I’ve lately been trying to get a better understanding of Daoist thought, as I believe Daoism to be the major philosophical tradition I have so far understood the least. I have done this by turning to the two texts most widely read in the tradition: the Daodejing (Tao Te Ching), attributed to Laozi (Lao Tzu), and the Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) – the latter the name of both text and author. (I use the modern Pinyin spellings which are now most accepted by contemporary scholars, but older Wade-Giles spellings like “Taoism” and “Lao Tzu” may be more familiar to a general audience.) Were I to have free rein to teach a course that involved a component on Daoism, I would almost certainly focus on Laozi and Zhuangzi there as well.
To focus one’s study of Daoism on Laozi and Zhuangzi is very common. It is also controversial. Continue reading