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Reading: Winning, Losing, and Wandering Play: Zhuangzian Paradox and Daoist Practice


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Winning, Losing, and Wandering Play: Zhuangzian Paradox and Daoist Practice


Lynette Hunter ,

University of California Davis, US
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Richard Schubert

Cosumnes River College, US
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Many daoist texts offer guidelines to political action. The following essay on Zhuangzi and the martial arts explores kinds of movement and thinking that remind Western political philosophy of the breadth of action open to politics when we think outside of the neoliberal parameters of the modern world. Daoist traditions that have inspired the martial arts are commonly taxonomized in terms of means or ends: either as physical movements, or as effective cause. Effective cause is itself often divided into battlefield efficacy and self-actualization. This paper explores an alternative orientation toward movement and toward winning and losing, which daoism also makes available to the martial arts, and one that goes beyond the dichotomy of means and ends to focus on process. In specific, this paper uses the paradoxes of the classic daoist text Zhuangzi and a traditional daoist movement system to explore the eschewal of end-directed, teleological activity in favour of the ‘undifferentiated’, what we call non-teleological process or wandering play that is co-extensive with the objects, sentient beings, and other things in an ecological field. It is to imagine a non-autonomous self. Daoist movement tradition reminds us of the vitality in the concurrent Western search for the multitudinous self, the transindividual self, the porous self, which all seek to find political action appropriate to sentient beings that are aware of their co-extension with things, animals and objects, of their ecological field.

How to Cite: Hunter, L. and Schubert, R., 2014. Winning, Losing, and Wandering Play: Zhuangzian Paradox and Daoist Practice. JOMEC Journal, (5), p.None. DOI:
Published on 01 Jun 2014.
Peer Reviewed


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