David Machek
University of Bern
This essay develops a comparison between the Stoic and Daoist theories of emotions in order to provide a new interpretation of the emotional life of the wise person according to the Daoist classic Zhuangzi 莊子, and to shed light on larger divergences between the Greco-Roman and Chinese intellectual traditions. The core argument is that both Zhuangzi and the Stoics believed that there is a peculiar kind of emotional responses that emerge by themselves and are therefore wholly natural, since they do not involve evaluative judgment and desire, and distinguished them sharply from emotions, or “passions,” that arise as a result of mistaken evaluative judgments and artificial additions to things as they are, as well as to self-emerging feelings themselves. It is argued that while both Zhuangzi and the Stoics acknowledged the natural and therefore normative status of self-emerging feelings, Zhuangzi assessed them more favorably than the Stoics. The final part of the essay suggests that this divergence can be ultimately traced to different dichotomies that structured the debates in both traditions: rational versus non-rational in the Greco-Roman tradition, and artificial versus natural in the Chinese
Keywords Ethics  Emotions  Ancient  Nature  Stoicism  Daoism
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DOI 10.1007/s11712-015-9463-9
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