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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


The View of Nature in the “Tianren bu xiangsheng” Section of the Zhuangzi: The Transcultural Dialogue of Myth and Enlightenment

Vol. 46 No.3  Sept, 2016


The View of Nature in the “Tianren bu xiangsheng” Section of the Zhuangzi: The Transcultural Dialogue of Myth and Enlightenment


Lai Hsi-san









Key words

Zhuangzi, Adorno, myth, enlightenment, nature, transcultural dialogue


This study reevaluates the ideas of heaven and man depicted in the Zhuangzi, particularly regarding criticisms made against the subject of “knowing only nature but not people”(biyu tian er buzhi ren 蔽於天而不知人). It is contended here that these criticisms fail to fully grasp the text’s concept of liangxing 兩行, or the nature of affairs in balance. In order to explain Zhuangzi’s efforts to balance the roles of heaven and humans, comparisons are made between the aforementioned concepts and the Dialectic of Enlightenment written by Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno, founder of the Frankfurt School. For Adorno, enlightenment in the humanities should not evolve on its own; myths and enlightenment should develop together and the meaning of the human and of nature should be reexamined. This study finds the criticisms made in the Dialectic of Enlightenment to be highly insightful, and the said work is compared with the Zhuangzi. This study repositions the ideology of humans and nature as a catalyst that transforms myth into enlightenment. Zhuangzi played the roles of the son of nature (heaven) and of a teacher (human) to facilitate the teaching of tianren bu xiangsheng 天人不相勝and liangxing, enabling our human-centric culture to continue to prosper.



Author: Lai Hsi-san
Genre: Article
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