Of Fish, Butterflies and Birds: Relativism and Nonrelative Valuation in the Zhuangzi

Asian Philosophy 25 (3):238-252 (2015)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
I argue that the main theme of the Zhuangzi is that of spiritual transformation. If there is no such theme in the Zhuangzi, it becomes an obscure text with relativistic viewpoints contradicting statements and stories designed to lead the reader to a state of spiritual transformation. I propose to reveal the coherence of the deep structure of the text by clearly dividing relativistic statements designed to break down fixed viewpoints from statements, anecdotes, paradoxes and metaphors designed to lead the reader to a state of spiritual transformation. Without such an analysis, its profound stories such as the butterfly dream and the Great Sage dream will blatantly contradict each other and leave us bereft of the wisdom they presage. Unlike the great works of poetic and philosophic wisdom such as the Dao de Jing and the Symposium, the Zhuangzi will be reduced to a virtually unintelligible, lengthy, disjointed literary ditty, a potpourri of paradoxical puzzles, puns and parables, obscure philosophical conundrums, monstrous interlocutors and historical personages used as mouthpieces authoritatively arguing on behalf of viewpoints humorously opposite to what they historically held.
Keywords
No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories
(categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
ALLOFB
Revision history
Archival date: 2016-05-01
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2015-09-22

Total views
256 ( #11,434 of 39,588 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
33 ( #14,670 of 39,588 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.