Document Type

Journal Article

Department/Unit

Department of Religion and Philosophy

Title

Weapons are nothing but ominous instruments: The Daodejing's view on war and peace

Language

English

Abstract

The Daodejing (DDJ) is an ancient Chinese text traditionally taken as a representative Daoist classic expressing a distinctive philosophy from the Warring States Period (403-221 BCE). This essay explicates the ethical dimensions of the DDJ paying attention to issues related to war and peace. The discussion consists of four parts: (1) "naturalness" as an onto-cosmological argument for a philosophy of harmony, balance, and peace; (2) war as a sign of the disruption of the natural pattern of things initiated by the proliferation of desire; (3) defensive war and appropriate war conduct required when one has to be involved in warfare; and (4) the natural and spontaneous way of living that would prevent war from happening in the first place. This essay attempts to show that what makes the DDJ different from other military texts, or what is called the "art of war corpus" in China is that the discourse of war and warfare in the DDJ is presented via its unique understanding of peace at the personal and social levels. The DDJ is meant to be an inquiry into an effective method to prevent war from happening amid a world full of selfish interests and excessive desires. It proposes that peace is not only a condition in which there is freedom from war and overt violence, but a state of harmony that marks human life and its betterment. © 2012 Journal of Religious Ethics, Inc.

Keywords

dao, Daodejing, ethics of war, harmony, naturalness, peace, war

Publication Date

2012

Source Publication Title

Journal of Religious Ethics

Volume

40

Issue

3

Start Page

473

End Page

502

Publisher

Wiley

DOI

10.1111/j.1467-9795.2012.00532.x

ISSN (print)

03849694

ISSN (electronic)

14679795

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