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Is Human Nature basically good or basically evil?. The Confucian Debate. Basic concepts. Jen (ren) Human-heartedness (benevolence) The right way is to live according to this human heartedness Care for Others “Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”.

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basic concepts
Basic concepts
  • Jen (ren) Human-heartedness (benevolence)
  • The right way is to live according to this human heartedness

Care for Others

“Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”

cultivate jen through li
Cultivate Jen through Li
  • Propriety
  • Ceremonial and ritual ways in which humanity is realized
    • These are li only when in accord with jen
    • Ritual actions of the ruler
    • Marriage
  • Shared participation in life that provide conditions that nourish jen
cultivate jen through hsiao xiao
Cultivate Jen through Hsiao (Xiao)
  • Filial piety
  • Respect is first cultivated in the family
    • Parent-child
    • Husband-wife
    • Older-younger sibling
    • Older-younger friend
    • Ruler-subject
  • Respect learned in the family results in respect for all humankind
cultivate jen through yi
Cultivate Jen through Yi
  • Righteousness
  • Some actions should be performed simply because they are right
      • Bring peace to the old
      • Trust friends
      • Cherish the young
mencius and the argument for goodness
Mencius and the argument for goodness
  • All humans are alike by nature
  • The sage (the person who has the virtue chih or wisdom of right and wrong), who is good by nature is a person.
  • Therefore, all human beings are good by nature.
mencius argument
Mencius’ argument
  • The virtues also give evidence of basic human goodness.
    • Compassion is the beginning of jen
      • Example of the child at the well
    • Shamefulness is the root of yi.
      • If we cause hurt, we try to make restitution.
    • Reverence is the beginning of li
      • Children have natural reverence for parents
    • Knowledge of right and wrong must be found in every person.
mencius problem
Mencius’ Problem
  • How is a basic goodness corrupted?
    • External circumstance
    • Abandonment of self
    • Failure to flourish
  • The role of education and society must be to enable the good that is there to flourish.
hsun tzu s counter argument
Hsun Tzu’s counter-argument
  • Human nature is basically evil.
  • Humans love personal profit and seek their own gain.
  • By nature humans are envious and hate others.
  • Human desires lead to lewdness and chaos.
hsun tzu s problem
Hsun Tzu’s Problem
  • How can people become good?
    • Cultivating the virtues that humans establish
    • Education and socialization must make the crooked straight.
    • This requires a strong authority.
what do you think
What do you think?
  • Notice that neither position assumes anything like a good creator or a human fall.
  • The arguments are based on discrimination and evidence.
  • What do you think the evidence suggests?