California State University Northridge Zhuangzi and Four of His Stories Essay

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Series of three 1-2 page philosophical responses. Below.

1.) As we learned with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, philosophy has much to do with logic and argumentation to get to the truth about various issues we all face. Asian Philosophy also relies on logical reasoning as for example with the Nyaya School of Hinduism, and in China, The School of Names and the Mohists. But both the Greeks and the Chinese also harbor philosophers who believed that language gets in the way of thinking better. They used humor instead.  The Greek philosopher who is a master of comedy and repartee is Diogenes, the Cynic. He used his quick wit to ridicule the mindless and the arrogant, including Alexander the Great. The Asian master of wit and storytelling is the Daoist, Zhuangzi (sometimes spelled Chuang-Tzu).  

Zhuangzi is a master story teller and he uses that talent to teach important moral and philosophical lessons.  The video below (Flight from the Shadow) is an example of the type of teaching he engaged in.  Our text offers three additional examples: Nie Que’s conversation with Wang Ni; Huizi and Zhuangzi about gourds; the story of Cook Ding (sometimes called Butcher Ding); and the story of Wheelwright Pian. Even though the lessons are in story form, that doesn’t mean that they are easy to decipher. One reason for this is that the stories probe deep into human nature and the essence of what we are as persons.

So the assignment this week, while easy to read, takes some thinking on your part. Give a short synopsis of each of the four stories mentioned above. Then given what you learned about Daoism in the text, give your view of the wisdom Zhuangzi is trying to impart. What do you think he means in each case? And taken together what do you think Daoism is trying to teach us?

Submission:

  • Must be a minimum of 2 1/2 pages with standard 1-inch margins in Times New Roman or Garamond font. 
  • Must be double-spaced.
  • Must address the topic of the paper with critical thought.
  • Must include in-text citations and references in MLA style. 
  • Name, course, and assignment top left.
  • Include a Title.
  • 20% penalty on late submission.              

    2.) As a famous person, we really want to come to Socrates defense when we decide whether or not he was guilty of undermining Athenian youth.  But as we saw in the Lecture on Socrates, the issue of his guilt is a difficult one to solve.  The Athenians in the Classic Age had created an extraordinary egalitarian culture based on traditions handed down from Homer.  Socrates, as well as the Sophists, challenged those traditions, but had nothing to substitute for the traditions they criticized other than a relativistic, self-interested approach to life.  This lack of answers to the criticisms  he posed, infuriated his fellow citizens.This week’s assignment, from the section on The Apology, as quoted in our text, focuses on the dialogue between Socrates and Meletus, the person who brought charges against him. Socrates ridicules Meletus and mocks his argument as to his  guilt.  Given what you know of Socrates from the week’s readings, do you think Socrates was guilty of the charges against him?  Give at least 3 reasons why you hold the view that you do, and give specific examples from the text to give substance to your claim. Submission:

    • Must be a minimum of 1 1/2 pages with standard 1-inch margins in Times New Roman or Garamond font. 
    • Must be double-spaced.
    • Must address the topic of the paper with critical thought.
    • Must include in-text citations and references in MLA style. No outside sources.
    • Name, course, and assignment top left.
    • Include a Title.
    • 20% penalty on late submissions
    • 3.)
      Nietzsche’s books are full of arrogance and bravado, but underneath all of that was a brilliant, profoundly caring man who was on the one hand very angry at the path taken in philosophy because of Plato, and on the other hand very anxious to put all of that behind us to begin anew to find meaning and value in our lives.  He battled a crippling mental disease from the time he was in his 20s until his death at 55.  He was almost always ill and yet he traveled about Europe finding climates that helped his condition and wrote 15 books.  Very few people read them.  That may have been a good thing; for if they had, his life would not doubt have been in great danger.  People don’t take too kindly to books that ridicule culture and religion as misguided,   Nietzsche’s books are like that.  Today we might compare him to people who  are full of themselves. Behind the pompous mask, was a very serious man with a serious mission; to lead us in a new and better direction.  Using information from the video below and especially from your reading this week, what direction do you think he wished us to take?  What must we become if we are to save ourselves  

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