Zhuangzi and the Happy Fish

Hardback: $70.00
ISBN-13: 9780824846831
Published: March 2015
Paperback: $32.00
ISBN-13: 9780824846848
Published: March 2015

Additional Information

336 pages | 5 b&w illustrations
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  • About the Book
  • The Zhuangzi is a deliciously protean text: it is concerned not only with personal realization, but also (albeit incidentally) with social and political order. In many ways the Zhuangzi established a unique literary and philosophical genre of its own, and while clearly the work of many hands, it is one of the finest pieces of literature in the classical Chinese corpus. It employs every trope and literary device available to set off rhetorically charged flashes of insight into the most unrestrained way to live one's life, free from oppressive, conventional judgments and values. The essays presented here constitute an attempt by a distinguished community of international scholars to provide a variety of exegeses of one of the Zhuangzi's most frequently rehearsed anecdotes, often referred to as “the Happy Fish debate.”

    The editors have brought together essays from the broadest possible compass of scholarship, offering interpretations that range from formal logic to alternative epistemologies to transcendental mysticism. Many were commissioned by the editors and appear for the first time. Some of them have been available in other languages—Chinese, Japanese, German, Spanish—and were translated especially for this anthology. And several older essays were chosen for the quality and variety of their arguments, formulated over years of engagement by their authors. All, however, demonstrate that the Zhuangzi as a text and as a philosophy is never one thing; indeed, it has always been and continues to be, many different things to many different people.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Roger T. Ames, Editor

      Roger T. Ames is Humanities Chair Professor at Peking University, co-chair of the Academic Advisory Committee at Peking University Berggruen Research Center, and professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Hawai‘i.
    • Nakajima Takahiro, Editor

      Takahiro Nakajima is associate professor of Chinese philosophy at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • . . . a collection of thought-provoking and multi-perspectival readings of one of the most fascinating and intoxicating stories in Zhuangzi — “the happy fish” . . . Through interpretations as well as the collision of the various interpretations, the life of the text of the happy fish story is constantly rejuvenated and revitalized.
      —China Review International