Zhuangzi glossary



Angus Graham argues for a technical distinction, at least within the second chapter, between 因是 yīn shì, which he translates as "the 'That's it' which goes by circumstance," and 為是 wèi shì, "the 'That's it' which deems." The difference, as I understand it, is between acknowledging that things can be looked at in a certain way (因是) and asserting that they are that way (為是), so I translate them as going "along with things" and "insisting." 

2:05 says the wise person is described as 因是, "going along with things." 2.06 says 因是已 yīn shì yĭ, which Graham reads as "the 'That's it' which goes by circumstance comes to an end." This is a legitimate reading since 已 yĭ means "to stop." Graham translates on: "and when it is at an end, that of which you do not know what is so of it you call the way" (Graham 1981: 54). According to this reading, there are three options: 為是 wèi shìinsisting, which Zhuangzi rejects (2.:6), 因是 yīn shì, going along, which is attributed to the wise person (2:05) and the monkey trainer (2:06), and the cessation even of 因是 yīn shì which leads to the way (2:05). Is going along a good thing, since the wise person does it, or a bad thing (just not as bad as insisting), since it has to stop for the way to be achieved?

I find my way around this difficulty by reading 已 yĭ differently. In effect, instead of reading 因是已 yīn shì yĭ as "going along stops," I read it as going along and stop": the wise person "just goes along with things, is all." Similarly in 2:09, where Graham has "Take no step at all, and the 'That's it' which goes by circumstance will come to an end," I have "Don’t do it! Just go along with things." Thus my reading presents two options instead of Graham's three.