Taoist Thinker #9: Yang Zhu (楊朱, Individualist Philosopher)

Discover Yang Zhu, illustrious Taoist thinker and individualist philosopher.

In the history of Chinese philosophy, his name resonates with respect and admiration. Advocating a unique vision of Taoism, he left his mark with his unique thinking.

Learn more about his teachings which have spanned the centuries without losing their relevance.

Contents :

1. Who is Yang Zhu?

2. When did Yang Zhu live?

3. The writings of Yang Zhu

4. The impact of Yang Zhu on Chinese thought

5. The deification of Yang Zhu

6. Worship of Yang Zhu

Who is Yang Zhu?

Who is Yang Zhu?

Yang Zhu, sometimes called Yang Zi, was an influential thinker in ancient China. Its existence took place during the tumultuous Warring States period (475-221 BC). He is recognized as a major figure in the school of thought known as "selfish pragmatism" or "hedonism".

Yang Zhu's philosophy advocated the ideal of a life centered on personal fulfillment and the quest for pleasure. According to him, this ideal could be achieved by cultivating a certain indifference towards others, while avoiding any form of altruism or self-sacrifice.

Individual happiness was therefore at the heart of the teachings of this Chinese philosopher. For him, everyone should focus on their own satisfaction and reject any notion of self-sacrifice for others.

In short, Yang Zhu marked his era with his unique and controversial vision of the world based on selfish pragmatism and hedonism.

When did Yang Zhu live?

When did Yang Zhu live?

Yang Zhu, a significant figure in China's millennia-old history, lived through troubled times. This era is known as the Warring States. It took place between 475 and 221 BC, a period characterized by constant conflict.

During this turbulent period, several states vied to expand their territorial domination. A game of geopolitical chess which has continued to fuel the blaze of hostilities.

Yang Zhu himself was an influential thinker of the time. Historians estimate that it exerted its major influence during the 4th century BCE.

An essential figure in the study of ancient Chinese philosophy whose ideas resonated well beyond his tumultuous times.

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The writings of Yang Zhu

The existence of Yang Zhu, an influential thinker, is attested by writings which are unfortunately no longer available today. However, it is possible to trace his ideas through the works of other intellectuals such as Han Feizi and Sima Qian.

Later works like "Han Feizi" and "Shiji" often refer to him. They highlight his philosophy on neglecting others and the importance of individual happiness.

Yang Zhu's thoughts were instrumental in the development of certain philosophical theories. His unique vision has been preserved through later works which continue to be studied for their profound wisdom.

He focused his approach on the search for personal well-being without worrying about others. This is a bold but interesting perspective that needs to be explored further to understand its impact on the intellectual world.

In sum, although no original texts directly attributed to Yang Zhu have survived over time, we can still learn about his teachings through the respective works of Han Feizi and Sima Qian.

The impact of Yang Zhu on Chinese thought

The impact of Yang Zhu on Chinese thought

Yang Zhu, despite the absence of original works written by his hand, left an indelible mark on Chinese philosophy. Its principles were assimilated by various later intellectual movements, including Taoism and Legalism.

He proposed a concept of pragmatic egoism that disrupted traditional Confucian values. The latter highlighted altruism and social morality. Thinkers following Yang Zhu therefore began to question these preconceptions.

The quest for personal happiness has thus established itself at the heart of certain branches of contemporary Chinese thought. It is thanks to this intellectual revolution that new perspectives were able to emerge in the philosophical landscape of the country.

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The deification of Yang Zhu

With the passage of time, passionate followers of Yangzi's teachings began to perceive their favorite thinker as a divine entity. They were convinced that he had the ability to grant special favors to those who honored his memory or adhered to his doctrines.

Although this sanctification has not reached the scale attributed to emblematic figures such as Confucius or Lao Tzu, it still reflects today the esteem that certain admirers have for this disputed philosopher.

The tribute paid by these fervent supporters demonstrates Yangzi's enduring place in their hearts and minds. Their continued reverence testifies to the philosopher's enduring influence on contemporary thoughts and attitudes.

This trend also illustrates how a historical figure can transcend his initial role to transform himself into a spiritual figure, thereby strengthening his influence beyond the traditional confines of his initial philosophy.

Worship of Yang Zhu

Worship of Yang Zhu

Yang Zhu remains a revered figure in China, despite his lesser popularity compared to other, more famous religious figures. Sacred places are dedicated to him and specific ceremonies are organized to commemorate his existence.

However, it should be noted that these tributes remain in the minority compared to the predominant religious currents such as Confucianism or Buddhism in this country.

In short, Yang Zhu was an influential Chinese thinker during the Warring States Period. His theories on pragmatic egoism marked future Chinese philosophy. Although no original writings are directly attributed to this philosopher, his concepts continue to have an impact on some current devotees who see him as a major deity in their spiritual journey.

author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.