On Becoming a Rooster: Zhuangzian Conventionalism and the Survival of Death

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Abstract
The Zhuangzi 莊子depicts persons as surviving their deaths through the natural transformations of the world into very different forms—such as roosters, cart-wheels, rat livers, etc. It's common to interpret these passages metaphorically. But in this paper, I suggest employing a “Conventionalist” view of persons that says whether a person survives some event is not merely determined by the world, but is partly determined by our own attitudes. On this reading, Zhuangzi's many teachings urging us to embrace transformation are not merely a psychological aid for dealing with death, but also serve as a tool for literally surviving it.
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Archival date: 2021-01-01
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