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East Asian Studies
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Lecture 2 The Subtlety of Reality: Zhuangzi’s critique of “language/teaching” (yan 言) and “knowledge” (zhi 知) The wheelwright - A fictional story of Zhuangzi - Duke Huan was reading his his hall. Wheelwright Pien, who was cutting a wheel just outside the hall, asked Duke Huan, “What do those books you are reading say?” The duke answered, “These are the words of the Sages.” The Wheelwright said, “Are the Sages still around?” And the duke answered, “They’re dead.” Then the wheelwright said, “well, what you’re reading then is no more than the dregs of the ancients. When you cut a wheel, if you go too slowly, it slides and doesn’t stick fast; if you go too quickly, it jumps and doesn’t go in. Neither too slowly nor too quickly- you achieve it in your hands, and those repond to the mind. There is some fixed principle that I can’t teach it to my son. Therefore what you are reading is nothing more than the dregs of the ancients.” - The challenge of Wheelwright Pien haunts the literary tradition and makes writers ever more ingenious in inscribing the essential self in writing. - Zhuangzi’s dark mockery drives the tradition of Chinese literary thought as surely as Plato’s attack drives the Western theoretical tradition. In both traditions all theoretical writing on literature contains a strong element of a “defense” - First, whatever we do should focus on the combination of theory and practice. Rely on their own practice and work out from the law - Second, time has changed so things are different. People should learn new techniques and work out the old ways - Third, whatever you do on hand should follow your heart and thoughts. The Panpipes - Describes ZIqi entering the realm of self, vividly describing the nature of different sounds, and pointed out that all of them are for their own purposes - Zhuangzi saw the existence of such an objective difference between things and see things in opposition. On the other hand he sees both and all things in one and unified. They are in constant transformation to its opposite side, so they are no different. - For Guo Xiang, human panpipes are the perfect metaphor for the “panpipes of Earth”, or the diversification among the myriad things, in that they represent well the idea of equality through diversification, each producing a different pitch through a similar standard. Panpipes of Heaven is merely the general name for the self-so diversity of all the myriad things of existence. - According to Wang Fuzhi, all sounds are panpipes. Panpipes originally have no sound – the breath (qi) stimulates them and there is sound. Sounds are originally undifferentiated – the mind causes the breath to let them loose, take them in, raise them up, or drop them down, and the variations of the 12 gong-tone and the 7 modes infringe upon and rob each other – these are what is known as “transforming sounds” (huasheng). The Fishnet Allegory - Language (言) is employed to catch meaning (得意); but when the ideas are apprehended, men forget the language. - Language can help loosen fixed beliefs and proconceptions that are impediments to understanding the Way - Words can also gesture toward the Way, to help those struggling to grasp it, as long as they do not become fixated on these words - “A trap is for fish: when you’ve got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you’ve got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you’ve gotten the meaning, you can forget the words.” Names as guests of reality - If I in these circumstances take your place, shall I not be doing so for the sake of the name? But the name is but the guest of the reality (名者,實之賓也); shall I be playing the part of the guest? - It is not right to seek for fame and fortune Confucius on Rectification of Names - Confucius believed that social disorder often stemmed from failure to perceive, understand, and deal with reality. Fundamentally, then, social disorder can stem from the failure to call things by their proper names, and his solution to this was the rectification of names. - This essentially means for every action, there is a word that describes that action. The belief is that by following the Rectification of Names, one would be following the correct/right path. Mozi on Verifiability of Pronouncements - The Three tests: 1. Test of its basis 2. Test of its verifiability 3. Test of its applicability - It is to be applied by being adopted in government and its effects on the people being shown - Acquire knowledge by thinking, visiting to other people’s knowledge as a basis, and thus inherit and carry forward Lecture 3 Against Making the Reality: Zhuangzi’s critique of the Mohist ideal of agency – “non-interference” (wuwei 無為), “life” (sheng 生) and “spirit” (shen 神) Non-interference: - Good governance should follow the Dao and unfold the de of all people, which people unfold their own creativity spontaneously, thereby enjoy their existence - People should adopt non-action(wuwei): not living without any action, but live according to the Dao; taking universal action instead of partial action; taking spontaneous action instead of artificial action; it is a way of non-interventionism, letting all beings be themselves and no task is left undone Life: way to maintain life is to conform natural Spirit: To attain spiritual freedom by getting in union with nature through following Dao The Gourd, Zhuangzi - From a practical point of view, Huizi used the example of the gourd to satirize Zhuangzi’s philosophy being hollow and useless. Zhuangzi then used another point of view to explain its Huizi’s who is not making good use of it. He also used the example of the salve to prove his philosophy is in fact reasonable and useful, just that Huizi could not comprehend it - This parable shows that the same thing used in different places, the effect would not the same; people should explore the greatest value of all things and take perfect use of it - Reflects Zhuangzi’s open-minded characteristic and the heart that follows the nature without any desire, which with these quality he was able to get a real comfortable and relief state of freedom; on the contrary, Huizi’s mind was preoccupied with too much desire and demands - Zhuangzi showed that anything has its value while Huizi presented the practical side that things should be accordance with its requirements and condition, thus rather than being big and useless it’s better to be small yet useful The Tree, Zhuangzi - Similar to the parable of The Gourd, Huizi points out the useless value of the tree, whereas Zhuangzi thought that those that thought to be useful may not really be useful, while those that thought to be useless may not be really useless - Zhuangzi explain through the examples: wildcat seems to be agile but not anymore until it is caught in a trap; Yak seems so large but it cannot even catch mice - Zhuangzi showed that “usefulness” has become a standard measurement of truth and reality that are pragmatic, but people often neglect the fact that different thing when applied on different matter would result with a different effect: although for carpenter that tree is useless, for some others it may be a nice place for relaxation; and for the tree itself, just because it is useless there would be nothing to injure it The Gardener, Zhuangzi - Zi-gong offer a contrivance for the gardener to work more efficiently, yet the gardener replied: “where there are ingenious contrivances, there are sure to be schemes; and that, where there are schemes, there is sure to be a scheming mind. But, when there is a scheming mind in the breast, its pure simplicity is impaired. When this pure simplicity is impaired, the spirit becomes unsettled, and the unsettled spirit is not the proper residence of the Dao” - Thus if the use of ingenious contrivances would affect the way of Dao, then one should rather give up efficacy and stay with the Dao - Zhuangzi’s philosophy based on nature, thus emphasizing that all things should return and follow the natural way to keep the mind and spirit free from interference - He opposed with things that are unnatural and superficial such as ritual practice and laws, as those would harm the ultimate truth and reality of life, that is the way of Dao The Butcher (prologue), Zhuangzi - Zhuangzi pointed out there is a limit to life, but to knowledge there is no limit; it is dangerous when knowing this people still pursue after the unlimited knowledge - People should forget the idea of good and evil, so they will not pursuit of fame for good, and not be punished due to evil commitment - “an accordance with the Central Element (of our nature) is the regular way to preserve the body, to maintain the life, to nourish our parents, and to complete our term of years” - Zhuangzi taught people not to be affected by external environment, all things should follow the way of nature as the rule of life in order not to harm oneself and its nature - The ideal practice of life should begin with one’s self-awakening, from treating and viewing themselves truthfully; thus the first thing people should concern about is their inner cultivation The Butcher (simile), Zhuangzi - Zhuangzi often showed the way and principle to maintain the life through simile, which the way to maintain life is to conform natural - He first used the cutting up of an ox as metaphor to show that it is just like the way people should treat all matter, which we should understand the ins and outs of things, and identify the crux of the issue, so that things can be resolved - The complicated joint and bone of the ox represent the obstacles, which people should treat it with more cautious, skill and concentration in order to solve things - The profound skill the butcher accumulated allow the knife to remain intact, just like how one should cultivate their life to the extent that one cannot be impaired after facing all kinds of difficulties - All accomplishment are achieved through following that natural path, the Dao - Physical appearance is innate, but one who knows the way to maintain life follows the Dao, a state of undifferentiated whole The bell-stand maker, Zhuangzi - When making the bell-stand, the maker never wasted any energy and fast to still his mind and concentrate. He took three stages to forget reward and profit; commendation and condemnation; and ego respectively, resulting to be in union with nature and producing work of spirits - Shows the idea that only when the creator achieve to be in union with nature and empty his heart that he would be able to create “work of spirits” that joined with heaven - The concept of xinzhai, the fasting of the mind is also shown here; a state where the mind is free from external interference and enter to the realm of emptiness - The fasting of mind is to free one’s soul from feeling and thinking, yet one is not unaware of things, rather knowing everything – knowing there is no thought and no delusion, simply letting their heart free with nature The Carpenter, Zhuangzi - Zhunagzi uses compasses and squares to symbolize the application of tools and the following of regulation, which he opposes these artificial spirit of living but advocate for the natural spirit of living - It is common for people to follow the rules, for carpenter to use the compasses, but when people live upon relying these fixed things, their lives and spirit are being restricted - the true “spirit” of living should be enlightened naturally through the accumulation and long-standing practices of our own experiences; just as artisan Chui has succeed, achieving to create squares and circles that are even more exact than using the tools Mozi on the importance of making (zuo 作) - Mozi’s principle of making is that “enough is enough”: the making is for better living conditions not for pleasures, non-practical enjoyment should be abolished; so the people in the whole world became orderly and wealth was sufficient for use - When exceed the standard of making within moderation, the lives of the people will be out of control – people’s mind fill with desire and waste of money Mozi on “usefulness” (yong 用) - In accordance with the aim of benefiting all under heaven, the Mohists advocated economy of expenditure - Useless expenditure should be cut out so that the wealth is not wasted and people’s resources are not exhausted - Just like the lives of people, human resources and money are limited yet desire is unlimited; if people pursuit extravagant pleasure as the goal of life, no matter how abundant the resources there are, it would not be able to fulfill the desire of human, thus people will inevitably fall into a miserable state, being unable to extricate themselves - Frugality is the minimum limit of human desire and their actual needs, for Mozi it is a principle,
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