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Conferences & lectures

Finding a Way Together: Interpersonal Ethics in the Zhuangzi

Date & time
Friday, September 30, 2022
4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Registration is closed


This event is free


J.W. McConnell Building
1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.

Wheel chair accessible


4th Space and the Department of Philosophy Present: Finding a Way Together 

​The various threads of discourse preserved in the Zhuāngzǐ (3rd century BC) present a radical challenge to prevailing ways of thinking about ethics, whether in the texts’ own day or our own. The dominant stance in the Zhuāngzǐ is to reject orthodox moral norms or values on the grounds that they are ineffective guides to dào 道 (the way). In their place, Zhuangist writings focus directly on the concepts of dào and dé 德 (power, agency), along with interrelated conceptions of the well-lived life. 

In this lecture, Chris Fraser will inquire into how this approach shapes the attitudes and conduct of the Zhuangist adept toward other persons. He will suggest that on a broadly Zhuangist understanding, interpersonal ethics is simply a special case of competence in applying dé (power, agency) and following dào (ways). The general ideal of exemplary activity is to employ our dé to find a fitting, free-flowing dào by which to navigate through contingent, changing circumstances. 

How can you participate? Attend in person (note, we can accommodate up to 30 audience members comfortably in the space) or online by registering for the Zoom Meeting or watching live on YouTube.

Have questions? Send them to  


Chris Fraser (University of Toronto)

Chris Fraser holds the Richard Charles and Esther Yewpick Lee Chair in Chinese Thought and Culture, a joint appointment in the Department of Philosophy and the Department of East Asian Studies. His research specialization is classical Chinese philosophy, particularly how early Chinese theories of mind, knowledge, and language intersect with issues in contemporary epistemology, action theory, and ethics. He also works on the history of Chinese political thought, especially the development of the concept of standards or laws and the interplay between moral character and social institutions.

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