Liberation as Affirmation

The Religiosity of Zhuangzi and Nietzsche

By Ge Ling Shang

Subjects: Asian Religion And Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9780791466681, 198 pages, January 2007
Hardcover : 9780791466674, 198 pages, March 2006

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Table of contents

1. Introduction

Reinterpreting Zhuangzi and Nietzsche
Perspective on Comparative Philosophy
Method and Plan

2. Zhuangzi’s Dao: A Way of Freedom

The Concept of Dao in Early Chinese History
Wuwu: A Deconstruction of Metaphysical Perspectives of Dao
Dao Throughs as One
Wuzhi: Equalizing Opinions is the Way of True Knowledge
Language without Words: Beyond Language and Silence
Wuwei or Non-doing: Against the Tradition of Morality
Xiao Yao You: A Spiritual Freedom Realized in this World

3. Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Life Affirmation

Nietzsche’s Mission: Revaluation of All Values
Genealogy: A New Way of Philosophizing
Truth, Knowledge, and Morals
Metaphysics as a Symptom of Human Decadence
Truths as Lies and Will to Truth as Ascetic Ideal
Language and Truth
Does Nietzsche Renounce the Existence of Truth?
A Genealogical Critique of Morality
Overcoming Metaphysics
The World of Appearances and the Will to Power
Religiosity: Liberation as Life Affirmation

4. An Interplay between Zhuangzi and Nietzsche

Goblet Words and Dionysian Dithyramb
Truth, Knowledge, and Interpretation
Revaluation and Devaluation: Beyond Good and Evil
Nature as Primary Unity
True Person and Übermensch: Living in the World
Ziran and Freedom: Life Affirmation
Further Reflections on Differences Between Zhuangzi and Nietzsche

5. Converging New Worlds: Zhuangzi, Nietzsche, and Contemporary Philosophy

Affirmation after Deconstruction: Zhuangzi and Nietzsche Challenge Postmodern Solutions
The Liberation of Thought: Zhuangzi and Nietzsche in Contemporary China
Philosophical Religiosity

Selected References

Uses the concept of religiosity to challenge traditional views of Nietzsche and Zhuangzi as nihilistic and anti-religious.


In this book, author Ge Ling Shang provides a systematic comparison of original texts by Zhuangzi (fourth century BCE) and Nietzsche (1846–1900), under the rubric of religiosity, to challenge those who have customarily relegated both thinkers to relativism, nihilism, escapism, pessimism, or anti-religion. Shang closely examines Zhuangzi's and Nietzsche's respective critiques of metaphysics, morals, language, knowledge, and humanity in general and proposes a conception of the philosophical outlooks of Zhuangzi and Nietzsche as complementary. In the creative and vital spirit of Nietzsche, as in the tranquil and inward spirit of Zhuangzi, Shang argues that a surprisingly similar vision and aspiration toward human liberation and freedom exists—one in which spiritual transformation is possible by religiously affirming life in this world as sacred and divine.

Ge Ling Shang is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Grand Valley State University.


"Ge Ling Shang's comparative study of Zhuangzi and Nietzsche provides a unique perspective on the deep affinities shared by two philosophers separated by an immense span of time and space … Liberation as Affirmation combines clear exposition and precise textual analysis with a striking internal coherence based on the central theme of religiosity. " — Symposium

"This book makes a strong case not only for reading Zhuangzi and Nietzsche as religious thinkers, but also for seeing their religious visions as similarly oriented. The suggestion that thinkers with some affinity for the goals of poststructuralism could have a less purely negative approach is significant and interesting. " — Kathleen M. Higgins, coeditor of From Africa to Zen: An Invitation to World Philosophy, Second Edition

"This book brings these two thinkers into the most extended dialogue ever attempted. It fills a need and highlights the significance of this encounter. " — Brook Ziporyn, author of The Penumbra Unbound: The Neo-Taoist Philosophy of Guo Xiang