Behavior and attitude towards the world: A comparative analysis between the Cynics and the School of Zhuangzi

Research paper by Juping Yang

Indexed on: 01 Mar '07Published on: 01 Mar '07Published in: Frontiers of History in China


During the fourth and third centuries B.C., both the ancient Greek and Chinese civilizations evolved into key periods of social transformation. The Cynics and the School of Zhuangzi responded most acutely to these great social changes. Both of them denied the legitimacy of the existing political systems, denounced the upper rulers and felt disappointed at the comprehensive reality of societies, and were indifferent to fame and gain, and willing to live simply and smile at death. But compared with the Zhuangzi School, the Cynics were more extreme and defiant. Viewed from both macro and micro perspectives, the differences in civilizations, geographical conditions, and historical traditions determined the difference in behavior and attitudes of the two schools in terms of their behavior in the world. Nevertheless, their similarities outweigh their differences because of the similar development stages of their civilizations, similar socio-historical periods and similar social and living problems confronted.