The Annotated Critical Laozi

With Contemporary Explication and Traditional Commentary


Chen Guying’s Laozi dissects different versions of the Laozi and provides close readings of traditional and contemporary commentaries, from Han Fei, Wang Bi, and Heshang Gong through to Shi Deqing, Xu Kangsheng and Ding Yuanzhi. This book completely changed Laozi studies in China, where no serious student or scholar can ignore Chen’s amazing work. It is the standard interpretation of the Laozi at nearly every Chinese university.

The English translation provided here seeks to accurately reflect the detail of Chen’s meticulous work by providing multiple English translations of key characters, allowing the reader to follow complex Sinological arguments. The close “word-for-character” translation of the Laozi text enables scholars to interact with the Laozi on a level previously unavailable in English.

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Chen Guying (陈鼓应) was born in Fujian province in 1935. He received his degree in philosophy from National Taiwan University, where he taught for most of his life. Chen now teaches at Peking University's Center for Daoist Studies. Paul J. D’Ambrosio is associate professor of Chinese philosophy at East China Normal University, fellow of the Institute of Modern Chinese Thought and Culture, Dean of the Center for Intercultural Research, and program coordinator ECNU’s graduate philosophy program in English. Xiao Ouyang (欧阳霄) is Associate Professorial Research Fellow at Wuhan University, China. He was an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow (2016-2018) at University College Cork, Ireland, where he also completed his PhD in philosophy in 2016.
Texts (Classic, and early versions of the Laozi)
Translator’s Introduction

Introduction: The Formation and Development of Laozi’s Philosophy

一 One

二 Two

三 Three

四 Four

五 Five

六 Six

七 Seven

八 Eight

九 Nine

十 Ten

十一 Eleven

十二 Twelve

十三 Thirteen

十四 Fourteen

十五 Fifteen

十六 Sixteen

十七 Seventeen

十八 Eighteen

十九 Nineteen

二十 Twenty

二十一 Twenty-One

二十二 Twenty-Two

二十三 Twenty-Three

二十四 Twenty-Four

二十五 Twenty-Five

二十六 Twenty-Six

二十七 Twenty-Seven

二十八 Twenty-Eight

二十九 Twenty-Nine

三十 Thirty

三十一 Thirty-One

三十二 Thirty-Two

三十三 Thirty-Three

三十四 Thirty-Four

三十五 Thirty-Five

三十六 Thirty-Six

三十七 Thirty-Seven

三十八 Thirty-Eight

三十九 Thirty-Nine

四十 Forty

四十一 Forty-One

四十二 Forty-Two

四十三 Forty-Three

四十四 Forty-Four

四十五 Forty-Five

四十六 Forty-Six

四十七 Forty-Seven

四十八 Forty-Eight

四十九 Forty-­Nine

五十 Fifty

五十一 Fifty-One

五十二 Fifty-Two

五十三 Fifty-Three

五十四 Fifty-Four

五十五 Fifty-Five

五十六 Fifty-Six

五十七 Fifty-Seven

五十八 Fifty-Eight

五十九 Fifty-Nine

六十 Sixty

六十一章 Sixty-One

六十二 Sixty-Two

六十三章 Sixty-Three

六十四章 Sixty-Four

六十五章 Sixty-Five

六十六章 Sixty-Six

六十七章 Sixty-Seven

六十八章 Sixty-Eight

六十九章 Sixty-Nine

七十章 Seventy

七十一 Seventy-One

七十二 Seventy-Two

七十三 Seventy-Three

七十四 Seventy-Four

七十五 Seventy­Five

七十六 Seventy-Six

七十七 Seventy-Seven

七十八 Seventy-Eight

七十九 Seventy-Nine

八十 Eighty

八十一 Eighty­One

Appendix: Major Commentators on the Laozi
All interested in the Laozi, Daoism, early Chinese thought, Pre-Qin philosophy, comparative philosophy, Asian thought, or non-Western philosophy. Those concerned with both philosophy, and religious or spiritual Daoism will find this book useful.