Yang Dao

Yang Dao, the first of the 13 groups into which I have divided the Daodejing, develops ideas derived from or related to the ideas of 楊朱 Yang Zhu, a legendary sage who probably lived (or whose works appeared) sometime not too long before before 350 BC . This group consists of chapters 13, 24, 30, 31, 44, and 46. Of these, I think that chapters 13, 30, and 31 are the earliest and represent the Yangist origins of the Daodejing. These chapters are clumsily put together and textually difficult, with sometimes-opaque maxims accompanied by multiple attempts at elucidation. In particular, the early texts of chapter 30 vary widely, and I think that we can conclude that the final editors of the Daodejing inherited in these three chapters in garbled, very early forms which they tried to fix. These chapters might be words of the earliest Yangists, or even of Yang Zhu himself, and despite their textual problems, their general idea anti-militarist, anti-pride message is clear enough.

Author: John Emerson

An nescis, mi fili, quantilla prudentia mundus regatur.

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