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Question 4: Explain the East Asian conception of human nature and its significance for proper order or law or ritual. By Course University Date Introduction The philosophy of human nature is deeply rooted in East Asian Confucianism. In general the philosophy of human nature involves the conceptualization of mankind as inherently good, but susceptible to evil…
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Download file to see previous pages Neo-Confucianism The East Asian conception of human nature is primarily informed by Confucianism. Confucianism is described as a “humanistic religion” since Confucianism understands and perceives that the “Ultimate”, of the “imminent power, of the transcendent, of the world, life and death” are linked to and founded on exploring human nature together with human destiny (Yao, 2000, p. 46). In following Mencius, Neo-Confucian ideology adopted the notion that human nature is good as opposed to evil. However, Neo-Confucian philosophers modified this conception of human nature by distinguishing moral nature from physical nature (de Barry & Bloom, 1999). In this regard, the Neo-Confucian philosophy conceptualized the human moral nature as inherently good. This was because, the moral nature of mankind consisted of “li” and the physical nature of mankind consisted of “ch’i” indicating that physical nature could be good and/or bad (Lecture Notes). In this regard, the Confucian concept of li refers to that which is real. In terms of human nature, li refers to that which is passed onto man from Heaven and in this regard it is good. However, li had to be cultivated to ensure that man followed his moral nature (Yao, 2000). Therefore the concept of li provides the justification for law and order which is intended to cultivate man’s moral nature for maintaining order. The concept of ch’i provided even further justification for law and order in regulating the lives of the individual. Ch’i refers to material and vital forces which operate either in cohesion with li or inconsistently with li (Yao, 2000). In other words, man was naturally good, but physical forces could have a negative impact on man’s moral nature if the moral nature was no cultivated. Buddhists on the other hand, do not recognize that which they cannot “see, hear, speak, think, and move” and only those things they can see, hear, think, speak, and move are regarded as nature (de Barry & Bloom, 1999, p. 714). From the Buddhist perspective, that which is heard, seen, spoken, though or moved, does not have to be clear in order to be qualified as nature. In this regard, nature may be confusing and this explains why Buddhists do not generally perceive “the many moral principles inherent in them” (de Barry & Bloom, 1999, p. 714). Classical Confucianism As for classical Confucianism, the original traditions of Confucianism were founded by Confucius and Mengzi and Mengzi’s theory of human nature served as the background for the classic Confucian concept of moral nature. Mengzi’s theory of human nature were among the most influential and provides the foundations for what is widely accepted as human nature. Mengzi’s theory of human nature provides a profound understanding of how law and order is maintained (de Barry & Bloom, 1999). Mengzi’s contributions were converted into the Four Books by Confucian scholars in the Song Dynasty. At the same time, Xunzi developed a theory that was different from Mengzi’s. According to Xunzi, “human nature was evil and Heaven” was an “impersonal power or natural principle” (Yao, 2000, p. 71). Xunzi stressed “law (fa) and ritual/propriety (li)” as opposed to “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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