An Introduction to Daoist Philosophies

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9780231143394: An Introduction to Daoist Philosophies

Steve Coutinho explores in detail the fundamental concepts of Daoist thought as represented in three early texts: the Laozi, the Zhuangzi, and the Liezi. Readers interested in philosophy yet unfamiliar with Daoism will gain a comprehensive understanding of these works from this analysis, and readers fascinated by ancient China who also wish to grasp its philosophical foundations will appreciate the clarity and depth of Coutinho's explanations.

Coutinho writes a volume for all readers, whether or not they have a background in philosophy or Chinese studies. A work of comparative philosophy, this volume also integrates the concepts and methods of contemporary philosophical discourse into a discussion of early Chinese thought. The resulting dialogue relates ancient Chinese thought to contemporary philosophical issues and uses modern Western ideas and approaches to throw new interpretive light on classical texts. Rather than function as historical curiosities, these works act as living philosophies in conversation with contemporary thought and experience. Coutinho respects the multiplicity of Daoist philosophies while also revealing a distinctive philosophical sensibility, and he provides clear explanations of these complex texts without resorting to oversimplification.

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About the Author:

Steve Coutinho is associate professor of philosophy at Muhlenberg College and the author of Zhuangzi and Early Chinese Philosophy: Vagueness, Transformation, and Paradox.

Review:

An insightful and comprehensive overview of the plurality of approaches within this tradition, making Daoist texts philosophically relevant and significant. (Hans-Georg Moeller, author of The Philosophy of the Daodejing)

Steve Coutinho's An Introduction to Daoist Philosophies is a hugely intelligent object lesson in textual phenomenology―a hermeneutically-driven method needed to find coalescence between the clues, signs, and data provided by composite Daoist texts and our own knowledge and experience. He provides his reader with the broad terminological and textual associations required to reconnoiter and map the pluralistic landscape of the Daoist philosophies that are at once resolutely unique yet resonant, and continuous with one another yet complex and multivalent. (Roger T. Ames, University of Hawai'i)

It is now a commonplace in Daoist scholarship that imposing the Western categories of "philosophy" and "religion" on early Chinese texts obscures more than it illuminates them. With care and sensitivity, however, Steven Coutinho has well analyzed three core texts Daoist within a Western philosophical conceptual framework, while yet giving the multiply authors of the Laozi, Zhuangzi, and the Liezi their own voices, both with respect to the Western philosophical tradition, and with each other. (The plural in the title of the book is important). In short, Coutinho has enlarged the field of philosophy – Chinese and more generally -- without diminishing religion, Daoist or more generally.

The book is also of particular topical interest today because of the artful way Coutinho treats the similar perspectives on nature in the three basic Daoist works, by his emphasis on their insistence that the natural world is not to be seen as a congeries of resources for exploitation, but rather as the context within which human life is possible, and can be made meaningful. (Henry Rosemont, Jr., Brown University)

An Introduction to Daoist Philosophies is an accessible introduction to fundamental Daoist concepts and themes. Coutinho's presentation of ideas in three early Daoist texts―Laozi, Zhuangzi and Liezi―has a nuanced, east-west comparative philosophical perspective. The book strikes a fine balance between illuminating Daoist philosophy drawing on contrasting and parallel concepts from western philosophy, on the one hand; and uncompromisingly preserving the richness and distinctiveness of the Daoist texts, on the other. Coutinho rightly emphasises the centrality of methodological awareness to understanding the significance of Daoist philosophy. Daoist Philosophies is an important resource for those wishing to gain insights into Daoist philosophy, as well as methodological cues for encountering the texts directly themselves. (Karyn Lai, University of New South Wales)

Steve Coutinho's book is a timely contribution to Daoist philosophies in English language, given that most existing introductory texts are focused on religious Daoism. Coutinho dances elegantly between philosophical exposition and textual analysis, emphasis on the unique ancient Chinese elements and illustration of the universal and contemporary relevances, and intelligibility to the beginners and inspiration to scholars. It is a must read to anyone interested in Daoist philosophy. (Yong Huang, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Steve Coutinho has written a rich, stimulating introduction to Daoist thought that is also an engaging entrée to Chinese philosophy more generally. He rightly portrays the Daoist tradition as diverse and complex―hence the plural 'philosophies' of his title―yet sharing a broad intellectual sensibility characterized by valuing nature, avoiding artifice, and orienting human life by reference to the 'nonperspective' of the cosmos as a whole. The book offers clear, concise, yet nuanced discussions of key philosophical concepts and issues, giving readers enough detail to really dig their teeth into the material. Above all, Countinho treats Daoism as a philosophical tradition to be taken seriously, subjecting Daoist ideas to friendly but searching criticism and constructively exploring possible Daoist responses. This book will inform and challenge students, the general reader, and even specialists in Chinese philosophy. (Chris Fraser, University of Hong Kong)

Coutinho's introduction is to date perhaps the most comprehensive attempt to bring the full breadth of classical Daoist philosophy into a systematic dialogue with contemporary Western styles of thinking. Coutinho does an impressive job of isolating and analyzing key Daoist themes and terms, subjecting them to a thorough philosophical accounting and rendering them accessible and digestible to certain kinds of minds that would otherwise be very unlikely to find their meat in these texts which can seem so pungent with other mens' poisons. For the great contribution Coutinho has made to our still incipient engagement with these radical texts, his book deserves high praise. (Brook Ziporyn, The University of Chicago Divinity School)

This detailed and intelligently written philosophical work reveals a mind of keen intelligence in engagement with both classical Chinese philosophers and modern Western scholars... Coutinho emerges as a comparative philosopher with excellent training, and a creative thinker in his own right. (CHOICE)

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Book Description Columbia University Press, United States, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Steve Coutinho explores in detail the fundamental concepts of Daoist thought as represented in three early texts: the Laozi, the Zhuangzi, and the Liezi. Readers interested in philosophy yet unfamiliar with Daoism will gain a comprehensive understanding of these works from this analysis, and readers fascinated by ancient China who also wish to grasp its philosophical foundations will appreciate the clarity and depth of Coutinho s explanations. Coutinho writes a volume for all readers, whether or not they have a background in philosophy or Chinese studies. A work of comparative philosophy, this volume also integrates the concepts and methods of contemporary philosophical discourse into a discussion of early Chinese thought. The resulting dialogue relates ancient Chinese thought to contemporary philosophical issues and uses modern Western ideas and approaches to throw new interpretive light on classical texts. Rather than function as historical curiosities, these works act as living philosophies in conversation with contemporary thought and experience. Coutinho respects the multiplicity of Daoist philosophies while also revealing a distinctive philosophical sensibility, and he provides clear explanations of these complex texts without resorting to oversimplification. Bookseller Inventory # AAU9780231143394

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Book Description Columbia University Press, United States, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Steve Coutinho explores in detail the fundamental concepts of Daoist thought as represented in three early texts: the Laozi, the Zhuangzi, and the Liezi. Readers interested in philosophy yet unfamiliar with Daoism will gain a comprehensive understanding of these works from this analysis, and readers fascinated by ancient China who also wish to grasp its philosophical foundations will appreciate the clarity and depth of Coutinho s explanations. Coutinho writes a volume for all readers, whether or not they have a background in philosophy or Chinese studies. A work of comparative philosophy, this volume also integrates the concepts and methods of contemporary philosophical discourse into a discussion of early Chinese thought. The resulting dialogue relates ancient Chinese thought to contemporary philosophical issues and uses modern Western ideas and approaches to throw new interpretive light on classical texts. Rather than function as historical curiosities, these works act as living philosophies in conversation with contemporary thought and experience. Coutinho respects the multiplicity of Daoist philosophies while also revealing a distinctive philosophical sensibility, and he provides clear explanations of these complex texts without resorting to oversimplification. Bookseller Inventory # AAU9780231143394

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