Full text
Wong, David. Zhuangzi and the Obsession with Being Right
2005, History of Philosophy Quarterly 22(2), pp. 91-107.
Expand entry
Added by: Lea Cantor

Since Zhuangzi laments the human obsesssion with being right, he would be highly amused at the scholarly obsession with being right on the meaning of his text, especially on the matter of whether he ultimately believed in a right versus wrong. The fact is that he invites our obsession by raising the question and then refusing to answer it. In chapter two, we are invited to take a stance above the debating Confucians and Mohists. What one shis 是 the other feis 非 (what is 'right' for one is 'not right' for the other); what one feis the other shis. Argument is powerless to declare a victor. Zhuangzi asks, "Are there really shi and fei, or really no shi and fei?".

Comment: This remains one of the best and most accessible articles on the philosophy of the classical Daoist text Zhuangzi. It offers one of the clearest accounts in anglophone literature of the text's sceptical stance, highlighting the ethical and political stakes of disputes (including among Confucian and Mohist philosophers) to which the Zhuangzi refers in different parts of the text. The article does not presuppose any knowledge of classical Chinese, of the Zhuangzi, or of Chinese philosophy. The article makes a strong case for reading the Zhuangzi as displaying a sophisticated sceptical stance, the character of which will be of interest to anyone interested in scepticism quite generally (both ancient and modern). The article might be easily integrated into a general course on scepticism, the history of philosophy, classical Chinese philosophy, and/or Daoist philosophy.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Can’t find it?
Contribute the texts you think should be here and we’ll add them soon!