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The Tradition of Emotive Writing in the Zhuangzi and Its Echoes in Later Generations

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As the concluding part of a series of essays on theories of humanity in the Zhuangzi, this essay aims at describing the theme of qing 情 (emotion) as a dual-directional attitude towards qing as a partner to xing 性 (nature) and the influence of this domain of thought on later generations and their continued discussion of it. Faced with a forcible divorce of qing and xing at the hand of Han Dynasty Ruists, which would lock perceptions into a rigid dualist framework, the Wei and Jin period saw authors such as Wang Bi and Ji Kang return to a more faithful rendering of the theme of qing in the classics, the Laozi and Zhuangzi, seeing it become an ever more explicit philosophical topic and beginning a lengthy period of discussion of the theme of qing. In the Northern Song period, representative thinkers Zhang Zai and Wang Anshi The Northern Song tradition constitute a continuance of Pre-Qin Daoist philosophical ideas, providing a logical reinterpretation of the indivisibility of qing and xing from a syncretist approach to the Daoist and Ruist traditions, in a way that drastically differs from the Southern Song preference for xing at the cost of qing, as represented by thinkers such as the Brothers Cheng and Zhu Xi. At the bottom of it, this continued tradition draws from themes that appear in the Zhuangzi, a holistic approach to life and the relationship between humanity and nature, an important and continuous thread in the fabric of human civilisation.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, Peking University, Beijing 100871,


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