Huainanzi: The Pinnacle of Classical Daoist Syncretism

  • Harold D. RothEmail author
Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 6)


This Chapter is a comprehensive study of the Huainanzi, which contends that “Careful analysis of its philosophical positions demonstrates the priority it gives to a cosmology and method of self-cultivation found in the Laozi and Zhuangzi, and argues for its not merely being part of a classical Daoist tradition, but the most complex and sophisticated philosophical expression of that tradition.” It also argues that the Huainanzi is primarily Syncretic with a Daoist cosmology and inner cultivation theory as the context for using ideas from the other main intellectual traditions of the Late Warring States and Early Han. The text shares the cosmology of Dao and its de or potency as well as common practices of self-cultivation, but they diverge in applying these ideas to government. However, the Daoist ideals promoted in this text ultimately failed because of the vagaries and political struggles of its time.


Philosophical Position Phenomenal World External Thing Entire Book Myriad Thing 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Religious StudiesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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