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Ian Withy-Berry '22

Zhuangzi for a Student of Philosophy

Zhuangzi is one of several classical Chinese thinkers who philosophized during the intellectual period known as the “Hundred Schools of Thought” (6th century to 3rd century BCE). Rather than proposing a rigid ethical doctrine like his contemporaries, Zhuangzi posits that there exists a plurality of imperfect schemes of value and ways of life. When combined with his understanding of the world as something always in flux, this pluralism of viable ways of life leads Zhuangzi to promote the cultivation of broadminded awareness (of ways of life as well as the patterns of the world) and responsive adaptability (to the changes of the world). In a world characterized by change, the one who can wander between ways of life, dwelling in those ways that fit the circumstances, can find harmony with others and within themselves wherever they go. This philosophical insight of Zhuangzi’s is no less relevant today than it was over two thousand years ago.

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