Article of Interest: “Indeterminate self: Subjectivity, body and politics in Zhuangzi” by Peng Yu

Yu, Peng. “Indeterminate Self: Subjectivity, Body and Politics in Zhuangzi.” Philosophy & Social Criticism, (January 2019). doi:10.1177/0191453718820900.

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In this article, I re-examine political subjectivity by way of looking at the canonical text of Chinese Daoist philosophy – Zhuangzi. I trace the course of how the body is conceived in Zhuangzi and discuss its relation with the unmaking of personhood. I then look into ways in which the body–self nexus in Zhuangzi gives rise to new conceptualization of political relations. I argue that, in Zhuangzi, the body is conceived as spontaneous and dispossessed. The body as such foregrounds the condition for unsettling subjectivity. In staging ambivalent subjectivities, Zhuangzi describes a mode of politics where political relations thrive on indeterminacy and uncertainty. I submit that the authors of Zhuangzi propose a depoliticizing approach to politics whereby ‘effortless action’ replaces established processes in reinventing new relations and subjects.

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