Can Wuwei and Ziran Authorise Anticipation?: Death, Desire, and Autonomy in the Zhuangzi

Journal of East Asian Philosophy 3:1-17 (2024)
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Abstract

The concept of anticipation, on the one hand, has received a considerable treatment in classical phenomenology, particularly in Husserl. The Zhuangzi, on the other hand, has not been explored with the help of Husserl’s concept of anticipation. Broadly construed, anticipation, due to its association with robust proclivity to seeing and conjuring up possibilities issuing from a phenomenon, shall have no place in the Zhuangzi. Against such backdrop, I argue that—albeit the Zhuangzi does not develop an explicit discourse on anticipation—a delimited form of anticipation (‘d-anticipation’), that is, one which is inspired by Husserl’s concept of anticipation evident in his genetic phenomenology, can work in concert with the thoughts articulated in the Zhuangzi. I demonstrate this via examining death, desire, and freedom evident in the Zhuangzi. That ‘d-anticipation’ can work in concert with the thoughts articulated in the Zhuangzi can be apprehended in a variety of ways. Firstly, it can be seen in our natural response to death and the way in which we handle desires. Secondly, it points to Zhuangzi’s reductionistic manner of appreciating the richness of reality. Thirdly, it offers a way in which we can live life according to our nature. Fourthly, it points to an exercise of freedom which opens up the possibility of transcending conventional standards. Fifthly, it is inherently constitutive of the process of comportment with the Dao. Finally, it is in essence constitutive of a phenomenon or circumstance. In setting out to demonstrate these contentions, I seek to show that ‘d-anticipation’ can fill in a lacuna brought about by the negative appraisal of anticipation in the Zhuangzi and can assume a pivotal role in one’s comportment with the Dao.

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Mark Antony Jalalum
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

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