The Creation of Daoism

Abstract

This paper examines the creation of Daoism in its earliest, pre-Eastern Han period. After an examination of the critical terms "scholar/master" and "author/ school", I argue that, given the paucity of evidence, Sima Tan and Liu Xin should be credited with creating this tradition. The body of this article considers the definitions of Daoism given by these two scholars and all of the extant texts that Liu Xin classified as "Daoist." Based on these texts, I then suggest an amended definition of Daoism. In the conclusion, I address the recent claim that the daojia /daijiao dichotomy is false, speculating that disagreement over this claim arises from the context in which Daoism is considered: among the other pre-Qin "schools of thought" or among other world religion.

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