Ziran and wuwei in the daodejing : An ethical assessment

In Daoist philosophy, the self is understood as an individual interdependent with others, and situated within a broader environment. Within this framework, the concept ziran is frequently understood in terms of naturalness or nature while wuwei is explained in terms of non-oppressive government. In many existing accounts, little is done to connect these two key Daoist concepts. Here, I suggest that wuwei and ziran are correlated, ethical, concepts. Together, they provide a unifying ethical framework for understanding the philosophy of the Daodejing. I explore the meaning of ziran as self-so-ness or, in human terms, as pertaining to an individual’s spontaneity. The appropriate response to the spontaneity of individuals is to avoid, insofar as possible, imposing or using restrictive norms and methods, that is, wuwei. According to this view, ziran and wuwei offer an account of ethics that attends to core notions of interdependent selfhood, including mutuality, relationality, interdependence, symbiosis, and responsiveness.
Keywords Daoist philosophy  Environmental philosophy  Environmental ethics  ziran  wuwei
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11712-007-9019-8
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,658
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

48 ( #71,159 of 1,725,989 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

7 ( #99,332 of 1,725,989 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.