Dào 道 (’course’, ’way’) and Dé德 (’inner power’, ’integrity’) are the two main concepts in classical Chinese philosophy. Surprisingly, there is no explicit use of the Chinese character dào 道 in the first chapter of the daoist classic of Zhuāng-Zǐ (the chapter that is widely considered to be the oldest part of the book). There are definitely other key concepts and ideas closely connected to dào, but the particular character is absent. Dé 德 is found only twice, which means that it also does not get the attention it has in the latter part of the text.
This paper focuses on how dào and dé are represented in the opening chapter, and more generally, asks questions like what could be the principal idea behind this chapter and what is its relation with other inner chapters of Zhuāng-Zǐ.