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Paper Topic:

Compare Mencius’ theory of Human Nature as Good with Xunzi’s Theory of Human Nature as Evil.

Mencius and Hsun Tzu : Prominent Chinese Philosophers on Human Nature


Ancient Chinese philosophy has witnessed the birth of several prominent figures in history who have embraced the way of philosophizing unto greater lengths in the context of the generation they came into existence . Confucianism has spawned several notable personalities in the field of ancient philosophy , two of whom are Mencius and Hsun Tzu . Both trained under one school of thought , they have ardently guarded from upheavals the Confucian school from the torrential attacks coming from rival schools of thought . Though

apparently these two Chinese philosophers speak in the same manner that the greatest achievement man can attain is the knowledge or understanding of Heaven , they also have differing views on how this is to be obtained . This act of obtaining the knowledge of Heaven separates the two in the sense that both have unique interpretations on the nature of man . The dividing line that disconnects them rests on their very conception of human nature . That is , Mencius holds the belief that man is inherently good . In contrast , Hsun Tzu (or Xunzi ) regards human nature as inherently evil . For the most part of their works , this critical separating distinction between the two serves as the foundation of their philosophy . Nevertheless , both Mencius and Hsun Tzu remain under the banner of the Confucian school of thought and are faithful to the belief that it is the knowledge of Heaven that men must seek

Let us then analyze point by point the conceptions of both Hsun Tzu and Mencius on the nature of man

Hsun Tzu and the evil nature of man

Degeneration for Hzun Tzu is the most likely destiny of man once he is unable to take control over his nature . That is , man is inherently evil and is thereby prone to the withering effects of the temptations caused by this evil nature . This very nature pushes man nearer to the reaches of jealousy , profit and hatred , all of which can harbor further evil upon man and can lead him towards torment and the eventual degeneration that await him . Further , these ill-effects of man 's inability to control his evil nature and to cope with the situations that may arise out of his very nature will be the very reason for a chaotic realm filled with evil men , inducing calamity and more unwanted events which pose great harm to man himself and to the rest

For men to be directed towards the right or proper path away from the vileness of that his evil nature may cast upon him , Hsu Tzu argues that there should be , first and foremost , a proper teacher who will then guide men accordingly . Apparently , he suggests that it is not any other ordinary teacher who must bring guidance to men but rather a teacher who was taught the sagely way and was indeed educated by the sage-kings themselves . The training acquired by the proper teacher is sufficient basis to put centrality on him as the...

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