The Composite Zhuangzi: Beyond Ataraxia


Despite the viability of a comparative study, the open-endedness throughout The Zhuangzi defies a simple categorization as a species of scepticism. I focus on the intersection between philosophy of language and political philosophy in the antiquities. First, I show through Zhuangzian fictionalism that the imposition of a particular interpretation is self-undermining to the textual strategies of The Zhuangzi. The Zhuangzi values natural sceneries, animals of supernatural qualities, routine tasks, as opposed to investment in careerism, chasing of reputation and social status. Its aporia manifests itself in an ataractic mindset that facilitates and maintains appreciation for even the most insignificant elements of daily life. Second, I show that The Zhuangzi’s emphasis on supposedly apolitical, asocial, arational, and even agnostic rhetoric underlies the marginalized role of Taoism under the dominance of Confucianism. The Zhuangzi chooses silence over participation in state affairs, serves as a trailblazing model for healing traumas, and exemplifies the therapeutic value of a quiet life. I aim to highlight the open-endedness of The Zhuangzi that draws cooperative endeavors of comparisons, despite that the methodological disproportionality diminishes the comparability. Meanwhile, the prominent interpretations that closely aligned Pyrrhonian scepticism with The Zhuangzi is an oversimplification that is nevertheless not easily dismissed. Instead, the comparison emphatically brings out our philosophical allegiance to the ancient Greco-Roman world.


Yuan Fang
Student, Classical Studies and Philosophy, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Religious Commonalities and Differences



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