Please wait a minute...

Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Front. Philos. China    2015, Vol. 10 Issue (2) : 212-238     https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0017-9
research-article
The Origin and Differentiation of the Theories of Human Nature in Pre-Qin China
GUO Yi()
Institute for Confucian Culture, Qufu Normal University, Qufu 273165, China
Download: PDF(422 KB)  
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks
Abstract

In early China, views concerning human nature underwent significant development, with philosophers moving from seeing it as desire or instinct to seeing it as virtue or essence. Before Confucius’s time, human beings’ xing, or nature, was construed as desire and instinct, i.e., as a physical nature. The key problem faced by theorists of human nature at that time was how to manage nature with virtue, i.e., how to use virtue to both control and enrich nature. A later, wide-reaching development was the use of qi to explain human nature. Laozi began, taking de or virtue to be the internal essence of the human being; Confucius took de or virtue to be xing or nature. Following this development, the main current of the theory of human nature in the pre-Qin period divided into two branches. One, created by the later Confucius, inherited in part by Zisi, and developed by Mencius, took virtue as nature and insisted on the a priority of internal morality. The other branch, inherited in part by Zisi and developed by the author of Xing Zi Ming Chu and Xunzi, featured the development of the old tradition which took yu, or desire, as nature.

Keywords human nature      physical nature      rational nature      Pre-Qin China      Laozi      Confucius     
Issue Date: 19 June 2015
 Cite this article:   
GUO Yi. The Origin and Differentiation of the Theories of Human Nature in Pre-Qin China[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(2): 212-238.
 URL:  
http://journal.hep.com.cn/fpc/EN/10.3868/s030-004-015-0017-9
http://journal.hep.com.cn/fpc/EN/Y2015/V10/I2/212
Service
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
RSS
Articles by authors
GUO Yi
Related articles from Frontiers Journals
[1] Filippo Costantini. Structuring Reality: The Metaphysics of Harmony in Zhang Zai’s Zhengmeng Philosophical System[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2020, 15(2): 223-241.
[2] Thierry Lucas. The Logical Style of Confucius’ Analects [J]. Front. Philos. China, 2020, 15(2): 167-197.
[3] TAN Mingran. A Neo-Confucian Criticism of Daoism: Wang Fuzhi’s Contradictory Remarks on the Laozi[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2020, 15(1): 93-121.
[4] WANG Niecai. Revelation or Reason? Two Opposing Interpretations of the Confucian Classics during the Chinese Rites Controversy[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2019, 14(2): 284-302.
[5] HUANG Zhipeng. Encounter between Soul and Human Nature: An Examination of Xia Dachang’s “Xingshuo”[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2019, 14(2): 264-283.
[6] Karyn Lai. Emotional Attachment and Its Limits: Mengzi, Gaozi and the Guodian Discussions[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2019, 14(1): 132-151.
[7] XU Keqian. A Contemporary Re-Examination of Confucian Li 禮 and Human Dignity[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2018, 13(3): 449-464.
[8] NI Peimin. Toward a Gongfu Reconstruction of Confucianism —Responses to Comments by Huang Yong, Fan Ruiping, and Wang Qingjie[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2018, 13(2): 240-253.
[9] HUANG Yong. Confucian Ethics: Altruistic? Egoistic? Both? Neither?[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2018, 13(2): 217-231.
[10] CUI Xiaojiao. Paradoxes in the Textual Development of the Laozi: A Closer Examination of Chapters Eight and Twenty-Four[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2017, 12(3): 393-407.
[11] ZHANG Weiwen. The Philosophy of “Naturalness” in the Laozi and Its Value For Contemporary Society[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2017, 12(3): 340-357.
[12] Thomas Michael, CHEN Yazhou. Approaching Laozi : Comparing a Syncretic Reading to a Synthetic One[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2017, 12(1): 10-25.
[13] Franklin Perkins. The Laozi and the Cosmogonic Turn in Classical Chinese Philosophy[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2016, 11(2): 185-205.
[14] NIE Minli. Yin and Yang , and the Hot and the Cold[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2016, 11(1): 73-87.
[15] BAO Yongling. Water, Plant, Light, and Mirror: On the Root Metaphors of the Heart-Mind in Wang Yangming’s Thought[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(1): 95-112.
Viewed
Full text


Abstract

Cited

  Shared   
  Discussed