“I want to urge straight away that this is one of the very best books I have ever read on Chinese philosophy and culture. LaFargue’s book is the work of a refined, well-informed, sensible, straightforward, honest, candidly self-confident (yet somehow unassuming), imaginatively independent and, yes, wise individual wholargely because these gifts are exploited by an extremely well-trained mindmanages to say persistently fresh and evocative things about a much abused text and the vision it informs.
“More than any other classical Chinese work, perhaps, the Tao Te Ching has been ripped from its historical, culture and concretely experiential context and employed (like a set of transcultural Rorschach images) to tickle the meditative fancies of Mystical Everyman. LaFargue’s worry about the origin and evolution of the text, its intended audience and the ‘purpose’ of its aphorisms allows him to ask relevant hermeneutical questions the response to which opens the text in a new way. In place of near-sighted readings of the Tao Te Ching which find it to be simply another comforting example of philosophia perennis, LaFargue’s method is to dispense with the corrective lenses of philosophical semantics and to bring the text into focus by holding it at arms’ length. By thus distancing the text from its contemporary readers, LaFargue, paradoxically, makes possible a much more intimate relationship to the Tao Te Ching than has heretofore been possible to Western readers.” David L. Hall, The University of Texas-El Paso