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Religions 2018, 9(12), 398;

Authority without Authenticity: The Zhuangzi’s Genuine Pretending as Socio-Political Strategy

Department of Philosophy, Institute of Modern Chinese Thought and Culture, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
Philosophy and Religious Studies Program Room 4102, Faculty of Arts and Humanities Building, University of Macau, E21 Avenida da Universidade, Taipa, Macau, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 November 2018 / Revised: 2 December 2018 / Accepted: 3 December 2018 / Published: 4 December 2018
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In this paper, we present a socio-political reading of the Zhuangzi based in part on a brief review of contemporary Chinese scholarship on the text. We will argue that the approach to dealing with authority in the Zhuangzi can be summarized by the phrase “externally transforming without transforming internally”. When applied to situations where the individual engages with political or social authority, this idea commends the art of retaining a non-conforming and non-committed internal state while, to an extent, conforming to external circumstances and committing to certain actions. In this way the Zhuangzi not only aims at ensuring safety in potentially dangerous encounters with authority, but also the avoidance of “authenticating” authority. Following the language and logic of the Zhuangzi, the emphasis is on “forgetting (wang 忘)”, “losing (sang 桑)”, and “negating (wu 無)” one’s social self, rather than constructing or discovering an “authentic self” that might ultimately only reify authority. We will refer to the Zhuangzi’s strategy in terms of what we call “genuine pretending”. View Full-Text
Keywords: Zhuangzi; Daoism; authenticity; authority; genuine pretending Zhuangzi; Daoism; authenticity; authority; genuine pretending
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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D’Ambrosio, P.; Moeller, H.-G. Authority without Authenticity: The Zhuangzi’s Genuine Pretending as Socio-Political Strategy. Religions 2018, 9, 398.

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