Philosophy Seminar Series: 14 Feb 2012, 2-4pm, Philosophy Resource Room; Speaker: Cheng Kai-Yuan, Professor, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan; Moderator: Dr. Ben Blumson
There are two parts in this talk. In the first part, I will present a new interpretation of the butterfly dream in the Zhuangzi (Philosophy East and West, forthcoming). The novelty of this interpretation lies in identifying a line of reasoning in the “Qiwulun” chapter which embodies a deep puzzle about the nature of self, and in unpacking how the butterfly dream passage at the end of that chapter addresses the puzzle in question. Such a reading is cast within a larger context of the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi where death is a major theme. In the second part, I will present some of my ongoing works on deciphering some of the difficult passages in the Zhuangzi. I shall argue that those passages can be best understood in terms of a theory of personal identity developed by Mark Johnston (2010). I shall also highlight some important contrasts between Zhuangzi and Mark Johnston with regard to thinking and suggesting how a person may survive death, given a naturalistic world view. I hope that, by taking these two parts together, a compelling case can be made for the importance and relevance of Zhuangzi’s philosophy in a contemporary context.