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Chinese Reading of the Daodejing, A

Wang Bi's Commentary on the Laozi with Critical Text and Translation

Rudolf G. Wagner

Publication Year: 2003

Many of the brightest Chinese minds have used the form of the commentary to open the terse and poetic chapters of the Laozi to their readers and also to develop a philosophy of their own. None has been more sophisticated, philosophically probing, and influential in the endeavor than a young genius of the third century C.E., Wang Bi (226–249). In this book, Rudolf G. Wagner provides a full translation of the Laozi that extracts from Wang Bi’s Commentary the manner in which he read the text, as well as a full translation of Wang Bi’s Commentary and his essay on the “subtle pointers” of the Laozi. The result is a Chinese reading of the Laozi that will surprise and delight Western readers familiar with some of the many translations of the work. A Chinese Reading of the Daodejing is part of Rudolf Wagner’s trilogy on Wang Bi’s philosophy and classical studies, which also includes The Craft of a Chinese Commentator: Wang Bi on the Laozi and Language, Ontology, and Political Philosophy in China: Wang Bi’s Scholarly Exploration of the Dark (Xuanxue), both published by SUNY Press.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-viii

It has taken many years, and several other books, to finish this study of which the present book is the second of three separate volumes. In fact, the writing of this study took as many years as Wang Bi, its subject, lived, namely, twenty-three. Debts of gratitude for spiritual and material support and critical discussion have accumulated. The core ideas were developed ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-2

During my work on early Chinese Buddhist thinkers, especially Shi Daoan (312-385) and Shi Huiyuan (334-416), I found that Buddhist arguments often were understood and expressed in a language originating in third-century Xuanxue, the "scholarly investigation...

1. The Wang Bi Recension of the Laozi

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 3-4

Since1 early Tang times, the Laozi was transmitted mainly over two commentaries, those of Wang Bi (226-249) and Heshang gong. Most Tang excerpts, such as those included in the Qunshu zhiyao...

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THE PROBLEM

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pp. 5-6

There are various versions of the textus receptus of the Laozi text of Wang Bi, the oldest reproduced in the Zhengtong Daozang. These texts show only slight deviations, however, in all received versions of this Wang Bi Laozi, which will be referred to here as Wang Bi Laozi Receptus, there ...

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WANG BI'S ORIGINAL RECENSION OF THE LAOZI

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pp. 6-17

Since it is possible that Wang Bi's Laozi differed greatly from all known Laozi texts, we will have to secure a fair number of fiim readings of the Wang Bi Laozi before looking at other versions of the Laozi text. For evidence about the Wang Bi Laozi, we will draw on the following sources: ...

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SUPERIMPOSITION

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pp. 17-25

Having established a high degree of internal cohesion within the group of texts made up by the Wang Bi Laozi, the two "Old Manuscripts" and, less closely, the Mawangdui manuscripts, we shall deal now with the direction in which the Wang Bi Laozi was altered. Of the twenty-five places...

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THE DIVISION INTO ZHANG AND PIAN

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pp. 25-27

Wang Bi read the Laozi as divided into zhang. There are three passages where he refers to a "later"or "earlier" zhang.56 In two of these, the zhang referred to is found within the same ...

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CONCLUSION

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pp. 27-28

The above evidence suggests the following: 1. The Laozi text transmitted over Wang Bi's commentary is not Wang Bi's text but rather a text gradually superseded by elements of the Heshang gong text. 2. The Wang Bi Laozi Receptus has to be abandoned as a base text for a critical edition of the Wang Bi Laozi. 3. Internal textual evidence suggests that the two "Old Manuscripts" of Fu Yi and Fan Yingyuan should be considered most closely affiliated with Wang Bi's original text, the Mawangdui manuscripts ...

APPENDIX A

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pp. 28-30

APPENDIX B

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pp. 30-32

2. Patronage and the Transmission of the Wang Bi Commentary: Foundations for a Critical Edition

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THE PROBLEM

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pp. 33-35

Having outlined in the first chapter the evidence on which a new critical edition of the Wang Bi Laozi is to be based, we now look at the reliability of the current editions of the Wang Bi Commentary in order to determine whether a new edition is needed, and if so on what material it might be...

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A HISTORY OF WANG BI'S COMMENTARY ON THE LAOZI: THE EVIDENCE

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pp. 35-65

...Such quotations enclosed in another text often preserve parts of texts otherwise lost or an older reading of available texts. If the separate editions of the text were changed, these quotations very often were not adjusted. The first two quotations in Zhang Zhan's Commentary are from Wang Bi's commentary...

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CONCLUSIONS

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pp. 65-67

During the zhengshi era (240-249), Wang Bi wrote a commentary to the Laozi entitled Laozi zhu. It did not divide the text into a daojing and a dejing, and it did not give titles or numbers to the individual zhang. Wang Bi assumed that it consisted of short independent sections called by him ...

3. Wang Bi: "The Structure of the Laozi's Subtle Pointers," Laozi weizhi lueli, a Philological Study and Translation Together with the Text

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INTRODUCTION

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p. 69-69

This chapter1 purports to check the evidence for the attribution of the anonymously transmitted Laozi weizhi lüeli to Wang Bi, to present Wang Bi's analysis of the formal structure of the Laozi, and to offer, along with a critical edition of the text, an annotated translation. Wang Bi's surviving ...

THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE LAOZI WEIZHI LUELI (LZWZLL)

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pp. 69-73

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WANG BI'S LZWZLL AND THE TRANSMITTED TEXT

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pp. 73-74

Is the transmitted LZWZLL all or a part of Wang Bi's original text? The long quotation from Zhang Junfang's encyclopedia appears in full in the Daozang text. There is no known quotation that does not appear there. The Daozang edition formally separates the text into two sections ...

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The Genre of the LZWZLL

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pp. 75-78

...Dong argues that the Chunqiu does not explicitly condemn war but through various descriptive techniques arrives at a sophisticated and more realistic assessment of the different types of war. To understand this, it does not make sense to stare at the words, ...

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THE LAOZI'S STRUCTURE ACCORDING TO THE LZWZLL

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pp. 78-80

The LZWZLL extracts from the Laozi itself the adequate strategy of reading this text. The Laozi warns the reader with a plethora of markers about the unreliability and tentativeness of its language. Quite apart from the well-known refl ections on the inability to name the Dao, the text constantly repeats formulae ...

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THE BASIS FOR THE EDITION OF THE TEXT

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pp. 80-82

...The IPS comes in an open and a closed form. In the former, the phrases belonging to one chain (e.g., a) explicitly refer to each other by using the same vocabulary. In the closed form, no such explicit reference exists; the link is by implication. Given the possibility of the variant ab ba, this ...

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WANG BI: THE STRUCTURE OF THE LAOZI'S POINTERS

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pp. 82-106

Note: The quotations from the Laozi are taken from the critical edition of Wang Bi’s Laozi inserted before the translations of the zhang. The Laozi quotations are taken from my translation. ....

4. A Reconstruction and Critical Edition of the Laozi Text Used by Wang Bi; a Reconstruction and Critical Edition of Wang Bi's Commentary on the Laozi; an Extrapolative Translation of the Laozi through Wang Bi's Commentary; and a Translation of Wang Bi's

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A NOTE ON THE EDITION

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pp. 107-112

The Laozi text printed over the Wang Bi Commentary in all available pre-modern editions is not the text used by Wang Bi himself.1 The Wang Bi Laozi Receptus has to be abandoned in its entirety. The reconstruction of the Wang Bi Laozi attempted here is based on the identification of the textual family to which Wang Bi's Laozi belonged. For this purpose ...

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A NOTE ON EXTRAPOLATIVE TRANSLATION

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pp. 112-116

In The Craft of a Chinese Commentator, I have tried to outline Wang Bi's commentarial strategies and have confronted them with other constructions of the same texts. The purpose of this note on my translation of Wang Bi's works on the Laozi is to provide some grounding ...

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A NOTE ON PREVIOUS TRANSLATIONS

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pp. 116-127

....some of the problems with this text but has basically remained within the confi nes of Hatano Tarô's collection of notes and Lou Yulie's rather weak edition. None of the translators has taken cognizance of the seminal work...

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WANG BI, COMMENTARY ON THE LAOZI

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pp. 119-387

...allocating the subsequent pairs of phrases to this pattern is not easy, because we do not have open interlocking patterns, and second because, perhaps due to some textual corruption, Wang Bi's commentary gives mixed messages. The core notions upon which he finally fastens...

Notes

Notes - CHAPTER 1

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pp. 389-394

Notes - CHAPTER 2

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pp. 394-401

Notes - CHAPTER 3

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pp. 401-423

Notes - CHAPTER 4

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pp. 423-498

Bibliography

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pp. 499-512

Index

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pp. 513-531


E-ISBN-13: 9780791489581
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791451816
Print-ISBN-10: 079145181X

Page Count: 540
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Series Editor Byline: Roger T. Ames