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Taoism: Growth of a Religion Paperback – May 1, 1997

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Taoism: Growth of a Religion + Early Daoist Scriptures (Daoist Classics , No 1) + Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (May 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804728399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804728393
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #683,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This is a work of monumental importance by arguably the foremost scholar of Taoism in the world. Insights from the study of Taoism are profoundly changing the way we view China's past, and this book fills the need for a comprehensive history that reflects the progress made in Taoist studies over the last few decades. Though Taoism is known to be an abstruse religion, Robinet lays bare its 'bones and sinews' in exceptionally clear language, one of the things that makes the book so valuable for classroom use."—Stephen Bokenkamp,
Indiana University

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By R. Griffiths on July 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
A highly recommendable scholarly discussion of the origin and development of Taoism up to the 14th century CE. I have long been frustrated by the popular distinction between 'philosophical' and 'religious' Taoism, since such a distinction could in principle be made of any religion. The danger is that what westerners like they call 'philosophical' and what they don't like they label 'religious'and then dispense with. The idea that some metaphysical 'essence' of Taoism deserves to be taken seriously, while the rituals and practice of Taoism do not is fundamentally bad scholarship. Fortunately then, Robinet challenges the popular view head on by claiming and showing that 'religious' Taoism is simply the practice of 'philosophical' Taoism. One without the other is senseless. This is an important work, but for a general introduction to Taoism for the interested beginner I would also recommend Martin Palmer's 'The Elements of Taoism'. Palmer sems to be aware of and in sympathy with Robinet's position.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Matthew V. Wells on March 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is simply an excellent volume, a solid overview of one thousand years of Daoism from THE expert on the Shangqing school of southern Daoism (4th-5th c.AD). The bibliography alone makes this book worth it, both extensive and broken down by period. I'm just finishing up a master's concerning Ge Hong's "Baopuzi" and I'm about to start a Ph.D. project on the "Huainanzi," and I must say that even though I've read many excellent texts on Daoism, Robinet's provides some excellent defining concepts as well as a good introduction to many of the strengths of French scholarship in my field.
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18 of 27 people found the following review helpful By FuzzyLiftingDrink on December 27, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first thing to understand is that the book was originally written in French and most of Robinet's works are not available in English. I am not sure whether the translator caused problems in the layout of the text, or just Robinet's organization/thesis was poor to begin with, though I'd like to believe it was a poor translation.

This work lacks a cohesive purpose and never really gets into what Taoism is all about and certainly says nothing about its growth as a religion. If you knew nothing about Taoism going into this reading, you would be absolutely lost. The writing assumes you have substantial knowledge and explains very little along the lines of its references.

As it stands, it's useful to a person extremely well versed in this religion, Chinese tradition/medicine in general and also someone who knows the five-agent theory along with the I Ching. If you do not have this knowledge, steer clear of this rambling and sophomoric listing of other references (there are reference notes on almost half the pages).

Robinet's book here is touted on the back cover as investigating what the difference is between Philosophical and Religious Taoism, something it never truly does - that was the most glaring defect I found in this work. I purchased it to get into that division, which I have always been interested in. This work simply lists out most Taoist texts, the time they were written and by whom.

It also spends the majority of the text going into shamanistic ritual in useless detail. Meaning, it does not clearly explain what was practiced, but lists out a rough procedure that was followed by adherents of Taoist related beliefs.
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