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Hsun Tzu on Human Nature. Berger Intro to Asian Religions. Hsun Tzu’s Historical Background. Hsun Tzu 荀子 (310-238 BCE) Born in north central China but emigrated to state of Ch’i to study Confucianism Became a master of Ch’i Hsia Academy, a center of interscholastic philosophical learning

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hsun tzu on human nature

Hsun Tzu on Human Nature

Berger

Intro to Asian Religions

hsun tzu s historical background
Hsun Tzu’s Historical Background
  • Hsun Tzu 荀子 (310-238 BCE)
  • Born in north central China but emigrated to state of Ch’i to study Confucianism
  • Became a master of Ch’i Hsia Academy, a center of interscholastic philosophical learning
  • Advisor to Ch’i and several other imperial courts
  • Assassination of patron ended his political career
  • Most famous students, Li Si and Han Fei Tzu, became teachers of Legalist school, denouncing Confucianism
important terms
Important Terms
  • 性 xing = “nature;” disposition, temperment
  • 惡e = “evil;” wicked, hateful
  • 善 shan = “good;” beautiful, auspicious
  • 情 qing = “emotion;” having heartfelt desires
  • 偽 wei = “conscious activity;” artifice
hsun tzu s arguments for the selfishness of human nature i
Hsun Tzu’s Arguments for the Selfishness of Human Nature I
  • The natural tendency to be drawn to sense pleasures (pp. 492-93)
  • Ancient sages realization of natural human selfishness (p. 493)
  • Ritual as learned, not inborn (493)
  • The contrast between natural emotional response and learned conscious activity (494-95)
hsun tzu s arguments for the selfishness of human nature ii
Hsun Tzu’s Arguments for the Selfishness of Human Nature II
  • Since all desire comes from lack, desire for goodness also comes from its lack (495)
  • Mencius selectivity regarding morally good human emotions (496)
  • Explanation for religion and ritual resides in human selfishness (496)
  • Perfectibility of all human beings through attention to propriety (497)
a review of the confucian debate on human nature
A Review of the Confucian Debate on Human Nature
  • The issue of inborn emotions
    • Mencius: humans born with desire and reflection
    • Hsun Tzu: desires are inborn, reflection is learned
  • The issue of culture
    • Mencius: good culture comes from good nature
    • Hsun Tzu: culture meant to manipulate nature
  • Whose position is most plausible?
for next class
for Next Class
  • Sourcebook 461-475
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