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The Pristine Dao: Metaphysics In Early Daoist Discourse (Suny Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture) (SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture (Paperback)) Paperback – May 26, 2005
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Thomas Michael's book is a good and focused study exploring the early beliefs of Daoists. His efforts include an analysis of the earliest available texts, not only the readily recognized "Daodejing" and "Zhuangzi," but discoveries from the Guodian cave finds of 1993 that includes the lesser known "Xicizhuan" and the "Shui Di." He carefully dissects the material and traces symbolic representations and philosophical themes from the earliest writings to later texts, making the case for a clear and coherent body of beliefs existing independent of a growing and competitive Confucian tradition. Generally, there is harmony among the texts, sometimes pleasantly surprising revelations, but Michael's critical analysis also includes points of divergence found in the literature, including the sympathetic but slightly off key "Neiye." I thought Michael's study was fair, well rounded, and comprehensive.
What struck me most about the material was its physicality. Beginning with a cosmogony bound to birthing metaphors rather than Creator and creation mythology, man and the world are seen as body issuing from a mother (Dao), possessing a relationship of dependence and return.Read more ›