Reading the Daodejing as a Source Book on Interpersonal Ethics

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts major in Philosophy (Option 1: Thesis)



First Advisor

Manuel B. Dy, Jr., PhD


The Daodejing has been analyzed in various ways and from different perspectives by Daoism scholars writing in the English language. It is often considered and studied as a viable source of political and environmental ethics. However, this thesis shows that notwithstanding this common understanding of Daoism, it is also a rich source of interpersonal ethics, as human beings are indeed part of nature, and the Dao guides all actions. This thesis accomplishes this by exploring the metaphysics of the Dao based on the Daodejing, elaborating on its moral principle of Wu-wei, and finally identifying the various interpersonal virtues this moral principle upholds. Essentially, this paper seeks to demonstrate how the Daodejing can “help people lead better, kinder, gentler lives” by promoting the virtues of humility, compassion, equality, nonviolence, spontaneity, and generosity. A review of the literature reveals that this thesis on the Daodejing and interpersonal ethics written in the English language proves to be a modest pioneering effort. Moreover, given today’s difficult and divisive conditions, our personal lives and relationships will greatly benefit from the wisdom and guidance offered by the Daodejing’s interpersonal ethics.

This document is currently not available here.