Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About us Faculty of Philosophy Organization News & Events Events

Self-Shaping East and West: Zhuangzi and Marcus Aurelius on the Good Life

When:Mo 22-04-2024 17:00 - 18:00

This meeting is part of the interfaculty seminar series: The Making and Unmaking of Selfhood. Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Ascetic Practices, between Philosophy and Religion

Full programme and link to registration

Speakers and abstracts

3.1 Riding upon the Wind: Zhuangzi’s Daoist View on the Self

Lucas den Boer (Ghent University)

The Zhuangzi is one of the main works of classical Daoist philosophy. It is known for its relativism, humour, and inspiring ideas about living an authentic and spontaneous life in accordance with the natural flow of the Dao. This view on the ideal state of living is closely connected with Zhuangzi’s idea about the self – a notion that is discussed as a hindrance to the good life. In my talk, I will explore key passages from the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi that deal with the self. In particular, I will focus on what it means to have a self that can facilitate the ideal state of mind in which we constantly adapt to changing circumstances. In addition, I will address how Zhuangzi’s ideas about the self and no self relate to his views on emotions.

3.2 Marcus the Masochist

Ada Bronowksi (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is a work full of admonitions directed to its author about how to accept, understand and not bear grudges against the pettiness and wrong-doing of others. These formulations are traditionally tied back to a core Stoic ethical philosophy, first and foremost by Marcus himself. But in his hands, Stoic ethics have transformed from a philosophy of objective rationalisation to a philosophy that demands sacrifice and is practiced through selfreproach. Marcus develops a relation to philosophy that is essentially self-punishing, which has had a huge influence till today when it comes not only to Stoicism but the practice of philosophy in general. The presentation will question the roots of this transformation in Marcus and how it rises from a personal interpretation that grows from a sense of inadequacy and guilt.