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Tao Te Ching on The Art of Harmony: The New Illustrated Edition of the Chinese Philosophical Masterpiece (The Art of Wisdom) Hardcover – October 1, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Originally from Utah, Chad Hansen studied Western philosophy and entered the PhD program at the University of Michigan. He then taught at the universities of Pittsburgh, Stanford, and Vermont and went on to hold several visiting professorships in Hawaii and at U.C.L.A. before settling in Hong Kong as a professor of philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in 1993.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Art of Wisdom
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Duncan Baird; 1st edition (October 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844838501
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844838509
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #457,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Diana Huang on February 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you do not know anything about the Chinese people, Chinese culture, art, history... rule of thinking... this is the book to get. There are many versions of this book but because of how this book is made, it addresses many aspects of the Chinese people. As a book in itself it is very very beautifully made. Every other page is a photograph of some element of our culture. The art, the architecture, the beauty of the land that humbles us, that inspires us. In addition to a fine translation of the original texts there is thorough analysis and interpretation of each chapter at the end.

I grabbed this copy at a local bookstore many months back looking for a version to recommend to people. This is it. I am a Chinese American. What does that mean? Laozi's Tao Te Ching is the backbone of how we think and how we live our lives. It is a struggle for many of us to uphold these values and get respect from a world that doesn't understand its meaning. Get to know us, please, and maybe you will learn to understand yourselves and our society better too.
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Format: Hardcover
This is very lovely edition with a silk cover and numerous color plates throughout, but the actual translation leaves me uninspired--the wording and sentence construction just doesn't flow well for me. The book has other things to recommend it such as commentaries and a brief China chronology. I'd recommend this volume for a comparative study against another translation or as a gift for someone who already is familiar with the texts; but if you're seeking a primary translation or this is your first approach to the texts, I recommend continuing your search. At the very least, use the "look inside" feature to read a selection and compare that to another edition and determine for yourself if you like it.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a gorgeous and unified whole, but it's almost a waste of time to just read the translations of its chapters (elsewhere called verses). The introduction gives an overview of the ancient strains of philosophy from which the Tao emerged and an analysis of its concepts. The commentaries that begin on page 207 not only summarize each chapter they also highlight the paradoxes within and across chapters and compare certain concepts to those of Western philosophers. Though admittedly not as accessible or appealing as other English translations, Hansen's emphatically paradoxical translation style had the effect of a Zen koan in that it helped me reconsider a philosophy I have loved for over 40 years. On top of all that, the book itself is physically beautiful. It has a hardbound cover, a good binding with an attached ribbon marker, and heavy paper. And its layout and design are marvelous—superb color photographs of natural sites or Chinese artworks accompany each chapter.

Because I'll take all the help I can get to grasp a philosophy that, in an archaic and totally unfamiliar language, expresses values so different from that of contemporary America, I'll treasure this book and put it beside other translations I have, some of which I keep for their scholarship, some for their translations, and others because they introduced me to Taoism. I could not say which is best since each has enriched my understanding of the Tao. Like adults who take bible study classes, I read new (to me) Tao Te Ching books and reread ones I've had for many years to both deepen my my understanding of the Tao and keep it from getting stale.

In my view, Hansen's generous book is a keeper.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book to introduce me to Taoism in my local Barnes and Nobles. When I got home with it (I'm gonna be honest, the silk cover is what made me buy this one over the others), I was brought down after reading reviews saying that the translations were too literal and uninspiring.

This is true if you do not read the introduction which defines the words he uses literally. I read the first few chapters without reading the intro and I was like "huh?". The reviews were striking true with me. But then I took the time to read the interesting introduction, went back, read them again and understood them enough to formulate my own understanding of it; which is exactly the point of Tao Te Ching. This author is tremendous and his translations are nothing short of magical. The cherries on top are the art, hard cover, and silk lining. You will enjoy this version!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great book on Chinese philosophy. Full of interesting, sometimes vague, proverbs. But I enjoy reading on philosophy and such, so I had a great time reading it. Plus, the book itself is just beautiful. I have The Book of Five Rings in the same binding, and I want to get the rest of the collection. I highly recommend it for people who like a bit of a challenge and are into Eastern philosophy.
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Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book after seeing it in the bookstore and noting the lush and beautiful photographs. I figured the translation would be at least okay.
Unfortunately, As far as I can tell from having read dozens of translations of the Tao Te Ching over the years, this is by far the worst. There is absolutely no feeling of the majesty, art, and grandeur of the ancient Chinese classic. Rather it appears that the author engaged in an scholarly interpretation of a literal exercise that he himself created. He creates terms such as "construct" and "social way" and we are expected to understand them. He almost never even mentions the word, "Tao" within the text. This results in cumbersome text that must be read and reread to try to discern what is being said. If I had not had other translations of the Tao Te Ching handy I certainly would have given up. Not only that, but this translation actually appears to have some different sections of the Tao Te Ching say exactly the opposite of other translations that I have.
My conclusion is that this is not the first translation of the Tao Te Ching to acquire, but if you are familiar with the work and want to ponder a potentially-confused translation, then this is the book for you.
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