Saturday, July 14, 2012

Zhuangzi -- individual and society

     What I'm beginning to understand about this response to Confucianism is that these taoist thinkers are rejecting in many ways the entire social contract.  The social contract of hierarchy and social obligation.  There is a hint that the spontaneity suggested here yields social relations based on authentic compassion, not on compassion arising from obligation or the sense of right and wrong.  There is, after all, no right and wrong in the philosophical sense.  More important than right and wrong is freedom from societal rules.

     The famous passage where Zhuangzi rejects the position of prime minister is often criticized in the west because he does not accept his 'obligation'.  The critics have missed the point.  The point is that the freedom itself is what life is about, to give that up for this sense of obligation is to destroy the very result of his own enlightenment.

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