WU-WEI, MERLEAU-PONTY, AND BEING AWARE OF WHAT WE DO Marcus Lee Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham email@example.com I. Introduction The best kind of life, according to many classical (pre-Qin) Chinese thinkers, is a life lived in line with the Dao (the “Way”). A core feature of living in line with the Dao is attaining the ideal of wu-wei. Although attaining wu- wei is plausibly at the core of much pre-Qin thought, in this article I focus on the notion of wu-wei in early Daoism, as suggested by the writings of Laozi and Zhuangzi. Although there is no uncontroversial interpretation of wu-wei, insofar as it denotes the ideal of living in line with the Dao, we can appropriately think of it as a way of acting. However, since wu-wei is often literally translated as “no-action” or “non-doing,” it appears that the ideal way of comporting oneself is “action by no-action” (wei-wu-wei),or “doing by non-doing.” As such, the literal translation of wu-wei seems to imply a contradiction, which makes the ideal of wu-wei appear paradoxical. In this article, I suggest a way we might make sense of this classical Daoist ideal. I will argue that by appealing to a Merleau-Pontyian
Philosophy East and West – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Feb 21, 2020
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