Only by understanding Dao (the Way of Nature) and dwelling in
its unity can humankind achieve true happiness and freedom, in both
life and death. This is the central tenet of the philosophy that
was to become Daoism, espoused by the person -- or group of people
-- known as Zhuanzi (369?-286? B.C.), in the text of the same name.
In order to be free, individuals must discard rigid conventions
that distinguish good from bad, right from wrong, and follow a
course of action not founded on motives of gain or striving. When
one ceases to judge events as good or bad, man-made suffering
disappears and natural suffering is embraced as part of life.
Elucidating a mystical philosophy dedicated to the spiritual
nourishment of the individual, Zhuangzi makes many points through
humor. He also uses parable and anecdote, non sequitur and even
nonsense, to jolt the reader into awareness of truth outside the
pale of ordinary logic. With inspired, unconventional language and
visionary ideas, the Zhuangzi seems to float free of the
historical period and society in which it was written, addressing
all people across all ages.
Columbia presents this renowned translation by Burton Watson of
a seminal text in Chinese philosophy in pinyin romanization for the
first time. Look for new pinyin editions of three other classic
philosophical texts translated by Watson: Xunzi: Basic
Writings, Han Feizi: Basic Writings, and Mozi: Basic
Subjects: Philosophy, Religion
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