Well-being and Daoism

Authored by: Justin Tiwald

The Routledge Handbook Of Philosophy Of Well-Being

Print publication date:  August  2015
Online publication date:  July  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415714532
eBook ISBN: 9781315682266
Adobe ISBN: 9781317402657


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Daoism is one of the great intellectual and philosophical forces in China, originating in the classical period and attracting millions of adherents for more than two millennia, without pause and with no end in sight. 1 The traditional version of Chinese history holds that its two founding philosophers were Laozi 老子 (fl. sixth century bce) and Zhuangzi 莊子 (fl. fourth century bce), the authors of the Daodejing 道德經 (also Romanized as Tao Te Ching) and the Zhuangzi (also Romanized as Chuang Tzu), respectively. Its influence has been tremendous, not least because the East Asian form of Buddhism most familiar to the larger world today—Zen, Seon, or Chan Buddhism—is largely a hybrid system that blends Daoist views and concepts with Buddhist metaphysics and soteriology. Historically, much of the appeal of Daoist philosophy lay in its compelling vision of human well-being, which, broadly speaking, has been understood as a life relatively free of attachments and deeply in tune with spontaneous, unselfconscious dispositions and inclinations. As we will see, this is only a general description for diverse views of finer grain that can be found in specific texts and passages, but it is enough to glimpse what is distinctive and philosophically interesting about them.

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