Philosophical Reflections on the "Fish Happiness" Anecdote

Philosophy East and West 66 (4):1307-1318 (2016)
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Abstract

The “Fish Happiness” anecdote in the Zhuangzi is a literary gem, a well-wrought urn, which simultaneously reflects and informs the “Autumn Floods” chapter,1 as well as the text as a whole.2 Despite its polish and surface clarity, the anecdote has afforded a variety of readings. Its points and assumptions tend to be muted or understated in pun, so the reader is pressed to bring his or her own intellectual wits to bear. Indeed, one wonders if the fish happiness anecdote wasn’t intended as a sort of Rorschach test for the reader.3In what follows I offer a reading, nudge some insights from the happy-fish anecdote, and share some philosophical reflections. Given Zhuangzi’s avowed skepticism regarding positions and...

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