A global Dao: Diagnoses and prescriptions for artificial reductive binaries in the west and the east

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2020-08-21
Identifier: 
etd21082
Supervisor(s): 
Paul Crowe
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Department of Humanities
Keywords: 
Daoism
Religious Studies
Essentialism
Traditionalism
Philosophy
Abstract: 

The arbiters of the subject of Daoism have assumed authority to determine what does or does not merit inclusion through a few select means; either through a circumscribed scholastic lens or via cultural/religious authority typically predicated on established traditions. This thesis attempts to explain the ways in which both approaches tend to minimize relevant or qualifying contributions to a subject of Religious Studies such as Daoism. Deconstructing these reductive approaches requires first exploring them on their own terms, establishing how they narrow the aperture of consideration, and demonstrating their highly limited applicability in forming a more comprehensive understanding. Both the presuppositional tendencies of essentialism in Western academia and traditionalism in Eastern mores serve to create false binaries that can exclude many potential contributors to ongoing discourses. A tool borrowed from business models (the value-added proposition) is offered as a “perceived-value-added” model. It is intended to reopen that aperture, allowing for the inclusion of many otherwise disregarded contributors to ever-expanding world religions. This model allows for the intrinsic as well as extrinsic evaluations of a thought-tradition like Daoism (it only needs to establish the position of the perceiver). The precedence for importing models from outside the field of Religious Studies is well established; offering another is not intended as an entire usurpation of existent ones. The model can be applied alongside other Religious Studies approaches, but its applicability to a thought-tradition like Daoism, which has so permeated the substratum of Eastern cultures, shall become more evident throughout. What was treated once as the disingenuous “Dao of Western imagination” can, with this prescription, now be evaluated on an equal footing with the traditions from which it arose.

Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
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