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Religions 2019, 10(2), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020079

The Relationship between Authority and Authenticity in the Laozi: Employing Wu無as a Philosophical Framework

Department of Philosophy, East China Normal University, 500 Dongchuan Road, Minhang, Shanghai 200241, China
Received: 6 December 2018 / Revised: 21 January 2019 / Accepted: 22 January 2019 / Published: 25 January 2019
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Abstract

Wu 無is one of the most prominent terms in Ancient Daoist philosophy, and perhaps the only term to appear more than Dao in both the Laozi and the Zhuangzi. However, unlike Dao, wu is generally used as an adjective modifying or describing nouns such as “names”, “desires”, “knowledge”, “action”, and so forth. Whereas Dao serves as the utmost principle in both generation and practice, wu becomes one of the central methods to achieve or emulate this ideal. As a term of negation, wu usually indicates the absence of something, as seen in its relation to the term you 有—“to have” or “presence”. From the perspective of generative processes, wu functions as an undefined and undifferentiated cosmic situation from which no beginning can begin but everything can emerge. In the political aspect, wu defines, or rather un-defines the actions (non-coercive action, wuwei無為) that the utmost authority exerts to allow the utmost simplicity and “authenticity” (the zi自constructions) of the people. In this paper, I suggest an understanding of wu as a philosophical framework that places Pre-Qin Daoist thought as a system that both promotes our understanding of the way the world works and offers solutions to particular problems. Wu then is simultaneously metaphysical and concrete, general, and particular. It is what allows the world, the society, and the person to flourish on their own terms. View Full-Text
Keywords: Daoism; Laozi; authority; authenticity; wu Daoism; Laozi; authority; authenticity; wu
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Small, S.Y. The Relationship between Authority and Authenticity in the Laozi: Employing Wu無as a Philosophical Framework. Religions 2019, 10, 79.

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