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Synopsis

The Tao Te Ching whose authorship has been attributed to Lao Tzu, a record-keeper at the Zhou Dynasty court is a Chinese classic text. The text's true authorship and date of composition are still debated,although the oldest excavated text dates back to the late 4th century BC.

The text is fundamental to the Philosophical Taoism and strongly influenced other schools, such as Legalism and Neo-Confucianism. This ancient book is also central in Chinese religion, not only for Religious Taoism but Chinese Buddhism, which when first introduced into China was largely interpreted through the use of Daoist words and concepts.

Many Chinese artists, including poets, painters, calligraphers, and even gardeners have used the book as a source of inspiration. Its influence has also spread widely outside East Asia, and is amongst the most translated works in world literature.

Lao Tzu was a philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching. His association with the Tao Te Ching has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of philosophical Taoism. He is also revered as a deity in most religious forms of Taoist philosophy, which often refers to Lao Tzu as Taishang Laojun, or "One of the Three Pure Ones".

According to Chinese traditions, Lao Tzu lived in the 6th century BC. Historians variously contend that Lao Tzu is a synthesis of multiple historical figures, that he is a mythical figure, or that he actually lived in the 5th–4th century BC, concurrent with the Hundred Schools of Thought and Warring States Period.

James Legge (December 20, 1815 – November 29, 1897) was a noted Scottish sinologist, a Scottish Congregationalist, representative of the London Missionary Society in Malacca and Hong Kong (1840–1873), and first professor of Chinese at Oxford University (1876–1897).

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