China the Beautiful

These Fish Are Happy

(But How Do You Know That?)
By Zhuangzi [Chuang Tze]

Chinese text | Story | Classics

One day Zhuangzi and Huizi are strolling on Bridge Hao.

Zhuangzi : "Look how happy the fish are just swimming around in the river."

Huizi :      "How do you know they are happy? You are not a fish."

Zhuangzi: "And you are not me. How do you know I don't know the fish are happy?"

Huizi:      "Of course I'm not you, and I don't know what you think;

   But I do know that you're not a fish,
   and so you couldn't possibly know the fish are happy."

Zhuangzi: "Look, when you asked me how I knew the fish were happy,

  you already knew that I knew the fish were happy.
  I knew it from my feelings standing on this bridge.

- ZhuangZi (369?-286? b.c.)

tr. Brian Bruya


HuiZi was trying to use his rational knowledge to get to a logical conclusion, but without realizing it he passes over even more.
What is the logical reasoning of this story?
Who do you think is right?
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