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Compare Mencius theory of Human Nature as Good with Xunzis Theory of Human Nature as Evil - Essay Example

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Mencius is called the second sage of Chinese philosophy. Those were the days when philosophical theories made great impact on people and good and evil form the basis of philosophy, sociology, religion, politics, law, psychology and culture of any society. China had adopted an ecological way of living, and people preferred to be peace-loving and kind…
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Compare Mencius theory of Human Nature as Good with Xunzis Theory of Human Nature as Evil
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Download file to see previous pages He said when people follow their original morality, they show exceptional goodness that has been bestowed on them by nature. According to him people are unhappy when others suffer and would like to save them from such sufferings and that is the side of goodness and he showed the example of all people rushing to save the child, which is about to fall into a well. According to him, the original good nature of man gets hit by disappointments and difficulties like trees on mountain slopes being targeted by horrendous winds and he gives examples of once beautiful, now bedraggled trees of Niu Mountain.
"Mencius belonged to one of those philosophical schools and all these schools were competing among themselves for disciples and for the favour of rulers which would bring wealth, power and positionsMencius was therefore, in a position that he had to explain more clearly than Confucius why every man should strive to be a 'superior man'" Hwang (1979, p.205).
His arguments are termed as too idealistic, far from reality, far removed from real life happenings and he argues a kind of mysticism beyond comprehension and belief. He is also criticized that all people cannot be endowed with such superfluous goodness as he supposed. Funnily, in spite of criticism, Mencius' theory continued to exist and is quite relevant even today.


"Mencius, on the other hand, is more truly a mystic. Not only does he believe that a man can attain oneness with the universe by perfecting his own moral nature, but he has absolute faith in the moral purpose of the universe. His great achievement is that he not only successfully defended the teachings of Confucius against the corrosive influence of new ideas but, in the process, added to Confucianism a depth that it did not possess before," Lau (1970, p.46).


He stressed upon ethical predispositions of mind and heart. He argued that any budding evil could be controlled by self-reflection and self-cultivation. His ethical ideal was benevolence humaneness.


Xunzi lived towards the end of Warring States Period (453-221 BCE) and along with Mencius and Confucius, was one of the three main architects of Confucius school of Philosophy in China. This period saw great philosophical flowering in China that enveloped almost all spheres of life, society, politics, ruling, warfare, defense etc. He lived in a 'cutthroat' age and it is not surprising that his philosophy is based on human evil. He also felt the need of human education and moral training.

"Human nature is evil; what is good is artifice. Now, human nature is as follows. At birth there is fondness for profit in it. Following this, contention and robbery arise, and deference and courtesy are destroyed," Goldin (1999, p.6).


Xunzi was directly opposite to Mencius in assuming that human nature starts with evil and not with goodness. His thought clashes with that of Mencius on the fundamentals itself.

"But it flatly contradicts the view of Mencius, who taught that man is naturally inclined to goodness and in later centuries, when Mencius' view came to be regarded as the orthodox one, it led to an unhappy clouding of Hsun Tzu's entire system of thought," Watson (1967, p.5).


He thought man is prone to evil dispositions, and ethical rules of society are invented to prevent this natural process. His philosophy says that Man is naturally an evil, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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