Environmental Philosophy

Volume 18, Issue 1, Spring 2021

Félix Landry Yuan
Pages 65-80

The Usefulness of Uselessness for Conservation in the Ways of Zhuangzi

Global efforts for biodiversity conservation have gained considerable momentum in recent years. Yet much remains to be learned from the minds of the ancient past regarding perspectives on relations between society and the environment. Zhuangzi is one such figure whose works may be of high relevance to contemporary conservation. While many philosophical ideals underpinning conservation stem from a mostly westernized ethos, strategies can be expanded by non-western principles such as Zhuangzi’s. In light of IPBES’ “nature’s contributions to people” concept, a globally reaching framework for conservation, I explore the applicability of one of Zhuangzi’s central teachings; the usefulness of uselessness.