Daniel Wyche

Thesis Title:  "The Masters and the Marsh Sparrow:  Zhuangzi's Authentic Person."

Advisor: Edwin F. Bryant

Over the course of the past two semesters, I worked with Professors Chün-fang Yü and Kenneth Holloway on a thesis which dealt with the key concept of the “Authentic Person” in a classical Chinese religious-philosophi­cal text, the Zhuangzi, or Chuang-tzu, named after its pur­ported author.  Entitled: “The Masters and the Marsh Sparrow: Zhuangzi’s Authentic Person, A Classical Chinese Thinker on Limitation and Possibility at the Pivot of the Way,” my text fo­cused on the way in which Zhuangzi used an unorthodox an­ecdotal or parablistic style to conjure up humorous and memo­rable characters to impart his vision of human Authen­ticity.  I argued that for Zhuangzi, the ideal individual reaches authen­ticity or perfection not by mastering mystic rites or the like, but by coming to grips with his or her own limitations and specific place within the great natural order (Dao, or ‘the Way’) and living with those limita­tions.  Ironically, it is in this act of understanding limitation that one is lib­erated, and given access to the infi­nite range of creative possibilities that present themselves to a given individual at any time.  My work on this project was tedious but extremely rewarding, and in the future I intend to pursue graduate work in the field of religious studies, per­haps focusing on the spaces where the reli­gious, political, and phi­losophical all link up.