IQ Home




What is a biographical precis?
A detailed definition and explanation to get you started in using this versatile writing format.

How will my biographical precis be evaluated?
Here are some guidelines to the grading of your effort.

How do I write a biographical precis?
Text instructions
How do I write a biographical precis?
Interactive tutorial  (requires Flash plugin)
Can I see an example of a biographical precis?
Of course. Three are available:
- Douglass
- Lao Tzu
- Annotated Example
What is the assignment?
How do I submit my assignments?
How do I read for this format?
a printable reading guide to help you read and write for the biographical precis format.

How do I write well-formed citations and references?
A brief guide to citation form with examples and a link to the Citation Machine.



  Biographical precis: example
Lao Tzu
Lao Tzu
Lao Tzu (604-531 BCE) was a Chinese philosopher who founded a school of thought, Taoism, that became an primary influence in Asian philosophy and religion. Lao Tzu’s only known written work is a book of brief passages titled Tao Te Ching, which may be translated as The Law and Way of Natural Goodness. In philosophy, Lao Tzu expressed ideas about the nature of the universe, the human place in the universe, and the nature of good and evil; these ideas are among the most lasting and influential ideas in history. In religion, Lao Tzu created through his philosophy, the basis of Taoism, a religion that currently has about 20 million followers. Lao Tzu’s teaching that the best way to live is in conformity to nature, as found both inside and outside of the individual, is well expressed in this quote from Tao Te Ching; Humans model themselves on earth, Earth on heaven, Heaven on the Way, And the way on that which is naturally so (Tao Te Ching, Passage 25, from DeBary, 1960. When Lao Tzu writes "abominate the use of force, for it causes resistance, and loss of strength, showing the Tao has not been followed well" (Tao Te Ching, 30) I feel a close connection to his ideas because I try to live according to a philosophy of non-violence. I would like to know more about how, in Lao Tzu’s view, people can live more in accordance with nature.

Taoism. 1995. Religious

Daoist Religion. 1960. Franciscus Verellen, Nathan Sivin, et al. In DeBary, ed., Sources of Chinese Tradition, Second Edition. New York,: Columbia University Press.

  2003 © Jon Dorbolo