Chinese Reading of the Daodejing, A by Rudolf G. Wagner, Laozi, Wang Bi

By Rudolf G. Wagner, Laozi, Wang Bi

Proposing the remark of the third-century sage Wang Bi, this booklet presents a chinese language approach of interpreting the Daodejing, one that will shock Western readers.

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54 Wang Bi in LZWZLL: " " " " " " " " Xiang Er: " " " " " " " " Old MSS (Fu and Fan): "˚ "‫" " " " מ‬ Mawangdui A and B: " " " " " " " " Despite the readings of the “Old Manuscripts” and the Mawangdui manuscripts, the Wang Bi Laozi must have read ⎊‫˚דמ‬Ң‫׻‬ʃ‫׏‬, as confirmed by his own quotations. Unaware of the supporting Wang Bi quotation elsewhere, Shima Kuniô opted for the version of the textual family. : શ┋᧎ʠશ‫᧎┋؃‬ʠʙ Old MSS (Fu and Fan): ⤵ሷશʶሷʙ The initial jun ‫ ؃‬of the second clause of Wang Bi’s commentary ought to be changed to zhu ʙ, so that the phrase ‫᧎┋؃‬ʠʙ parallels the structure of the preceding phrase શ┋᧎ʠશ, where the term zong શ is repeated The Wang Bi Recension of the Laozi 25 twice.

Yet, his Commentary has the nurture of spirit as its principal aim and non-interference as its mainstay. His language is easy, and his principles are encompassing. On the small [scale of the individual], it helps in nurturing the self and to clear up one’s sincerity, and on the grand [scale of the state] it can be instrumental to pacify men and bring peace to the state. Hence Gu Huan ㆰᔊ [read ᔊ for ᓾ; himself a Laozi commentator] (390–453) said “Though Heshang gong is called a commentary to a book, it in fact is a text [written in order to] establish a teaching [of his own].

In the process I hope to provide what may be called the social history of a text focusing on the particular type of interest that the Commentary evoked and the patronage it received as a consequence; both were instrumental in preventing the text from disappearing with the disintegration or destruction of the materials on which it was written at any given time. 2 We still lack, however, a reasoned history of the text integrating the various types of information. Such histories have been written for independent texts such as the Wenzi, the Huainanzi, or the Taiping jing,3 but perhaps due to the low esteem in which commentaries have been held, not for the philosophical contributions that took the commentary form.

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