ABSTRACT This paper focuses on the use of water metaphors in the ancient Chinese text Dao de jing (168 BC), which is the foundational text of Daoism and a primary source of modern Chinese ideas about life and politics. The paper analyses how the image of water is used in the text to facilitate the conceptualization of the core philosophical concepts. The analysis is based on the theoretical framework of the Conceptual Metaphor Theory (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Kövecses, 2002). Water is discovered as occupying an essential position in the conceptualization of the Daoist worldview, which is manifested in notions of 道 dao and 德 de. It demonstrates that a cognitive approach offers an effective way to explore the cognitive basis of the text’s views on the eternal cosmological processing and of the application of morality in the human world.
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