Confucianism, Daoism (Taoism), and Buddhism form the three main pillars of Chinese thought, keeping in mind that they are not monolithic but multifaceted traditions with complex internal divisions. Laozi (Lao-tzu, in “Wade-Giles” romanization) flourished during the sixth century B.C.E. and was the “founder” of Daoism, according to Chinese tradition. According to some modern scholars, however, Laozi is entirely legendary; there was never an historical Laozi. Daoism appears as a school of philosophy (daojia) as well as a religious tradition (daojiao); in the latter, Laozi is revered as a supreme deity. The name “Laozi” is best taken to mean “Old (lao) Master (zi),” and Laozi the ancient philosopher is said to have written a short book, which has come to be called simply the Laozi. When the Laozi was recognized as a “classic” (jing) -- that is, a work of such profound insight as to merit canonical status -- it acquired a more exalted and hermeneutically instructive title, the Daodejing (Tao-te ching), commonly translated as the “Classic of the Way and Virtue.
” Its influence on Chinese culture is pervasive, and it reaches beyond China. Next to the Bible, the Daodejing is the most translated work in world literature.
From Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.
More about Daoism
From the text:
The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao.
The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.
Conceived of as having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth;
conceived of as having a name, it is the Mother of all things.
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See this 'headless' version
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