Culture Talk Series: Chasing the Butterfly Dream
May 23 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Chasing the Butterfly Dream: Zhuangzi and Early Medieval Chinese Culture
Date: Thursday, May 23, 2019
Time: 4 – 5 PM
Location: East Asian Library (Gowen Hall), University of Washington
Admission: Free to public
Presenter: Professor Ping Wang, Dept. of Asian Languages and Literature, UW
The “Qi wu lun” 齊物論 chapter is arguably the most important and at the same time an extremely difficult chapter from the Zhuangzi 莊子. Its enigmatic and elusive ending—the famous butterfly dream narrative—signifies something unattainable in human’s pursuit of life’s meaning and the cosmic truth.
In the centuries following the collapse of the Han Empire (202 b.c.e – 220 c.e.), Zhuangzi rose to be an essential text whose interpretations led to unprecedented explorations of cultural ideals that would ascribe meaning to the identity of the exiled Han population and, to a great extent, establish the genetics of Chinese culture. In other words, in order to understand modern China and contemporary Chinese society, we have to delve into the minds of Early Medieval Chinese thinkers.
The way the educated elites lived their lives and pursued their dreams by negotiating the philosophical and spiritual dimensions of the Zhuangzi has much to teach us about our own “cultural selves.”
This lecture is offered as part of CIWA’s Culture Talk Series.