Greetings Louis and Jerry,
Louis, thank you for taking the time and energy to provide all those references for the Tao Te Jing, this will certainly assist me in finding my way through the amazing myriad of knowledge on the market. I will look for the books you suggest.
<<As for the meaning of De, that’s way more than a post full>>LOUIS
I can see that, now. I do appreciate the attempts.
<<It’s often translated “virtue,” but shouldn’t be confused with a moralistic virtue. It’s more like the virtue inherent in something, as the virtue of a seed would be to sprout.[[A.C. Graham has also written effectively in many places on de. In his book, _Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China_, (1989, Open Court), for example, he notes the usual translation as ‘virtue,’ saying that it’s to be understood as “‘The virtue of cyanide is to poison’ rather than in ‘Virtue is its own reward’.” (p. 13)]] Ames has some good commentary on De in the translation mentioned above, noting it’s sense of “insistent particularity,” defining “the particular as a focus of potency or efficacy within its own field of experience." >>LOUIS
<<Jerry may be right about scholarly obfuscation, but let’s just say that one man’s obfuscation is another man’s clarification.>>LOUIS
<< For those interested in learning more about the matter, they can read Ames’ Daodejing translation and commentary and see if it obfuscates or clarifies. Ames also wrote a more comprehensive essay on the topic, “Putting the Te Back into Taoism,” in J. Baird Callicott and Roger T. Ames, eds., _Nature in Asian Traditions of Though: Essays in Environmental Philosophy_ (1989, Suny, pp. 113-144).>>LOUIS
Thank you, Louis, I will judge for myself.
<< I also like Sarah Allan’s analysis of de, based on considerable knowledge of the earliest uses of the word in bone and bronze inscriptions, as well as in daoist and Confucian texts, in her book, _The Way of Water and Sprouts of Virtue_ (1997, Suny, see especially pp. 101-07). She also notes the “particularity” of the concept of de:
“This particularity of de distinguishes it from xing, or ‘nature’ which is also associated with the heart/mind. All people have the mind/heart of a human being and the ‘nature’ or xing associated with it, but individuals and their clans or families have different kinds of de. If we think of de by analogy with plant reproduction, its meaning becomes clearer. Just as all plants (or animals) tend to reproduce according to their own kind, there are different types of plants within a species (red oaks, white oaks, etc.) and some specimens are nevertheless better, stronger, healthier, and more beautiful than others. All people have de, and it can always be cultivated to advantage, but some people are born with unusual de.” (Allan, p. 102)>>LOUIS
<<I haven't read Sarah Allen's stuff but she sounds all wet to me. De isn't something you are born with. You are born with xing4 and can choose to nourish it or not. De depends on your behaviour. Her botanical analogy - "..different kinds of plants within a species(red oaks, white oaks, etc)" - reveals little besides an abysmal ignorance of biology. Look, de is a concept used by millions of Chinese for thousands of years. You do not find Chinese agonizing through the millenia over the question: What is this thing called De?" It is not something mystical, obscure, arcane, or unknowable.>>JERRY
<<A.C. Graham really understood the classics and is a good source of information on these terms. He uses terms like potency, power to influence people, charisma.>>JERRY
...I can see how potency, power and charisma would apply to botanical natures inherently, as well as something perhaps developed, cultivated in a human...
Although I have no knowledge of "De" or its context, or if Ms.Allens works accurately translate this expression...I CAN, however, appreciate what she is conveying...I would probably agree, from what has been supplied of the work.
Finding out WHY this would be so, might be interesting ...
<<* de µÂ is cognate to de µÃ, which means 'get', 'obtain'
* It means what you have coming to you, a bit like karma, only in the present time.
* In ancient Chinese philosophy, like attracts like. de µÂ is the power by which this happens. >>JERRY
I had never thought of Kharma as "like attracts like", before, but this makes sense...Fine tuning perceptions...
<<The cognate relationship with the “to get, obtain” word is often cited for sound reasons, but I would quibble with the comparison with the Buddhist notion of karma. I’ll admit, though, to not knowing much about karma. >>LOUIS
Kharma and inherent or genetic virtue would be two very different matters...Would they not???
I guess that leaves my mind wide open.
Thank you both very much for your thoughts on "De".
[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 06-20-2004).]