A Tale Of Fish

We end the book right back where we start—with questions. And this is illustrated through the parable of the happiness of fish, as noted by Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi. No one can peer into the minds of others—and this is shown right from the outset in two ways. Zhuangzi first assets that he knows the happiness of the fish, but in fact, he is not presupposing to know their state of mind, only that fish are simply doing what fish do, and this is their happiness. It’s that simple. Zhuangzi knows the happiness of fish because fish do what fish do and he can see them doing it. However, Huizi points out that Zhuangzi is not a fish, so how could he possibly know what brings them happiness, just as the two of them cannot possibly know what the other knows or does not know. If Zhuangzi cannot know the happiness of fish because he is not a fish, then, applying the same reasoning, Huizi cannot know whether Zhuangzi knows it or not. If the first premise is correct, then this conclusion would certainly seem to logically follow. And in the end, maybe it’s all a dream, and we’re just a butterfly waking up from a deep nap in mid-spring.

Continue reading “A Tale Of Fish”