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Date of Original Version



Communication Studies


This paper analyzes how Lao Zi uses the water metaphor in Dao De Jing to transform meanings of Dao from the metaphysical level to social and behavioral levels. Through the water metaphor Dao is unified into three concepts: Zhi xu (attainment of complete vacuity), yong rou (softness/weakness), and chu xia

(subordination)/bu zheng (non-competition. Judging from the rhetorical perspective the water metaphor used by Lao Zi not only frames a unifying image of Dao by creating a shared meaning among the public mind, but also helps people capture the real picture of the society and further persuade them to adopt a new way of thinking. In this sense, as a persuasive rhetor, Lao Zi successfully demonstrates that the metaphor, as a linguistic tool of expression, is a powerful means of transmitting and elaborating an intended meaning of a metaphysical concept.