Dao
, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 85-107

Artifice and virtue in theXunzi

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Abstract

Xunzi was chronologically the third of the three great Confucian thinkers of China’s classical period, after Confucius and Mencius. Having produced the most comprehensive philosophical system of that period, he occupies a place in the development of Chinese philosophy comparable to that of Aristotle in the Western philosophical tradition. This essay reveals how Xunzi’s understanding of virtue and moral development dovetailed with his positions on ritual propriety, the attunement of names, the relation betweenli (patterns) andlei (categories), and his view ofdao (the way) in general. I have argued for a “constructivist” understanding of each of these aspects of Xunzi’s philosophy in some detail elsewhere (see Hagen 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003), and so here I will just briefly review a few key points before addressing their relation to moral development.