Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Arts, Design and Contemporary Education (ICADCE 2022)

The Influence of “Touring in Art” on the Subject of Artistic Creation
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“Touring in art” refers to the state of recreation in art, that is, the state in which people and art are integrated. “Touring in art” is the expression of the artist's energy in artistic creation. The artistic creation of ancient Chinese literati began with “setting aspiration on the Dao”, through “holding on the virtue of morality” and “relying on the virtue of benevolence” ([1], p.76), and finally merged into touring in art. The main body of touring in art is people, and art depends on people to flourish. In other words, in the artistic process of touring in art, there is the desire of the creative subject to carry forward the “Dao” and his own aspirations. “Book of History · Yaodian” says that poetry can convey people's aspirations, “Mao Shi Xu” says that aspirations are stored in the heart, and that aspirations are expressed in words as poetry, and “Zuo Zhuan” contains the words of Zhao Wenzi, saying that poetry is used to express people's aspirations, “Chuang Tzu World” also says that the purpose of poetry is to express people's aspirations and spirits, which all proves that the purpose of poetry is the carrier of people's aspirations. Mo Lifeng, a professor of Chinese at Nanjing University, said: “This shows that the Chinese ancestors had a very consistent and very clear understanding of the nature of poetry: poetry is a kind of text that expresses the inner world of human beings, and the content unrelated to life has no place in the poetry country.”

People should put their own aspirations on the Tao, stick to their own virtues, create and be a human being, and rely on the heart of benevolence, and finally blend into strolling in art. This process is not automatic, but requires people to continue, to put effort into self-cultivation and to study. Whether it is cultivation or learning, one cannot be bound by external knowledge, but must integrate it into the main body's life to remove external dust and internal disturbances. It is the process of finding the self from the outside to the inside, and it is also the process from the human heart to the Tao, the process from the small self to the big self, and the process from learning for others to learning for oneself. Chinese art pursues “natural sound”. Natural sound is a concept of consciousness without human beings, not a man-made work, nor the sound of a flute blown by humans, but the sound of nature. In order to achieve the highest state of “touring in art” in artistic creation, it is necessary to listen to the “voice” of nature. To listen to the sounds of nature, it is natural to have different kind of ears. Chuang Tzu believed that there is no ear that hears sound but only the human heart that listens to sound, which means that the five senses are moved because of the mastery of the human heart. Without the activation of the human heart, it is impossible for the five senses to spontaneously perceive external things. Zhu Liangzhi said: “It's not enough to know only by external senses, you can only get it like it; it's not enough to analyze it with ordinary knowledge, it is breaking up this supreme ‘music’; it is necessary to listen carefully with the ‘heart’, from the external senses to the internal experience” ([2], p.177). Here, the “heart” advocated by Chuang Tzu is not the human heart, because the human heart has selfish desires, and if there are selfish desires, the heart will be deceived. The heart is like a mirror. Having selfish desires is like a mirror with dust. A mirror covered with dust cannot reveal the true appearance of objective things. A heart troubled by selfish desires cannot get close to the essence of things and cannot feel what Kant called “thing-in-itself”. The “heart” advocated by Chuang Tzu is the “original heart”, that is, the heart of a child, the original heart that is not troubled by selfish desires. “Listen to this supreme music with the mind of Wu” ([2], p.177), it will be peaceful. Naturally, human and nature can integrate into one. Only in this way can people achieve the aesthetic state of “touring in art”, that is, strolling and resting in art.


“Touring in art” is one of the important means of self-cultivation in life. However, the achievement of the highest state of “touring in art” depends on the continuous completion of the personality itself. For Confucius, this can only be achieved through the infinite upward life cultivation of “learning human affairs and reaching the destiny” ([1], p.177) and investing in infinite artistic cultivation. The main premise of Confucius' “touring in art” is “setting aspiration on the Dao, holding on the virtue of morality, and relying on the virtue of benevolence” ([1], p.76), which proves that the “touring” of “touring in art” and the general tour belong to two different levels. It is the “touring” of great freedom and great liberation that can be spiritually united with the heaven and the earth, and popular between the heaven and the earth. When it comes to “touring in art”, there is a question that must be raised: what is the source of the value of the highest state of “touring in art”? Assuming that this question is not clarified, the spirit of “touring in art” grasped by Confucius will not be apparent, and it is easy to make people only stop at the worldly pleasures and the pleasures of the tour to understand. “Setting aspiration on the Dao, holding on the virtue of morality, relying on the virtue of benevolence, and touring and resting in art” ([1], p.76), it can be seen that there are “Dao”, “aspiration”, “virtue” first, and then “touring in art”. This process is a process of improving and breaking through layer by layer, which is the realm of “touring in art”. This marks the practical mastery and mastery of the skills of the external world and the laws of all things. It also marks the completion of a personality with practical power that has been freed by mastering the laws.

“Book of Music · Music Nature” says that human innate quality or human nature is quiet and pure. If something moves or reacts because of contact with external things, it is driven by human desire, that is, the “subconscious mind” that Freud talked about, which can also be understood as sexual desire. “Book of Rites · Music” says that human nature is pure, so the music created by nature is also pure. It can be seen that the root of “music” lies in the natural feeling of pure human nature. The fundamental natural feeling of human nature is stillness, “music”, and “touring in art”. Confucianism has established the foundation of “music”, the foundation of “touring in art”, and the foundation of art in this place of origin. People's pursuit of “touring in art” is the pursuit of a pure and undisturbed life realm.


So, how to realize the “touring in art” with a sense of pure human nature? Confucius pointed out that “there are absolutely no four kinds of faults”, and people must work hard to restrict, restrain and overcome their own selfish desires. “Don't watch” and “don't listen” are to cut off the temptation of the outside world, and “don't speak” and “do not move” are expressions of regulating one's body and mind. This is actually the work of self-cultivation. “The Analects of Confucius · Zihan” also states: “There are absolutely no four faults: no speculation, no subjective assumptions, no stubborn opinions, and no self-righteousness” ([1], p.100). Here, “assumption” means guessing as soon as started, it is a private speculation; “Must”, means that it must be like this and it is absolutely certain, like Hitler, both would be evil; “Stubborn” means being rigid and stubborn; “I” means self-righteousness and narcissism. “Stubborn I” means closed. “Assumption” and “I” refer to the subjective aspect; “must” and “stubborn” refer to the attitude toward the object. “Absolute four” is to abandon this paranoia, no longer clinging to the heart, then the desire will disappear, after all, it is the work of the heart. The “four no’s” and “absolute four” are to emphasize the establishment of a perfect subject personality from the heart. Xu Fuguan said: “The inner personality world opened up by Confucius is to immerse in flesh and blood and desire to discover the source of life. It is a piece of moral reason that is infinitely deep and infinite. In Confucius, it is benevolence; from this, the objective world and even various achievements in the objective world are contained in the inner world of this one benevolence, and endowed with meaning and value; at this time, people do not require dominance and freedom over the objective world, but have their own dominance and freedom” ([3], p.48). Only in this way can people achieve the “touring in art” of “being naturally to feel” in pure human nature.

Confucianism talks about “aiming for the Tao”, and there is a hidden danger here, that is, “unified morality and common customs” [4], so why is this “identity” kind and good? Confucianism does not give an argument on this point, but fabricates a historical pedigree of orthodoxy [5]1, in order to obtain the rationality of its universalist position. Then, once the Confucian scholar-bureaucrats gained the support of the imperial power, they would force the standard to be imposed on the people, which would inevitably bring about another kind of concealment. The establishment of a standard and its implementation also meant the denial of the “Other”. “Individual” will be crushed by unified standards, the space of “individual” will be destroyed, and the state of nature will cease to exist. For artistic creation, “identity” will inevitably limit the literati's thinking. Chapter 2 of “Lao Tzu” says: The reason why a sage is a sage is because “a sage conforms to nature and does not act nonsense; he values teaching by example rather than words; he listens to the rise of all things without interfering; he nourishes all things without appropriating them; he helps him grow without relying on his own abilities; and he does great things without claiming credit... he purifies the minds of the people, satisfies the people's food and clothing, reduces their desires, and strengthens their bodies; he makes people who maintain their ignorance and no desires; he lets the wise man dare not act rashly; he manages with an attitude of inaction, and there is nothing that can be badly managed” ([6], p.10). People all know that Taoism talks about “doing nothing” and “being nameless”, which is a kind of rejection. The object of the rejection is the prevailing Confucianism at that time. Confucianism emphasizes the establishment of a “famous” world of values and constructs a human order with a positive attitude of “promising”. Confucianism is to build a value world of benevolence, righteousness, propriety and wisdom, an orderly world of monarchs, ministers, fathers and sons. Establishing such a “position” standard also means creating a “ruler” to judge and deny other existences, which also means losing the rich diversity of the world. From history, it can be seen that when a dynasty develops to a mature stage, after the order established by Confucianism is established, it will bring social depression and numbness of human nature, such as Wang Mang's reform, which is completely based on Confucian concepts and principles. It was established and quickly failed. The suppression of human nature in the middle and late Ming Dynasty led to the emergence of “the philosophy of the mind”, which was a kind of social rebound. The Qing Dynasty established a complete national order in three generations and it was also the peak of the literary prison. The so-called “unified morality and common customs” is the effect that almost all managers want to achieve, but the actual situation is that once it is implemented it will inevitably backfire, “individuals” will be lost, and only a homogeneous “public” will remain. The original “individuals” would be all annihilated, polished and compressed into flattened “normal mass”. Art, then, would also become a tool for politicians.

Taoism clearly sees such hidden dangers and drawbacks, so it proposes “governance by inaction”. It is precisely because Taoism saw that there are more rich and diverse values in addition to the principles of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, monarch, minister, etc., so Taoism must oppose the policy of “making a difference” to interfere with the natural development of human nature. Li Zehou said in “The History of Beauty”: “Taoism, as the complement and opposite of Confucianism, plays a decisive role together with Confucianism in shaping Chinese people's world outlook, outlook on life, cultural and psychological structure, artistic ideals, and aesthetic interests” ([7], p.55). Taoism advocates nature, and “nature” here has two meanings: “one is being natural, that is, not artificial; the other is natural environment, landscapes, flowers and birds” ([8], p.122). Confucian people who talk about benevolence like mountains because the mountains are strong and magnificent, and wise people like water because water is flowing and agile, expressing their love for nature. The root of this lies in people, who are always the masters of nature. However, “Chuang Tzu's ideal personality is not a man of knowledge, a man of meritorious deeds, a man of ethics, but a natural man who is the same as the heaven, earth and the universe.” Chuang Tzu “compares the small world with the huge nature, which constitutes an important specific content of this ‘breakthrough and supplement’, which greatly affects the mood of Chinese intellectuals and their literature, art and aesthetics. It makes the emotional time and life exclamation of the Confucian tradition gain a higher content” ([8], p.122). “Lao Tzu · Chapter 19” says: “Abandoning wisdom and ingenuity, the people can profit a hundredfold; abandoning the law of benevolence and righteousness, the people can return to kindness and filial piety; abandoning the temptation of opportunism and profit, thieves can disappear. The above three kinds of clever decoration are not enough to govern the world, so let the people's hearts belong: the appearance is pure and the heart is simple, and there is little selfishness to reduce desire. Abandoning the so-called knowledge, there will be no worries” ([6], p.75). “Chuang Tzu · The Great Master” says: “Destroying the body, destroying the intelligence, abandoning both the form and the intelligence, and mixing with the Dao as one” ([9], p.120). This profound thought of “doing nothing” is by no means the so-called “anti-intellectualism”2, nor a negative concept of so-called deconstruction, but a reflection on “making a difference”, respect for all things, and respect for the nature of each individual. “Chuang Tzu · Journey to the North” states: “Heaven and earth have the virtues that cover all things but do not talk about them; the four seasons have the laws of changing but do not discuss them; all things have the laws of growth and do not explain them” ([9], p.363). It can be seen that Taoism emphasizes nature, and if Confucianism “has often caused restraint, damage and destruction to art and aesthetics due to its narrow and practical utilitarian framework” ([7], p.56). Taoism, then, “is precisely to give this framework and bondage a powerful impact, liberation, and denial” ([7], p.55).

It is a long process for “touring in art” to evolve from ancient meaning to modern meaning. During this process, Taoism, especially Chuang Tzu, had a considerable influence on the formation of Chinese artistic traditions. It can be said that “it was Chuang Tzu who developed the free realm of ‘you in art’ mentioned by Confucius on the ontology of the universe and the ontology of personality” ([8], p.135). Although Chuang Tzu avoids reality, what he emphasizes is that people should abandon sociality, their naturalness should not be polluted, and when they are expanded to be isomorphic with the universe can they be real people, and then people should use their own ‘natural nature’ to approach and match the nature of the object. This is actually what Confucianism refers to as ‘the same structure of heaven and man’ and ‘induction between heaven and man’, which is also what Chuang Tzu called ‘to unite heaven with heaven’ ([8], p.138). Chuang Tzu · Happy Excursion” said: “If one can obey the nature of all things, grasp the changes of the six qi, and travel in the infinite realm, what else can he rely on?” ([9], p.8) It can be seen that “Chuang Tzu” has a clear meaning at the beginning, that is, it reveals the freedom and transcendence of the human heart. This kind of “happy excursion” is a kind of absolute freedom. Through “Chuang Tzu” to understand “The Analects of Confucius” “touring in art”, the fundamental spirit of Chinese art will be “in its ring”.


Confucius's “touring in art” is to make the best of one's own nature and one's material nature. “The Doctrine of the Mean” requires people to use their virtues to assist the role of heaven and earth. Chuang Tzu's “happy excursion” is to look at life from the standpoint of nature, to absorb life into nature, and to turn life into nature. Chuang Tzu said, “With regard to nature, it is not an attitude of observing to understand its laws, but an attitude of observing and recognizing it without distinction. This is an artistic attitude” ([10], p.120), that is, an aesthetic attitude towards life. “Chuang Tzu · Happy Excursion”: “If one can obey the nature of all things, grasp the changes of the six qi, and travel in the infinite realm” ([9], p.8). In order to achieve “touring”, one must not establish oneself, not take credit, not be famous and not make distinctions between small and large. If he is small, he should be adaptive to the small, and if he is big, he should be adaptive to the big. In short, he should follow the nature of nature. If people insist on the use of things for themselves, they want to obtain benefits from them, and they are easy to fall into the predicament of their unavailability. If one can follow the nature of things, then things are used separately, which is a complete “touring”. This kind of “happy excursion” is the absolute spiritual freedom. Its life and death, body and mind have all been forgotten, so the spirit is absolute freedom at this time. So one can “strike the water to a distance of 3,000 li, and then rise to an altitude of 90,000 li around the whirlwind, and fly away by the strong wind in June... The Roc had its back against the blue sky and nothing could hinder it before he began to plot to fly to the South China Sea” ([9], p.68). The joy of flying is joy of spiritual freedom.

Reading the twelfth chapter of Xu Fuguan's “The History of Chinese Human Nature: Pre-Qin Chapter”, Xu Fuguan believed that the starting point and destination of Chuang Tzu's thought was the transformation from Laozi's desire to obtain spiritual stability into the pursuit of absolute spiritual freedom, in order to establish a spiritual kingdom. The absolute freedom of spirit that Chuang Tzu pursues is not in the world, but in one's own mind. The function and state of the mind, which Chuang Tzu calls spirit, is to seek freedom and liberation in his own spirit. This point, Kant also emphasized, he said: “Art is also different from handicrafts, art is free... People regard art as a kind of game, which is a pleasant thing in itself, reaching this point, even if it is in line with the purpose” ([11], p.385). It can be seen from this that Kant regards freedom as the essence of art, and this freedom is “freedom in the spiritual world” ([11], p.385). In “The Experience of Philosophy of Art”, Cassirer believes that art is the expression of freedom and the confirmation of freedom; Heidegger also said: “The more free the state of mind, the more enjoyment of beauty can be obtained” ([12], p.58).

So, why is it said that Chuang Tzu's “happy excursion” is an aesthetic attitude towards life? Chuang Tzu said in “Chuang Tzu · Heaven and Earth”: “A person loses his nature in five ways: First, the five colors confuse vision, making it difficult for the eyes to see clearly; Second, the five tones disturb the hearing, making the ears incomprehensible; Third, the five odors have damaged the sense of smell, and the smell rushed up the nostrils and hurt the forehead; Fourth, the five flavors contaminate the tongue and cause injury to the tongue; Fifth, the choice between gains and losses confuses the mind and makes the nature of nature continue to compete. These five aspects are all scourges to nature” ([9], p.204). It can be seen that Chuang Tzu emphasized that people must cut off their understanding of the real world. All appearances are illusory, people's six senses are controlled by what they see and hear, and their minds are bound by all appearances. Only by discarding them and purifying the mysteries can we feel and observe all things in the world, and achieve “the unity of heaven and man” and “all things in one”. In this way, the spirit will be absolutely free, the soul will be more fulfilled, and people can use the leisurely travel. This is an aesthetic attitude towards life.


Chuang Tzu's “The World of Human”: “Yan Hui said: ‘May I ask what is the fasting of the mind?’ Confucius said: Focus on your will, don’t listen with your ears, but feel with your heart, don’t feel with your heart, but feel with your qi. The role of the ear is limited to hearing sounds, and the thoughts of the heart can only be combined with external objects. As for qi, it contains all things with its emptiness. The true way can only be gathered in a state of mind that is empty, bright and quiet. This is the wonderful meaning of the mind fasting” ([9], p.59). “Fasting” has existed in ancient China, and its forms include bathing, not drinking, not eating meat, not enjoying dance and music, not approaching lust, etc., but this is only an external form of fast, and it is a “sacrificial fast”. The “fasting of the mind” proposed by Chuang Tzu here is the “fasting” in the inner deep sense. From the perspective of Chuang Tzu's entire philosophical thought, “Fasting of the mind” is a very important category, and it is also one of the methods of “Tao”. “Tao” is the core of Lao Tzu's thought and the origin of all things in the universe. The ultimate goal of “mind fasting” is to become one with the Tao, that is, “the Tao becomes one”.

The cultivation process of “mind fasting” is a progressive introspection process from the outside to the inside, and it is a process of “losing day by day in purchasing Tao”. Single-mindedness is an important foundation of “mind fasting”. Outside, one needs to let go of the attachment to external things. Ears and eyes are the main organs for people to understand the external world, but when people rely too much on and use these organs, they are often deceived by external objects and become farther and farther away from their nature. Therefore, it is said that “the ear stops at listening”. “Xu Wugui” also wrote: “one will be dangerous if his eyes seek clarity, and one will be dangerous if his ears pursue too much intelligence” ([9], p.431). Therefore, it is necessary to conform to nature, not force it, that is, following the ears and eyes to communicate with each other. Internally, people must wash away the desires and delusions in the mind, so that the mind will not be deceived by greed or misguided by ingenuity. The nature of “Qi” is emptiness. To listen to the qi is to listen to emptiness. When the mind gradually calms down and enters the natural state of pure oneness, it reaches the state of emptiness. Emptiness is the emptiness of the mind, which can accommodate the changes and differences of all things without generating a mind of distinction, so it is called “empty and waiting for things”. The nature of “Tao” is also emptiness and it is natural to rush into emptiness. When people can treat things in emptiness, they can communicate with the “Tao”. The so-called “only Tao gathers emptiness” does not mean that the external “Tao” is concentrated in the mind, but the “emptiness” of the mind is used to realize the properties and functions of Tao. In this way, one has reached the realm of oneness with the Tao.

The theory of “sitting and forgetting” was expounded by Chuang Tzu in “The Great Master” by Yan Hui's answer to Confucius' question: “Destroying the body, destroying the intellect, abandoning both the form and the intellect, and integrating with the Dao, this is the way of forgetting and sitting” ([9], p.39). Destroying the body and destroying the intellect is to forget the body. Of course, this is not simply to forget the existence of the body, but to eliminate the endless desires generated by the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body seeking outward, to get rid of all the burdens brought about by satisfying desires, and to concentrate on gathering qi, to look at the inner reflection, and to realize the transcendence of the body. Abandoning both form and intelligence means to abandon the intrigue and intrigue in the human world, all kinds of “wisdom” that make people exhausted, and to remove all kinds of prejudices and obstacles formed by the accumulation of knowledge. In a nutshell, “sitting and forgetting” is a process of self-purification, transcending the limitations of body and mind, leaving all worries behind, making the mind empty and clear, and entering into the sameness with “Datong” (that is, “Tao”). In this realm, people can be one with heaven and earth, conform to nature, and roam in nature.

In “Chuang Tzu · Outer Chapter”, there is a story about a “true painter”: “Song Yuanjun wanted to draw a pattern of mountains and rivers and land, and many painters came. They accepted Song Yuanjun's greeting and stood beside them. Some painters licked their pens and adjusted their ink, and half of them stood outside the door. There was a painter who arrived later, walking in a relaxed and leisurely manner. After receiving the greeting, he did not stand, but returned to his residence. Song Yuanjun sent someone to see him, and they saw that he had unbuttoned his clothes and was sitting there naked with his legs stretched out. Song Yuanjun said: ‘That's enough, he is the real painter!’” ([9], p.350) Why is it that only those who are naked like undressing are called “true painters”? Because the painters were instructed to paint for Song Yuanjun, they respectfully and cautiously licked the brush and ink, and the mental state was too tense. At this time, if they have the idea and desire of fame and fortune, and becoming an official, their creativity will definitely not be able to be freely exerted, and their works can be imagined. The only painter who came later, with a calm demeanor, did not take his place even after accepting the greeting, and then went back to the museum, unbuttoning his clothes and sitting cross-legged naked. From this, it can be seen that this person has been detached from the world, forgetting profits, forgetting his name, and forgetting his body. All external disturbances have disappeared, and his mind is empty and quiet, which can be compatible with the “Tao of painting”, so Song Yuanjun judged this person “a true painter”. This is a state of no utility, and the characteristic of aesthetic activities is also no utility.

The cultivation process of “sitting and forgetting” and “fasting of the mind” is a process of turning from the human mind to the Tao mind. No matter what kind of “art” or “technique” you are engaged in, people must be single-minded, eliminate all external disturbances, concentrate on meditation, eliminate all internal distractions, and cultivate the air of emptiness and tranquility. Only when one's heart is empty and clear, and one is able to treat things with emptiness, can he be in harmony with “Tao” and achieve the state of “touring in art”.


The artistic spirit of “touring in art” is not only an artistic concept, but also refers to the presentation of the artist's spiritual freedom and integrity. In the period of social and cultural transformation, the increasingly “heart-to-heart, money begets money” commodity exchange and value exchange laws and lack of beliefs make people's “individual” living space constantly oppressed and exploited. The pallor and emptiness of the spiritual world haunts people's minds. Today's works of art are increasingly becoming slaves of the market and the economy, and artists cannot escape the temptation of the secular, which contributes to the emptiness of the soul. Therefore, it is necessary to re-evaluate the spirit of “touring in art”. Through the determination of the connotation and spirit of “touring in art”, it will help contemporary artists to understand their own nature and help them realize artistic accomplishment.


Ge Zhaoguang, Orthodoxy, Pedigree and History — Origin and Establishment of Thread of Chinese Intellectual History. “Orthodoxy” refers to the continuous lineage of saints and sages who bear the continuation of truth in the history of thought. Being included in this pedigree means the rationality of thought, highlights this pedigree, and also implies that the truths described by this pedigree must take precedence over other truths, and are universal truths that should be respected.

In the West, there is a tendency to doubt or even oppose knowledge and reason, which is called “anti-intellectualism”. Some scholars believe that there is a tradition of anti-intellectualism similar to the West in Chinese culture, and Taoist and Buddhist philosophy is a typical manifestation. For example, Yu Yingshi refers in his paper “Anti-Intellectual Theory and Chinese Political Tradition” that calling the thoughts of anti-knowledge and anti-rationality in Chinese philosophy anti-intellectualism is inappropriate. Zhu Liangzhi explained this in “Only in Enlightenment”, that is, in Taoist philosophy and the main schools of Buddhism in China, what is opposed is knowledge and concepts, not deep reason and wisdom.


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Cite This Article

AU  - Yuxuan Li
PY  - 2022
DA  - 2022/11/21
TI  - The Influence of “Touring in Art” on the Subject of Artistic Creation
BT  - Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Arts, Design and Contemporary Education (ICADCE 2022)
PB  - Athena Publishing
SP  - 217
EP  - 223
SN  - 2949-8937
UR  -
DO  -
ID  - Li2022
ER  -