Sleeping Beauty and the Dreaming Butterfly: What Did Zhuangzi Doubt About?
- 420 Downloads
The moral commonly drawn from Zhuangzi’s butterfly dream is that there is no distinction between the subjectivity of the dreamer and the awake. It is, however, tenuous to incorporate this insight into an overall view of Zhuangzi, whether as a perspectival relativist, a mystic, or an anti-rationalist, just to name the more popular positions. The parable, despite its brevity and clarity, is difficult because the assertion about metaphysical distinction in the last two lines does not cohere with the preceding text about knowledge. To cope with this problem, there are recent interpretations that advocate textual revision or adumbrate a non-skeptical Zhuangzi. In this article, I shall evaluate these strategies and explain the discrepancy in understanding the butterfly dream. Besides employing the concept of self-locating belief to account for the paradox of waking and not-knowing, I shall also argue for an epistemic grounding of the metaphysical distinction.
KeywordsZhuangzi Skepticism Knowledge Dream Possible world
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- _____. 1989. Chuang-Tzu for Spiritual Transformation. New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Giles, Herbert A. 1926. C huang Tzu: Taoist Philosopher and Chinese Mystic. London: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
- Graham, Angus C. 1989. Disputers of the Tao. Chicago: Open Court.Google Scholar
- _____. 2001. C huang Tzu: The Inner Chapters. Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
- Guo, Xiang 郭象, annotator, 2002. Zhunagzi 莊子. Shanghai上海: Shanghai Guji Chubanshe 上海古籍出版社.Google Scholar
- Hansen, Chad. 1983. “A Tao of Tao in Chuang-tzu.” In Experimental Essays on Chuang-tzu, edited by Victor H. Mair. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
- Kjellberg, Paul & Philip J. Ivanhoe, eds. 1996. Essays on Skepticism, Relativism, and Ethics in the Zhuangzi. New York: SUNY.Google Scholar
- _____. 2001a. On the Plurality of Worlds. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- McGinn, Colin. 2006. Mindsight: Image, Dream, Meaning. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Watson, Burton. 1968. The Complete Works of C huang Tzu. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Yang, Xiaomei. 2005. “Great Dream and Great Awakening: Interpreting the Butterfly Dream Story.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 4.2: 253–266.Google Scholar
- Ziporyn, Brook. 2003. The Penumbra Unbound: The Neo-Taoist Philosophy of G uo Xiang. New York: SUNY.Google Scholar
- _____. 2009. Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings with Selections from Traditional Commentaries. Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar