The Dao De Jing is a classic of ancient Chinese philosophy and one of the great wisdom texts of world literature. To recover its original meaning P. J. Laska sets aside the long commentarial tradition of paradox and mysticism and re-interprets the work as a coherent natural philosophy and holistic ecological teaching concerned with the “constancy” of the life community as a whole. In this new translation and commentary the ancient “Way of the Sages” is presented as biocentric political ecology teaching that “Great governance does not cut,” but acts to protect the community of life from the “excess, extravagance and extremes” of accumulationist designs. The commentary on each translated verse is designed to convey the holistic understanding of the world-process that the ancient sages’ used to guide human designs toward simplicity and integration with nature and away from hierarchical instruments of domination.
“Back to the Future”
Five Star Review on Amazon By KJ
In this thoughtful and timely translation and interpretation of the ancient classic, P.J. Laska has taken the meaning of the verses back to a context of the time and environment in which they were orginally produced. Doing so provides a fresh look at some of the content, revealing the text as a sort of handbook for living holistically within a civilized society in the early throes of moving from a village/tribal agrarian culture to a feudal/overlord system of governance. The wisdom, says Laska, lies in the advice of the verses to “do no harm” by taking more than is necessary in the name of power, thereby creating a harmful effect on the natural order. In this era of coming to an understanding of the human effect on the planet, this is a powerful point taken – that some have always known, and that we have mostly ignored the wisdom. It should not be ignored longer…
About the Author
Studied Russian at the Army Language School, Monterrey, CA.
B.A., in General Studies, University of Maryland
Graduate work in Philosophy, University of Cincinnati
Ph.D. in Philosophy, University of Rochester
Taught Philosophy and Humanities at York University (Toronto, Canada),
University of Arizona, Antioch University, West Virginia University.
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.
National Book Award Finalist for Poetry.