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Forgetfulness and Flow: “Happiness” in Zhuangzi’s Daoism

Forgetfulness and Flow: “Happiness” in Zhuangzi’s Daoism

 Ellen Y. Zhang

Department of Religion and Philosophy, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong


 In this paper, I will approach Zhuangzi’s notion of happiness or a well-lived life by ascribing to his concepts of forgetfulness and flow. The paper aims to show that Zhuangzi’s idea of flow, from an experience-process perspective, resembles a certain aspect of the flow defined by Csíkszentmihályi’s motivational psychology, but it is more complicated and more difficult to be conceptualized due to the employment of negative expressions in his philosophy. Zhuangzi’s claim that “The perfect happiness is derived from the absence of happiness” designates two key arguments: (1) Happiness cannot be designed and measured, and (2) There is no single fixed notion of happiness and meaning-making. In conclusion, I attempt to show that flow experiences, in the context of Zhuangzi’s Daoism, point to a fluid and creative mind that transcends the rigidity of conventional mores and life patterns so that a person can respond to the world of flux more effectively and happily.


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Pakistan Journal of Zoology


Vol. 52, Iss. 4, Pages 1225-1630


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