A Study on the Epistemology of Zhuangzi
|Keywords:||莊子;知;知識論;感官;心;氣;道;物;以道觀之;技;Zhuangzi;knowledge;epistemology;sense organ;xin;chi;Dao;things;perceiving from Dao;practice;skill||Issue Date:||2012||Abstract:||
除此之外，所謂的知識，還可從實際操作的實踐面向，分為命題知識(propositional knowledge)和能力知識(competence knowledge)兩大類。前者指的是知道一件事情的內容，後者則指知道如何做一件事情。前者著重知性理解而與實踐未必有關，後者則不必然是知性的理解而和實踐息息相關。《莊子》中許多「技近乎道」的故事，正向吾人顯示「道」無法作為命題內容來被認知，而必須在實際的操作中，才能向操作者開顯。
The purpose of this dissertation is to elucidate the epistemological dimension of Zhuangzi’s philosophy. This dissertation examines Zhuangzi’s reflection on knowledge and investigates the role of knowledge played in Zhuangzi’s philosophical system. I shall approach this issue from the epistemological dimension, attempting to manifest the distinguishing characteristics of Zhuangzi’s philosophy and its relevance for today.
In Zhuangzi, epistemology is often intertwined with the theory of self-cultivation. According to Zhuangzi there are three stages of cognition: listening with the ears, listening with the heart, and listening with Chi. Due to the differences in the sources of cognition, there correspond three types of knowledge: the knowledge acquired by the ears, the knowledge acquired by the heart and the knowledge acquired by Chi. These three types of knowledge are roughly similar to today’s “sensitive knowledge,” “rational knowledge” and “intuitive knowledge.” This dissertation examines these three types of cognition according to the semantics and the context of Zhuangzi.
First of all, this dissertation clarifies the different aspects of sensibility in Zhuangzi, pointing out that there are five such aspects: its organs, faculties, penetrating faculties, horizons and prefecture. I then examine all technical terms relating to sensibility in Zhuangzi, such as “wu guan” (五官), “tian ji”(天機), “tain men”(天門),“qi qiao”(七竅), “jiu qiao”(九竅), “liu zao”(六鑿), “liu hai”(六骸), “wai”(外),and ” “guan zhi”(官知) .I will also compare Zhuangzi’s ideas with that of other thinkers in early China ,in order to show the peculiarity of Zhuangzi’s ideas. And then I discuss Zhuangzi’s descriptions of the five senses (the eyes, the ears, the mouth, the nose and the body), pointing out that these images of the senses are often used by Zhuangzi as the metaphors for Dao and the other abstract aspects of his philosophy. I will examine Zhuangzi’s reflection on sensibility, showing the role of sensibility in Zhuangzi’s philosophical system.
Following that, I attempt to discuss Zhuangzi’s conceptualization of “knowledge acquired by the heart” by examining his critics of “knowledge acquired by the heart” and his ideas of how it should be cultivated and transformed. I will point out the limitation and restriction of “knowledge acquired by the heart” from Zhuangzi’s three perspectives. First of all, excessive use of “knowledge acquired by the heart” may develop into “intellection”. “Intellection” is the calculation of the instrumental reason developed to the utmost; Zhuangzi reflects and criticizes “intellection” from the perspective of the authentic life. Secondly, biases in “knowledge acquired by the heart” could become judgment, which has its limitations as well. Zhuangzi reflects on the judgment based on “cheng xin”(成心) and criticizes rigidified, stabilized and universal judgment. Lastly, according to Zhuangzi, using “knowledge acquired by the heart” to distinguish and understand the world will inhibit us from grasping the wholeness of the world and prevent us from the truth. To explain the cultivation and transformation of the heart’s cognitive faculty, I will illustrate the concept from three aspects, which are “zhi”(止), “ ming ”(明) and “danmo”(淡漠).
Additionally, the dissertation discusses “knowledge by Chi” through “xu”(虛),“wang”(忘) and “tong”(通) to analyze the cognitive function of Chi in Zhuangzi. Then I will emphasized on the idea that “listening with Chi” does not mean the exclusion of either the faculty of sensibility or the faculty of rationality; rather, it is the concentration, deconstruction, redirection, returning and sublimation of these faculties. “listening with Chi” is a kind of cognitive style developed from the idea that “we and the world are one unit”. Therefore, when we fully attained to ourselves, we gain access to the world without limitations and distortions. Based on Zhuangzi’s theory, we can only learn the truth through this kind of cognitive style.
Apart from Zhuangzi’s deep reflection on the three stages of cognition mentioned above, basing on the differences in the ontological status of the objects of cognition, he also discusses two types of cognition: “perceiving from things” and “perceiving from Dao.” “Perceiving from things” is the cognition of the ordinary life, in which we inevitably make subjective judgment to distinguish objects, thereby resulting in many “limitations,” restricting our receptivity to Dao. “Perceiving from Dao,” on the other hand, is perceiving that “there is nothing from the beginning.” And this kind of perception is similar to the aesthetic experience and wisdom of practice, in which there is no distinction between the object and the subject, no analysis and no judgment; all these interpenetrate one another in a mutually incorporating horizon.
Apart from this, considering from the aspect of praxis, the so-called “knowledge” can be distinguished into the propositional knowledge and the competence knowledge. The former refers to “knowing” in the sense of knowing the content of something; the latter refers to “knowing” in the sense of knowing how to do something. The former has to do with intellectual understanding, and may not be relevant to practice; the latter, on the other hand, is not necessarily intellectual understanding but has everything to do with practice. In Zhuangzi there are many stories about “practice is near Dao,” showing that “Dao” cannot be known as the propositional knowledge, but that it is through practice that Dao is manifested to us.
This dissertation investigates the epistemology of Zhuangzi from the process of cognition, the objects of cognition and the practical aspect. It can be said that the dissertation fully investigates the meaning of knowledge in Zhuangzi from the aspects of epistemology, metaphysics and aesthetics, thereby clarifying that Zhuangzi does not—as some falsely believe—profess “anti-intellectualism,” “anti-sensibilitism,” “anti-rationalism,” “skepticism,” and “relativism.”
|Appears in Collections:||哲學系|
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