Environmental ethics and aesthetics : the Laozi revisited

Yim Tze, Charles KWONG

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This essay re-examines the Laozi in relation to environmental philosophy and environmental reality, in both cultural and cross-cultural terms. Analysis ranges from the macro perspective of Dao and ziran to the micro perspective of de, wuwei and the revelation of Nature, leading to an outlook on life marked by holism, gentleness, simplicity, humility, and liberation from material fetters and desires. In environmental terms, it is noted that while the Laozi fosters a respect for Nature deeper than Confucian humanism or Judeo-Christian religion, Daoism can only exert a moderating, not preventive influence on pragmatic motives and destructive acts of self-gain. Still, in an age of heightened environmental awareness, material indulgence, atomistic life and international aggressiveness, Daoist thought does offer an illuminating vision of cosmic being and existence conducive to peace and harmony, that may help humankind to become less ego-driven, less anthropomorphic, and less narrow-minded.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironmental History in East Asia: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
EditorsCuirong LIU
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9780415717700
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Daoism
  • Laozi
  • environmental philosophy
  • Chinese vision of Nature
  • Western vision of Nature


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