Wang Bi: “Outline Introduction to the Laozi”

(ca. 245)

Wang Bi (226–249 CE) was a scholar and minor official in the court of the Kingdom of Wei (220–265 CE). Born after the collapse of the Han Dynasty, Wang and his mentor, He Yan (195–249 CE), are considered to be the progenitors of a system of thought known as Mysterious Learning (xuanxue), which challenged the Confucian orthodoxy of the Han. Although he died young, at the age of twenty-three, Wang left behind a considerable number of important philosophical treatises, among them influential commentaries on two canonical texts: the Classic of Changes and the Laozi. Wang’s...