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How do you know what fish enjoy

Jan 12, 2009

Storyteller: Great philosophers are great thinkers.  Great thinkers “think different” (credit to Apple, Inc.). They think in a way that sometimes seems ridiculous or non-sense to us. But if we review their ideas closer, usually there is some insightful wisdom in it.  This time, we have two philosophers together, and they challenged each other about “think different”.

The Happiness of Fish

The Happiness of Fish

The Happiness of Fish by Yafeng Wang

Zhuangzi and Huizi were strolling on the bridge of the Hao River when Zhuangzi said, “See how the fish come out and dart around easily!  That’s the pleasure fish really enjoy!”

Huizi said, “You’re not a fish — how do you know what fish enjoy?”

Zhuangzi argued, “You’re not me, so how do you know I don’t know what fish enjoy?”

Huizi said, “I’m not you, so I for sure don’t know what you know. On the other hand, you’re certainly not a fish — so that still proves you don’t know what fish enjoy!”

Zhuangzi said, “Let’s go back to your original question, please. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy — so you already knew I knew it when you asked the question. I know it by standing here on the bridge of  Hao River.”

Storyteller: Kind of trick debate, isn’t it? I am even not sure whether Zhuangzi actually won in the story (He answered where but not how).  This short but famous story derived two Chinese idioms:
1. On the bridge of Hao river: a place of pleasure specially enjoyed by oneself.
2. You are not fish, how do you know what fish enjoy? :  Each individual has his/her own feeling, value and behavior patterns; Don’t judge others!

© Original painting by Yafeng Wang. Copyrights belong to Author. Thumbnail source here: link>>

1. 《庄子 – 秋水》<Zhuangzi> translation modified from B. Watson’s.

[Recommended Reading]
1. Amazon Bestseller Book: Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

2. Another book on Zhuangzi: The Way of Chuang Tzu (Shambhala Library)

[Chinese Keyword]

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  1. August 2nd, 2009 at 21:35 | #1

    Thank you for submitting your article to the Fish Carnival. We enjoyed your story about How do you know what a fish enjoys. It makes me feel like I should have taken more philosophy classes when I was in college.

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