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Wang Bi (226-249 CE)

Wang Bi (Wang Pi), styled Fusi, is regarded as one of the most important interpreters of the classical Chinese texts known as the Daodejing (Tao Te Ching) and the Yijing (I Ching). The edition of the Daodejing that he used in his commentary on that work has been the basis for almost every translation into a Western language for nearly two centuries. Although he died at the age of twenty-four, his interpretations of Daoism became influential for two reasons. They did not undermine Confucianism, and they provided a way of talking about indigenous beliefs that made them seem compatible with the introduction of Buddhist texts and ideas in the decades to follow.

On "The One"

In articulating his understanding of the dao, Wang appeals directly to the Daodejing's comments on cosmogony, according to which the dao gives birth to One, One gives birth to two, two to three, and three to the ten thousand things. Yet Wang does not believe that the One is a being. On the contrary, it is the mysterious center of things, like the hub of a wheel. The dao is Non-Being. Dao is not an agent. It does not have a will. To say that it lies at the "beginning" is not to make a temporal statement, but a metaphysical one. On Daodejing 25, Wang writes, "It is spoken of as