Please wait a minute...
Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436

ISSN 1673-355X(Online)

CN 11-5743/B

Postal Subscription Code 80-983

Front. Philos. China    2015, Vol. 10 Issue (3) : 380-414
research-article |
To Die or Not to Die: Zhuangzi’s Three Immortalities
Mark L. Farrugia()
Department of Philosophy, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
 Download: PDF(461 KB)  
 Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks

While it is known that the problem of death is a central topic animating the author/s of the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi, leading Chinese and Western interpretations of this Chinese classic have usually focused much more on other themes and aspects. Even more problematic in the author’s view is the fact that the Zhuangzi has been closely associated with one death philosophy, the set of concepts, arguments and figures present in chapter 6. This study puts death back at the very center of the Zhuangzian philosophical project yet insisting at the same time on the difficulties of defending one philosophy of death since different passages introduce new concepts, imagery, nuances and perspectives. The Zhuangzi’s focus on death is being situated within a discussion of the “immortality” ideal––accepting a total death (“to die”) or find refuge in immortality ideals (“not to die”). Different passages from the Inner Chapters are being presented as proposing three distinct immortality projects or strategies––personal, social and cosmic––to address the problem of death. E. Becker’s reflections on the challenge of mortality and the psychological need of a “beyond” in order to cope with the consciousness of death provide the basic theoretical framework underlying the discussion of the Zhuangzi in this essay.

Keywords Zhuangzi      Inner Chapters      death      personal immortality      social immortality      cosmic immortality     
Issue Date: 28 October 2015
 Cite this article:   
Mark L. Farrugia. To Die or Not to Die: Zhuangzi’s Three Immortalities[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(3): 380-414.
[1] Ellen Y. Zhang. The Face/Facelessness of the Other—A Levinasian Reading of the Ethical of the Zhuangzi [J]. Front. Philos. China, 2017, 12(4): 533-553.
[2] Alan Fox. A Process Interpretation of Daoist Thought[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2017, 12(1): 26-37.
[3] David Chai. On Pillowing One’s Skull: Zhuangzi and Heidegger on Death[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2016, 11(3): 483-500.
[4] Joanna Guzowska. The Spatiality of Cognition in the Zhuangzi[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(3): 415-429.
[5] Paul J. D’Ambrosio. Authenticity in the Zhuangzi ? Contemporary Misreadings of Zhen 真and an Alternative to Existentialism[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(3): 353-379.
[6] CHEN Guying. The Tradition of Emotive Writing in the Zhuangzi and Its Echoes in Later Generations[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(3): 340-352.
[7] Wai Wai Chiu. Goblet Words and Indeterminacy:A Writing Style that Is Free of Commitment[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(2): 255-272.
[8] Chris Fraser. Xunzi Versus Zhuangzi: Two Approaches to Death in Classical Chinese Thought[J]. Front Phil Chin, 2013, 8(3): 410-427.
[9] HAO Changchi. Lao-Zhuang and Augustine on the Issue of Suspension in the Philosophy of Religion[J]. Front Phil Chin, 2011, 6(1): 75-99.
[10] BAO Zhaohui, . The Advantages, Shortcomings, and Existential Issues of Zhuangzi’s Use of Images[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2010, 5(2): 196-211.
[11] Chen Bo. The debate on the yan–yi relation in Chinese philosophy: reconstruction and comments[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2006, 1(4): 539-560.
Full text