Scholars debate the date for the writing of the Tianxia—as they do pretty much everything else. What we can say with some assurance is that it was written later than most all the other chapters of the Zhuangzi. It was likely written in the late Fourth or early Third Century BCE. This coincides with the dates of the Jixia Academy in the State of Qi (ca.315-285 BCE), and I think it is likely a product of that unique assemblage of philosophers.

It was the goal of many philosophers of that time of political upheaval to find a patron who would not only support them, but also implement their political philosophy. This they found in part at the Jixia Academy, although with so many aspirants to their lord’s ear, they likely must have instead debated philosophy among themselves.

Among the possible thousands who spent time there, many of the philosophers discussed in the Tianxia are believed to have been members of the Jixia Academy. It is even possible that Zhuangzi spent some time there.

Daoists, Confucians, Mohists, Naturalists (School of Yin/Yang), and Huang-Lao (Syncretists) were all in attendance.

One can only imagine the wonderful (and heated) debates and cross-fertilizations that took place there.

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