Angle, S. C., & Gordon, J. A. (2003). Dao’ as a Nickname. Asian Philosophy.
Few would deny that the Dao De Jing is a puzzling text.One puzzle that has particularly vexed interpreters in recent years is how to understand the central term of the text, ‘dao.’ The difficulty can be brought out by considering the first lines of two consecutive chapters:  When the highest type of men hear the way, with diligence they are able to practice it....  The way gives birth to the one.... ‘Way’—the ubiquitous and appropriate translation for ‘dao’—seems to be used in two very different fashions in these two passages. In , ‘way’ looks to be used in much the same way that other earlier texts had used it: as a way to act, which with diligence certain people are able follow. For example, Analects 4.9 reads, ‘The Master said, If an officer is dedicated to the Way, but is ashamed of having bad clothes or bad food, he is not worth taking counsel with.’In , on the other hand, ‘way’ seems to be an entity capable of giving birth. So which is it: a way to act or an entity?