paper1-mengzivszhuangzi - Eric Couillard RC Hums 265 4...

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Eric Couillard RC Hums 265 4 March 2008 Dao vs. Dao: The ideologies of Zhuang Zi and Meng Zi What is the meaning of life? To have fun? To help people? To start a family? The meaning of life has always been a questioned that I've pondered. One of my favorite answers to this question is “Fourty two,” provided by a super computer named ‘Deep Thought’ designed to determine the meaning of “life, the universe, and everything,” in Douglas Adam's series, The Hitchhikers' Guide ToThe Galaxy: "Forty two?!" yelled Loonquawl. "Is that all you've got to show for seven and a half million years' work?" "I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is." Although this fictional account is obviously a joke, it makes a humorous point about the arbitrariness of questioning the meaning of life. Nonetheless, the great philosophers of both the East and West have been asking the same question and arguing about different answers since the times of theWarring States period in ancient China (and possibly even further back, but I don't have any evidence to back that up). In the following essay I will discuss the differences and similarities between two prominent ancient Chinese philosophers, Meng Zi and Zhuang Zi. Meng Zi is typically known as a Ru, which was a member of a school of thought founded by Kong Zi, or Confucius . Ru has also been labeled “Confucian,” although during his time there was no evidence of such a term existing. The Ru were sticklers for tradition, and based all their actions on precedent, particularly that of the “Ancient Sage Kings.” These sages, ,or shengren, were basically self-perfected individuals who ruled their kingdoms benevolently and
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righteously. The Ru emphasized following the sacred li, or rites, in order to model themselves after these sage kings. Meng Zi in particular was famous for his theories on human nature and the thought experiments he used to verify those theories. His most famous anecdote, which proved human nature to be good went something like this: Suppose someone suddenly saw a child about to fall into a well: everyone in such a situation would have a feeling of alarm and compassion – not because one sought to get in good with the child's parents, not because one wanted fame among their neighbors and friends, and not because on would dislike the sound of the child's cries (
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2008 for the course ASIAN 265 taught by Professor Staff during the Winter '08 term at University of Michigan.

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paper1-mengzivszhuangzi - Eric Couillard RC Hums 265 4...

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