The relatively happy fish

Asian Philosophy 13 (2 & 3):145 – 164 (2003)

Abstract

Zhuangzi and Hui Shi's discussion about whether Zhuangzi knows 'fish's happiness' is a Daoist staple. The interpretations, however, portray it as humorous miscommunication between a mystic and a logician. I argue for a fine inferential analysis that explains the argument in a way that informs Zhuangzi philosophical lament at Hui Shi's passing. It also reverses the dominant image of the two thinkers. Zhuangzi emerges as the superior dialectician, the clearer, more analytic epistemologist. Hui Shi's arguments betray his tendency (manifest elsewhere) to misstate the conclusions of their shared relativism leading him but not Zhuangzi to intuitive mysticism.

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Chad Hansen
University of Hong Kong

References found in this work

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
What is It Like to Be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.

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Citations of this work

Zhuangzi on ‘Happy Fish’ and the Limits of Human Knowledge.Lea Cantor - 2020 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 28 (2):216-230.
The Relatively Happy Fish Revisited.Norman Y. Teng - 2006 - Asian Philosophy 16 (1):39 – 47.
The Happy Fish of the Disputers.Xiaoqiang Han - 2012 - Asian Philosophy 22 (3):239-256.
A Logical Analysis of the Debate on Hao River.Xudong Hao - forthcoming - Asian Philosophy:1-9.

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