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By Roger T. Ames, David L. Hall

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Extra resources for Daodejing ''Making This Life Significant'': A Philosophical Translation

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When these philosophical texts repeatedly burst into song, they are taking full advantage of the reader’s assumption that such songs do not lie. Thus, when philosophers invoke a song, they not only seek to clarify their arguments, but also seek to attach the indisputable veracity of the song to their claims. The song further dramatizes the argument and charges it emotionally, bringing the more general and abstract assertions of the text down to earth by locating them in seemingly specific historical situations.

A corollary to this radical perspectivism is that each particular element in our experience is holographic in the sense that it has implicated within it the entire field of experience. This single flower has leaves and roots that take their nourishment from the environing soil and air. And the soil contains the distilled nutrients of past growth and decay that constitute the living ecological system in which all of its participants are organically interdependent. The sun enables the flower to process these nutrients, while the atmosphere that caresses the flower also nourishes and protects it.

Optimizing experience by getting the most out of it requires a kind of “husbanding” of one’s resources, where “husbanding” is understood as a combination of cultivation and frugality. High resolution in one’s character elevates one as a focal presence and as an enduring influence on the extended community through the patterns of deference that have come to define one’s person. This achieved character provides the world with a resource for resolving its problems as they arise. Such is the import of chapter 59: For bringing proper order to the people and in serving tian, Nothing is as good as husbandry.

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