Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2022

Department 1



The Zhuangzi, a foundational text in Classical Chinese philosophy, presents a notion of ideal humanity that involves a seemingly paradoxical relationship between a liberated existence and the barriers that restrict it. To achieve ideal humanity, one must confront the boundaries and attachments that have coalesced into a web of socio-physical conventions and developed dominion over human thought and action. This paper aims at shedding some light on this tension by offering a comparative analysis of the Zhuangzi and A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in terms of their conceptions of ideal humanity. While an abundance of time and different philosophical traditions separate these two texts, they share a relational ontology and similar concerns regarding the meaning and praxis of human freedom. These similarities allow for a cooperative understanding of ideal humanity in both texts without ideologically reducing them nor losing sight of the distinct and unique essence of each work. While the Zhuangzi provides a comprehensive reflection on the variability of constraints and conventions that delimit human freedom, A Thousand Plateaus illuminates the nature of this freedom using particular embodiments of the ideal person. Throughout the comparative analysis of both works, I will offer a framework for grasping the paradox of detached existence within a world of lively entanglements.


Written for PHIL 466: Senior Thesis.