Linked bibliography for the SEP article "Daoism" by Chad Hansen

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Daoism in Histories of Philosophy

The most influential treatments of Daoism are those that place their discussion in more general accounts of Chinese Philosophy. Some important ones are:

  • Fung, Yu-lan (1952). History of Chinese Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    [A classic widely used treatment.] (Scholar)
  • Graham, Angus (1989). Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China. La Salle, IL: Open Court.
    [A very influential recent approach. Beginning to be more controversial.] (Scholar)
  • Hansen, Chad (1992). A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought. New York: Oxford University Press.
    [Controversial treatment locating Daoism in ancient Chinese theory of language.] (Scholar)
  • Hsiao, Kung chuan (1979). A History of Chinese Political Thought, Volume I: From the beginnings to the Six Dynasties. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    [Very clear treatment from a traditional political perspective.] (Scholar)
  • Munro, Donald, J. The Concept of Man in Early China. Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1969.
    [Influential treatment locating Daoism in the theory of human nature and conduct.]
  • Needham, Joseph. Science and civilisation in China, vol. 2: History of scientific thought. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1962.
    [Classic treatment viewing Daoism in connection with Chinese science.]
  • Schwartz, Benjamin (1985). The World of Thought in Ancient China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
    [Highly regarded orthodox treatment.] (Scholar)

Focused Treatments

More focused treatments develop sometimes classic and sometimes controversial lines of interpretation of philosophical Daoism. These often disagree with each other so none is definitive but notable contributions include:


Collection of articles mainly focus on Zhuangzi. Some of the focused discussions are found in such collections which include:


Interpretive theories are presented most systematically in translations, but there are too many to list here (and most tend to religious lines of interpretation). Some of the more influential philosophical translations of the key texts include:

  • Carus, Paul (1913). The Canon of Reason and its Virtue, Chicago: Open Court. (Scholar)
  • Chen, Guying (1977). Lao Tzu: Text, Notes, and Comments, Ames and Young (trans.), San Francisco: Chinese Materials Center. (Scholar)
  • Duyvendak, J. J. L. (1954). Tao Te Ching, London: John Murray. (Scholar)
  • Graham, Angus (1969). “Chuang-tzu’s Essay on Seeing Things as Equal,” History of Religions, 7: 137–159. (Scholar)
  • ––– (1981). Chuang tzu: The Inner Chapters, London: Allen & Unwin. (Scholar)
  • ––– (trans.) (1960). The Book of Lieh-tzu, London: John Murray. (Scholar)
  • Henricks, Robert G. (1989). Lao-tzu: Te-Tao Ching: A New Translation Based on the Recently Discovered Ma-wang-tui Manuscripts, New York: Ballantine Books. (Scholar)
  • Lau, D. C. (trans.) (1963). Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching, Baltimore: Penguin Books. (Scholar)
  • Mair, Victor (trans.) (1990). Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way, New York: Bantam Books. (Scholar)
  • Palmer, Martin with Elizabeth Breuilly (trans.) (1996). The Book of Chuang Tzu, London: Arcana (Penguin). (Scholar)
  • Waley, Arthur (trans.) (1934). The Way and Its Power: A Study of the Tao Te Ching and its Place in Chinese Thought, London: Allen & Unwin. (Scholar)
  • Watson, Burton (1968). The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, (Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies No. LXXX, Columbia College Program of Translations from the Oriental Classics), New York: Columbia University Press. (Scholar)

Religious Treatments

Religious treatments vastly outnumber the philosophical. Here, we will list only a representative sample.

  • Berling, Judith A. (1979). “Paths of convergence: interactions of inner alchemy, Taoism and Neo-Confucianism,” Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 6: 123–148. (Scholar)
  • Blofeld, John (1979). Taoism: The Quest for Immortality, London, Boston, Sydney: Mandala Books, Unwin Paperbacks (Scholar)
  • Girardot, Norman J. (1983). Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism: The Theme of chaos (hun-tun), Berkeley: University of California Press. (Scholar)
  • Herman, Jonathan R. (1996). I and Tao: Martin Buber’s Encounter with Chuang Tzu, Albany: SUNY Press. (Scholar)
  • Kohn, Livia (ed.) (1989). Taoist Meditation and Longevity Techniques. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan/Center for Chinese Studies Publications. (Scholar)
  • Maspero, Henri (trans.) (1981). Taoism and Chinese Religion, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. (Scholar)
  • Puett, Michael J. (2003). “‘Nothing can Overcome Heaven’: The Notion of Spirit in the Zhuangzi,” in S. Cook (ed.), Hiding the World in the World, (Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture), Albany: SUNY Press. (Scholar)
  • Robinet, Isabelle (1979). “Metamorphosis and deliverance from the corpse in Taoism,” History of Religions, 19 (1): 37–70. (Scholar)
  • Saso, Michael (1972). Taoism and the Rite of Cosmic Renewal, Pullman: Washington State University Press. (Scholar)
  • Sivin, N. (1978). “On the word ‘Taoist’ as a source of perplexity, with special reference to the relations of science and religion in traditional China,” History of Religions, 17 (3/4): 303–30. (Scholar)
  • Welch, Holmes and Seidel, Anna (eds.) (1979). Facets of Taoism, New Haven: Yale University Press. (Scholar)

Textual Issues

Discussion of textual issues is a major focus of scholarly activity. Modern textual theories have influenced interpretation particularly of the philosophical content. Some examples include:

  • Graham, Angus (1961). “The Date and Composition of the Lieh-tzu,” Asia Major 8 (2): 139-198. (Scholar)
  • ––– (1979). “How much of the Chuang-tzu Did Chuang-tzu Write?”, (reprinted) in A. Graham, Studies in Chinese philosophy & philosophical literature, Singapore: Institute of East Asian Philosophies, 1986, pp. 283–321. (Scholar)
  • Hansen, Chad (1997). “The Zhuangzi: A Historical Introduction,” in Tsai Chih Chung (ed.), The Dao of Zhuangzi, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books (Doubleday and Co.), pp. 9–22. (Scholar)
  • Hu, Shih (1989). “A Criticism of some recent methods used in Dating Lao Tzu,” Philosophy East and West, 40 (1): 17–33. (Scholar)
  • Liu Xiaogan (1995). Classifying the Zhuangzi Chapters, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan/Center for Chinese Studies. (Scholar)
  • Roth, Harold D. (1992). The Textual History of the Huai Nanzi, Ann Arbor: Association of Asian Studies. (Scholar)
  • ––– (1991). “Who Compiled the Chuang Tzu?,” in Rosemont (ed.), Chinese Texts and Philosophical Contexts, La Salle: Open Court, pp. 84–95. (Scholar)

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