Chuang Tzu

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Discussion on making all things equal
from the inner chapters of
Chuang Tzu

by
Aven Fisher

Through comparing different translations of the same texts one can get an idea of the meanings for the Chinese words used by Chuang Tzu in his work. In comparison to the English language the difference in the translations of the text gives the impression that the Chinese words used are much broader terms and must be simplified before we can describe them in English. This paper will assess the second section of the Chuang Tzu, specifically Discussion on making all things equal translated by Burton Watson.[1] The Chuang Tzu does not read in straightforward manner by any comparison to English literature. Upon first reading a chapter in the Chuang Tzu with no prior knowledge of the author or the style by which he conveys his thoughts one might interpret the text to be the poetic ramblings of an ancient Chinese version of Dr. Seuss. Upon continued reading of the Chuang Tzu it becomes clearer what the messages are within the stories and the reader can piece together an understanding of what Chuang Tzu was trying to convey when he produced his thirty three chapters. Chuang Tzu explains his ideas of Taoism or “the Way”[2] using poetry very much like Lao Tzu although in greater detail due to the brevity of Lao Tzu’s poems[3]. Chuang Tzu’s ideas are also explained by using characters from other texts or from history in his stories to recreate scenes in a humorous way often using exaggerated characters and dialogue. The second chapter of the Chang Tzu “Khi Wu Lun”[4] translates to “Discussion on making all things equal”[5] as Burton Watson puts it. The second chapter is introduced with a conversation between a master and a man named Yen Ch’eng Tzu-yu. The first part of the chapter is a description of the need and use for clarity, told as the master explaining to the apprentice. It is possible to think of this hectic introduction...
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