September 15, 2013


Chinese philosopher and outstanding representative of the early Chinese school of thought known as the Dialecticians.

As a result of their preoccupation with pure logic, the Dialecticians have always been separated from the mainstream of Chinese philosophy which was primarily concerned with the relationship between names and actuality.

It is not suprising then that Hui Shih´s writings which at one time supposedly numbered more than could fill a cart have been lost and that he is known only for his Ten Paradoxes which are quoted in the famous Taoist work Chuang-tzu. These paradoxes have attracted much interest in modern times because of their similarity to concurrent developments in Western philosophy especially the famous paradoxes of the Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea (c. 495-c. 430).

Generally speaking, Hui Shih´s doctrine which bears some resemblance to Taoist thought, is based on a theory of relativity growing out of an atomistics view of space and time. His first paradox is "the greatest has nothing within itself and is called the great unit, the smallest has nothing within itself and is called the small unit".

The Chang-tzu in what many have felt to be a not injudicious appraisal of Hui Shih as a thinker says that his "doctrines were contradictory and his sayings missed the truth".

In spite of criticism Hui apparently had a great following in his day and travelled throughout China with his disciples advising kings and ministers.

Me became a minister of the state of Liang and wrote a new code of law that found favour with both the ruler and the people of the state.

According to tradition he was so successful in his public service that King Hui of Liang (ruled 371-320 BC) once offered the state to him.

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