Free Will and Zhuangzi: An Introduction

In John Perry, Michael Bratman & John Martin Fischer (eds.), Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings, Ninth Edition. Oxford University Press. pp. 460-473 (forthcoming)

Christian Wenzel
National Taiwan University
In this piece, Wenzel explores how the ancient Chinese philosopher, Zhuangzi, approaches issues of freedom and moral responsibility. Zhuangzi’s writings are very different in form from traditional Western philosophy, but there is significant overlap in the treatment of freedom and moral responsibility. Distinctive of Zhuangzi’s approach is the method of “fasting of the mind,” where one is less focused on extensive practical deliberations and is more attuned to the environment and task at hand. In this way, acting and deciding are more like skills such as woodworking or swimming, as opposed to more theoretical activities. And while Wenzel thinks that approaching freedom and moral responsibility as Zhuangzi suggests does have some appealing features, he also argues that it faces some important difficulties, particularly when it comes to understanding moral responsibility.
Keywords Free Will  Philosophy of Mind  Zhuangzi  Chinese Philosophy
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