Advertisement

Xunzi Among the Chinese Neo-Confucians

  • Justin Tiwald
Chapter
Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 7)

Abstract

This chapter explains how Xunzi’s text and views helped shape the thought of the Neo-Confucian philosophers, noting and explicating some areas of influence long overlooked in modern scholarship. It begins with a general overview of Xunzi’s changing position in the tradition (“Xunzi’s Status in Neo-Confucian Thought”), in which I discuss Xunzi’s status in three general periods of Neo-Confucian era: the early period, in which Neo-Confucian views of Xunzi were varied and somewhat ambiguous, the “mature” period, in which a broad consensus formed and then became orthodoxy for several centuries, and a late and often overlooked reassessment of Xunzi that took place in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the second section (“Debating Human Nature on Xunzi’s Terms”), I discuss in greater detail Neo-Confucian criticisms of Xunzi’s views on human nature, noting that in key respects the Neo-Confucians accepted Xunzi’s somewhat uncharitable characterization of the doctrine that human nature is good, thereby taking on a considerably greater burden of proof than necessary. In the third section (“Virtue without Roots”), I attempt to explicate what is perhaps the most prominent but also the most laconic Neo-Confucian criticism of Xunzi, which is that Xunzi misunderstands the “great root” or “great foundation” of cosmic and social order, finding it in conventional human relationships rather than in the deeper, purer and more powerful inner workings of human nature. In the final section (“The Accretional Theory of Knowledge Acquisition”), I explain how the major differences between Xunzi and his Neo-Confucian critics can be cast as a dispute about how moral knowledge is acquired, where Xunzi’s critics assume that acquiring moral knowledge of any meaningful kind is impossible without a natural base or foundation of moral knowledge to begin with.

Keywords

Human Nature Moral Knowledge Moral Psychology Great Root Epistemic Virtue 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am indebted to Eric Hutton, Philip J. Ivanhoe, <Emphasis Type=”SmallCaps”>Xie</Emphasis> Xiaodong 謝曉東 and a generous anonymous reviewer for extensive and stimulating comments on earlier drafts of this chapter.

Bibliography

  1. Adler, Joseph A. 2008. “Zhu Xi’s Spiritual Practice as the Basis of His Central Philosophical Concepts.” Dao 7(1): 57–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angle, Stephen C. 2009. Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (An excellent overview of Neo-Confucianism that accomplishes the formidable task of showing how the orthodox Neo-Confucian philosophers have much significance for contemporary philosophy.)Google Scholar
  3. Angle, Stephen C. 2011. “Reply to Justin Tiwald.” Dao 10(2): 237–39. (Angle’s contribution to a debate with Justin Tiwald about the proper translation of li 理, defending “Coherence” over “principle” or “pattern.”)Google Scholar
  4. Berthrong, John. 2014. “Xunzi and Zhu Xi.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 40(3–4): 400–16. (A stimulating discussion of some thematic similarities between Xunzi and Zhu Xi, focusing on their use of the character li 理 and their conceptions of the heart/mind.)Google Scholar
  5. Cai, Renhou 蔡仁厚. 1987. A Comparative Study of “Xin” and “Xing” in the Philosophy of Xunzi and Zhuzi 荀子與朱子: 心性論之比較. Singapore: Institute of East Asian Philosophies. (The only systematic comparison of Xunzi with a leading figure in orthodox Neo-Confucianism. Most notably, Cai argues that Xunzi and Zhu Xi have the same basic conception of heart/mind, one that essentially sees it as an epistemic mechanism that lacks any intrinsic moral proclivities.)Google Scholar
  6. Chan, Wing-tsit. 1963. A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (One of the most comprehensive collections of translations of primary texts in Neo-Confucianism, although it also covers other schools and periods. Elements of the translation are dated and the translator uses Wade-Giles rather than pinyin Romanization.)Google Scholar
  7. Chan, Wing-tsit. 1967. Reflections on Things at Hand: The Neo-Confucian Anthology, Compiled by Chu Hsi [ Zhu Xi] and Tsu-Ch’ien [ Zuqian]. New York: Columbia University Press. (A complete translation of the Jin si lu 近思錄, a collection of essays and short lessons selected from the work of four 11th century founders of orthodox Neo-Confucianism. The book became the standard introduction to Neo-Confucianism for several centuries of aspiring Confucian scholars, in some respects like a textbook.)Google Scholar
  8. Chen, Lai 陳來. 2010. The Tradition of Li-Learning in the Song and Ming Dynasties 宋明理學. Taipei 臺北: Yunchen wenhua 允晨文化. (An overview of major themes and concepts in orthodox Neo-Confucianism, by one of the most careful and informed contemporary specialists on Neo-Confucianism.)Google Scholar
  9. Cheng, Hao 程顥, and Cheng Yi 程頤. 1981 (2008 reprint). “Surviving Works of the Chengs of Henan” 河南程氏遺書. In The Collected Works of the Two Chengs 二程集, ed. Wang Xiaoyu 王孝魚, vol. 1, 1–349, Beijing 北京: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局. (The most widely read primary text on the Cheng brothers, presenting short lessons and remarks recorded by their students.)Google Scholar
  10. Chin, Ann-ping, and Freeman, Mansfield. 1990. Tai Chen on Mencius: Explorations in Words and Meanings. New Haven: Yale University Press. (A complete English translation of Dai Zhen’s masterwork, “Evidential Analysis of the Meaning of Terms in the Mengzi 孟子字義疏證.” Unfortunately the translation has numerous flaws and uses Wade-Giles Romanization rather than pinyin.)Google Scholar
  11. Dai, Junren 戴君仁. 1980. The Complete Collection of the Works of Mister Dai Jingshan [Dai Junren] 戴靜山先生全集. Taipei 台北: Dai gu zhiyuan 戴顧志鵷. (Includes helpful historical and textual studies of the philosophical language and concepts that might have made their way from Xunzi [or his disciples] into Neo-Confucian discourse.)Google Scholar
  12. Dai, Zhen 戴震. 1996. “Evidential Analysis of the Meaning of Terms in the Mengzi” 孟子字義疏證. In The Philosophy of Dai Dongyuan 戴東原的哲學, by Hu Shi 胡適, 240–337. Reprinted in Taibei 台北: Taiwan shang wu yin shu guan 臺灣商務印書館. (Dai Zhen’s philosophical masterwork, presented as a critique of the orthodox Neo-Confucians’ reading of the Confucian canon.)Google Scholar
  13. Dai, Zhen 戴震. 2009. “Evidential Analysis of the Meaning of Terms in the Mengzi” 孟子字義疏證. In The Collected Works of Dai Zhen 戴震集, 263–329. Shanghai 上海: Shanghai guji chubanshe 上海古籍出版社. Google Scholar
  14. de Bary, Wm. Theodore. 1991. Learning for One’s Self: Essays on the Individual in Neo-Confucian Thought. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  15. de Bary, Wm. Theodore. 1993. Waiting for the Dawn: A Plan for the Prince. New York: Columbia University Press. (A high quality English translation of Huang Zongxi’s Mingyi daifang lu 明夷待訪錄, a work best known for making a compelling case for political and institutional reform.)Google Scholar
  16. Elman, Benjamin A. 2001. From Philosophy to Philology: Intellectual and Social Aspects of Change in Late Imperial China (revised). Los Angeles: UCLA Asia-Pacific Institute.Google Scholar
  17. Ewell, John W. 1990. “Reinventing the Way: Dai Zhen’s ‘Evidential Commentary on the Meanings of Terms in Mencius’ (1777).” PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley. (A complete English translation of Dai Zhen’s masterwork, “Evidential Analysis of the Meaning of Terms in the Mengzi” 孟子字義疏證. (More accurate than the Chin and Freeman translation listed above. Uses pinyin Romanization.)Google Scholar
  18. Gardner, Daniel K. 1990. Learning to Be a Sage: Selections from the Conversations of Master Chu, Arranged Topically. Berkeley: University of California Press. (An expert translation of selections from Zhu Xi’s Zhuzi yulei 朱子語類, also known as the Topically Arranged Conversations of Master Zhu. The selections focus on learning.)Google Scholar
  19. Graham, A.C. 1992. Two Chinese Philosophers: The Metaphysics of the Brothers Cheng. LaSalle: Open Court. (The best book-length resource on Cheng Hao and Cheng Yi, offering extensive translations and discussion of their views.)Google Scholar
  20. Graham, A.C. 2002. “The Background of the Mencian Theory of Human Nature.” In Liu and Ivanhoe (2002): 1–63.Google Scholar
  21. Han, Yu 韓愈. 1968. “Inquiry into Human Nature” 原性. In The Collected Works of Mister Changli 昌黎先生集, vol. 1, juan 11, 5b–8a. Taipei 臺北: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局 (Sibu beiyao edition). (An important essay by a Tang dynasty forerunner to orthodox Neo-Confucianism, one who shares the orthodox Neo-Confucians’ suspicions of Buddhism but not their robust cosmological and metaphysical framework.)Google Scholar
  22. Harbsmeier, Christoph. 1981. Aspects of Classical Chinese Syntax. London: Curzon Press.Google Scholar
  23. Hu, Hong 胡宏. 1987. The Collected Works of Hu Hong 胡宏集. Beijing 北京: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局. (Hu Hong is not widely read but was nevertheless an insightful Neo-Confucian thinker in the lineage of the Cheng brothers. His influence was eventually eclipsed by Zhu Xi, who took issue with several of Hu’s philosophical positions.)Google Scholar
  24. Hu, Shi 胡適. 1996. The Philosophy of Dai Dongyuan 戴東原的哲學. Reprinted in Taibei 台北: Taiwan shang wu yin shu guan 臺灣商務印書館. (An important but somewhat dated book on Dai Zhen, with substantial appendices that include some of Dai’s philosophical letters and his two most important philosophical works, “On the Good” and the “Evidential Analysis of the Meaning of Terms in the Mengzi.”)Google Scholar
  25. Huang, Zongxi 黃宗羲. 1965. “On Law” 原法. In Waiting for the Dawn 明夷待訪錄. Taipei 臺北: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局 (Sibu beiyao edition).Google Scholar
  26. Huang, Zongxi 黃宗羲, and Quan Zuwang 全祖望. 1965. Song-Yuan Case Studies 宋元學案. Taipei 臺北: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局 (Sibu beiyao edition).Google Scholar
  27. Hutton, Eric L. 2000. “Does Xunzi Have a Consistent Theory of Human Nature?” In Kline and Ivanhoe (2000). (An essential work on Xunzi’s theory of human nature, developing a more coherent and charitable reading of Xunzi in response to several challenges.)Google Scholar
  28. Hutton, Eric L., trans. 2014. Xunzi: The Complete Text. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Ivanhoe, Philip J. 2000a. Confucian Moral Self Cultivation, 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA.: Hackett. (One of a small handful of authoritative introductions to Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism. Ivanhoe includes chapters on Xunzi, Zhu Xi, Wang Yangming and Dai Zhen, and highlights important structural differences between their views.)Google Scholar
  30. Ivanhoe, Philip J. 2000b. “Human Nature and Moral Understanding in the Xunzi.” In Kline and Ivanhoe (2000). (This paper tackles the difficult problem of identifying the precise points of dispute between Mengzi and Xunzi on human nature, developing a helpful analogy between their views and two theories of language acquisition.)Google Scholar
  31. Ivanhoe, Philip J. 2002a. “Confucian Self Cultivation and Mengzi’s Notion of Extension.” In Liu and Ivanhoe (2002): 221–41.Google Scholar
  32. Ivanhoe, Philip J. 2002b. Ethics in the Confucian Tradition: The Thought of Mengzi and Wang Yangming, 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA.: Hackett. (An authoritative work on Wang Yangming. Highlights the ways in which Wang’s distinctive metaphysics and theories of moral agency depart from Mengzi’s.)Google Scholar
  33. Ivanhoe, Philip J. 2009. Readings from the Lu-Wang School of Neo-Confucianism. Cambridge: Hackett. (The only extended English translation of Lu Xiangshan. Also translates selections from the essays, letters, commentaries and poetry of Wang Yangming. The translations of both figures are more accurate and readable than Chan’s, cited above.)Google Scholar
  34. Ivanhoe, Philip J. 2015. “The Senses and Values of Oneness.” In The Philosophical Challenge from China, ed. Brian Bruya, 231–51. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  35. Jiao, Xun 焦循. 1987 (2007 reprint). The Correct Meanings of the Mengzi 孟子正義. Beijing 北京: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局.Google Scholar
  36. Kline, T.C., III. 2000. “Moral Agency and Motivation in the Xunzi.” In Kline and Ivanhoe (2000).Google Scholar
  37. Kline, T.C., III, and Philip J. Ivanhoe, eds. 2000. Virtue, Nature, and Moral Agency in the Xunzi. Cambridge: Hackett.Google Scholar
  38. Knoblock, John. 1988, 1990, 1994. Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the Complete Works, 3 vols. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Legge, James. 1970. The Shoo King. Reprinted in Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Lau, D.C. 劉殿爵, and F.C. Chen 陳方正, eds. 1996. A Concordance to the Xunzi 荀子逐字索引. Hong Kong: The Commercial Press 商務印書館.Google Scholar
  41. Liu, Baonan 劉寶楠. 1965. The Correct Meanings of the Analects 論語正義. Taipei 臺北: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局 (Sibu beiyao edition).Google Scholar
  42. Liu, Xiusheng, and Philip J. Ivanhoe, eds. 2002. Essays on the Moral Philosophy of Mengzi. Cambridge, MA.: Hackett.Google Scholar
  43. Lu, Xiangshan 陸象山. 1965. The Complete Works of [ Lu ] Xiangshan 象山全集. Taipei 臺北: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局 (Sibu beiyao edition). (A Song dynasty Neo-Confucian philosopher. Also an important interlocutor and critic of Zhu Xi.)Google Scholar
  44. Makeham, John. 2003. Transmitters and Creators: Chinese Commentators and Commentaries on the Analects (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Asian Center).Google Scholar
  45. Makeham, John, ed. 2010. Dao Companion to Neo-Confucian Philosophy. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  46. Marchal, Kai. 2010. “ Zuqian’s Political Philosophy.” In Makeham (2010).Google Scholar
  47. Nivison, David S. 1996. “Two Roots or One?” In The Ways of Confucianism, ed. Bryan W. Van Norden, 133–48. Chicago: Open Court Press.Google Scholar
  48. Nylan, Michael and Thomas A. Wilson. 2010. Lives of Confucius: Civilization’s Greatest Sage Through the Ages. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  49. Shun, Kwong-loi. 2010. “Zhu Xi’s Moral Psychology.” In Makeham (2010).Google Scholar
  50. Stalnaker, Aaron. 2003. “Aspects of Xunzi’s Engagement with Early Daoism.” Philosophy East and West 53(1): 87–129. (A helpful study of surprising points of overlap and influence between early Daoism and Xunzi, with substantial space devoted to the epistemic virtues discussed in the present chapter.)Google Scholar
  51. Tiwald, Justin. 2010. “Dai Zhen on Human Nature and Moral Cultivation.” In Makeham (2010).Google Scholar
  52. Tiwald, Justin. 2011a. Review of Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy. Dao 10(2): 231–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tiwald, Justin. 2011b. “Reply to Stephen Angle.” Dao 10(2): 241–43. (My contribution to a debate with Stephen C. Angle about the proper translation of li 理.)Google Scholar
  54. Tiwald, Justin. 2011c. “Sympathy and Perspective-Taking in Confucian Ethics.” Philosophy Compass 6(10): 663–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tiwald, Justin. 2012. “Xunzi on Moral Expertise.” Dao 11(2): 275–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tiwald, Justin, and Bryan W. Van Norden, eds. 2014. Readings in Later Chinese Philosophy: Han Dynasty to the 20th Century. Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
  57. Van Norden, Bryan W. 2007. Virtue Ethics and Consequentialism in Early Chinese Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Van Norden, Bryan W., trans. 2008. Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries. Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
  59. Wang, Yangming 王陽明. 2000. “A Record for Practice” 傳習錄. In An Extended Commentary on A Record for Practice 傳習錄注疏, ed. Deng Aimin 鄧艾民. Jilong 基隆: Fayan chubanshe 法嚴出版社. (The most representative work of one of the two giants in Neo-Confucian philosophy.)Google Scholar
  60. Williams, Bernard. 1981. Moral Luck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Williams, Bernard. 1985. Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. London: Fontana.Google Scholar
  62. Xunzi 荀子. 1935. Collected Commentaries on Xunzi 荀子集解, ed. Wang Xianqian 王先謙. Taipei 臺北: Shijie shuju 世界書局.Google Scholar
  63. Yang, Xiong 楊雄. 1965. Words to Model Oneself On 法言. Taipei 臺北: Guangwen shuju 廣文書局.Google Scholar
  64. Zhou, Dunyi 周敦頤. 1990. “Penetrating the Book of Changes” 通書. In The Collected Works of Zhou Dunyi 周敦頤集. Beijing 北京: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局.Google Scholar
  65. Zhu, Xi 朱熹, ed. 1965. “Misgivings about Master Hu’s Understanding of Words” 胡子知言疑義. In Huang and Quan (1965), vol. 3, juan 42, 3b–9a.Google Scholar
  66. Zhu, Xi 朱熹. 1986. Topically Arranged Conversations of Master Zhu, with Index Appended 朱子語類附所引, 8 vols., ed. Li Jingde 黎靖德. Beijing 北京: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局. (Several thousand pages of lessons and discussions with Zhu Xi, as recorded by his students.)Google Scholar
  67. Zhu, Xi 朱熹, ed. 1983 (reprinted in 2010). Collected Commentaries on the Four Books 中庸章句集注. Beijing 北京: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局.Google Scholar
  68. Zhu, Xi 朱熹, and Zuqian 呂祖謙, eds. 2008. Reflections on Things at Hand 近思錄. Zhengzhou 鄭州: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe 中州古藉出版社. (A collection of essays and short lessons selected from the work of four 11th century founders of orthodox Neo-Confucianism, treated as an introduction to the subject by many generations of Confucian scholars.)Google Scholar
  69. Zhu, Xi 朱熹. 2010. “Collected Commentaries on the Chuci” 楚辭集注. In The Collected Works of Zhu Xi 朱子全書, vol. 19. Shanghai 上海: Shanghai guji chubanshe 上海古籍出版社 and Anhui jiaoyu chubanshe 安徽教育出版社.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations