“Emptiness” and Daoist “ethical work”

In 2008 I published a preliminary study of conceptions of xu (emptiness, blankness, insubstantiality) in the Zhuangzi. I’ve recently completed a follow-up study tying the Zhuangzi concept of xu to Foucault’s notion of “ethical work,” the tasks or practices by which agents reshape themselves to become ethical adepts. Along the way I make a few remarks as well about how the concept of “flow” popularized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi might relate to Zhuangist ideals. There’s still a lot more to say about the practical side of Zhuangist thought, but I hope this latest study helps to fill in a few more pieces of the puzzle.

An extended abstract and a preprint of the full paper can be found here.