong “criticism” against coercive authority. The line between “rejection” and “criticism” is admittedly thin, though, there is still a difference that makes a difference when it comes to a determination of whether Daoism is a form of Anarchism or not. Even if we grant Ames a certain degree of “sympathetic understanding”, that what he had in mind when he used the word “criticism” was actually the word “rejection”, his arguments, however, are not sound enough to warrant his conclusion. For it should be clear from the above analysis that it is a rejection, not a criticism, of the State as a form of coercive authority that defines, along with other conditions, Anarchism. Therefore, to the extent that Daoism has not rejected the very existence of the State, it cannot be considered as a form of Anarchism.

A closer glance at the last two necessary conditions for a comprehensive anarchistic theory as set forth by Ames immediately prompts us to query the real significance of the apparent difference between them. A mere notion of how a non-coercive society can be worked out amounts, to a castle in the sand should it be without a concrete program for moving from the present coercive reality to the non-coercive ideal. These two necessarily go hand in hand in order for a theory to be adequately anarchistic. As a matter of fact, Ames himself has never seriously taken this into his account. Most of the texts he cites in support of his arguments for the last two conditions can be interchangeably effective. Inasmuch as this is true, the distinction itself is quite pointless. Moreover, Ames has not ventured in detail into the so-called programs for establishing a “non-governing government” as proposed by Laozi and Zhuangzi. Instead, he sidesteps, so it seems, directly dealing with the programs by pointing out the “metaphorical”[24], “abstract and summary”[25] nature of the Book of Laozi, and resorting, oddly enough, to discussing Zhuangzi’s conception of personhood, thus failing to discuss what he should have done in these paragraphs. To that extent, I consider his arguments purported to show that Laozi and Zhuangzi are anarchists as far as their “programs” for establishing an anarchistic political order are concerned a failure.


The fifth condition for a comprehensive anarchist theory


Be that as it may, I think it does make sense to consider Laozi and Zhuangzi verging on being anarchistic. Their works are heavily toned in an anarchistic way. Take Chapter 80 in the Book of Laozi as an example:

“Reduce the size and population of the state. Ensure that even though the people have tools of war for a troop or a battalion they will not use them; and also that they will be reluctant to move places because they look on death as no light matter. Even when they have ships and carts, they will have no use for them; and even when they have armour and weapons, they will have no occasion to make a show of them. Bring it about that the people will return to the use of the knotted rope, will find relish in their food, and beauty in their clothes, will be content in their abode, and happy in the way they live. Though adjoining states are within slight of one another, and the sound of dogs barking and corks crowing in one state can be heard in another, yet the people of one state will grow old and die without having had any dealings with those of another.”[26]

This chapter has been extensively quoted in justification of Laozi’s anarchistic color.[27] Although the exact reading of it has been debated,[28] the general consensus has it that this passage is one that pertains to a Daoist ideal of what a society should be like. Here the ideal society should be one without even the minimal ruler-ship of the State, one in which only the very basic form of a society is retained.

Given this, however, I still maintain that Daoism is not an anarchistic system. In considering the full features of Anarchism, I propose that there be a fifth condition for any theory to be truly anarchistic. This condition lurks behind Ames’ characterization of Anarchism but has yet to be fully explored. This is one that Daoism has so openly abhorred and shunned away from that one might even characterize Daoism in terms of its diametrical opposition to it. This condition has to do with Atomism which both Liberalism and Anarchism embrace but from which Daoism refrains. Basically, Atomism in the Western tradition involves the ascription of rights according to which the primacy of an individual’s rights is asserted such that the society is a secondary nature of an individual. The individual is the ultimate source of authority of his own. Society, concomitantly, is not in that position to issue authority to which an individual has to obey.[29] As the term “Atomism” itself readily suggests, individual here is treated as having no intrinsic links to any others who happen to stay in the same society in which he finds himself. No one is obliged to another, in whatever way conceivable, unless he himself authorizes himself to be. Now, this obviously runs against Daoist’s metaphysical conception of man, which not only asserts the mutuality between man and man, but also laments upon the absolute individuality that man, mistakenly in the eyes of Daoists, cherishes, taking it to be one of the most important sources of human suffering.

As Ames has rightly observed, there exists no tension between individual liberty and collective will in Daoism in particular, and in Chinese philosophy in general.[30] In the spirit of Western Anarchism, we may ask: How is this possible? How should this be taken?

For Daoism, the reason behind this is closely tied to its metaphysical conception of human nature. Admittedly, there is no such word as Xingo or “nature” in the text of the Laozi.[31] This, however, by no means implies that Laozi does not have a theory of human nature. On the contrary, he has a well elaborated theory of Dep which is virtually his theory of human nature. For him, De refers to the intrinsic capacity of every organism that it apportions and shares from the Dao in the course of Shengq or “begetting”.[32] The universe and all that there is are formed in the following way: “The Way begets one; one begets two; two begets three; three begets the myriad creatures.”[33] This shows how Dao in the process of diversifying and multiplying itself begets everything and in so doing internalizes, itself into every organism. Thus, for man, we have human De, for pig, it has its own “piggy De”. If it can be allowed, we can consider the Dao as, to employ the Christian theologian, Paul Tillich’s term,[34] the ground of all beings and De as the being of all existence.

Laozi also says,

“The Way gives them life; Virtue (that is, De) rears them; things give them shape; circumstances bring them to maturity. Therefore the myriad creatures all revere the Way and honor the Virtue. Yet the Way is revered and Virtue honored not because this is decreed by any authority but because it is natural for them to be treated so.”[35]

It is natural of and for all organism to revere the Dao solely because they are grounded in the Dao. In Chapter 16, Laozi asserts,

“The Myriad creatures all rise together, and I watch their return. The teeming creatures all return to their separate roots. Returning to one’s roots is known as stillness. This is what is meant by returning to one’s destiny. Returning to one’s destiny is known as the constant. Knowledge of the constant it known as discernment.”[36]

These lines taken together are very much relevant to the foregoing discussion in relation to the difference between Daoism and Anarchism. What Laozi purports to tell us here is that not only is it true that only by reference to the Dao can any organism assume a meaning, but ontologically all beings are unified in their direction towards the Dao. And only by returning to the Dao can they reach the state of consummation. Now in the very act of returning to the Dao, there sees a mutual relation between organisms. It is a kind of relation that is totally alien to Anarchism in a way Atomism is alien to Daoism. As Ames says, “In Taoism [Daoism], a person, like any other particular, is understood as a matrix of relationships which can only be fully expressed by reference to the organismic whole.”[37] Ames is right to point this out but wrong to pay inadequate attention to its full significance.



        Thus far we have examined Roger Ames’ arguments for establishing his conclusion that Daoism is a form of Anarchism. We have rejected it because:

(1)  Ames’ arguments rallied to support his conclusion are either fragmentary or baseless and his reasoning is erroneous, and,

(2)  “The fifth condition” which yields one of the most salient features of a comprehensive theory of Anarchism has been paid with inadequate attention.

And to that extent, Daoism cannot be considered anarchistic unless further evidences and arguments to the effect that it is can be provided.[38]


Chinese Glossary


a      Dao                

b      Laozi               老子

c      Zhuangzi         莊子

d      Wang Bi           王弼

e      Weijin              魏晉

f       Ziran               自然

g      mingjiao          名教

h      Liezi                        列子

i        yu-feng-er-heng 御風而行

j       zhiren              至人

k      dai                  

l       Wu-dai            無待

m     ta                    

n      wu-wei            無為

o      Xing               

p      De                  

q      Sheng             


Ames, Roger. “Is Political Taoism Anarchism?” Journal of Chinese Philosophy. Vol. 10 (1983): 27-48.

Avineri, S. and de-Shalit, A. ed. “Introduction.” Communitarianism and Individualism. Oxford: O.U.P., 1992.

Berlin, Isaiah. “Two Concepts of Liberty.” In Four Essays on Liberty. Oxford: O.U.P. 1969.

Blackburn, Simon. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Oxford: O.U.P., 1994.

Chen, Gu-ying ed. 陳鼓應. A Study on Daoist Culture 道家文化研究. Vol. 14 (1998).

Clark, John. “On Taoism and Politics”, Journal of Chinese Philosophy. Vol. 10 (1983): 65-88.

Hall, David. “The Metaphysics of Anarchism”, Journal of Chinese Philosophy. Vol. 10 (1983): 49-64.

Goodin, Robert & Pettit, Philip eds. Contemporary Political Philosophy. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.

He, Yong-i 賀榮一. An Exegetical Commentary on Dao De Ching 道德經注譯與析解. Tianjin: Baihua, 1994.

Honderich, Ted ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: O.U.P., 1995.

Lau, D.C., trans. Tao Te Ching. Hong Kong : Chinese University Press, 1989.

Schwartz, Benjamin. The World of Thought in Ancient China. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 1985.

Lynn, Richard. The Classic of the Way and Virtue: a New Translation of Laozi. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

Miller, David ed. The Blackwell Encyclopeadia of Political Thought. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1987.

Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971 and revised edition, 1999.

Ren, Ji-you 任繼愈. A History of Chinese Philosophy 中國哲學史. Beijing: People’s Publication, 1979.

Shih, Yuan-kang 石元康. Contemporary Western Liberal Theories 當代西方自由主義理論. Taipei: Lian-Jin Publication, 1995.

Tang, Yong-tong 湯用彤. A Collection of Essays by Tang Yong-tong 「湯用彤學術論文集」. Beijing: Zhong Hua Publication, 1983.

Taylor, Charles. “Atomism.” In Avineri and de-Shalit.

Taylor, Charles. “What’s Wrong with Negative Liberty.” In Goodin & Pettit.

Tillich, Paul. Systematic Theology. Digswell Place: Nisbet, 1953-64.

Wang, Bang-xiong 王邦雄. The Philosophy of Laozi 老子的哲學. Taipei: Dong Da, 1980.

Woo, Xiang-woo吳相武. “A New Reading of Chapter 80, Laoz.i” In Chen, Gu-ying ed.

Xu, Foo-guang徐復觀. The History of the Chinese Philosophy of Human Nature 中國人性論史. Taipei: Taiwan Commercial Press, 1982.

Zhang, Qiu-cheng張秋成. A Study on Pre-Chin Daoist Thought 先秦道家思想研究. Taipei: Wenyi, 1968.


[1] Some argues that the debate is no longer the focus of concern in the philosophical circle. The interest that it engenders has been dwindling and there sees a convergence between the two in the 90s. See S. Avineri and A. de-Shalit ed., “introduction”, Communitarianism and Individualism, (Oxford: O.U.P., 1992). I would maintain, despite this, insofar as the debate is one that concerns the image of man, a perennial question to which every age addresses itself, it still holds the force and vigor that a dead philosophical question does not. Besides, volumes of literature concerning the debate still keep flooding the market. The revised edition of John Rawls (1971) in 1999 and the immediate responses it arouses should pay homage to my point of view.

[2] John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971).

[3] Daoism, as an umbrella term, is conventionally taken to cover both its philosophical and religious branches. Although the two systems are interlocked together, this paper will only draw its arguments from the philosophical half. Henceforward, Daoism here refers exclusively to philosophical Daoism.

[4] This highly encrypted statement should demand further explication. For the sake of the whole paper, I will defer discussing it until later sections.

[5] Cf. Roger Ames, “Is Political Taoism Anarchism?”, Journal of Chinese Philosophy Vol. 10 (1983): 27-48. David Hall, “The Metaphysics of Anarchism”, Journal of Chinese Philosophy Vol. 10 (1983): 49-64. John Clark, “On Taoism and Politics”, Journal of Chinese Philosophy Vol. 10 (1983): 65-88.

[6] Cf. Tang Yong-tong 湯用彤, A Collection of Essays by Tang Yong-tong 「湯用彤學術論文集」, (Beijing: Zhong Hua Publication, 1983)

[7] Charles Taylor, “Atomism”, in S. Avineri and A. de-Shalit ed. op. cit.

[8] I am fully aware that these statements of mine unquestionably require much fuller elaboration and argument. But given the brevity of this paper and for the sake of a clear line of argument, they have to be treated somewhere else.

[9] see footnote 5.

[10] For more discussions on Anarchism, see Ted Honderich ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, (Oxford: O.U.P., 1995), Simon Blackburn, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, (Oxford: O.U.P., 1994), or David Miller ed. The Blackwell Encyclopeadia of Political Thought, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1987)

[11] Roger T. Ames, op. cit.c

[12] Roger Ames, ibid., p.33.

[13] Roger Ames, ibid., p.34.

[14] Isaiah Berlin, “Two Concepts of Liberty”, Four Essays on Liberty, (Oxford: O.U.P. 1969), pp.118-72.; reprinted in Robert Goodin & Philip Pettit eds. Contemporary Political Philosophy, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997), pp.391-417.

[15] I am aware that this formulation is fatally crude and is incapable of highlighting the crux of the distinction. Given the context of this paper which concerns the kind of freedom that Western Anarchists aspire, it is, I believe, sufficiently informative. For fuller discussions, see, for example, Charles Taylor, “What’s Wrong with Negative Liberty”, in Robert Goodin & Philip Pettit eds., ibid, or, for a Chinese discussion, Shih Yuan-kang 石元康, Contemporary Western Liberal Theories 當代西方自由主義理論, (Taipei: Lian-Jin Publication, 1995)

[16] The Book of Zhuangzi, Chapter One. The original is: 夫列子御風而行,泠然善也,旬有五日而後反。彼於致福者,未數數然也。此雖免乎行,猶有所待者也。

[17] This rendition of Western Liberalism seems contradictory to the formulation on P.3 above. It is not so, however, if we bear in mind the very fact that for Liberalists, society exists only insofar as it is instrumental to an individual who is, basically, un-bound, so to speak, by society.

[18] Ames, op. cit. p.38.

[19] I draw this understanding heavily from Wang Bang-xiong 王邦雄, The Philosophy of Laozi 老子的哲學, (Taipei: Dong Da, 1980), p.15. But notice that while Wang places ziran in the backdrop of “human deeds”, I choose not to follow suit.

[20] Ames, op cit., p.34.

[21] Notice that I did not say that it vows to abolish society.

[22] D.C.Lau, op. cit. Chapter 17. The Chinese original is: 太上下知有之.

[23] D.C.Lau, ibid, Chapter 3. The Chinese original is: 為無為,則無不治.

[24] Ames, op. cit. p. 40.

[25] Ibid., p.41.

[26] D. C. Lau trans. Tao Te Ching, (Hong Kong : Chinese University Press, 1989). The Chinese original is: 小國寡民,使有什伯之器而不用,使民重死而不遠徙。雖有甫舟輿,無所乘之;雖有革兵,無所陳之。使人復結繩而用之。甘其食,美其服,安其居,樂其俗。鄰國相望,雞犬之聲相聞,民至老死 ,不相往來。

[27] Cf. Benjamin Schwartz, The World of Thought in Ancient China, (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 1985); He Yong-i 賀榮一, An Exegetical Commentary on Dao De Ching 道德經注譯與析解, (Tianjin: Baihua, 1994); Ren Ji-you 任繼愈, A History of Chinese Philosophy 中國哲學史 (Beijing: People’s Publication, 1979); Zhang Qiu-cheng張秋成, A Study on Pre-Chin Daoist Thought 先秦道家思想研究, (Taipei: Wenyi, 1968).

[28] Woo Xiang-woo吳相武, “A New Reading of Chapter 80, Laozi” in Chen Gu-ying ed. 陳鼓應, A Study on Daoist Culture 道家文化研究, Vol. 14 (1998).

[29] Charles Taylor in footnote 7, op. cit. p. 30.

[30] Ames, op. cit. p.32.

[31] According to Xu Fu-guang 徐復觀, the word Xing does not prevail until late in the Warring States Period. See his The History of the Chinese Philosophy of Human Nature 中國人性論史, (Taipei: Taiwan Commercial Press, 1982), p.327. See also Benjamin Schwartz, op. cit. pp.206-7.

[32] Notice that Sheng is in no way parallel to the concept of “creation” in Christianity. For the latter, creation is always creatio ex nihilo, that the creator and the created is infinitely distinct. The rendition of Sheng into “begetting” here is in line with D. C. Lau, op. cit., and Richard Lynn, The Classic of the Way and Virtue: a New Translation of Laozi, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).

[33] D. C. Lau, Chapter 42, op. cit. The Chinese original is : 道生一 生二二生三,三生萬物.

[34] Cf. Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, (Digswell Place: Nisbet, 1953-64)

[35] D. C. Lau, Chapter 51, op. Cit.The Chinese original is :道生之德蓄之物形之勢成之。是以萬物莫不尊道而貴德,夫莫之命而常自然.

[36] Ibid., Chapter 16. The Chinese original is: 萬物並作﹐吾以觀復。夫物芸芸﹐各復歸其根。歸根曰靜﹐靜曰復命。復命曰常﹐知常曰明。

[37] Ames, op. cit. p.32.

[38] Thanks are due to Dr. Kam-ming Yip, my course supervisor whose treatment of entangling problems is always admirably neat; and Mr Iain Melville, a specialist in socio-political theories and English teaching, AND my personal linguistic bank from whom I always withdraw but seldom deposit.