International Philosophical Quarterly 45 (1):5-19 (2005)
There are many strains in Heidegger’s thought to which he often refers, but one that he never mentions, Taoism. Otto Pöggeler has noted that Heidegger’s engagement with Chinese philosophy, and in particular with the Tao Te Ching of Lao-tzu, exerted a decisive effect on the form and direction of his later thinking. With Reinhard May’s careful comparisons of passages from Heidegger’s major texts with translations of the Tao Te Ching and various Zen Buddhist texts, there is now general agreement on Heidegger’s indebtedness to Chinese philosophy. The recurrent themes of his later lectures can all be found in Taoist texts. Often these are points on which he is labeled a mystic or an irrationalist and taken to task by his Western critics. This essay examines some key facets of his thought and compares his position to that of the Tao Te Ching so as to determine the extent to which Heidegger has departed from the Western tradition to become a Taoist
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