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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 II

  • 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 II

  • Sourcebook 461-475


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