UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Embodying perfection : the figure of the sage in the thought of Zhuangzi, Xunzi and Han Feizi Hamm, Matthew James


The term shengren 聖人 or “sage” represents an ethical and philosophical ideal in Early Chinese thought. Because it denotes the perfected individual the sage can be seen as embodying the core values of the philosophy in which it appears. This thesis uses the concept of the sage to analyze the most prominent negative and positive evaluations of the Zhuangzi, Xunzi and Han Feizi. As well, it uses the three different conceptions of the sage to compare the texts, highlighting common themes and debates between them. By placing these three different works within a common conceptual framework, this study provides an alternative to post-Han dynasty classifications. Chapters two, three and four will explore the value systems of Zhuangzi, Xunzi and Han Feizi respectively. Chapter five will then compare the three texts to investigate general similarities as well as the shared themes of internalism versus externalism, anthropocentrism and the sage’s role, as well as the sagely characteristics of agency, creativity and adaptability.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International