This course focuses on the Zhuangzi, a text named after its core portion’s purported author Zhuangzi [aka Chuang Tzu] or Master Zhuang (ca. 369-286 B.C.E.), a brilliant thinker and writer in the philosophy of Daoism (aka Taoism). One of the greatest works in Chinese philosophy and literature, the Zhuangzi has had a profound influence on Chinese life, art, literature, philosophy, religion, and aesthetic theory during the last two millennia. After the Dao De Jing (aka Tao Te Ching) of Laozi (aka Lao Tzu), the Zhuangzi has traditionally been regarded as a principal classic in the philosophy of early “Daoism” (aka “Taoism”). We will begin with a close reading of the Dao De Jing, explore the relation between these two texts, and their relation to early Chinese culture. We will then examine the influence of the Zhuangzi on vital aspects of Chinese civilization through the centuries. The course will also offer a survey of some of the important interpretations, both traditional and modern, of this early Chinese classic.
Active attendance and participation in discussion, two PowerPoint presentations, and two 6 to 8-page papers are required. Some knowledge of Chinese culture is recommended but not required, and no knowledge of the Chinese language is required.