Daoism Spontaneity Essay

576 Words3 Pages
Unlike Mencian and Zhuangzi’s ideas on following spontaneity, Xunzi and Dai Zhen do not agree that we should trust our spontaneous inclinations. The purpose of this paper is to summarize Xunzi’s ideas on this issue. Xunzi proposed that human nature is bad in Xunzi 23.1, though he sometimes made his arguments seem to be human nature is neutral. His central argument is that people should not follow our spontaneity impulse, as they are not leading you to a good way. One example in 23.4, he said that human Xing is rather selfish, like to get warm when in cold, to get full when in hunger. The reason for people becoming not selfish is that we learn from social norms, guidelines and rituals. Another example is in 23.6, he said that human Xing is to get benefits for your own self. If people just follow their own Xing, even brothers will fight for their own benefits, but if people are taught with rituals and virtues, they will even defer to people they do not know. This means that our benevolent behaviors come from artifice but not from our spontaneity. He used a bent wood as a metaphor in 23.2, saying that a bent wood needs a straight board for straightening, like humans need to be taught in order to become good from bad Xing. In 23.3, he suggested humans inevitably get away from our spontaneous nature after we learn all those rules, rituals and norms. Some learn to be good, some learn to be bad, but all these behaviors are acquired, not inborn. Therefore, there is no sense for us to follow spontaneity. Xunzi also argued against Mencian saying that human nature is good. In 23.9, Xunzi said that if human nature is good, Confucius and Mencius would not have agreed that a sage king is important to our society. We need a sage king to keep our society in a good order to transform people to behave well. If human nature is good, we do not need that sage king. All of us can
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