Dao and Time: Classical Philosophy

Time plays a major role in classical Daoist thought, explored through different lenses in this powerful volume that brings together both established and rising scholars in the field. It discusses cosmic, seasonal, human, and mystical dimensions of time, linking Daoists to ancient astrologers, exploring universal origins (based on excavated manuscripts), examining issues of permanence and transience, and questioning notions of self and personal identity in a temporal light. Beyond this, the book also looks at classical Daoist visions of matching human activities to seasonal cycles, notions of timeliness in connection with ethical issues, ways of overcoming temporal limitations through self-cultivation, and concepts of vital energy as expressed in art and music. The book is full of fascinating and stimulating contributions, opening new horizons in our understanding both of classical Chinese thought and dimensions of time.

Contents and Introduction

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Livia Kohn, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita of Religion and East Asian Studies at Boston University. The author or editor of close to sixty books (including the annual Journal of Daoist Studies), she spent ten years in Kyoto doing research. She now lives in Florida, serves as the executive editor of Three Pines Press, runs international conferences, and guides study tours to Japan.


This volume brings a group of impressive young and seasoned scholars together to tackle the multiple dimensions of Daoist time, presenting the time study from past to present in connection with future. It reveals the beauty of the incessant flow of Daoist time in its perpetual process of sprouting, growing, and flourishing.

– Robin Wang, Professor of Philosophy, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles

When novelty is wedded with deep scholarship, one has a powerful combination. Continuing a long-standing tradition, Livia Kohn—who has expanded the range of Daoist studies in contemporary scholarship as no other living scholar—has excelled again by presenting this powerful collection of essays. Part of a multi-volume enterprise devoted to the project “Dao and Time,” it grew in conjunction with the 13th International Conference on Daoist Studies (Los Angeles, 2019) and presents the inspiring work of scholars with excellent command both of the Chinese sources and the global literature and reflection on time across disciplines. The book is highly recommended for courses in Asian Philosophy, Chinese Philosophy, Daoism, Comparative Philosophy, and focused studies in the Humanities or Interdisciplinary Curriculum.

—Ronnie Littlejohn, Chaney Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Belmont University, Nashville