References and Further Reading 1. As a young man he studied in the state of Qi in the northeast, which had the greatest concentration of philosophers of the age. Xunzi's writings show him to be well acquainted with all the doctrines current at the time, which he probably came in contact with during this period of his life.
His precise dates are unknown, and extant sources contradict one another: The former figure is more plausible Goldin BCEwhich is known to contain serious distortions, especially in its treatment of famous philosophers Kern I, 3—35; and Liao Mingchun Sima Qian relates that Xunzi polished his voluminous writings in his old age, but they do not survive in his own recension.
The general consensus today is that Xunzi is a collection of predominantly authentic essays, but certainly not organized in a manner that Xun Kuang himself had authorized e. There are also some chapters with generic instructional material, as well as poems and rhymed riddles that are rarely studied Knechtges First, the two keywords need to be unpacked.
But in prosecuting this position, Xunzi uses xing in a fundamentally different sense: In effect, both Xunzi and Mencius argued that human beings all have the capacity to become good, even though some people develop this capacity and others do not Graham And if we achieve any goodness, it must be because of our artifice: For this reason, in addition to stylistic features that trouble some readers, the chapter is occasionally impugned as corrupt or inauthentic Robins —02; Zhou Chicheng Modes of Moral Self-Cultivation: Whereas Mencians have always emphasized looking inwards for moral direction—sometimes complicated by the acknowledgment that the heart can be corrupted—self-cultivation in the Xunzian style is inconceivable without looking outwards.
What are rituals and why did the sages institute them? If people follow their desires, then boundaries cannot contain them and objects cannot satisfy them. Thus the Former Kings restrained them and established for them ritual and morality in order to divide them [into classes].
First, Xunzi elsewhere explicitly denies that an arbitrarily chosen set of rituals would be effective. The rituals of the sage kings confirm the distinctions that we are bound to make by nature the core text is Xunzi 5. Indeed, if they did not, they would be mere instruments of expedience, not rituals.
These dimensions become clear when Xunzi begins to discuss specific rituals and their purposes. We observe regulations concerning funerary ceremonies and grave goods, for example, in order to learn how to avoid incivility and miserliness Similarly, the mandatory three-year mourning period for deceased rulers and parents helps us conduct ourselves properly by providing suitable forms for us to express emotions that are so deep as to be potentially debilitating: When a wound is colossal, its duration is long; when pain is profound, the recovery is slow.
The fact that the host fetches the guest of honor himself, but expects the other guests to arrive on their own, underscores the distinctions that need to be drawn between noble and base.
And the detail that each participant toasts the next, serially and according to their ages, demonstrates that one can align society according to seniority without excluding anyone.
When the guest of honor retires, the host bows and escorts him out, and the formal occasion comes to an end: The clear implication is that by taking part in the rite, we can gradually comprehend the moral principles that the sages wished us to embody Xunzi The crucial point is that the sages created both.
Like all Confucians, Xunzi accepts that human beings have certain irrepressible impulses Xunzi The problem is that unreflective outbursts driven solely by emotional responses may cause harm, and thus we are enjoined to be mindful of our impulses, rather than to extinguish them compare Xunzi To aid us in this process, the Sages left behind appropriate musical compositions that we can use to channel our need to express ourselves.
When music is centered and balanced, the people are harmonious and not dissipated.
When music is stern and grave, the people are uniform and not disorderly. When the people are harmonious and uniform, the army is firm and the citadels secure; enemy states dare not invade. But Xunzi raises the significance of ritual to a new level:Xunzi’s most famous dictum is that “the nature of man is evil; his goodness is only acquired training.” What Xunzi preached was thus essentially a philosophy of culture.
Human nature at birth, he maintained, consists of instinctual drives which, left to themselves, are selfish, anarchic, and antisocial. 2. Human Nature (xing 性) Chapter 23, “Human Nature is Evil” (Xing’e 性惡), is a reasonable point of entry into Xunzi’s philosophy for multiple reasons: it exemplifies some of the textual problems mentioned above; it addresses one of the core themes of the collection; and it was, for centuries, the most frequently cited section of Xunzi.
Elsewhere in the Xunzi, nature is defined as what constitutes a human being or that which is endowed in every human being at birth and that by which human beings come to be as they are. In Xunzi, “Human Nature is Evil” is framed as an argument with Mencius (who was probably long dead), and takes the view that the xing of human beings is the very opposite of shan, namely e.
Xunzi (Xun Qing, or Xun Kuang: c. c.
BCE) lived at the very end of the Zhou dynasty. Like Mencius, he was an advocate and interpreter of the teachings of Confucius. For Xunzi, only innate and spontaneous developed traits can count as human nature.
And what fits this bill are the selfish, violent emotions, not moral inclinations. And what fits this bill are the selfish, violent emotions, not moral inclinations.