Saturday, April 20, 2013

Xunzi (Hsun Tzu), Chinese Philosopher, Outline


  • 310-219 B.C.E.
  • Hsun-Tzu
  • a Confucian
    • Kongzi (Confucius)– human nature good?
    • Mengzi (Mencius) – human nature good.
    • Xunzi – human nature is bad.
      • if human nature is inherently good, what do we need the rites for?
      • Though Mengzi would have said: sprouts of goodness in you, must be watered
        • it's goodness if fragile, and needs careful tending
        • importance of ritual – sprouts of goodness must be nurtured, ritual is necessary for this
  • what Xunzi is not saying:
    • that human nature is totally depraved, or evil
      • this is Calvinism
  • Xunzi is saying more: motivated by desire – pursuit of pleasure
    • if we all try (indiscriminately) to satisfy our appetites, we come into conflict
    • one must hold these attitudes in check
    • this can be modified, and our nature can be turned around – by following ritual and learning
    • born without any moral sense at all (?) and this must be cultivated
  • human nature is bad, but can be fixed
    • humans are selfish, perhaps overly concerned with the pursuit of pleasure
    • eating, drinking, sexing, etc.
    • ritual is for keeping this in check
  • people are born with unrestricted desire – p. 274
    • no innate inhibitions
    • nature has limited resources
    • leads to chaos
    • this is somewhat of a historical account, aimed at inhibiting/channeling desire
    • we want people to satisfy their seeking without exhausting material goods
    • attain the maximum amount of desire satisfaction without overindulging, exhausting all resources
  • connection between ritual & virtue
    • virtue is associated with moderating desires
    • one becomes a better human being by moderating desire
    • ritual can help with this
    • good social consequences
  • ex. ritual: I pass the peas
    • accompanied by the proper disposition: my inner states (feelings that go along with it)
    • not saying
  • in the West, virtue theory is about cultivating dispositions
    • I have a virtue if I have a disposition (consistent tendency) to do a certain thing under a certain set of circumstances
    • ex. a generous person feels naturally inclined to help, and feels right in doing so
    • this disposition can be cultivated
  • music is part of human nature
    • think about it – how often is it playing
  • p. 261 – make sure you have critics nearby, or you will not perfect yourself
  • connection between virtue and qi
    • p. 263

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