Free Will, Allotment, and Inborn Characteristics
In this chapter, I discuss the problem of free will and determinism as it arises in early Chinese Philosophy and in Wang Chong’s Lunheng in particular. In the first section, I argue that there was a problem of free will in early China, arising in most early texts but tackled most directly in Daoist/Zhuangist and early Han texts. I discuss the differences between the “problem of free will” as it arises in many Western contexts and the problem of free will in early China. I then outline Wang’s views on de 德 (potency) and xiu 修 (cultivation) and their connection to the distinction between spontaneous (ziran 自然) and intentional (zhi 志) activity. I argue that Wang’s conception of three kinds of allotment (ming 命) is meant to solve the problem of free will as it arises in the context of his thought, but that his solution is ultimately unsuccessful.