On Becoming a Rooster: Zhuangzian Conventionalism and the Survival of Death

Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 21 (1):61-79 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The Zhuangzi 莊子 depicts persons as surviving their deaths through the natural transformations of the world into very different forms—such as roosters, cart-wheels, rat livers, and so on. It is common to interpret these passages metaphorically. In this essay, however, I suggest employing a “Conventionalist” view of persons that says whether a person survives some event is not merely determined by the world, but is partly determined by our own attitudes. On this reading, Zhuangzi’s many teachings urging us to embrace transformation are not merely a psychological aid for dealing with death, but also serve as a tool for literally surviving it.

Similar books and articles

“Personal Identity” Minus the Persons.Kristie Miller - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (S1):91-109.
Clarity and Survival in the Zhuangzi.Thomas Radice - 2001 - Asian Philosophy 11 (1):33-40.
John Locke on Personal Identity.N. Nimbalkar - 2011 - Mens Sana Monographs 9 (1):268.
Sorrow and the Sage: Grief in the Zhuangzi.Amy Olberding - 2007 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 6 (4):339-359.
Clarity and Survival in the Zhuangzi.Thomas Radice - 2001 - Asian Philosophy 11 (1):33 – 40.
Zhuangzi on Friendship and Death.Alexis Elder - 2014 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (4):575-592.
On Pillowing One’s Skull: Zhuangzi and Heidegger on Death.David Chai - 2016 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 11 (3):483-500.
The Zhuangzi and You 遊: Defining an Ideal Without Contradiction.Alan Levinovitz - 2012 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (4):479-496.
Separating Death From Mind and Morals.Michael Lavin - 1989 - Public Affairs Quarterly 3 (3):35-47.
A Different Type of Individualism in Zhuangzi.Xu Keqian 徐克謙 - 2011 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (4):445-462.


Added to PP

313 (#36,106)

6 months
76 (#10,013)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Michael Longenecker
Zhongnan University of Economics and Law

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
The Human Animal. Personal identity without psychology.Eric T. Olson - 1997 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 192 (1):112-113.
Diachronic Self-Making.David Mark Kovacs - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (2):349-362.
Surviving Death.Mark Johnston - 2010 - Princeton University Press.

View all 28 references / Add more references