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Names and words in the philosophy of Zhuangzi

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The examination of names and words constitutes an important aspect of the philosophy of Zhuangzi. With the debate over the relationship between name and reality as its background, this examination not only involves the connection between form and meaning, but also targets at the connection between concepts and objects. The debate over the relationship between name and reality correlates with the discussion of the connection between words and meanings or ideas. For Zhuangzi, the function of names and words is first and foremost embodied as the classification and distinction of being, while the Dao, as the universal principle of being, is characterized by equality and throughness. This leads to an inherent disparity and tension between names, words and the Dao. Zhuangzi’s thinking and argument concern the connections between name and reality, words and ideas, and the Dao and words. This displays multiple theoretical perspectives and the complexity of its thought.


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