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University of Chicago Press


Lao-tzu's sense of the mystery within the mystery, or the theory of a truer reality within the real that was elaborated by later Taoists, is an idea not all that far removed from the analytical quest to identify an essential unity under- lying some tantalizing set of diverse phenomena. Of course, no Taoist master has clarified how to determine whether the inner mystery or reality one has glimpsed is the mystery or the reality. Rather, they imply that yet another mys- tery always lurks within the ever-retreating heart of things. One might idly wonder whether this is the principle behind all nature, behind the processes of human perception, or just behind the social dynamics of creating knowledge. This ethos-and its attendant dilemmas-inform the two books under review here, Isabelle Robinet's Histoire du taoi'sme des origines au XIVe siecle and Livia Kohn's Taoist Mystical Philosophy: The Scripture of Western


Copyright © 1984 The University of Chicago Press. Reprinted with permission.

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