JDS 9 (2016)

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Erica BrindleySpontaneous Arising: Creative Change in the Hengxian
Steven BurikComparative Resources: Continental Philosophy and Daoism
Friederike AssandriStealing Words: Intellectual Property in Medieval China
Shu-Wei HsiehPossession and Ritual: Daoist and Popular Healing in Taiwan
Georges FavraudImmortals’ Medicine: Daoist Healers and Social Change
Marnix WellsDaoism Not as We Know It
Scott P. Phillips & Daniel MrozDaoyin Reimagined: A Comparison of Three Embodied Traditions
Andrew ColvinNonaction and the Art of Blending: Daoist Principles in Aikido
David HesslerTeaching with Dao
Avery MorrowHow Not to Be Thinged by Things
Yanxia ZhaoDaoist Longevity and the Aging Society

Erica Brindley – Spontaneous Arising: Creative Change in the Hengxian   

This paper explains how, in a relatively short, newly excavated bamboo text called the Hengxian, the author provides an intriguing version of what it means for humans to act in accordance with the creative forces of the cosmos. I show that, rather than focus on effortless action per se, the author presents an account of the creation of the entire cosmos, which lays the foundation for understanding the central process of creative change in the cosmos: that of spontaneous arising. He then uses his cosmological account of spontaneous arising to serve as the basis for a fundamental ethics of creative change, applicable to the human world of politics and individual action, thought, and belief. After outlining the meaning and importance of creative change in the early cosmos, I show how the author’s version of spontaneous arising serves as a positive formulation of wu-wei in the human world. I also show how this particular, positive manner of articulating a Daoist ideal of action is philosophically subtle, insofar as it presupposes a certain ever-changing concept of the self in space and time.

Steven Burik – Comparative Resources: Continental Philosophy and Daoism

I argue that continental philosophical resources are more appropriate for comparative philosophy regarding classical Daoism since they in various ways challenge the dominant metaphysical orientation of Western thought and give us a better and more appropriate vocabulary to make sense of important Daoist ideas within the confines of Western languages. Since classical Daoism is largely non-metaphysical or at least not metaphysical in the same way as the Western history of philosophy is, it makes sense that those within the Western tradition who have sought to displace the dominant metaphysical tradition would be more in tune with such non-metaphysical considerations. I focus on Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida and present three interrelated areas of comparison with classical Daoism. First, I discuss the constant complication of any seriously dualist approach and with that the attempt to put humans in a constructive and primarily interdependent relationship with the rest of the world, which points to a form of process philosophy. Second, I focus on ideas regarding the use and limitations of language that both traditions display, and on the resulting efforts to understand language differently. Lastly, I present the decentering of the subject or the self is another feature prominent in both Daoism and the continental thinkers, although in different ways.

Friederike Assandri – Stealing Words: Intellectual Property in Medieval China

This paper explores the question of claims to intellectual property of texts and terminologies as they were raised in debates between Buddhists and Daoists in the 7th century CE. In some apologetic texts, Buddhists accuse Daoists of “stealing” their words and scriptures. Can we interpret this as a concept of intellectual property? What could possibly constitute a theft of words and texts in a culture where literati had a large common stock of reference to use? Where unmarked citations in all kinds of writings abound? Where terminology of Daoist texts translated Buddhist texts? And where Buddhist authors often drew on the classics to elucidate their teachings? Using a methodological approach of the philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814) on intellectual property, this essay presents different conceptions of property of texts and ideas in early medieval Buddhism and Daoism.

Shu-wei Hsieh – Possession and Ritual: Daoist and Popular Healing in Taiwan

This paper focuses on the everyday realities of religious healing cultures in the particular ethnographic context of Taiwan. In order to understand therapeutic aspects of religion in both the traditional and contemporary contexts as well as its local and global manifestations, I explore religious healing in the traditionally observant city of Tainan, which offers three compelling cases studies. From there, I explore the theoretical understanding of spirit, body, and illness in traditional Chinese society. The analysis focuses on healing through ritual and spirit possession, providing vivid accounts of the role spirit possession and ritual performance play in healing individuals and communities in Chinese society. It also increases our understanding of healing and spirit possession in southern Taiwan. Core issues involve the agency of ritual and medium of deities and spirits in accounting for and dealing with a range of psychological and physical trauma.

Georges Favraud – Immortals’ Medicine: Daoist Healers and Social Change

This article deals with a Chunyang Daoist transmission between female healers which takes place in a temple called Transverse Dragon Grotto (Henglong dong) situated in the vicinity of Pingxiang Cityin western Jiangxi (near the Hunan border). The female masters of this community specialize in women’s internal alchemy (nüdan). They are regionally famous for their medicine that takes care of and heals children. Based on fieldwork observation and written materials gathered between 2004 and 2014, this article follows the transmission of this therapeutic-based Daoist tradition in the course of the 20th century. Its purpose is to shed light on some intrinsic links between Daoism and healing. It also highlights the way this literary and technical practice allows the internalization of rituals, shifts in roles and status, as well as the building of interpersonal networks between Daoist masters and official. These relationships have been instrumental both in the transmission of Daoism during the Maoist era and also more recently in its recomposition since the 1980s.

Marnix Wells – Daoism Not as We Know It

Daoism as a school of thought does not appear until after political unification. Its first definition goes back to the summary by Sima Tan, father of grand historian Sima Qian (145-86 BCE), of the Six Schools, i.e., Yinyang, Confucius, Mozi, Law, Logic, and Dao. In his view, Dao (Way) is supreme because it encompasses the best of all the others (Shiji jjie [Taipei: Wenhua tushugongsi, 1974] 70, 555). Daoism thus could be seen as eclectic and non-partisan. The question is how and when was it formed? Central to Daoism, I would argue, is the idea of unity, spiritual as well as geopolitical. Kidder Smith argues Sima Tan personally invented Daoism and other schools himself, which just goes to show the extent of the problem (2003). To solve it we need to re-evaluate Dao’s role in the Qin empire, the elephant in the room. It was Qin that shaped the crucial transition from the Warring States to the Han empire—a period still poorly understood.