Laozi

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Laozi (Chinese: ; pinyin: Lǎozǐ; Wade–Giles: Laosi; also Lao Tse, Lao Tu, Lao-Tzu, Lao-Tsu, Laotze, Lao Zi, Laocius, and other variations) was a mystic philosopher of ancient China, and best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching. His association with the Tao Te Ching has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of Taoism (also spelled "Daoism"). He is also revered as a deity in most religious forms of the Taoist religion, which often refers to Laozi as Taishang Laojun, or "One of the Three Pure Ones". Laozi translated literally from Chinese means "old master" or "old one", and is generally considered honorific.

According to Chinese tradition, Laozi lived in the 6th century BC. Historians variously contend that Laozi is a synthesis of multiple historical figures, that he is a mythical figure, or that he actually lived in the 4th century BC, concurrent with the Hundred Schools of Thought and Warring States Period.[1]

A central figure in Chinese culture, both nobility and common people claim Laozi in their lineage. Throughout history, Laozi's work has been embraced by various anti-authoritarian movements.

Contents

History

Laozi is traditionally regarded as the author of the Daodejing (Tao Te Ching), though the identity of its author(s) and/or compiler(s) has been debated throughout history.[2][3]

The earliest reliable reference (circa 100 BC) to Laozi is found in the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji) by Chinese historian Sima Qian (ca. 145–86 BC), which combines a number of stories. In the first, Laozi was said to be a contemporary of Confucius (551–479 BC). His surname was Li ( "plum"), and his personal name was Er ( "ear") or Dan ( "long ear"). He was an official in the imperial archives, and wrote a book in two parts before departing to the West. In the second, Laozi was Lao Laizi (老來子 "Old Master"), also a contemporary of Confucius, who wrote a book in 15 parts. In the third, Laozi was the Grand Historian and astrologer Lao Dan (老聃 "Old Long-ears"), who lived during the reign (384–362 BC) of Duke Xian (獻公) of Qin).[4][5]

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