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Chiu, Wai Wai. Zhuangzi’s Knowing-How and Skepticism
2018, Philosophy East and West 68(4), pp. 1062-1084
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Added by: Lea Cantor
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A common interpretation of the Zhuangzi holds that the text is skeptical only about propositional knowledge and not practical knowledge. It is argued here that this interpretation is problematic, for two reasons. The first is that there is no motivation for Zhuangzi to criticize propositional knowledge, given some general pre-Qin epistemological assumptions. The second is that Zhuangzi explicitly criticizes a certain kind of practical knowledge. It is then explained how Zhuangzi's skepticism can co-exist with the idea of "great knowledge."

Comment: This is a useful article for anyone interested in the question of scepticism in the Zhuangzi - a foundational text in the Daoist tradition of classical Chinese philosophy. The article is written in a way that is accessible to those with little or no background in the Zhuangzi, Daoism, or classical Chinese. However, some basic knowledge of classical Chinese philosophy as a whole is required to follow the argument of the paper. The paper offers a useful overview of a number of scholarly controversies surrounding the scope and nature of Zhuangzi's scepticism, and how they relates to interpretive issues surrounding the so-called 'skills stories' of the Zhuangzi.

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Davies, Stephen, Samer Akkach, Meilin Chinn, et. al.. How Do Cross-Cultural Studies Impact Upon the Conventional Definition of Art?
2018, Journal of World Philosophies 3 (1): 93-122
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Added by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: While Stephen Davies argues that a debate on cross-cultural aesthetics is possible if we adopt an attitude of mutual respect and forbearance, his fellow symposiasts shed light upon different aspects which merit a closer scrutiny in such a dialogue. Samer Akkach warns that an inclusivistic embrace of difference runs the risk of collapsing the very difference one sought to understand. Julie Nagam underscores that local knowledge carriers and/or the medium should be involved in such a cross-cultural exploration. Enrico Fongaro searches for a way of experiencing cross-cultural art such that it can lead to a transformative experience Relatedly, Meilin Chinn uses the analogy of friendship to explore the edifying dimension of experiencing an art form. Lastly, John Powell studies whether Dickie’s Institutional Theory can be meaningfully used to identify works of art in Western and non-Western traditions.

Comment: The selection of texts by Davies, Akkach, and Chinn, with a part of Davies’ reply in the end, are particularly interesting. These present an interesting tension, with Akkach and (somewhat less overtly) Chinn, criticising Davies for adopting a Western-centric attitude to studying and conceptualising art of other cultures. It can be useful to consider this in the context of Nikiru Ngzewu, ‘African Art in Deep Time: De-race-ing Aesthetics and De-racializing Visual Art’, asking to what extent the present discussion is similar to her criticism of Vogel and Danto. Given that Davies is offering a reply to the criticisms, this could offer an opportunity for a debate-style class design. The texts, and especially Davies’ reply, invite a further reflection: can one ever understand, conceptualise, or analyse the products (art?) of another culture, without doing so using the conceptual frameworks of one’s own culture in ways that are problematic? If yes, how could this be done? If not, should we just never attempt it? What role do power structures and imbalances play in such attempts?

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Olberding, Amy. Sorrow and the Sage: Grief in the Zhuangzi
2007, Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 6 (4):339-359
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Added by: Deryn Mair Thomas
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The Zhuangzi offers two apparently incompatible models of bereavement. Zhuangzi sometimes suggests that the sage will greet loss with unfractured equanimity and even aplomb. However, upon the death of his own wife, Zhuangzi evinces a sorrow that, albeit brief, fits ill with this suggestion. In this essay, I contend that the grief that Zhuangzi displays at his wife’s death better honors wider values averred elsewhere in the text and, more generally, that a sage who retains a capacity for sorrow will be better positioned for the robust joy so often identified as central to the Zhuangzi’s vision of flourishing. The sagely figures who entirely forego sorrow, I argue, achieve equanimity only through a sacrifice of the emotional range and responsiveness necessary not only for grief but also for the delight Zhuangzi recommends.

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

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