How to Interpret Zhuangzi Aesthetically Today?: A Discussion with Zhang Qiqun

 Social Sciences in China Review

No.1, 2019


How to Interpret Zhuangzi Aesthetically Today?: A Discussion with Zhang Qiqun (Abstract)


Liu Jianping


Zhang Qiqun’s article “‘The Aesthetics of Zhuangzi’ as a Paradox” attempts to “dissect” Zhuangzi and Chinese traditional aesthetic resources with Western aesthetic methods of ontology, epistemology, and value theory, not only completely denying the rationality and legitimacy of the aesthetics of Zhuangzi, but also misunderstanding the concepts of the aesthetics of Zhuangzi, namely, “Tao,” “beauty,” and “natural beauty.” It makes sense and follows academic logic and rationality to make an academic distinction and analysis on whether there is any aesthetic theory in the Western sense in the text of the book. However, using Western aesthetics as the criterion with which to arbitrarily separate the sentiment of Taoist life from the book, and the removal of artistic spirit from the realm of life, ignoring the dialogue between Eastern and Western aesthetics and the new trend of convergent development in the development of contemporary Western aesthetics, is in fact the root of “paradox.” The interpretation of Zhuangzi is not a negative process of research and annotation, but a positive creative process. The proposition of “the aesthetics” of Zhuangzi is not only a modern interpretation of Zhuangzi, but also a return and restoration of the textual connotation of the book. To truly become a subject of universal value, aesthetics should absorb the thought and wisdom of different countries and nations in the world about beauty and aesthetic feeling. The construction of contemporary Chinese aesthetics requires an open view of “polyphonic aesthetics.”