The Old Master: A Syncretic Reading of the Laozi from the Mawangdui Text A Onward (SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture (Paperback))
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A unique translation of and commentary on the Laozi, based on the oldest edition of the work. This unique, highly contextualized translation of the Laozi is based on the earliest known edition of the work, Text A of the Mawangdui Laozi, written before 202 BCE. No other editions are comparable to this text in its antiquity. Hongkyung Kim also incorporates the recent archaeological discovery of Laozi-related documents disentombed in 1993 in Guodian, seeing these documents as proto-materials for compilation of the Laozi and revealing clues for disentangling the work from complicated exegetical contentions. Kim makes extensive use of Chinese commentaries on the Laozi and also examines the classic Chinese texts closely associated with the formation of the work to illuminate the intellectual and historical context of Laozi’s philosophy. Kim offers several original and thought-provoking arguments on the Laozi, including that the work was compiled during the Qin, which has traditionally been viewed as typical of Legalist states, and that the Laozi should be recognized as a syncretic text before being labeled a Daoist one. Hongkyung Kim is Associate Professor of East Asian Thought and Religions at Stony Brook University, State University of New York.
Zun's Daode zhigui, which contains a similar phrase to Text B in its commentary: “With this, we know that if ‘the Way is flourishing it would have no name,’ if virtue is abundant it would have no honorable title, and if merit is grand it would have no volume.”22 Here Lüshi Chunqiu again shows an analogy with Laozi: “The great wisdom is not exposed; the big vessel is late in completion; the big sound makes little tone” (848: 404c). The last two phrases are the same as lines 15–16, while the first
hear”) in Text B. However, wen is more relevant because Laozi uses the same expression in chapter 41. In addition, adopting this wording resolves the discrepancy between the persistent teaching of wuwei (“no-action”) in Laozi and the wei in the later editions. Line 4 was supplemented by the Guodian documents because the relevant part in Texts A and B is damaged. I rendered the conjunctive er 而 in this line in the Guodian documents as functionally same as the conditional ze 則, based on the Fu Yi
favorites; 6 It is always with the good person. 7 和大怨, 必有餘怨, 焉可以爲善. 是以聖人執右契, 而不以責於人. 故有德司契, 无德司徹. 夫天道无親, 恒與善人 (“人執” from Text B). My translation of the first line represents the general understanding of the commentators, including that of Wang Bi. According to Wang Bi, “Great resentments have been made by dealing with contracts inappropriately. Because they have already arisen, even if you try to appease (he 和) them with virtue, the damage can never be retrieved.” Different readings are also
has 119 yas, and Text B has 131 yas. Among the later editions, the Fu Yi edition, one of the oldest of the later editions, uses yas most frequently: it has fifty-one yas. In contrast, the Wang Bi and Heshanggong editions use as few as thirteen yas. With respect to this, “Shuzheng” (“Evidences in the Books”) in Yanshi jiaxun (Family Precepts of the Yan Clan) from the Liang dynasty (502–557) states, “Ya is a word which completes a sentence and sometimes helps create a phrase. Therefore, almost all
(chongxuan 重玄).5 Cheng Xuanying, one of the early commentators of Laozi, played an important role in the development of this idea. In his commentary on this passage, he explicated the concept as follows: “People who have desire are stuck to being, and men who have no desire are also stuck to nonbeing. Therefore, by discussing one ‘obscurity,’ Laozi urges people to discard both attachments. It fears, however, that practitioners will be stuck to this ‘obscurity,’ and so by saying ‘and obscure,’ it