HyC Adventures
The Poetics of Perception
The Happiness of Fish

 

 

 

 

The Happiness of Fish

 

 

 

 

 

Chuang Tzu and Hui Tzu were strolling along the dam of the Hao River when Chuang Tzu said, “See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That’s what fish really enjoy!”

 

Hui Tzu said, “You’re not a fish—how do you know what fish enjoy?”

 

Chuang Tzu said, “You’re not I, so how do you know I don’t know what fish enjoy?”

 

Hui Tzu said, “I’m not you, so I certainly don’t know what you know. On the other hand, you’re certainly not a fish—so that still proves you don’t know what fish enjoy!”

 

Chuang Tzu said, “Let’s go back to your original question, please. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy—so you already knew I knew it when you asked the question. I know it by standing here beside the Hao.”

 

Chinese Text:

 

莊子與惠子遊於濠梁之上。莊子曰:「鯈魚出遊從容,是魚之樂也。」

 

惠子曰:「子非魚,安知魚之樂?」

 

莊子曰:「子非我,安知我不知魚之樂?」

 

惠子曰:「我非子,固不知子矣;子固非魚也,子之不知魚之樂,全矣。」

 

莊子曰:「請循其本。子曰『汝安知魚樂』云者,既已知吾知之而問我,我知之濠上也。

 

 

The English translation is from chapter 17 of The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, translated by Burton Watson.

 

The picture, also entitled “The Happiness of Fish,” is by Chiang Yee and is in his book Chinese Calligraphy, facing page 211.

 

 

 

 

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