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The Daodejing

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ISBN 0-8126-9625-5

$22.00   paper

192 pages

(Spring 2007)


The New, Highly Readable Translation of the Life-Changing Ancient Scripture Formerly Known as the Tao Te Ching

Translated and with Commentaries by Hans-Georg Moeller

The terse, haunting verses of the Daodejing have fascinated, inspired, and mystified millions of readers down through the centuries. In sharp contrast to the Western preoccupation with remaking the world and other people as we would wish them to be, the Daodejing preaches the virtue of noninterference and letting things evolve naturally. In personal life, it recommends avoidance of friction, preservation of one's energies, and staying healthy. It sees social order as not conflicting with the order of the cosmos, of which human affairs are a part.

Comparable with the Bible, the Quran, and the dialogues of Plato, the Daodejing is the most fundamental scripture of Daoism and a classic of world literature. Although traditionally ascribed to one author, Laozi, it is really an ancient "hypertext," with inputs from many hands over several centuries.

Though profound and many-layered, the Daodejing makes sense as a whole. In his introduction, Moeller explains the imagery employed, which probably derives from ancient Chinese ritual. In his commentaries on each of the chapters of the Daodejing, Moeller uncovers their meaning and shows how each chapter relates to the structure of the whole. An appendix describes what is now known about the different versions of the Daodejing, following the manuscript discoveries of the 1970s and 1990s.

"Moeller's translation of the Daodejing does not present the reader with a facile spirituality but instead brings out all the details of the rich and difficult imagery in China's most important classic text, to reveal a startling and provocative landscape of ideas."

—James Miller, author of Daoism: A Short Introduction

"Moeller's Daodejing features a rare and priceless combination of philosophical astuteness, appreciation for the rhetoric of the text, and awareness of its historical context. Moeller notices nuances that have eluded other translators and explains them in ways that make the text teachable."

—Jane Geaney, author of On the Epistemology of the Senses in Early Chinese Thought

"Moeller's wonderful translation presents the Daodejing as an integrated philosophical text. His use of swirls, wheels, and other images is especially fascinating, since they provide a critical key to unlock the mysteries of this notoriously cryptic poem."

—Tao Jiang, author of Contexts and Dialogue

"A fascinating, full translation and extended commentary, a very important contribution to our understanding of this ever-intriguing text."

—Lee H. Yearley, author of Mencius and Aquinas

Hans-Georg Moeller is Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at Brock University, Ontario. His books include Daoism Explained (2004), Luhmann Explained (2006), and The Philosophy of the Daodejing (2006).

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