Questions to ask when thinking about the Tao Te Ching
Questions concerning the project itself
- How is it possible to "analyze" a text which seems to say that analysis is beside the point?
- What is being "analyzed": the Tao, the Tao Te Ching, Taoism, Lao-Tzu's version of Taoism?
- Are there other translations that give another angle on the original writing?
- Are there other resources that could shed some light on the text?
- What other philosophical or religious systems does the Tao Te Ching bear a resemblance to?
Questions concerning content of the text
- What does the term "Tao Te Ching" mean?
- What is the place of knowledge? Is Tao anti-intellectual?
- Why can the Tao not be spoken of?
- How can one "express the inexpressible"?
- How does the sage live?
- Is action possible, given the notion of passivity?
- If the Tao cannot be spoken of, what is Lao-Tzu doing in writing the Tao Te Ching?
- Is Tao a thing? Is Tao God?
Metaphysical questions about the Tao Te Ching
- What is Being and non-being in this text? How do they relate?
- Is reality itself paradoxical?
- What is permanence and what is change? How do we live in light of what these are?
- What is the person here?
- When Lao-Tzu refers to "heaven", what is he talking about?
- What is "the One", and how does it relate to Tao?
- The text speaks of a "force" (e.g., 21). What is this force?
- How are the contraries, or opposites, part of reality?