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Zhuang Zi Philosophy of Technology on Today’s Society History Essay (Essay Sample)


Essay Question, Axial Age China
Zhuang Zi writes:
Wherever there were machines, there were bound to be mechanical acts, and when there were
mechanical acts, there was bound to be a machine heart. With a machine’s heart in your
breast, you’ve spoiled what is pure and simple; and without the pure and simple, the life of the
spirit knows no rest. Where the life of the spirit knows no rest, the Dao will cease to buoy you
What is your interpretation of this passage? Explain what Zhuang Zi means by “mechanical
acts” and “machine hearts.” What does he think is preferable to these? After your
interpretation, apply the ideas of the passage to today’s society. Do you think technology today
affects our ethics (ideas of justice, compassion, tolerance, empathy), or spirit ( a sense of
connection with the universe)? Give concrete examples to support your answer.
Length: Two pages minimum.
Format: MLA. Attach your essay in MS Word or Google Docs format only.
Due Date: 11/30
Grading: Display of understanding of the assignment and concepts-35%
Organization following essay and MLA formats—35%
Standard rules of English grammar and mechanics—30%
Note: This assignment will not be allowed an exemption in the final tabulation of grades.


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Reflection of Zhuang Zi Philosophy of Technology on Today’s Society
The passage involves a dialogue between a gardener and Zigong who were discussing a situation of a well-sweep and the process of drawing water from the well which resulted to the formation of a constant stream of water by use of a water lever. This dialogue forms the bases of this paper discussion whereby, “mechanical acts” and “machine hearts” are used metaphorically to express a technological diversion in today’s life and the effects caused through its adoption. In this context, the Zhuang Zi writer used “mechanical acts” to represent the act of sophistication that was present during those days and they are also evident in the society currently. The acts of sophistication included the use of technological innovations and advancements whose aim was to reduce the bulk of labour energy by the invention of ideologies that counteract human physical energy. In the case of the gardener in Zhuang Zi, people used a water lever to draw water from the well rather than drawing it directly from the well by use of one’s hands (Froese).

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