Click to hear a podcast about Daoism. 



  • wú wéi 無爲 — doing by not doing
  • the water is more powerful than the rock
  • “One of Daoism’s core ideas is that we can prolong life by following The Way” (contrast to Xtianity, Buddhism)
  • In the second century AD, Laodze was seen as “the alternative philosopher” to Confucius. Confucius represented the order of the State.
  • Buddhism may be an Indian form of Daoism come back to China
  • Later in the programme this appears to be a theme: Daoists as the under-religion, the shamanic folk religion. Well that almost fits the philosophy of “a ruler who doesn’t appear to be ruling” too nicely.
  • (Exceptions at times: the Yellow Turban revolt, 30 years of Daoist-led kingdom (which they peaceably annexed to a neighbouring ruler), widespread Daoist temples and 5 Bushels of Rice/year to pay for your Daoist shamanic exorcist/priestly councillor.)
  • “Shamanism preceded Confucianism” — “We are controlled by the unseen world”
  • In Chapter 42 [of the Dao De Jing 道德經] … the Dao gives birth to the Origin: the beginning of everything, the One. The One then gives birth to the Two, which is the Yin and the Yang. (These are cosmic forces. They’re not moral forces; they’re not divine forces. They’re just forces of the Universe.) And the Two give birth to the Three, which in traditional Daoist thought, is: Heaven, Earth, and Humanity. … And all this gives birth to the myriad things.
  • Cheng Dao Ling (2nd century) teaches he has the power to forgive sins.
  • Oh, so they have sins then? “But it’s harder to sin by inaction than by action.”← Lecturer’s supposition, I found the opposite to be one of the most interesting takeaways from the economic theory of opportunity cost. Why do we privilege the refrainment of wrongdoing over the failure to rightdoing?
  • Dao 道 = power (although our word for it has political connotations that 道 does not. I also notice our words for “logic” and “bureaucracy” don’t seem to fit in this discussion, denotatively or connotatively. Our language and theirs embed assumptions; ∄ neutral.) A universal process of change that applies to almost everything. (So, the Lagrangian-mechanics and post-Lagrangian-mechanics pursuit of minimisation of difference between potential and actual energy?)
  • De 德 = our individual instantiation with the Dao . Cycles of life. Which not everyone goes through with the same vigour.
  • Rulers needed to show that the celestial bureaucracy fitted harmoniously with their own worldly order. Li family 7th cent AD claims descent from (by then) Demigod Laodze.
  • “There’s no consistency to the Dao De Jing 道德經. It’s as if someone had chalked up parts of the Bible and mixed the pieces around and we had to derive a coherent philosophy from it.” Actually this sounds exactly like the Bible. 73 books all by different authors and redacted by a series of future editors…yeah, not exactly one unified message.
  • “Gunpowder was developed by Daoists searching for the elixir of life…subdue KNO₃”
  • “Communists saw Daoism as mere superstition” — “By the Cultural Revolution ∃ ≤ 500 Daoist priests”
  • Joangdze: “Logic, rhetoric, argumentation don’t help us so much to understand The Universe” #logocentrism — Performance, experience, feelings are preferable to the (inserting my own pet peeves on economic theorists here) elaborate structures built upon fragile axioms [which then the fragile axioms defended at knifepoint since their collapse would bring down a roccocco golden palace on the theorist’s head].