Tao Te Ching: Part 2

Updated May 14, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Daodejing (Tao Te Ching) by Laozi, trans. James Legge
Part 1

The Book of Dé

The second part of the Dàodéjīng, the Book of Dé (although also still dealing with the Way) discusses one's character or virtuosity. Much like the Italian word virtù with which Machiavelli defines his ideal Prince, is a broad word that is hard to pin down. We can most broadly say that the Book of Dé describes how a Daoist practitioner should act. And, much how Machiavelli's Il Principe described the ideal ruler he believed could unify the warring Italian states, the Dàodéjīng describes the ideal ruler for China at a time when the region faced constant warfare.1


1. The Warring States Period (beginning in the early 400s BCE and ending with the Qin conquest of China in 221 BCE) was a period of intense warfare and violence across much of modern China. Rulers of many smaller states competed with one another for control.  At this time many philosophers were concerned with questions of rulership and legitimacy, producing the "Hundred Schools" of Classical Chinese thought. These include the Confucians, Legalists, Mohists, and of course the Taoists. 

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