Wednesday, September 26

Your third journal entry is due today, uploaded through Oncourse.

Reading assignment:  Daoism, 11-28

As for our second text, the Zhuangzi - in ancient Chinese literature and philosophy it doesn't get any better than this. On tough days, when I wonder whether I should have gone into retail sales, high energy physics, or dentistry, I remind myself that none has Zhuangzi in it, and I feel better. (Although, come to think of it, there is a book adapting Zhuangzi theory to high energy physics.)

I hope you'll all read the section introducing the Zhuangzi with attention, noting both what seems easy to understand and what seems puzzling, or simply silly. We haven't had a lot of encounters with jokes in studying early China (The Master said, "A funny thing happened to me on the way to the ritual archery match today . . . "), but the Zhuangzi is filled with jokes -- serious ones. Some people believe entire chapters are, essentially, jokes.

I'd like you to pay especially close attention to several of the passages translated in your reading "The Tale of the Peng Bird," "Turning From Words to Find the Dao," "The Tale of Cook Ding," "Confucius Instructs Yan Hui," "The Four Friends," "The Hunchback," and "The Swimmer."  (The bookmarks can guide you to these.) I'll talk about some of the others, but these sections will be the centerpieces of class, and I'm counting on your having some good sense of what they say. (A complete translation of the first seven chapters of the Zhuangzi - known as the "Inner Chapters" - is among the course Supplements.

The Zhuangzi, shares certain attitudes and philosophical views with the Dao de jing, but I think you'll find that the two are dramatically different in tone, and, in fact, point to very different types of insight.