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Research Seminar : "Religious Origin of the Terms Dao and De and Their Signification in the Laozi"
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Topic:  Research Seminar : "Religious Origin of the Terms Dao and De and Their Signification in the Laozi"
posted itemPosted - 12/10/2006 :  15:25:49
City University of Hong Kong Dep

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Research Seminar

Religious Origin of the Terms Dao and De and Their Signification in the Laozi

Presented by

Dr. JIA Jinhua

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, CityU

Date: 23 October 2006, Monday
Time: 4:30pm - 5:30pm
B7603 (Lift 3, 7/F, Blue Zone),Academic Building,CityU


This paper applies a synthetic approach of etymological, religious, and philosophical studies to explore the original meaning of the terms dao 道 and de 德, two primary concepts in traditional Chinese intellectual history. Many early texts of pre-Qin to Han dynasty identify Dao with the Great One/spirit of the Pole Star/High God. This identification is now supported by the newly unearthed text titled Taiyi shengshui (The Great One Gives Birth to Water). Through an etymological analysis of the characters dao and de and supported by both received and discovered texts and materials, the paper verifies that Dao indeed originally represents the spirit of the Pole Star/High God and the movement of Heaven, and De originally symbolizes the action of impartiality or the virtue and power able to act justly. In terms of this new interpretation, the paper further discusses the signification of dao and de in the Laozi to uncover the mystic aspect of the text.


Dr. JIA Jinhua received her M.A. in Chinese Language and Literature from Xiamen University and PhD in Comparative Literature from University of Colorado at Boulder. Before she joined City University as an Assistant Professor in 2000, she was an Associate Professor of Chinese Literature at Xiamen University. In 05/06 year, she was appointed as a Research Associate and Visiting Faculty by the Divinity School of Harvard University. She has published one English book, five Chinese books (three are cooperated with others), two books of translation, and many English and Chinese articles on traditional Chinese literature, religion, and culture.

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