Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation Paperback – Dec 30 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
The authors offer two reasons for a new English version of the classic Chinese Daodejing, better known as the Tao te ching. First, the translators have the benefit of recent archeological finds of earlier versions of the text, particularly a portion discovered only in 1993, "The Great One Gives Birth to the Waters," included in an appendix. Second, as philosophers-Ames is a University of Hawai'i professor of Chinese philosophy and editor of the journal Philosophy East & West, and the late Hall was professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, El Paso-the translators wish to correct previous translations that, in their view, distorted the text by either "Christianizing" it or "locating it within a poetical-mystical-occult worldview." In contrast, Ames and Hall take a secular, pragmatist view indebted to Whitehead, Wittgenstein, James and Dewey. Their view is laid out through historical and philosophical introductions, a chatty glossary, an elegant and "self-consciously interpretive" translation and a chapter-by-chapter commentary. Any textual language that might seem to smack of God or a metaphysics of essences is reinterpreted to lose such trappings. Instead, Ames and Hall insist that the Daodejing aims to "prescribe a regimen of self-cultivation that will enable one to optimize one's experience in the world" and that its title should best be translated as Making This Life Significant. These claims are not completely persuasive: too often it seems that they are replacing one distorting set of Western spectacles with another. But their unconventional renderings-for example, translating dao not as the "way" but as "way-making"-provoke the reader to see the text with fresh eyes. This is a valuable find for anyone who wants to reengage a foundational work.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“A NEW ENGLISH VERSION OF THE CLASSIC CHINESE DAO DE JING . . . Provoke[s] the reader to see the text with fresh eyes.
This is a valuable find for anyone who wants to reengage a foundational work.”
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Top Customer Reviews
"Experience is processual, and is thus always provisional. Process requires that the formational and functional aspects of our experience are correlative and mutually entailing." (p. 77)
"For the Daoist, dividing up the world descriptively and prescriptively generates correlative categories that invariably entail themselves and their antinomies." (p. 80)
"The dynamic field of experience is the locus in which the stream of phenomena is animated and achieves consummation..." (p. 90)
These examples are pretty representative of the commentary that accompanies the translation. But the translation itself, far from rendering the text as poetry, favors the same kind of overwrought techno-jargon, using words like "determinacy," "noncoercively," etc.
The *best* thing you could say is that this book is aimed at an academic audience already comfortable with technical terms like "underdetermined" (used throughout) -- an audience that fully understands the difference between "formational" and "functional aspects of our experience."
The worst you could say, I expect, is that the authors simply didn't care to write anything that could be useful to anyone who isn't already an expert on both philosophy and Chinese writings of the period.
Had I the choice, I would un-buy this book. As it stands, I have given up on it absolutely.Read more ›
Roger Ames translation s of the Dao De Jung, Yuan Dao and SunZi has dramatically changed everything. Ames has done what no one else has done. He has attempted to understand the Daoist writings within the classical Chinese mode of thought and then translate that into English without the accompanying Western dualistic (Cartesian) baggage that has imbued all previous translations.
Ames insights into classical Chinese "cosmology, ontology and epistemology are exemplary and amazingly revealing. No previous translation had achieved his depth of insight.
I am indebted to Roger for these wonderful translations and explications of traditional Daoist thinking and being. My "new" understanding of Daoist being in the world or as Roger says, "way-making", has allowed completely new insights and abilities to emerge from my taijiquan and qigong.
Anyone who has an interest in Daoism can do nothing better than to obtain copies of Ames Dao De Jing, Yuan Dao, Sunzi and Thinking from the Han. You will be, as I am, delighted with the concept of the Wu-forms and the idea that much of the Dao De Jing derives from traditional folks songs. Imagine singing or chanting the Dao! This connects, sympathetically, for me at least, to Australian songlines and to Dineh "harmony & beauty".
Ames work is essential reading for anyone who hopes to understand the classical Chinese worldview and become realized.
The authors have been meticulous in picking through the intricacies of some fairly complex terms in a thorough, yet succinct, way.
I really really like the holistic perspective in the authors' interpretation of the verses. Instead of feeling like I'm being preached at from the pulpit, it feels like I'm sitting at a table over coffee and listening. It is with great sorrow that I read of Hall's passing. Knowing this team of writers will collaborate no more makes me sad.
Instead they use their academic doublespeak to try and intellectualize "The Way".
I highly recommend that THEY read Tolle's "Power of Now".
This book is stomuch-turning to anyone seeking a path to enlightenment.
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