Xunzi on Moral Psychology
- Eric L. HuttonAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Utah Email author
Among early Chinese thinkers, Xunzi offers some of the most detailed and extensive discussions of moral psychology. While much of that material appears in his remarks about people’s xing 性 (“nature”) and wei 偽 (“deliberate effort”), several other passages that do not explicitly invoke those notions are also relevant to understanding his views on moral psychology. In this chapter I focus primarily on those other passages, since Xunzi’s conceptions of xing and wei are treated extensively elsewhere in this book. In particular, I first discuss his understanding of qing 情 (“dispositions”) and yu 欲 (“desires”). The second section then analyzes Xunzi’s view of ke (“approval”), which plays an important role in his explanation of moral behavior. I review some of the controversies in the English-language scholarship about the relations between yu and ke in Xunzi’s picture of moral motivation, and I defend an interpretation on which Xunzi takes yu and ke to be independent and potentially conflicting sources of motivation that must be harmonized in order for a person to achieve sagehood. The chapter ends with a consideration of how the demand for such harmonization derives from Xunzi’s views about virtue, and notes some questions raised by his position.
- Xunzi on Moral Psychology
- Book Title
- Dao Companion to the Philosophy of Xunzi
- pp 201-227
- Print ISBN
- Online ISBN
- Series Title
- Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy
- Series Volume
- Springer Netherlands
- Copyright Holder
- Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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