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Yuan Dao: Tracing Dao to Its Source (Classics of Ancient China)

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Philosophical and compelling, Yuan Dao is a stunning accomplishment of Daoist literature-- now available for the first time in English Written around 140 b.c., and presented to a young Chinese Emperor by a beloved uncle--a philosopher, scholar, and patron of the arts--Yuan Dao distills and explains in one remarkable work the first several hundred years of Daoist thought. Dr Philosophical and compelling, Yuan Dao is a stunning accomplishment of Daoist literature-- now available for the first time in English Written around 140 b.c., and presented to a young Chinese Emperor by a beloved uncle--a philosopher, scholar, and patron of the arts--Yuan Dao distills and explains in one remarkable work the first several hundred years of Daoist thought. Drawing from and expanding upon the popular Tao-Te Ching and Chuang-tzu texts, this singular work was written to show the inclusionary aspects of Daoism, that one should appreciate the contribution all things make to the well-being of the whole; Yuan Dao was also created as advice to a ruler, on the beauty of uniting a disparate people under one government without destroying their individuality. Presented here by two of the world's foremost translators of Chinese classics, this unique edition is the only English-language translation in print and features the Chinese text on facing pages. Insightful and fascinating, here is a glimpse into the early Han Dynasty, and into a way of thinking that has been, and continues to be, characteristically Chinese.


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Philosophical and compelling, Yuan Dao is a stunning accomplishment of Daoist literature-- now available for the first time in English Written around 140 b.c., and presented to a young Chinese Emperor by a beloved uncle--a philosopher, scholar, and patron of the arts--Yuan Dao distills and explains in one remarkable work the first several hundred years of Daoist thought. Dr Philosophical and compelling, Yuan Dao is a stunning accomplishment of Daoist literature-- now available for the first time in English Written around 140 b.c., and presented to a young Chinese Emperor by a beloved uncle--a philosopher, scholar, and patron of the arts--Yuan Dao distills and explains in one remarkable work the first several hundred years of Daoist thought. Drawing from and expanding upon the popular Tao-Te Ching and Chuang-tzu texts, this singular work was written to show the inclusionary aspects of Daoism, that one should appreciate the contribution all things make to the well-being of the whole; Yuan Dao was also created as advice to a ruler, on the beauty of uniting a disparate people under one government without destroying their individuality. Presented here by two of the world's foremost translators of Chinese classics, this unique edition is the only English-language translation in print and features the Chinese text on facing pages. Insightful and fascinating, here is a glimpse into the early Han Dynasty, and into a way of thinking that has been, and continues to be, characteristically Chinese.

45 review for Yuan Dao: Tracing Dao to Its Source (Classics of Ancient China)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    I picked up a copy of Yuan Dao: Tracing Dao to it's source translated by D.C.Lau and Roger T Ames at half price books as it was the only Daoist text they had that was dual language. At first I was confused as I had not heard of it, but then when I started reading I saw that it was the first part of the Huainanzi which I've come across countless references to and suddenly could place it in context. Unlike Campany's book this book, published by Ballentine, was not intended for scholars of Chinese p I picked up a copy of Yuan Dao: Tracing Dao to it's source translated by D.C.Lau and Roger T Ames at half price books as it was the only Daoist text they had that was dual language. At first I was confused as I had not heard of it, but then when I started reading I saw that it was the first part of the Huainanzi which I've come across countless references to and suddenly could place it in context. Unlike Campany's book this book, published by Ballentine, was not intended for scholars of Chinese philosophy or religion, rather it was aimed at the general reader, who had some familiarity with Western philosophy. The 50 page introduction was a clear indication of this. They outlined a little of the historical setting, how the book was a gift to Emperor Wu of the Han from his Uncle, a ruler of a smaller tributary state, and how the uncle was executed and his state absorbed. But not how this was happening throughout this period of the Han. The introduction made only one reference about how "repeatedly in this treatise, a more general observation about personal realization is turned into political account". But then makes no further comment. When reading the text I found it interesting to see the chapters that were clearly warning the ruler away from the legalist paths of the Chin. The parts that were pleading for the autonomy of the kingdoms and vassal states of the empire. For me part of the fun of reading texts is setting them in their historical contexts, when understanding why and for whom they were being written understanding their meaning suddenly becomes much more interesting. The authors seemed to leave out a lot of ideas that were key to the Han understanding of the world. They didn't talk about the 5 phases which were a key idea of the time, they didn't talk about the macrocosm and microcosm idea of Han cosmology, also the mandate of heave, how the people reflected the relationship of the ruler with heaven, if he behaved in accordance with the way, so would they. Neither did they mention any religious or philosophical differences that were battling it out at the time. In discussing "riding the Long" they talked about the idea that a dragon was a cultural assimilation of all different totems of the Chinese people into a singular being. But did not mention any of the ideas about immortals, people taking spiritual journeys to far off place, what could have been thought about it, and why it was controversial then and today. I seem to be overtly critical of a book that was written for a different audience than me. However, when something claims to be "The only English translation of a key Daoist text", you'd think they'd imagine some people who have a greater knowledge of Chinese history, religion and philosophy would also be interested in reading the book. Also I have heard of both authors and they have good qualifications so I know they know what they are talking about and have a very good understanding of Chinese philosophy and it's historical context. I think part of my frustration comes from the need for most western scholars to try and explain Chinese philosophy in relation to Western Philosophy. How it differs, what these fundamental differences are etc. Such arguments seem to bring in a set of judgements, when comparing, it's hard not to set one as more valuable than the other. It can also very easily lead to the wrong idea. With such great diversity of ideas in Chinese philosophy to make the broad sweeping generalizations can often lead to misinterpretations and an assumption that everyone in China had the same ideas and beliefs. When there was a great deal of debate. Trying to understand ideas, and not where they come from and why people arrived at them, just seems like a pointless exercise to me. (Though I freely admit my bias towards understanding societies and people.) And lastly I also dislike so many references to the west because I haven't studied western philosophy hardly at all. I had one course in college over 10 years ago and I don't remember much I'm afraid. So I find all comparisons exceedingly unhelpful! Again, I find I am not the intended audience. But I found the text itself a joy to read! It wasn't nearly as esoteric as I was afraid it would be. It was nicely written and clearly presented different ideas and was quite beautiful in places. I really enjoyed having the Chinese text to refer back to. My Chinese is still very much in the beginner stages, but it was good to look and see what I could figure out, and where what I thought I would see was completely different. I know as my Chinese gets better I will just get more and more out of this text. I am glad I picked this book up, and glad I read it. It was a short quick read but one I see myself returning to quite a lot over the years.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    The Yuandao is the first chapter of the massive Huainanzi and expands on the ideas of the Laozi. This edition contains the Chinese text, English translation and introduction. Anyone who enjoyed the translators Tao Te Ching on penguin classics will love this.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    The introduction to this book is the most clear and concise analysis of Daoist thought available in English. It also powerfully illustrates some of the ways Daoist thought differs from South Asian and European intellectual and body traditions. The core of the book is an elegant translation of the preamble of the Huainanzi, one of Daoism's most sacred texts. The introduction to this book is the most clear and concise analysis of Daoist thought available in English. It also powerfully illustrates some of the ways Daoist thought differs from South Asian and European intellectual and body traditions. The core of the book is an elegant translation of the preamble of the Huainanzi, one of Daoism's most sacred texts.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jarred

    If you enjoy taoist literature this is a must read next to the tao te ching.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jules

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cain Carroll

  7. 5 out of 5

    Montdelazure

  8. 5 out of 5

    Devin Geoffrey

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ray Pierce

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mortal Coil

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gary Hutto

  12. 5 out of 5

    John Ervin

  13. 5 out of 5

    John Elvin

  14. 5 out of 5

    Greg

  15. 5 out of 5

    Branimir

  16. 5 out of 5

    J.S. De Fluiter

  17. 5 out of 5

    James

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  19. 4 out of 5

    Na

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  21. 5 out of 5

    Paul Vittay

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sabina Knight

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mista

    classic re-read

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lee

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erik Segall

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrus

  27. 5 out of 5

    Steve Clason

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brad

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  30. 5 out of 5

    Faft

  31. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  32. 4 out of 5

    Wesley

  33. 5 out of 5

    Debra Kang

  34. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Gohl

  35. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

  36. 4 out of 5

    Bastiaan

  37. 4 out of 5

    Andd

  38. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

  39. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Miletus

  40. 5 out of 5

    Most High

  41. 5 out of 5

    Alexus

  42. 4 out of 5

    Ji Zitong

  43. 4 out of 5

    Aziz

  44. 4 out of 5

    Edward Smith

  45. 4 out of 5

    Julia Legian

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