Studying the Philosophical Thoughts
Studying the Philosophical Thoughts
1. Generalizing the conditions which form the philosophical thoughts of Chuang Tzu. Regarding the socio-economic conditions: Chuang Tzu lived in the Warring States Period. This period witnessed the increasing popularity of iron tools marked a revolutionary innovation of production tools and the development of social productive. Agriculture, industry and economy also developed during the Warring States Period. Feudal relations of production gradually formed, consequently when the Warring States period started, it marked the end of mode at the slavery which following a pattern of the Orient.
The era of Warring States is trouble times. The great transformation of all aspects in this period has left many stamps which affect every fields of life and set out the philosophical problems for the time. Regarding the premise thoughts: Chuang Tzu lived in a period corresponding to the philosophical summit of Chinese thought — the Hundred Schools of Thought. It is also known as the Golden Age of Chinese philosophy because a broad range of thoughts and ideas were developed and discussed freely.
Living in the most developed period of the Chinese philosophy, Chuang Tzu can know all the philosophies in The Warring States, except Han Fei’s theory. Living during the chaos, the philosophical thoughts of Chuang Tzu inevitably influenced by the History of Chinese’s thoughts at this time. Short introduction about Chuang Tzu and Nan Hua Zhen Jing Chuang Tzu came from the Town of Meng (in modern Anhui) in Song Dynasty, living in the time of King Hui of Liang and Kinh Xuan of Qi (late 4th century BCE). He is the typical philosopher for Daojia, one of the greatest philosophers in History of Ancient – Middle Age Chinese Philosophy.
Chuang Tzu is considered to follow Lao Tzu’s doctrine of Dao, making it develop more bright and popular. He is a minor official in the town. However, he gave up his appointment and lived recluse for the rest of his life at Nan Hua Mountain in the state of Song. In this place, he wrote Nan Hua Zhen Jing. Nan Hua Zhen Jing (also known as The book of Chuang Tzu) is only work of Chuang Tzu that today we still know. This work was lost several time, recovered and then lost again. So it has some inevitable errors.
This work, in its current shape consisting of 33 chapters, is traditionally divided into three parts: the first, known as the “Inner Chapters”, consists of the first seven chapters; the second, known as the “Outer Chapters”, consist of the next 15 chapters; the last, known as the “Mixed Chapters”, consist of the remaining 11 chapters. Chuang Tzu was renowned for his brilliant wordplay and use of parables to put forward his philosophical thoughts. Nan Hua Zhen Jing was translated into Vietnamese. The popular translators of Nan Hua Zhen Jing in Vietnam are Thu Giang – Duy Can Nguyen, Hien Le Nguyen, Tong Nhuong, Ton Nhan Nguyen.
In my report, I read and quoted the translation of Hien Le Nguyen. 2. Some philosophical thoughts of Chuang Tzu in Nan Hua Zhen Jing World outlook of Chuang Tzu: The inheritance and development of Lao Tzu’s doctrine in the concept Dao. Chuang Tzu advocated that the primary sources of whole world is nothing. He found that everything in this world has the common origin which is called Dao, even though they have many differences. In Chuang Tzu’s conceptions, Dao is formless, unknown, empty, and it is beyond space, time, life and death. Dao is “non-material” so that no one gave it birth and it derived from itself.
That means Dao had before heaven and earth. So Dao is the origin of universe. Chuang Tzu said that Dao constantly changes. Everything in this world always moves and transforms, and we don’t know where they start, how they end. However, they change follow the set of strict rules and have the natural power. Everything contains Dao as their nature. All are transformed by Dao of their own to suit different circumstances. This is the core of Chuang Tzu’s conception about Dao which represents the development of Lao Tzu’s doctrine to a new level. Epistemology of Chuang Tzu: Relativism.
For knowledge, like Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu didn’t respect intellectual. He considers that intellectual knowledge is redundant because it will bring troubles. Chuang Tzu said: “There are limits in our lives, but there are no limits to knowledge. Using the limited thing to catch up with the unlimited thing can only bring troubles. Someone who already thinks they’re knowledgeable is really in trouble. ” (Chapter 3, “Opinions on Nurturing Life”). Thus, he doesn’t encourage people to accumulate knowledge and opposes to argue with words. For Chuang Tzu, Dao is the supreme principle. He emphasized the absolute movement and ignored the stabilization.
Chuang Tzu pushed the conception about relativity of Chuang Tzu into relativism. He advocated that there are no right and wrong, wealthy and poverty; no intellect, no arguments. Outlook on life of Chuang Tzu: Happiness is absolute freedom and absolute equality. *According to Chuang Tzu, the first of all happiness is lived freely follow natural essence, reaching the carefree roaming in this life. Philosophical thoughts of Chuang Tzu show us that wealthy or poverty, right or wrong, big or small, etc have no meaning at all. It is important that you have a happy life, reach to the carefree roaming, don’t you?
Chuang Tzu mentioned that if we want to get the absolute freedom, we will have to live follow our natural essences. To do this, we need to expand our vision, do not set up obstacles for yourself. The carefree roaming requires human life keep pace with all things in the world from the heart, eyes and breath to action rather than antagonistic, requiring as sovereign of the universe. Happiness can really get in this world is encumbered with nothing inside. It sounds simple but is very difficult. It requires us to open eyes to perceive Dao everywhere, and everyone is encouraged to expand their mind by their experiences.
We often spend a lifetime to explore the outside world, so we are losing the power to recognize the inner strength of ourselves. To reach the carefree roaming, we need to follow the natural essence, come back to the natural, rustic, carefree, liberated life. *The second is known how to make all things equal. Chuang Tzu said that to achieve the absolute Dao, the first step is that people need to remove their conceptions about right and wrong, considering the difference between things in this world is relative, in other words, it makes all things be equal.
*Conception of Chuang Tzu about the true man and the true society. For Chuang Tzu, A true person has to be a carefree person. He said: “What is a true person? The true person of ancient times wasn’t opposed to the idea of being different than the rest of society, didn’t try to be macho, and didn’t plan for a lucrative career. Someone like that could move from one situation to another with no regret, and measure up her self worth without becoming smugly self-satisfied. Someone like that could climb to dizzying heights without trembling in fear, enter water without feeling wet, and enter fire without feeling the heat.
This kind of perception enables one to ascend on the tails of Dao. The true person of ancient times could sleep without dreaming, could awaken without anxiety, could eat food without relishing in it, and could completely fill her lungs when breathing. A true person breathed all the way down to her heels, while other people’s breath only filled the top of their lungs. Those who bend over in submission seem to spew forth words from their mouths like vomit. Those who harbor old desires deeply within them leave only a shallow space for the heavens to maneuver.
The true person of ancient times wasn’t aware of expressing joy in life, nor of feeling aversion to death. He didn’t feel a need to be gracious when he left, nor did he feel a need to be aloof when he entered. He could leave as swiftly as he arrived, and there was nothing more to it. He didn’t forget where he began, but didn’t question where he’d end up. He celebrated what was received, and recaptured what had been forgotten. This is called not using the mind to contribute to Dao, and not using people to assist the heavens. That’s what was called a true person.
” (Chapter 6, “The Great and Most Honored Master”) Chuang Tzu said the world “does no need governing; in fact it should not be governed”, and, “Good order results spontaneously when things are let alone. ” Murray Rothbard called him “perhaps the world’s first anarchist”. * Nan Hoa Zhen Jing of Chuang Tzu has high value philosophy and value artist. In this book, Inner Chapter is contained the most of his philosophical thoughts such as world outlook, epistemology, outlook on life, etc. It showed us that Chuang Tzu’s thoughts thought is not much, but deep, profound and mysterious.
Subject: Chinese philosophy,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 November 2016
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