Split between the Seven Warring States, the Zhou Dynasty saw intermittent violent outbursts which shook ancient China to its very foundation. The socioeconomic changes that had disrupted the traditional social order gave root to a philosophical tradition known as Daoism. When speaking of Daoism, we generally refer to the concepts of three insightful texts that date back from around this Classical period. Initially attributed to Laozi (老子), whether he actually existed is up to dispute; however, the work attributed to him – the Daodejing (道德經) – is dated to the late 4th century BCE. In the philosophical treatise produced by Zhuangzi (莊子), parables and allegories illustrate the carefree nature of the ideal Daoist sage. Moreover, he elaborates on how individual freedom is guaranteed to those who are carefree and come to the realization that life consists of contradictions that are consistent with “the Way” or Dao. Canonically last in the trilogy is the Liezi (列子), which more explicitly articulates simplicity and nature as the way to properly live, and that all things are interdependent with their opposites. The books we call Daoist are uniquely independent works that share many features, specifically the escapist notion of the “Dao” as the ultimate order of the cosmos and as the key to human contentment. In this paper I will assess how Zhuangzi and Liezi differed in their approach to Daoism as compared to Laozi
Much like Laozi, Zhuang Zhou is identified by the honorific “zǐ.” The book which bears his name is quite humorous and philosophically adept. Zhuangzi is analogous to the Daodejing in that they both utilize parable, paradox, poem and creative imagery to make their points. The text centers on spiritually freeing the individual ...
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...a positive view on life and health has tremendous benefits. Second, to suggest that a ubiquitous force underlies all within the plane of reality is truly mind-boggling. When dealing with such abstractions, it is hard not to lose oneself to the complexities and absurdities that transcend our understanding of life. Humans are but a small speck, floating on a tiny rock in the great vacuum of space. Interestingly, it would seem that cultures from all over this small speck have developed theological models that center around the cosmological framework of the “the Way.” From ancient times to contemporary, Daoist influence on Chinese culture is omnipresent and has disseminated well beyond China’s borders. While certainly not the first to propose such a conception, it is fascinating to see how humans share fundamental similarities in the theorization of our natural origins.
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