Essays on Skepticism, Relativism, and Ethics in the Zhuangzi

Essays on Skepticism, Relativism, and Ethics in the Zhuangzi

by Paul Kjellberg
     
 

The Chinese philosophical text Zhuangzi was written by Zhuangzi in the fourth century BCE. With humor and relentless logic Zhuangzi attacks claims to knowledge about the world, especially evaluative knowledge of what is good and bad or right and wrong. This book is about the man and the text.

The Chinese philosophical text Zhuangzi, written in part by a man

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Overview

The Chinese philosophical text Zhuangzi was written by Zhuangzi in the fourth century BCE. With humor and relentless logic Zhuangzi attacks claims to knowledge about the world, especially evaluative knowledge of what is good and bad or right and wrong. This book is about the man and the text.

The Chinese philosophical text Zhuangzi, written in part by a man named Zhuangzi in late fourth century B.C.E. China, is gaining recognition as one of the classics of world literature. Writing in beautiful prose and poetry, Zhuangzi mixes humor with relentless logic in attacking claims to knowledge about the world, particularly evaluative knowledge of what is good and bad or right and wrong. His arguments seem to admit of no escape. And yet where does that leave us? Zhuangzi himself clearly does not think that our situation is utterly hopeless, since at the very least he must have some reason for thinking we are better off aware of our ignorance.

This book addresses the question of how Zhuangzi manages to sustain a positive moral vision in the face of his seemingly sweeping skepticism. Zhuangzi is compared to the Greek philosophers Plato and Sextus Empiricus in order to pinpoint more exactly what he doubts and why. Also examined is Zhuangzi’s views on language and the role that language plays in shaping the reality we perceive. The authors test the application of Zhuangzi’s ideas to contemporary debates in critical theory and to issues in moral philosophical thought such as the establishment of equal worth and the implications of ethical relativism. They also explore the religious and spiritual dimensions of the text and clarify the relation between Zhuangzi and Buddhism.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780791428924
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
04/28/1996
Series:
Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
264
Sales rank:
406,860
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Notes on Conventions
Introduction

1. Sextus Empiricus, Zhuangzi, and Xunzi on "Why Be Skeptical?"
Paul Kjelberg

2. Skeptical Strategies in the Zhuangzi and Theatetus
Lisa Raphals

3. Zhuangzi and Nagarjuna on the Truth of No Truth
David Loy

4. Zhuangzi's Attitude Toward Language and His Skepticism
Eric Schwitzgebel

5. Language: The Guest of Reality--Zhuangzi and Derrida on Language, Reality, and Skillfulness
Mark Berkson

6. Cook Ding's Dao and the Limits of Philosophy
Robert Eno

7. Zhuangzi's Understanding of Skillfulness and the Ultimate Spiritual State
Lee H. Yearley

8. Spontaneity and Education of the Emotions in the Zhuangzi
Joel Kupperman

9. Was Zhuangzi a Relativist?
Philip J. Ivanhoe

Bibliography
Contributors
Name Index
Subject Index

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