"Embracing the one" in the daodejing

Philosophy East and West 59 (3):pp. 364-381 (2009)
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"Embracing the One" (baoyi 抱—) and "holding to the One" (zhiyi 孰—) are phrases that appear in different versions of the Daodejing. This essay argues that, in a specific philosophical context, these two phrases represent competing philosophical attitudes that stem from opposing cosmological visions. The recently unearthed "Great One Produces the Waters" (Taiyishengshui ) assists in the reconstruction of this philosophical context, as does a re-reading of the "One" in the famous generative sequence of chapter 42 of the Daodejing. Ultimately, it is argued, the phrase "embracing the One" represents an attitude that is quintessential "Daoist" in nature, while "holding to the One" signifies the adoption of the Daodejing by competing philosophical interests



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Jim Behuniak
Colby College

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