2022-02Discussion Papers, Comments, Book Reviews
The Way of Thought and Practice


/Review: Poul Andersen, The Paradox of Being: Truth, Identity, and Images in Daoism (Leiden, The Netherlands: Harvard University Asia Center, 2019), 362 pages./

Philosophy tends to approach Daoism in degrees. One may be introduced to the Dao de Jing of Laozi and appreciate the poetic structure and appreciate the virtues of non-coercive action. When one next encounters the writings of Zhuangzi, one is struck by the difference in style, the humor, and often the difficulty in penetrating the meaning of many passages. This is frequently contrasted with Confucian philosophy. The vocabulary, upon first examination appears similar but upon further reading one discovers that not only do these traditions use shared terminology in different way but that their views of reality is stark. This is much more so with the French existentialists and yet Poul Andersen finds sympathetic understanding between Daoism and “philosophies of existence” with regards to the concept of being. Those familiar with the Dao de Jing can probably cite passages that Andersen will address as it is unmistakable in Daoism that being is said to come from and depend on non-being. The existentialist tradition has meditated on questions of being and so Andersen’s aim is to undertake an exploration of being in Daoism informed by existentialist methodology.
This review seeks to emphasize the case studies Andersen utilizes in his research. While his methodological approach is informed by existentialist philosophers, his decades of research in Chinese religions provides much of the substance throughout.

How to cite:

Taylor, Kevin C. “The Way of Thought and Practice.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 6, no. 2 (2022):  92-97. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2022.0019.


Kevin C. Taylor
Department of Philosophy, University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152, USA

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