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« Finding Taoism Everywhere | Main | So, The Question is: Does the Way Abide in the Contemporary US? »

August 25, 2008


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Possibly a translation of chapter 67? or 8?

The structure/sentiment is similar to the middle of 67 in Yutang's translation.

But, I searched through the 85 English translations at (the sadly disappeared, though thankfully archived) compendium at

No dice, unless there were transcription errors. My guess, it's from something totally unrelated.

Yes, Passage 67 seems a stretch to me. There just too much active creation of "Kindness" in the alleged Lao Tzu quote for it to be from the Tao Te Ching.
For comparison's sake, here is Ames and Hall's translation of that middle section of passage 67:

It is because of my compassion that I can be courageous;
It is because of my frugality that I can be generous;
It is because of my reluctance to try to become preeminent in the world that I am able to become chief among all things.

No mention of "words" there, nor "thinking" nor "giving."

This commentator believes it's a naive translation of part of Chapter 8. I tend to agree. Assuming that the unknown translator parsed the statements as "言善,信;心善,渊;与善,仁" rather than "言,善信;心,善渊;与,善仁", the English isn't too much of a stretch.

Thanks for the link! This does seem plausible. But it is still quite a stretch. Notice how it takes the phrases out of order and ignores the reference to 居 and 政. Thus, it seems less "naive" to me and more purposive, to turn the text in a more comfortable direction, avoiding the amoral implications. Here's the full excerpt mentioned:


Yeah, I imagine that the translator couldn't figure out any way to turn 地 into a profound-sounding quality, and just left it out instead.

Try Google Books The earliest reference in English in Western literature I could find comes from "peter's quotations: Ideas for Our Time" By Laurence J. Peter, published in 1977. Where Peter got that, I've no idea but am leaning towards your ersatz theory.

Thanks. The collective effort here might settle the matter...

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