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Freedom Founts

Source Materials About Freedom


1. If we could renounce our sageness and discard our wisdom, it would be better for the people a hundredfold. If we could renounce our benevolence and discard our righteousness, the people would again become filial and kindly. If we could renounce our artful contrivances and discard our (scheming for) gain, there would be no thieves nor robbers.


2. Those three methods (of government)
    Thought olden ways in elegance did fail
    And made these names their want of worth to veil;
    But simple views, and courses plain and true
    Would selfish ends and many lusts eschew.

Legge's Comments

還淳, 'Returning to the Unadulterated Influence.' The chapter desires a return to the simplicity of the Dào, and shows how superior the result would be to that of the more developed systems of morals and government which had superseded it. It is closely connected with the two chapters that precede. Lǎozǐ's call for the renunciation of the methods of the sages and rulers in lieu of his fancied paradisiacal state is repeated ad nauseam by Zhuāngzǐ.

From The Libertarian Reader1

1. Exterminate the sage [the ruler] and discard the wisdom [of rule],
And the people will benefit a hundredfold.

  1. See Introduction, Addenda↩︎