Huizi and Zhuangzi


My point is to signify the primary concern of the two philosophical characters quoted in the passage; Huizi and Zhuangzi – is dictated by the fundamental problem of specific standpoints. In my view, Zhuangzi positioning in the passage precisely on the dam with his friend, Huizi, mirrors the limitations subjected to human knowledge. It is essential to point out that Zhuangzi’s familiarity with fish happiness is attributed to a given place hence not absolute. That depicts an inherently human view of the world because there is a sense of objectivity, as seen in Zhuangzi’s knowledge. The passage appears to vouch for a form of relativism, which impedes objectivity. The objective of this paper is to assess this viewpoint with heavy reliance on the said passage.

As pointed out earlier on, Zhuangzi’s familiarity with fish happiness is somewhat objective in that it sufficiently dictates human outlook on the world. I want to refer to this kind of relativism as “Species Relativism” (SR), which creates space for objectivity. However, the objective viewpoint of the world is not readily available to humans. There are two possible deductions from the happy fish passage. It appears that Zhuangzi either commits willingly or unwillingly to a fallacy argument or backs the theory of reality from a relativistic point of view where objectivity is not feasible. The first hypothesis may be attributed to the fact that Huizi questioned Zhuangzi’s assertion for knowing fish’s happiness, thereby acknowledging that he was already aware that Zhuangzi knew the happiness of fish. In my view, this premise is factual and shows an elaborate insight in Zhuangzi’s epistemology on the topic of species-specific perspective. It is important to note that skepticism, as put by Zhuangzi vaguely, incorporates the standpoint that nearly all analytical deductions made in one’s opinion, are reasonably valid. Zhuangzi would not back the idea that prescriptive prejudices are reducible to the social aspect because biological inferences dictate how people perceive the world.

In this case, my primary assertion is that the main concern of the two characters in the passage mirrors the topic of species-specific perspective. That is particularly evident when Huizi expresses his concern with the species-specific topic. He categorically stated that Zhuangzi was not a fish and questioned how he knew the details concerning fish happiness. In this regard, Huizi commits to a specific form of subjective realism. On the other hand, Zhuangzi’s different view of relativism, which I refer to as “perspectival relativism,” does not acknowledge the first-person premise, thereby allowing Zhuangzi to avoid the consequence of self-refutation. On another note, Huizi presents the basic idea of fish happiness relative to talking about certain fish being happy, as depicted in Zhuangzi’s words.

An interesting view of this passage is that the two friends opted to wander in the dam area as the fish meandered in the water. Both scenarios depict a form of leisure since the two friends, Huizi and Zhuangzi, are walking together freely, engaging in a thoughtful conversation that mirrored the fish’s activities. The two friends and the fish seemed to wander leisurely as a source of relaxation and happiness. Therefore, the more elaborate issue of understanding the experience of non-persons supersedes the matter of inferring with other forms of human beings’ subjectiveness. It is worth noting that Huizi intuitively discussed the basic problem presented by his friend, and he strives to register an implication of the same in a sincere philosophical approach. The matter of concern, in this case, is that Huizi is not rightly aware of the irreducibly human point of view from which he gives his thoughts concerning fish happiness.

It is vital to point out that Huizi’s initial objection contradicts his presumption that “fish happiness” implies the human perspective because his opinion is that being a fish would enable one to experience fish happiness. Another crucial observation is that Huizi does not talk about the fish being happy than Zhuangzi, who notes that initially in his submission. Therefore, the question shifts focus to the criterion used to assert fish happiness from whether the fish are actually happy.

Zhuangzi expressed doubt on the likelihood that his friend Huizi may be aware of what he knows or does not know on the premise that he is not Zhuangzi. This particular assumption basically means that if you are not a certain persona, you presumably do not know anything concerning the persona’s mental reasoning. Huizi appears to accept this school of thought, suggesting that the viewpoint is different from others. From a perspective, Huizi can be depicted as knowing other tables, trees, and people. He then further violates this thought process by stating that even though he was not Zhuangzi, he claims to be aware of at least a few details that Zhuangzi does not know. Therefore, Huizi claims that Zhuangzi cannot know what the happiness of fish entails. However, he cannot claim this reasoning since what applies, in this case, is knowing by inference. Even though Zhuangzi’s trap may have taken a comical dimension, it is clear that he seemed to refute his own claim of knowing fish happiness by committing to the first-person standard. On another note, I think a deeper philosophical assertion in Zhuangzi’s query highlights the variances in points of view that arise when people disagree about a given topic.

I have suggested that some deductions may be regarded as more objective relative to others since they have lesser contingent weight on subjective points. Hence, when Zhuangzi questions Huizi for an explanation in the context of a ‘not me/ you’ distinction, he acknowledges that Huizi might have a different point of view unknown to Zhuangzi, perceiving that Zhuangzi is not much aware of fish happiness. However, as I have noted herein, Huizi provides a clarification which is majorly disjointed. That allows Zhuangzi to drop the person-specific perspective and go back to the initial issue, as I have argued, was the more elaborate species-specific perspective.

It is vital to note that Huizi’s acknowledgment that Zhuangzi is not a fish demonstrates some truism in the problem brought about by SR. Still, Zhuangzi’s resulting conclusion was not aware of fish happiness presumes that fish happiness is a real thing beyond the human-specific setting. In this regard, Zhuangzi and Huizi acknowledged the happiness of fish. Still, Zhuangzi provided the premise to back his assertion implying that the issue had a genuine interest in the human perspective.

In conclusion, it has been mentioned that Huizi is regarded as a debater in various instances in the Zhuangzi. In this particular passage, he appears to be motivated by a realistic philosophical perception concerning the void between species. Since humans are not related to fish, they cannot categorically state that they know anything about fish happiness. However, Huizi does not eventually query the presumption that happiness is applicable to fish existence beyond the human framework.

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