From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia…
There are many possible translations of the book’s title:
* Dào/Tao 道 literally means “way”, or one of its synonyms, but was extended to mean “the Way”. This term, which was variously used by other Chinese philosophers (including Confucius, Mencius, Mozi, and Hanfeizi), has special meaning within the context of Taoism, where it implies the essential, unnamable process of the universe.
* Dé/Te 德 basically means “virtue” in the sense of “personal character”, “inner strength”, or “integrity.” The semantics of this Chinese word resemble English virtue, which developed from a (now archaic) sense of “inner potency” or “divine power” (as in “healing virtue of a drug”) to the modern meaning of “moral excellence” or “goodness”. Compare the compound word dàodé (道德 “ethics”, “ethical principles”, “morals,” or “morality”).
* Jīng/Ching 經 as it is used here means “canon”, “great book”, or “classic”.
Thus, Tao Te Ching can be translated as “The Classic/Canon of the Way/Path and the Power/Virtue”, etc.
The title Tao Te Ching is an honorific given by posterity, other titles include the amalgam Lǎozǐ Dàodé Jīng (老子道德經), the honorific Daode Zhen Jing (道德真經 “True Classic of the Way and the Power”), and the Wuqian wen (五千文 “Five thousand character [classic]”; see next).