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Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics


Edited By Zhu Liyuan and Gene Blocker

This book is a collection of translations of recent work by contemporary Chinese aestheticians. Because of the relative isolation of China until recently, little is known of this rich and ongoing aesthetics tradition in China. Although some of the articles are concerned with the traditional ancient Chinese theories of art and beauty, many are inspired by Western aesthetics, including Marxism, and all are involved in cross-cultural comparisons of Chinese and Western aesthetic traditions.


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Zhuangzi and Chan Buddhism: Li Zehou 143


Zhuangzi and Chan Buddhism Li Zehou In The Records of the Historian (Siziji) Sima Qian discussed Laozi, Zuangzi, Shen Buhai and Han Feizi all in one biographical essay. It is easy to explain why Laozi and Han Feizi were placed together; both were social and political philosophers and there were points of continuity in their ideas on political intrigue. The insertion of Zhuangzi in between the two, however, seems less obvious. Zhuangzi and Laozi had affinities and continuities, but their fundamental characteristics are far from similar. Laozi's political philosophy represented a positive approach to the world; Zhuangzi's metaphysics demanded detachment from the world. Unlike Laozi and other philosophers, Zhuangzi seldom seriously considered the principles of "governing states and pacifying the world." He was more concerned about another set of principles-equalizing the self and things, equating life and death, transcending gain and loss, and caring for the body in the effort to attain long life. Sima Qian, however, had good reasons for placing Zhuangzi together with Laozi and Han Feizi. Zlzuangzi contains many indignant remarks concerning society and political conditions. In this respect Zhaungzi was, indeed, a direct descendant of Laozi. The condemnation of benevolence and righteousness, the denunciation of Confucianism and Mohism, and the advocacy of "the renunciation of sagehood and the discarding of wisdom" (a return to a primitive state) "essentially should all be attributed to Laozi's earlier sayings." In the Qin (221-207 BC) and Han (206 BC-220 AD) dynasties, when political philosophy was pre-eminent and genuinely speculative and...

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