The Biopolitics of Nourishing Life

Daoism as Environmental Philosophy

Authors

  • Manhua LI Royal Holloway College University of London, United Kingdom

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2023.11.2.95-116

Keywords:

biopolitics, nourishing life, neoliberalism, environment, technology of the self

Abstract

In this paper, I argue that nourishing life (yangsheng 養生) as a self-cultivating practice stands as an alternative model of biopolitics that challenges the neoliberal one. Existing scholarship on nourishing life focuses much on its ethical significance, for instance, as an effective way to lead a long life, whereas Nelson’s most recent monograph Daoism as Environmental Philosophy: Nourishing Life provides new insights into the socio-political aspect of it, in terms of an ecological way of government. However, Nelson’s discussion of biopolitics rarely engages with the Seven Sages in the Bamboo Forest (zhulin qixian 竹林七賢) that nonetheless practice nourishing life themselves, as an art of living and a political strategy. Focused on nourishing life in Ji Kang as one of the Sages, I situate my position against Jullien’s claim that the self-cultivating sage is uncritical due to his incapacity to think of conflict in the face of power. And in the context of his book I also highlight Heubel’s negligence of the neoliberal political economy underlying Foucauldian biopolitics in the context of his intercultural study of nourishing life as a possible model of biopolitics. As such, based on Nelson’s consideration of the non-coercive ethos and praxis of Dao, I propose a biopolitics of nourishing life as opposed to the neoliberal “environmental technology” that normalizes materialist lifestyle and attitudes, the production of freedom as commodity.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Asiyanbi, Adeniyi P. 2018. “Financialisation in the Green Economy: Material Connections, Markets-in-the-making and Foucauldian Organising Actions.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 50 (3): 53148. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0308518X17708787

Chai, David. 2017. “Ji Kang on Nourishing Life.” Frontiers of Philosophy in China 12 (1): 3853. DOI 10.3868/s030-006-017-0004-9.

Chang, Chiung-Ying 張瓊霙. 2017. “Cong Ji Kang yu Xiang Xiu de ru dao guang pu kan liang ren de chu lu 從嵇康與向秀的儒道光譜看兩人的出路 (The Ruist and Taoist Spectrum in Xi Kang’s and Xiang Xiu’s Last Choises on Matters of Life and Death).” Jiedi 33 (July): 3769.

Dai, Mingyang 戴明揚. 2015. Ji Kang ji jiao zhu 嵇康集校注 (Annotation of Ji Kang’s Works). Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

Dean, Mitchel, and Daniel Zamora. 2021. The Last Man Takes LSD: Foucault and the End of Revolution. London: Verso.

Flew, Terry. 2015. “Foucault, Weber, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Governmentality.” Theory, Culture & Society 32 (7-8): 31726. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276415607605

Foucault, Michel. 1984. Histoire de la sexualité 3. Le souci de soi. Paris: Gallimard.

———. 2001. L’herméneutique du sujet : cours au Collège de France (1981-1982). Paris: Seuil / Gallimard.

———. 2004. La naissance de la biopolitique. Paris: Seuil / Gallimard.

———. 2009. Le courage de la vérité. Le gouvernement de soi et des autres II. Cours au Collège de France (1983-1984). Paris: Seuil / Gallimard.

Havel, Václav. 1985. “The Power of the Powerless.” In The Power of the Powerless: Citizens and the State in Central-Eastern Europe, edited by John Keane. London: M. E. Sharpe.

Henricks, Robert G. 1983. Philosophy and Argumentation in Third-Century China: The Essays of Hsi K’Ang (Ji Kang). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Heubel, Fabian 何乏筆. 2021a. Xiu yang yu pi pan. kua wen hua shi ye zhong de wan qi fu ke 修養與批判. 跨文化視野中的晚期傅科 (Cultivation and Critique. Late Foucault from a Transcultural Perspective). Xinbei: Lianjing.

———. 2021b. Was ist chinesische Philosophie? Kritische Perspektiven. Hamburg: Meiner.

Jullien, François. 2009. Les transformations silencieuses. Paris: Grasset. Appel Books.

———. 2005. Nourir sa vie. À l’écart du bonheur. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

Kirkland, Russell. 2001. “‘Responsible Non-Action’ in a Natural World: Perspectives from the Neiye, Zhuangzi, and Daode jing.” In Daoism and Ecology. Ways within a Cosmic Landscape, edited by N. J. Girardot, James Miller, and Liu Xiaogan, 283305. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Li, Zehou. 1994. The Path of Beauty: A Study of Chinese Aesthetics. Translated by Gong Lizeng. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.

Mill, John Stuart. 1967. “On the Definition of Political Economy; and on the Method of Investigation Proper to It.” In Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, vol. 4, edited by J. M. Robson, 30940. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Mou, Zongsan 牟宗三. 1983. Zhong guo zhe xue shi jiu jiang 中國哲學十九講 (Nineteen Lectures in Chinese Philosophy). Taibei: Xuesheng Shuju.

———. 2003. Cai xing yu xuan li 才性與玄理 (Talent-Nature and Xuan-Principle). Taibei: Lianjing.

Nelson, Eric S. 2021. Daoism and Environmental Philosophy: Nourishing Life. Abingdon, New York: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429399145

Persky, Joseph. 1995. “The Ethology of Homo Economicus.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 9 (2): 221–31. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.9.2.221

Rao, Zongyi 饒宗頤. 1991. Laozi xiang er zhu jiao zheng 老子想爾注校證 (Annotation of Laozi xiang er zhu). Shanghai: Guji.

Rošker, Jana S. 2020. “The Metaphysical Style and Structural Coherence of Names in Xuanxue.” In Dao Companion to Xuanxue 玄學 (Neo-Daoism), Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy 14, edited by David Chai, 3354. Cham: Springer Nature. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49228-1_3

Sloterdijk, Peter. 2013. You Must Change Your Life. On Anthropotechnics. Translated by Wieland Hoban. Cambridge: Polity.

———. 2017a. The Aesthetic Imperative. Writings on Art. Translated by Karen Margolis. Cambridge: Polity.

———. 2017b. Not Saved. Essays after Heidegger. Translated by Ian Alexander Moore, and Christopher Turner. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Tang, Yijie 汤一介. 2000. Guo Xiang yu Wei-Jin xuanxue 郭象与魏晋玄学 (Guo Xiang and Xuanxue in the Wei-Jin Dynasties). Beijing: Beijing University Press.

Tanke, Joseph. 2022. “The Gentle Way in Governing: Foucault and the Question of Neoliberalism.” Philosophy and Social Criticism 49 (3): 126. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/01914537221079673

Xie, Daning 謝大寧. 1997. Li shi de Ji Kang yu xuanxue de Ji Kang — cong xuanxue shi kan Ji Kang si xiang de liang ge ce mian 歷史的嵇康與玄學的嵇康—從玄學史看嵇康思想的兩個側面 (Ji Kang in History and Ji Kang in Xuanxue. Viewing Two Aspects of Ji Kang’s Thought from the History of Xuanxue). Taibei: Wenshizhe.

Zhuangzi 莊子. 2016. Zhuangzi zhu shu 莊子注疏 (Annotation of the Zhuangzi). Annotated by Guo Xiang and Cheng Xuanying. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

Downloads

Published

16.05.2023

How to Cite

Li, M. (2023). The Biopolitics of Nourishing Life: Daoism as Environmental Philosophy. Asian Studies, 11(2), 95–116. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2023.11.2.95-116