Zhuangzian skill cultivation as a means of alternative knowledge

Henning, B (2022) Zhuangzian skill cultivation as a means of alternative knowledge. M.Phil thesis, Bath Spa University.


This project will explore the following hypotheses: - The Laozi (daodejing) and the Zhuangzi both have in common a critique of an existential over-dependence upon rational knowledge and identification with ego­self, whilst advocating an alternative form of knowledge that is derived from unmediated experience. - This experience is had by means of a direct inquiry into reality and is hindered by the mediation of conceptual-linguistic thought. - Alternative knowledge is transpersonal, outside the realms of embodied 'knowing­how', and rational 'knowing-that' and offers an antidote to the pitfalls of the aforementioned over-dependence. - Direct and spontaneous inquiry may be used as a methodological hermeneutics in order to better grasp the inherent teachings of Daoist texts and overcome the incommensurability of disparate times, cultures, languages. - In particular, the skill stories of the Zhuangzi show us means of practically applying direct inquiry and attaining the alternative knowledge advocated within the texts. I will begin with an overview of the complementary phenomenology and epistemologies of the Laozi and the Zhuangzi. I will undertake an exegesis of several passages of the Laozi in which two types of knowledge are contrasted, followed by an exegesis of book 2 and book 3 of the Zhuangzi, paying particular attention to the story of Cook Ding. I will explore the potential of direct inquiry as a methodological hermeneutics and the universality of such an inquiry. I will conclude the thesis by showing how, based on the interpretation and methodology I have presented, the skill stories such as 'Cook Ding', 'Woodworker Qing' and 'the Swimmer' among others can show us how such a methodology is put into practice. I will ask the following questions: What is alternative knowledge within the Laozi and the Zhuangzi and how are they complementary? How does this knowledge differ from rational knowledge? What is immediate experience? How might direct inquiry be applied methodologically and epistemologically? The overarching question of the thesis is: How might the 'skill stories' in the Zhuangzi reveal the acquisition of an alternative knowledge advocated within Daoist philosophy?

Item Type: Thesis (M.Phil)
Keywords: Chinese literature, Chinese philosophy, Daoism, Zhuangzi, Laozi
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2022 14:25
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2022 14:30
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/14997
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