The present essay examines the conflicting ontological assumptions that one can find behind the word dao in the texts of the Laozi and Zhuangzi and argues that the relative indifference to these texts toward whether or not dao has an ontic reality should not be considered a flaw of early Daoism. Rather, the historical process by which the term dao collects various possible ontological implications can be thought of as a philosophical stance in its own right. That is, if the terms which one is obliged to use in discussing the immaterial necessarily hide, at least as much as they explain, the nature of Being, then it is a reasonable response to decline to ground one’s ethics in an ontology, and that while the resulting philosophy may not qualify as a fully-adumbrated system, this does not diminish its potential usefulness
Keywords Laozi  Zhuangzi  Dao  Ontology  Semiotics
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DOI 10.1007/s11712-012-9290-1
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The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu.Burton Watson (ed.) - 1968 - Columbia University Press.
Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science.A. C. Graham (ed.) - 1978 - School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

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