Special Issue "Global Laozegetics: Engaging the Multiplicity of Laozi Interpretations and Translations"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 July 2022 | Viewed by 3728

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Misha Tadd
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
College of Philosophy, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
Interests: Chinese philosophy; Chinese religion; Daoism; commentarial traditions; translation; trans-linguistic interpretive lineages; hermeneutics; global philosophy; global history

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Religions introduces the study of “Global Laozegetics,” which offers a novel framework for engaging the Daoist classic Laozi or Daodejing. While previous scholarship has mostly focused on debating the “original” meaning of the Laozi text, we suggest that this might not be the most important topic to research. The study of Global Laozegetics instead prioritizes investigating the 1930 Laozi translations in 94 languages and the 2185 native Chinese commentaries as the keys to understanding the text’s place in history. Even if it were possible to determine the original meaning of the text, that conception would only be relevant to a brief moment in time. It cannot explain the varied ways in which the Laozi has been understood and applied across the ages. Therefore, we propose a focus on the complex history of Laozi exegesis in all languages to determine the entirety of its transmission, transformation, and reception to more fully comprehend the impact of the text around the globe.

The foundation of this Special Issue is the October 23–24, 2021, "International Conference on Global Laozegetics" at Nankai University. Religions has expressed interest in publishing selected conference papers, and the guest editor will send a direct invitation to authors of papers that have been judged to be appropriate for consideration; however, if other interested authors would like their work to be considered, we will gladly receive them with all due attention.

Topics which might be covered include: Laozi and hermeneutics; Laozi commentaries; religious Daoist Laozi; Buddhist Laozi; Confucian Laozi; Korean Laozi; Japanese Laozi; historical transmissions of Laozi; early Laozi translations; Laozi interpretations based on any religion or philosophy in any language; popular interpretations or translations of Laozi; methods of Laozi translation; peculiarities of Laozi translations in various languages; Persian Laozi; Filipino Laozi; Thai Laozi; interpretations of key Laozi concepts in commentaries or translations; historical connections between commentaries and translations; comparisons of Laozi interpretations within and without China.

Dr. Misha Tadd
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Laozi
  • Daodejing
  • Daoism
  • global philosophy
  • translation
  • commentary
  • hermeneutics
  • history of ideas
  • textual reception
  • interpretive lineage

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
The Translingual Ziran of Laozi Chapter 25: Global Laozegetics and Meaning Unbound by Language
Religions 2022, 13(7), 596; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070596 (registering DOI) - 27 Jun 2022
Abstract
Many scholars view translations of the Chinese classics as inevitably lacking fidelity to the “original,” asserting language difference as a fundamental impediment to cross-cultural understanding. The present study disputes this viewpoint by employing the perspective of Global Laozegetics. This notion affirms a fundamental [...] Read more.
Many scholars view translations of the Chinese classics as inevitably lacking fidelity to the “original,” asserting language difference as a fundamental impediment to cross-cultural understanding. The present study disputes this viewpoint by employing the perspective of Global Laozegetics. This notion affirms a fundamental continuity between the native Laozi or Daodejing commentarial tradition and its corresponding foreign translation tradition. Specifically, I will investigate a range of interpretations of the term ziran found in Laozi Chapter 25, including 16 traditional and modern Chinese readings and 67 translations in 26 languages. My broad investigation of this narrow topic will reveal a rich historical development of interpretation and translation, highlight the philosophical ramifications of different exegetical choices, deepen our understanding of the core Daoist concept ziran, and assist in confirming the basic premise of Global Laozegetics that language, even the original language of Chinese, is secondary to interpretive strategy when engaging with classical works. Full article
Article
Rethinking Guo Xiang’s Concept of “Nothing” in the Perspective of His Reception of Laozi and Zhuangzi
Religions 2022, 13(7), 593; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070593 - 25 Jun 2022
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Abstract
Since Feng Youlan and Tang Yongtong, scholars have mostly understood Guo Xiang’s “supreme nothing” (至無, zhi wu) as “non-existence”, arguing that by denying Dao as the origin of the universe, the philosophical tradition of Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Wang Bi, he [...] Read more.
Since Feng Youlan and Tang Yongtong, scholars have mostly understood Guo Xiang’s “supreme nothing” (至無, zhi wu) as “non-existence”, arguing that by denying Dao as the origin of the universe, the philosophical tradition of Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Wang Bi, he strives to prove “self-generation” (自生, zi sheng) of all things. This way of interpretation not only leads to various dilemmas from the perspective of intellectual history, but also diverges from Guo Xiang’s own account of Dao. The purpose of this paper is to argue that Guo Xiang, instead of dismissing it, solidifies the opinion of Laozi and Zhuangzi on the transcendence of Dao through the concept of “supreme nothing”, and that the self-generation of all things is the logical endpoint of this reinforcement. The seemingly opposite viewpoints of transcendence and immanence, “Dao generates all things” and “All things are self-generated”, merge with each other in the context of the proposition “Dao follows nature” (道法自然, dao fa zi ran) in Laozi. Full article
Article
The Hierarchy of Authorship in the Hermeneutics of the Daodejing
Religions 2022, 13(5), 433; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050433 - 12 May 2022
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Abstract
The question of the authorship of the Daodejing, otherwise known as the Laozi, is a hotly contested debate, and one’s stance on the existence and role of the author can have potential implications for one’s interpretation of the text. This paper [...] Read more.
The question of the authorship of the Daodejing, otherwise known as the Laozi, is a hotly contested debate, and one’s stance on the existence and role of the author can have potential implications for one’s interpretation of the text. This paper explores how notions of authorship of a text influence, often unconsciously, a reader’s interpretation such that the possible meaning generated within that text becomes limited, reduced, or terminated. Three hermeneutic frameworks, Authorial intentionalism, reader-oriented readings, and intention of the text, are problematized, revealing both how they contribute to the production of meaning, but more importantly how a lack of critical awareness of one’s own hermeneutic stance regarding authorship might terminate potential significance. These hermeneutic frameworks are applied to the work of contemporary scholars and translators of the Laozi in order to assess how implicit notions of authorship contribute to strengths and weaknesses in interpretations of the Laozi as it regards the production of meaning and significance. Being critical in nature, this paper is meant only to reveal how the reader’s unreflexive engagement with their attitude toward authorship can lead to problematic results in interpretation and translation of any work in general and the Laozi in particular. Full article
Article
Wang Bi’s “Confucian” Laozi: Commensurable Ethical Understandings in “Daoist” and “Confucian” Thinking
Religions 2022, 13(5), 417; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050417 - 05 May 2022
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Abstract
Wang Bi’s work is often used as evidence for “Confucian” interpretations and translations of the Laozi. Those who argue that the explicit rejections of Confucian values in chapters 5, 18, 19, and 38 should actually be read as admonishing hollow imitation and [...] Read more.
Wang Bi’s work is often used as evidence for “Confucian” interpretations and translations of the Laozi. Those who argue that the explicit rejections of Confucian values in chapters 5, 18, 19, and 38 should actually be read as admonishing hollow imitation and the mere appearance of Confucian morality often cite Wang Bi. Additionally, this great philosopher is normally taken as a mere commentator who simply sought to synthesize Confucian and Daoist ideas. In this paper, I will argue that Wang’s project is, in fact, far more complex and nuanced. He develops his own philosophical system, which appreciates some underlying commensurability between the Laozi and Analects. Describing him as promoting a “Confucian” Laozi is inaccurate as he ultimately leans more heavily on “Daoist” concepts, such as “self-so” and “non-action.” In short, Wang Bi develops a unique philosophical system grounded heavily in various classics, and while his commentary on the Laozi is taken as “Confucian,” it is, in fact, far more complex. Full article
Article
Structure and Meaning in the Interpretation of the Laozi: Cheng Xuanying’s Hermeneutic Toolkit and His Interpretation of Dao as a Compassionate Savior
Religions 2022, 13(4), 347; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13040347 - 12 Apr 2022
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Abstract
Cheng Xuanying’s Expository Commentary to the Daode jing presents the Laozi as the origin of Daoism—a Daoism which, by his time in the seventh century, included many beliefs and concepts coopted from Buddhism. The commentary is representative of chongxuan xue (Twofold Mystery philosophy), [...] Read more.
Cheng Xuanying’s Expository Commentary to the Daode jing presents the Laozi as the origin of Daoism—a Daoism which, by his time in the seventh century, included many beliefs and concepts coopted from Buddhism. The commentary is representative of chongxuan xue (Twofold Mystery philosophy), which is characterized by the integration of Buddhist concepts and methods into the interpretation of the Laozi. Taking the integration of the Buddhist concept of the bodhisattva as universal savior of limitless compassion, this paper investigates the “why” and “how” of this cooption. The question of why Cheng Xuanying wanted to read the Daode jing as a testimony to Laozi and Dao being a compassionate, universal savior is addressed with a contextualization of the commentary in its time and location: early Tang Chang’an. Next, the paper discusses, in detail, the hermeneutic tools Cheng Xuanying used to achieve his reading. Cheng Xuanying integrated his commentary and the original text of the Laozi in a complex structure, combining the kepan technique, interlinear interpretation, and added structuring comments, in addition to what might be termed “strategic citations”. This paper analyzes how he worked with these means to construct arguments and specific readings of the Laozi. Full article
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Article
The Original Text of the Daodejing: Disentangling Versions and Recensions
Religions 2022, 13(4), 325; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13040325 - 06 Apr 2022
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Abstract
The Daodejing is counted among the greatest works of world philosophy and literature, but it is a short work that is exceedingly difficult to comprehend. Among several reasons for this is that no one knows the actual words and form of its original [...] Read more.
The Daodejing is counted among the greatest works of world philosophy and literature, but it is a short work that is exceedingly difficult to comprehend. Among several reasons for this is that no one knows the actual words and form of its original text. Assessing the differences between any two editions of it is a simple task when they are laid next to each other, but it is not possible to lay any edition of the Daodejing next to its original text to assess their differences, because no one has ever seen the original text of the Daodejing, and no one knows its actual words and form. Approaching the original text is only made possible through its representations and reflections in later editions that we do possess, some of them transmitted and others excavated. Any possible access to the original text, to any degree whatsoever, is dependent on how these later editions are managed. Sinology manages them with the recension category whereas Laozi Studies manages them with the version category. This study examines, disentangles, and assesses the different ways that these two categories are used with the intended effect of approaching the original text of the Daodejing. Full article
Article
Rhetorical Questions in the Daodejing: Argument Construction, Dialogical Insertion, and Sentimental Expression
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Religions 2022, 13(3), 252; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030252 - 16 Mar 2022
Viewed by 479
Abstract
This paper provides a typology of rhetorical questions in the Daodejing and examines their functions on rhetorical effects and argumentative construction. This paper argues against a reading of rhetorical questions that translates them directly into propositional statements. Instead, the fact that rhetorical questions [...] Read more.
This paper provides a typology of rhetorical questions in the Daodejing and examines their functions on rhetorical effects and argumentative construction. This paper argues against a reading of rhetorical questions that translates them directly into propositional statements. Instead, the fact that rhetorical questions appear in one version of the text but not in others shows us the unique subtleties of meaning that rhetorical questions deliver. An awareness of the performative and dialogical functions elicited through rhetorical questions deepens our understanding of the persuasive power of the Daodejing. Furthermore, emotional sentiments within the text can be detected through the use of rhetorical questions which function to impress the readers/listeners while urging a point. A study of rhetorical questions in the Daodejing reveals textual differences across versions that transcend their wording, all the while motivating a new understanding of rhetorical questions based on classical Chinese texts enriches current definitions proposed in the field at large. Full article
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