Date of Thesis

Fall 2017


By comparing the interpretation of dharma in the ancient Indian Laws of Manu (Manusmṛti) with the concepts of dao in the Chinese classic, Daodejing, this thesis discusses that, despite the plausible perception that the former represents despotic, hierarchical governance while the latter promotes freedom (and even anarchy), the two texts in fact share a similar envision of human flourishing through the following of one's nature, as well as a foundational belief that both laws and political ideals emerge from nature.


Laws of Manu, Daodejing, nature, human flourishing, politics, caste system

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts


Comparative Humanities

First Advisor

James Mark Shields