Two Visions of the Way: A Study of the Wang Pi and the Ho-Shang Kung Commentaries on the Lao-Tzu

Two Visions of the Way: A Study of the Wang Pi and the Ho-Shang Kung Commentaries on the Lao-Tzu

Two Visions of the Way: A Study of the Wang Pi and the Ho-Shang Kung Commentaries on the Lao-Tzu

Two Visions of the Way: A Study of the Wang Pi and the Ho-Shang Kung Commentaries on the Lao-Tzu

Excerpt

The history of interpretation of the Lao-tzu, or Tao-te ching (The Classic of the Way and Virtue), spans over two thousand years. Few texts in world history, indeed, have commanded as much respect and attention as this Taoist work. The Lao-tzu was first recognized as a "classic" (ching) in the Han dynasty (202 B.C.- 220 A.D.), and since that time a steady stream of commentators have attempted to lay bare its meaning. A great number of their works have been lost, but over three hundred fifty, according to one count, are still in existence. This study is devoted to two of them: namely, the commentary by Wang Pi (226-249 A.D.) and that ascribed to the second-century B.C legendary figure Ho-shang Kung.

The importance of traditional commentaries goes beyond the interpretation of the Lao-tzu itself. They are crucial to our understanding of Chinese intellectual history as a whole, where, as Wolfgang Bauer so aptly puts it, "the most important thoughts emerge in Hermeneutics." In other words, the unfolding of Chinese intellectual history is characterized by a profound recognition of the power of tradition. New ideas take shape and blossom into view only as interpreters discern the words of the ancient sages, as they find new meanings in the older classics.

Beginning with the Han dynasty, commentaries have become the chief medium through which new insights were developed in traditional China. Individual commentators, to be sure, may employ . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.