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On Ethics and HistoryEssays and Letters of Zhang Xuecheng$
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Philip J. Ivanhoe

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804761284

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804761284.001.0001

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On the Dao1

On the Dao1

(p.25) Essay I On the Dao1
On Ethics and History
Stanford University Press

This chapter presents the English translation of Zhang's most comprehensive and important essay. Zhang understood the title yuan dao to mean both “to trace the dao or Way back to its historical source,” and “to provide a complete analysis describing what it essentially is.” Zhao traces the evolution of the dao through three distinctive historical periods and explains why a grasp of this history is critical for understanding how past as well as contemporary thinkers misunderstand the nature of the dao, and therefore act in misguided and unproductive ways. Zhang's criticisms are aimed primarily at well-meaning yet misguided Confucians who misunderstood the very nature of the dao and therefore corrupted and misdirected the Confucian tradition.

Keywords:   Zhang Xuecheng, essay, dao, Confucianism, Han Yu

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