Greater knowledge and big talk in the Zhuangzi
Date of Issue2019-03-27
School of Humanities
One difficulty arises when we try to read the Zhuangzi as a coherent whole. On one hand, Zhuangzi seems to be endorsing radical skepticism, which regards all viewpoints as equally valid. On the other hand, he also seems to advocate certain values or ways of living without any regard for such skeptical considerations . If we take Zhuangzi to be a radical skeptic, then it seems self-contradictory for him to privilege his own view while also asserting that all doctrines are equal. In this paper, I argue that Zhuangzi is not a radical skeptic, and he is only employing “big talk” (da yan 大言) in these seemingly skeptical passages as a rhetorical means for those with “greater knowledge” (da zhi 大知) to communicate with those who have “smaller knowledge” (xiao zhi 小知), without getting tangled up in the problems that come with petty talk (xiao yan 小言).
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University