Spontaneity, Perspectivism, and Anti-intellectualism in the Zhuangzi

Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 18 (3):393-409 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Contemporary Anglophone scholarship on the Zhuangzi 莊子 tends to reject intellectualism, the view that all knowledge is propositional. Scholars usually state that Zhuangzi values practical knowledge more than propositional knowledge. This valuation, however, seems to presuppose that the Zhuangzi or its interpreters must recognize the distinction between these two kinds of knowledge. In this article, I argue that Zhuangzi sees all knowledge as practical, and if we situate him in the contemporary philosophical field we can extract several ideas from the text in arguing against the postulation of propositional knowledge. First, Zhuangzi’s idea of spontaneity and forgetting defy attempts to explain our practice in terms of propositional knowledge, because spontaneous acts admit different levels and can be improved by forgetting. Second, Zhuangzi’s perspectivism implies that the relationship between our language and the world is not fixed, and there is a theoretical price to pay if intellectualists want to avoid this indeterminacy.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,197

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Perspectivism as a Way of Knowing in the Zhuangzi.Tim Connolly - 2011 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (4):487-505.
Zhuangzi and relativistic scepticism.Ewing Y. Chinn - 1997 - Asian Philosophy 7 (3):207 – 220.
Zhuangzi's Knowing-How and Skepticism.Wai Wai Chiu - 2019 - Philosophy East and West 68 (4):1062-1084.
Metaphorical Language in the Zhuangzi.C. M. Morrow - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (4):179-188.
Zhuangzi’s Word, Heidegger’s Word, and the Confucian Word.Eske J. Møllgaard - 2014 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 41 (3-4):454-469.
Guo Xiang on Self-so Knowledge.Paul J. D’Ambrosio - 2016 - Asian Philosophy 26 (2):119-132.
Self and the Dream of the Butterfly in the Zhuangzi.Kai-Yuan Cheng - 2014 - Philosophy East and West 64 (3):563-597.
Ryle on the Explanatory Role of Knowledge How.Will Small - 2017 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 5 (5).
The self and human freedom in Foucault and zhuangzi.Guoping Zhao - 2012 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 39 (1):139-156.
Naturalism and Moral Expertise in the Zhuangzi.Christopher Kirby - 2017 - Journal of East-West Thought 7 (3):13-27.
The Reevaluation of Zhuangzi.Yan Beiming - 1981 - Contemporary Chinese Thought 12 (4):63-89.


Added to PP

43 (#371,715)

6 months
5 (#647,370)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Wai-wai Chiu
Lingnan University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1996 - New York: Routledge.
Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
Knowing How.Jason Stanley & Timothy Willlamson - 2001 - Journal of Philosophy 98 (8):411-444.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (4):589-601.
Know How.Jason Stanley - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

View all 23 references / Add more references