Tag Archives: Zhuangzi

The Fish Trap

I may have my frustrations with Western philosophy and religion, but I feel like a complete ignoramus when it comes to the Eastern varieties. To learn more, and also to learn about the life-journey of a friend of mine, I attended a meeting of an Eastern philosophy group.

There was much material worth blogging about there, so here goes with the first bit.

Fish Trap

An ancient Chinese philosopher by the name of Zhuangzi  said,

The fish trap exists because of the fish. Once you’ve gotten the fish you can forget the trap. The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit. Once you’ve gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words exist because of meaning. Once you’ve gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can talk with him?

So much of Western philosophy is about pinning down definitions. So much of our religion is dogma. Could that be because we have not yet caught the fish? Could it be that if each of us really had a fish as we claim, we would not be arguing over what kind of trap is best?

I don’t know. What do you think?