UNDER HEAVEN LXVIII

How could we reject Huizi when without him there would be no Zhuangzian philosophy as we have it? It was in their opposition that their philosophies grew. This is especially the case with Zhuangzi, whose debt to Huizi was substantial, both as having provided a worthy foil and as contributing the discursive tools by which Zhuangzi proceeds.

Ziporyn makes the point that the Inner Chapters themselves can be seen as a direct and personal response to Huizi. (p xv, note 8) I can do no better than quote him:

“He [Huizi] appears explicitly at 1:14, 1:15, 2:28, and 5:23, but implicit references and critiques of his thought are found much more frequently. Indeed, the rhetorical framing of Zhuangzi’s first chapter . . . might suggest the hypothesis that the Inner Chapters were written . . . precisely as a response to Huizi, perhaps intended for the latter’s eyes particularly, almost as a private joke.”

Thank you Huizi!

C. Graham has even suggested that Zhuangzi might have once been a disciple of Huizi. That may be going a bit too far—he would also have him have been a disciple of Yang Chu, the arch-“egoist”. But, again, the point is that there’s much of Huizi in Zhuangzi. [To my thinking, Graham, despite his unquestionable scholarship, often over-indulged in flights of speculative supposition.]

The point then is that we are all dependent upon the thoughts of others, whether we agree with them or not—especially if we do not agree with them, because then we are linked together as opposites. In the case of Zhuangzi and Huizi, Zhuangzi would likely have us unite them to form a oneness and see where that leads us.

Where does it lead us? To the confluence of all daos. But then we feel our cherished Zhuangzi slipping away. We must let him go—toss aside the fish-trap, and experience the message.

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