Abstracts Of Recent WTS Doctoral Dissertations -- By: Tim Miller

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 77:2 (Fall 2015)
Article: Abstracts Of Recent WTS Doctoral Dissertations
Author: Tim Miller

Abstracts Of Recent
WTS Doctoral Dissertations

Zhuangzi And The Happy Dao

Joanny Chang

This dissertation explores, examines, interacts with, and critically evaluates Zhuangzi’s idea of the Dao. It is an attempt to seek creative and constructive ways to bridge the conceptual gap not only between East and West, but also between the pre-Christian and the Christian, with a prior commitment in the Reformed faith.

Situated in the intellectually vibrant Pre-Qin world, Zhuangzi’s view is both a reaction and a remedy to the social chaos of his time. This study begins with a scrutiny of Zhou’s Tian and Laozi’s Dao against which Zhuangzi formulates his own ontological view of the ultimate reality. With the stimulation of the philosophical disputes and multiple perspectives, he makes an epistemological turn and finds a unified vision in the Dao as life’s anchor. This search for unity is made possible in the riches of human subjectivity understood from within the context of his time. It is this epistemological turn that both invigorates Zhuangzi’s positive impact (especially in the realm of the arts), and eventually leads him to pessimistic indulgence in his own subjectivity.

I contend that the ontological aspect of Zhuangzi’s Dao is best portrayed by the notion of totality that is captured by the image of a giant stem cell that contains all differentiations inside and keeps them intact. The epistemological aspect points to the forces of the Dao to draw man back to the unified, un-differentiated state of unity in an intuitive vision present in man’s subjective realm.

Despite the originality of Zhuangzi’s ontological Dao as totality, it is deficient due to the lack of a proper Creator-creature distinction. As a result, Zhuangzi can only embrace everything as natural, including environmental disasters and physical suffering. With respect to the epistemological aspect, the absence of an independent verification for intuition, which is Zhuangzi’s means to the unified vision, is inadequate to safeguard the human subject from usurping the place of the Dao and making itself the ultimate reference for predication. With inconsistencies in each aspect, the two sides cannot be reconciled, leaving the epistemological Dao baseless and the ontological Dao unknown. I suggest

that the doctrines of the Holy Spirit, creation, and divine revelation can help transform and ground Zhuangzi’s Dao in real life.

Zhuangzi’s idea of the Dao exemplifies the thinking pattern of unregenerate consciousness which lacks the awareness of its own abno...

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