Global Reception of the Classic Zhuangzi: Song to Ming

Collaborative Group

Professor Tobias Benedikt Zürn


Religious Studies Program


The classic Zhuangzi has deeply influenced cultural life in East Asia and beyond. A key text in East Asian religious and literary history, it is still routinely cited in discussions of ethical living in the context of Chinese philosophy, and informs diverse practices such as calligraphy, landscape painting, and meditation practice. Yet, current engagement with the Zhuangzi in classrooms and journals around the world tend to reduce the classic to a text of philosophy. In this reading workshop, we plumb the depths of its diverse reception history during the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties in order to create a critique of this philosophical paradigm by shaping out some of the themes that dominated the reception of the Zhuangzi during China’s middle and early modern period.