Yang Chu - 楊朱 (simplified: 杨朱, pīnyīn: yáng zhū) – 370 BC - 319 BC – is recognized as an early or pre-taoist. His thesis are exposed in the chapter 7 of the Lie Tzu – 列子 (pīnyīn: Liè zǐ) and fragments can be found on other texts, in special in the Mencius and Han Fei Tzu, who criticized Yang Chu's alleged individualism. It is also indicated that he was one of the earliest representatives of a trend of return to nature. Key themes of Yang Chu:
  • Value Self – 貴己 (simplified: 贵己, pīnyīn: guì jǐ) and live according to a balance that is convenient for oneself (Lie Tzu – VII -『楊朱曰:'原憲窶于魯,子貢殖于衛。原憲之窶損生,子貢之殖累身。''然則窶亦不可,殖亦不可,其可焉在?'曰:'可在樂生,可在逸身。故善樂生者不窶,善逸身者不殖。'』,“Yang Chu said: 'Po Yi was not without desire, for being too proud of his purity of mind, he was led to death by starvation. Chan-Chi was not passionless, for being too proud of his virtue he happened to reduce his family. Those who in pursuit of purity and virtue do good in a false way resemble these men.'”)
  • Completeness of Living – 全生 (pīnyīn: quán shēng) – a “complete life” is a life where the desires are in harmony: Life is to be prized because of the enjoyment of desires (sounds, taste, color). But these have to be restrained in order to prolong life to enjoy them.

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