Xunzi And Mencius Views On Human Nature

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Discuss the implications of XunZi and Mencius’ views on Human Nature

RE Philosophy Group 2 2015
Group Members:
Chen Jin Yang (4)
Li Ze Hua (15)
Lu Shao Qin (18)
Aaron Tan (25)
Theodore Kuah (27)

Introduction Human nature is an abstract concept, defined in modern terms as the general psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioural traits of humankind. This is a topic that has been debated amongst a number of philosophers throughout history, and in this paper we will be specifically looking at two chinese philosophers, Mencius and Xunzi. Although both of them are Confucian thinkers, they have seemingly contradictory ideas on whether human nature is inherently good or bad. The main aim of this paper is to analyse the implications of the philosophers’ assertions and show that their views are inherently similar.

Mencius’ Argument Mencius’ argument on human nature asserts that human nature is inherently good and that all human beings have the capacity to be good. The following quotes are translations of Mencius’ argument:

(Quote 1)
“The nature is what is given by Heaven: one cannot learn it; one cannot acquire it by effort. Ritual and rightness are created by sages: people learn them and are capable, through effort, of bringing them to completion. What cannot be learned or acquired by effort but is within us is called the nature. What can be learned and, through effort, brought to completion is called conscious
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