Zhuangzi and relativistic scepticism

Asian Philosophy 7 (3):207 – 220 (1997)
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Chad Hansen is one of the strongest proponents of the view that the important second chapter of Zhuangzi's Inner Chapters (The Qi Wu Lun) reveals Zhuangzi to be a relativistic sceptidst. Hansen argues that Zhuangzi is a sceptic because he is first and foremost a relativist. Hansen's argument is essentially that Zhuangzi's perspectivism, his belief that one's linguistic and conceptual perspective determines what one claims to know, makes him a thorough going relativist and sceptic. I agree that Zhuangzi is a perspectivist, but disagree with Hansen's portrayal of him as a relativistic sceptic. I first show that there is an important ambiguity in Hansen's argument. I then proceed to argue that important passages in the Qi Wu Lun (in particular the butterfly dream passage,) reveal serious problems with Hansen's interpretation of Zhuangzi's philosophical stance, I maintain that Zhuangzi is neither a sceptic nor a perspectival relativist. He is rather a perspectival realist.



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References found in this work

The Nature of Morality.D. Z. Phillips & Gilbert Harman - 1978 - Philosophical Quarterly 28 (110):89.
Skeptical strategies in the "zhuangzi" and "theaetetus".Lisa Raphals - 1994 - Philosophy East and West 44 (3):501-526.

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