|This paper will present a historical investigation of the usage of the concept of ziran (自然, nature) during the Wei-Jin period. Based on this investigation, we will try to answer the following two questions about xuanxue (玄學, philosophy) during this period: First, is the notion that xuanxue displayed three stages of progression (i.e. from Wang Bi’s idea that mingjiao (名教) developed out of ziran, to Ruan Ji and Ji Kang’s idea of transcending mingjiao to rely on ziran, to Guo Xiang’s idea that mingjiao is equivalent to ziran) a valid one? And second, is there any relation between xuanxue and Buddhism? We will argue first that the notion of a three-stage development in xuanxue is not entirely accurate. Specifically, while Guo’s thought does indeed develop on Wang’s, it can only be said that Wang and the two thinkers Ruan and Ji developed in parallel to each other. Secondly, insomuch as the Commentary on Zhuangzi (莊子注) contains many signs of interpenetration between xuanxue and Buddhism, from the translations and usages of the term ziran, it would seem difficult not to acknowledge the influence of Buddhism on xuanxue.