This book is concerned with the philosophy of Daoism based on the adapted beliefs of Zhuang Zi (369-286 B.C.), and not the religion of Daoism, which developed centuries later. A gifted philosopher and a literary giant as well as a keen observer and a humanist, Zhuang Zi developed Daoism in his own way. Furthermore, as a cynical philosopher, he was against the establishment and critical of the teachings of the sages.
Throughout the years there have been several editions of Zhuang Zi’s book with significant differences in certain parts of the text. Not every word in the book came from Zhuang Zi’s pen. Contributions were made by his disciples and there have been many changes to the original text: errors in hand copying the text, in mistaking notations for text, and in outright forgery throughout centuries. Chen Guying’s 1976 edition of the book, an eclectic study of all the editions that identifies probable forgeries, is used as the text reference in the present translation.
This work is the first translation to include annotations and commentaries in addition to hundreds of notes. These provisions will help guide readers to get the most out of the text. Courses related to Asian literature and philosophy would benefit greatly by using this book.