Xun Zi -- Controversial Philosopher of Confucianism in Chinese Culture
Xun Qing (313 B. C. — 238 B. C.), also respected as Xun Zi or Hsun Tzu, was a great philosopher, litterateur and educationist in Chinese culture.
His prentice Han Fei was one of the most important grandmasters of the Legalism. After Emperor Qin Shi Huang having read Han Fei’s exceptional articles, he was highly impressed and then initiated a war against Han Fei’s country, trying to have Han to serve him.
His another prentice Li Si was the most powerful prime minister of the Qin Dynasty in the history of China, another influential grandmaster of the Legalism. Li Si assisted the Emperor Qin Shi Huang established the first unified and centralized feudal autocracy kingdom, the Qin Dynasty (221 B. C. — 207 B. C.), and set a series of policies that strictly followed the Legalism ideology.
His another prentice Zhang Cang assisted the Emperor Liu Bang and was a powerful minister of the Han Dynasty (202 B. C. — 220). But Zhang’s emperors respected and implemented the Taoism as the dominant ideology. Zhang himself, except having established royal etiquettes that Confucianism honored, and eliminated some cruel penalties, was more of a great scientist who compiled The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art and formulated advanced calendar.
Three of Xun Zi's most famous students were powerful and influential, and were trusted by some exceptional emperors in the history of China; however, none of them had implemented the ideology of Confucianism.
Therefore, as their teacher, Xun Zi and his ideas has long been isolated, or even attacked.
After having visited and presented his ideology in many kingdoms, Xun Zi settled and wrote many famous articles in his later years.
He had inherited some of Confucius’ ideology, but, indeed, he also developed and concluded other different concepts of his own.
Main ideas of Xun Zi
1 People were born bad with natural desires; if their desires cannot be satisfied, they may do something inappropriate to fulfill that. Therefore, humans need to be taught with moral and good behaviors, which made education quite necessary and important.
Kindness is the result of postnatal cultivation and effort, not instinct.
2 Human beings have the ability to use or influence nature and the surrounding environment, but they should obey the basic laws of nature.
3 Human behaviors separate from the law of nature or will of heaven. The changing of the natural phenomenon is not in correspondence of people’s activities, nor representative of fortune.
4 Celestial or ghost doesn’t exist, and superstition activities should be abandoned. Sacrifice ceremony and memorial rites are not in relation to people’s wellbeing.
5 Moral is essential and fundamental of the society, but the law is necessary as well. The law evolved out of and guaranteed the implementation of the morality and the etiquette.
An appropriate combination and balance of the courtesy and the legality is the key aspect of governance of a kingdom.
6 Behavior is the resource and purpose of learning knowledge. Human’s knowledge is the reflection of the reality, since people learn from practice. In the meantime, everything they learnt will be guiding their behaviors.
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