Daoism Excavated
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Daoism Excavated

Cosmos and Humanity in Early Manuscripts


Paperback $34.95, plus S&H PDF download $15




By WANG Zhongjiang Translated by Livia Kohn
220 Pages
June 2015
ISBN 978-1-931483-62-9


Daoism Excavated is a first detailed exploration of Daoist cosmology, philosophy, and political vision as found in recently unearthed bamboo slips and silk manuscripts. Presenting a meticulous, carefully philological, examination of the Taiyi shengshui, Hengxian, Fanwu liuxing, and  Huangdi sijing, as well as of various versions of the Laozi, the book provides new insights into ancient Daoist thought and its various schools and lineages. It focuses particularly on different visions of the creation and unfolding of the universe and on the application of these alternative cosmologies in political thought and practice. Revising and expanding our understanding of traditional Chinese thinking, the book makes an essential contribution to Chinese studies, philosophy, and religion.

For contents and introduction, see 


The Author

WANG Zhongjiang (b. 1957), originally from Henan, studied Chinese philosophy with Zhang Dainian at Peking University, graduating in 1989. He is currently professor of philosophy at Peking University, specializing in early Daoist thought and cosmology as well as contemporary Chinese thought.


This new book on early Daoist cosmologies provides an innovative and insightful account of some of the main, recently excavated texts on cosmology. There is no other collection of essays in a Western language that discusses this particular group of new texts so clearly, according to a core logic underlying naturalistic approaches to human life and society. The author’s deep familiarity with these excavated texts, in combination with his knowledge of the received philosophical traditions and in the expert, extremely fluid translation by Livia Kohn, culminates here in intriguing, synthetic interpretations that enhance our current understanding of the ancient philosophical and religious orientations of China. Truly a work of beauty, Daoism Excavated is a must for anyone interested in traditional Chinese thought.

—Erica Brindley, Pennsylvania State University

Wang Zhongjiang of Peking University has been one of the most prominent researchers on recently excavated Chinese manuscripts and the light that they shed on Chinese philosophy and religion. In this superb collection, Livia Kohn translates Wang’s studies of the Laozi, Hengxian, Taiyi shengshui, and other texts at the forefront of this new wealth of material. The texts—for the most part previously unknown in any edition—share a strong focus on cosmology, but they also bear on the relationship between human beings and nature, offering exciting new insights. A path-breaking study, the book is essential for anyone with an interest in classical Chinese culture.

—Paul R. Goldin, University of Pennsylvania