The forger: the use of things

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Although most stories of skill (skill stories) in the Zhuangzi are recorded in chapter 19, “ Da sheng ” ( 達生 , “Fathoming Life”), an often-overlooked story on the same topic is found in chapter 22, “ Zhi bei you ” ( 知北遊 , “Knowledge Roaming North”). It is about a forger working under the grand marshal. 2 Chapter 12 of the Huainanzi records a slightly different version of the story, but we focus on their similarities here. Zhuangzi 3 uses the story to illustrate the process of skill cultivation and its relationship with things ( wu 物 ). Of all the skill stories in the text, this is the only one to discuss the relationship between use ( yong 用 ) and non-use ( bu yong 不用 ). Whilst it is generally agreed that the value of uselessness ( wu yong 無用 ) is a recurring theme in the Zhuangzi , the forger emphasises that he “leaves nothing unused” ( wu bu yong 無不用 ), 4 leading one to wonder how these two ideas can be reconciled when thinking about skill. Against this backdrop, this chapter offers a detailed interpretation of the forger’s words. I argue that they contain at least three messages. First, every improvement to skill is accompanied by concentration, leading to proficiency but possibly also blind spots. Second, ordinary skill improvement is “surpassed” if one can achieve the state of “leaving nothing unused”. Third, attaining this extraordinary state enables one to support all things, and perhaps to be simultaneously supported by them. After explaining these messages in detail, I articulate a possible sociopolitical implication of the story, namely that emptiness and flexibility are regarded as key to the art of governance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSkill and mastery : philosophical stories from the Zhuangzi
EditorsKaryn LAI, Wai Wai CHIU
PublisherRowman & Littlefield
Chapter16
Pages259-277
ISBN (Electronic)9781786609144
ISBN (Print)9781786609120, 9781786609137
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019

Publication series

NameCEACOP East Asian Comparative Ethics, Politics and Philosophy of Law
PublisherRowman & Littlefield

Fingerprint

Forge
Zhuangzi
Emptiness
Proficiency
Art
Governance
Sheng

Cite this

CHIU, W. W. (2019). The forger: the use of things. In K. LAI, & W. W. CHIU (Eds.), Skill and mastery : philosophical stories from the Zhuangzi (pp. 259-277). (CEACOP East Asian Comparative Ethics, Politics and Philosophy of Law). Rowman & Littlefield.
CHIU, Wai Wai. / The forger: the use of things. Skill and mastery : philosophical stories from the Zhuangzi. editor / Karyn LAI ; Wai Wai CHIU. Rowman & Littlefield, 2019. pp. 259-277 (CEACOP East Asian Comparative Ethics, Politics and Philosophy of Law).
@inbook{2d2f97766ebc4131b2a586dc63287f8b,
title = "The forger: the use of things",
abstract = "Although most stories of skill (skill stories) in the Zhuangzi are recorded in chapter 19, “ Da sheng ” ( 達生 , “Fathoming Life”), an often-overlooked story on the same topic is found in chapter 22, “ Zhi bei you ” ( 知北遊 , “Knowledge Roaming North”). It is about a forger working under the grand marshal. 2 Chapter 12 of the Huainanzi records a slightly different version of the story, but we focus on their similarities here. Zhuangzi 3 uses the story to illustrate the process of skill cultivation and its relationship with things ( wu 物 ). Of all the skill stories in the text, this is the only one to discuss the relationship between use ( yong 用 ) and non-use ( bu yong 不用 ). Whilst it is generally agreed that the value of uselessness ( wu yong 無用 ) is a recurring theme in the Zhuangzi , the forger emphasises that he “leaves nothing unused” ( wu bu yong 無不用 ), 4 leading one to wonder how these two ideas can be reconciled when thinking about skill. Against this backdrop, this chapter offers a detailed interpretation of the forger’s words. I argue that they contain at least three messages. First, every improvement to skill is accompanied by concentration, leading to proficiency but possibly also blind spots. Second, ordinary skill improvement is “surpassed” if one can achieve the state of “leaving nothing unused”. Third, attaining this extraordinary state enables one to support all things, and perhaps to be simultaneously supported by them. After explaining these messages in detail, I articulate a possible sociopolitical implication of the story, namely that emptiness and flexibility are regarded as key to the art of governance.",
author = "CHIU, {Wai Wai}",
year = "2019",
month = "7",
day = "15",
language = "English",
isbn = "9781786609120",
series = "CEACOP East Asian Comparative Ethics, Politics and Philosophy of Law",
publisher = "Rowman & Littlefield",
pages = "259--277",
editor = "Karyn LAI and CHIU, {Wai Wai}",
booktitle = "Skill and mastery : philosophical stories from the Zhuangzi",
address = "United States",

}

CHIU, WW 2019, The forger: the use of things. in K LAI & WW CHIU (eds), Skill and mastery : philosophical stories from the Zhuangzi. CEACOP East Asian Comparative Ethics, Politics and Philosophy of Law, Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 259-277.

The forger: the use of things. / CHIU, Wai Wai.

Skill and mastery : philosophical stories from the Zhuangzi. ed. / Karyn LAI; Wai Wai CHIU. Rowman & Littlefield, 2019. p. 259-277 (CEACOP East Asian Comparative Ethics, Politics and Philosophy of Law).

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review

TY - CHAP

T1 - The forger: the use of things

AU - CHIU, Wai Wai

PY - 2019/7/15

Y1 - 2019/7/15

N2 - Although most stories of skill (skill stories) in the Zhuangzi are recorded in chapter 19, “ Da sheng ” ( 達生 , “Fathoming Life”), an often-overlooked story on the same topic is found in chapter 22, “ Zhi bei you ” ( 知北遊 , “Knowledge Roaming North”). It is about a forger working under the grand marshal. 2 Chapter 12 of the Huainanzi records a slightly different version of the story, but we focus on their similarities here. Zhuangzi 3 uses the story to illustrate the process of skill cultivation and its relationship with things ( wu 物 ). Of all the skill stories in the text, this is the only one to discuss the relationship between use ( yong 用 ) and non-use ( bu yong 不用 ). Whilst it is generally agreed that the value of uselessness ( wu yong 無用 ) is a recurring theme in the Zhuangzi , the forger emphasises that he “leaves nothing unused” ( wu bu yong 無不用 ), 4 leading one to wonder how these two ideas can be reconciled when thinking about skill. Against this backdrop, this chapter offers a detailed interpretation of the forger’s words. I argue that they contain at least three messages. First, every improvement to skill is accompanied by concentration, leading to proficiency but possibly also blind spots. Second, ordinary skill improvement is “surpassed” if one can achieve the state of “leaving nothing unused”. Third, attaining this extraordinary state enables one to support all things, and perhaps to be simultaneously supported by them. After explaining these messages in detail, I articulate a possible sociopolitical implication of the story, namely that emptiness and flexibility are regarded as key to the art of governance.

AB - Although most stories of skill (skill stories) in the Zhuangzi are recorded in chapter 19, “ Da sheng ” ( 達生 , “Fathoming Life”), an often-overlooked story on the same topic is found in chapter 22, “ Zhi bei you ” ( 知北遊 , “Knowledge Roaming North”). It is about a forger working under the grand marshal. 2 Chapter 12 of the Huainanzi records a slightly different version of the story, but we focus on their similarities here. Zhuangzi 3 uses the story to illustrate the process of skill cultivation and its relationship with things ( wu 物 ). Of all the skill stories in the text, this is the only one to discuss the relationship between use ( yong 用 ) and non-use ( bu yong 不用 ). Whilst it is generally agreed that the value of uselessness ( wu yong 無用 ) is a recurring theme in the Zhuangzi , the forger emphasises that he “leaves nothing unused” ( wu bu yong 無不用 ), 4 leading one to wonder how these two ideas can be reconciled when thinking about skill. Against this backdrop, this chapter offers a detailed interpretation of the forger’s words. I argue that they contain at least three messages. First, every improvement to skill is accompanied by concentration, leading to proficiency but possibly also blind spots. Second, ordinary skill improvement is “surpassed” if one can achieve the state of “leaving nothing unused”. Third, attaining this extraordinary state enables one to support all things, and perhaps to be simultaneously supported by them. After explaining these messages in detail, I articulate a possible sociopolitical implication of the story, namely that emptiness and flexibility are regarded as key to the art of governance.

M3 - Book Chapter

SN - 9781786609120

SN - 9781786609137

T3 - CEACOP East Asian Comparative Ethics, Politics and Philosophy of Law

SP - 259

EP - 277

BT - Skill and mastery : philosophical stories from the Zhuangzi

A2 - LAI, Karyn

A2 - CHIU, Wai Wai

PB - Rowman & Littlefield

ER -

CHIU WW. The forger: the use of things. In LAI K, CHIU WW, editors, Skill and mastery : philosophical stories from the Zhuangzi. Rowman & Littlefield. 2019. p. 259-277. (CEACOP East Asian Comparative Ethics, Politics and Philosophy of Law).