The relatively happy fish

Asian Philosophy 13 (2 & 3):145 – 164 (2003)
Abstract
Zhuangzi and Hui Shi's discussion about whether Zhuangzi knows 'fish's happiness' is a Daoist staple. The interpretations, however, portray it as humorous miscommunication between a mystic and a logician. I argue for a fine inferential analysis that explains the argument in a way that informs Zhuangzi philosophical lament at Hui Shi's passing. It also reverses the dominant image of the two thinkers. Zhuangzi emerges as the superior dialectician, the clearer, more analytic epistemologist. Hui Shi's arguments betray his tendency (manifest elsewhere) to misstate the conclusions of their shared relativism leading him but not Zhuangzi to intuitive mysticism.
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