The Problem of Philosophy in Classical Chinese Thought: the Text Zhuangzi as Case Study
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This thesis is an attempt to look at the Zhuangzi and whether it can be appropriately understood as a philosophical text. The greater question is what is philosophy proper, and how has it been articulated in comparative approaches, particularly in regards to Classical Chinese texts. The following project will advance accordingly: In the introduction, I will look at the genesis and definition of the term ‘philosophy’ as translated into its Japanese/Chinese counterpart, tetsugaku/zhexue, and how the roles of the Meiji and early twentieth century Chinese scholars have shaped and created the meaning of ‘philosophy,’ and how these discourses have helped to form ‘philosophy’ as a discipline. Chapter one will be a brief discussion on the textual history and scholarship on the text of the Zhuangzi, focusing mainly on the contributions of the Qing dynasty philologists, and modern scholars Guan Feng and A.C. Graham. Chapter two will be translations of selected passages from the Zhuangzi, and will include textual notes on interesting and perplexing lexical, and grammatical features. It will also contain commentary regarding the ‘philosophical’ significance of each selected passage. Finally, this project will conclude with a general observation of how the themes in the Zhuangzi may or may not fit in with current conceptions of ‘philosophy,’ and suggest an alternative way in understanding both the Zhuangzi and philosophy.