David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Comparative and Continental Philosophy 3 (1):79-98 (2011)
One could define a “tragic” viewpoint in many ways, but its core is the claim that things in this world do not always work out for the best. Probably the greatest tragic figure in the Zhuangzi is the defiant praying mantis, who waves her arms to fend off the oncoming chariot. This praying mantis is surely a symbol of Confucius, who was said in the Lun Yu to know that what he does is impossible but to do it anyway. In the Zhuangzi, such characters are fools, not heroes. While the view of life in the Zhuangzi is certainly not an optimistic trust that virtue is rewarded, it is just as surely not a tragic text. It tends rather toward comedy or play. This paper will examine the Zhuangzi in relationship to the tragic. The underlying claim is that the Zhuangzi’s rejection of the optimism of an anthropocentric universe is more radical than tragedy and helps reveal how a tragic viewpoint remains under the sway of an anthropocentric European tradition. Ultimately, pessimism and optimism both assume the validity of human categories, but this is precisely what is attacked in the Zhuangzi. Ironically, it is precisely the unique flexibility of human beings that allows us not just to recognize the insignificance of our goals and values in the world (seeing our situation as tragic) but to accept and take up that insignificance (seeing it rather as comic). The paper concludes with some reflections on why Zhuangzi’s position is both attractive and disturbing
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Eske Møllgaard (2005). Zhuangzi's Notion of Transcendental Life. Asian Philosophy 15 (1):1 – 18.
Eske Møllgaard (2005). Zhuangzi's Notion of Transcendental Life. Asian Philosophy 15 (1):1-18.
Ewing Y. Chinn (1997). Zhuangzi and Relativistic Scepticism. Asian Philosophy 7 (3):207 – 220.
Franklin Perkins (2005). Following Nature with Mengzi or Zhuangzi. International Philosophical Quarterly 45 (3):327-340.
Alan Levinovitz (2012). The Zhuangzi and You 遊: Defining an Ideal Without Contradiction. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (4):479-496.
Carl J. Dull (2012). Zhuangzi and Thoreau: Wandering, Nature, and Freedom. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 39 (2):222-239.
Deborah H. Soles & David E. Soles (1998). Fish Traps and Rabbit Snares: Zhuangzi on Judgement, Truth and Knowledge. Asian Philosophy 8 (3):149 – 164.
Amy Olberding (2007). Sorrow and the Sage: Grief in the Zhuangzi. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 6 (4):339-359.
Lee H. Yearley (2005). Daoist Presentation and Persuasion: Wandering Among Zhuangzi's Kinds of Language. Journal of Religious Ethics 33 (3):503 - 535.
Chad Hansen (2003). The Relatively Happy Fish. Asian Philosophy 13 (2 & 3):145 – 164.
Ronnie Littlejohn (2010). Kongzi in the Zhuangzi". In Victor Mair (ed.), Experimental Essays on Zhuangzi.
Ge Ling Shang (2006). Liberation as Affirmation: The Religiosity of Zhuangzi and Nietzsche. State University of New York Press.
Lian Xinda (2009). Zhuangzi the Poet: Re-Reading the Peng Bird Image. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 8 (3):233-254.
Added to index2011-08-10
Total downloads17 ( #116,013 of 1,693,213 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #121,613 of 1,693,213 )
How can I increase my downloads?