Human Nature In Confucius, Mencius And Han Fei Tzu

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Human nature is one of the most core concerns of every Chinese philosopher we have studied this semester. Each one holds a particular stance when they address human’s natural state, and this very much contributes to their philosophy overall. For example, Confucius, Mencius and Han Fei Tzu all differ in their ideas of human nature, and this shaped each one’s particular philosophy. Confucius, the founding philosopher of Confucianism, never explicitly details what he believes to be the inherent nature of humans. However, through his teachings and writings, his opinion can be understood to be that humans reach good nature, through self-cultivation and self-improvement. He believes that humans are improvable and teachable, but lack virtue. “Confucius…show more content…
He believed human nature to be inherently bad, but was unique in the sense that he did not agree with other philosophers that only through education could badness be corrected. Han Fei Tzu said, “the ruler who has the technique does not follow the good that happened by chance, but practices the way of necessity…”(Han Fei Tzu, Ch. 50, 19:7b-8a, 9b-10a). Han Fei Tzu did not believe that good happened by chance, but through a skilled leader who has managed and led others in the necessary way. This reinforces Han Fei Tzu’s stance on education and how it is belittled and made irrelevant next to the importance of the government leader and his…show more content…
He did not blame the poor for being poor; instead he said it was the government’s responsibility to its people to fix this. This again goes against Han Fei Tzu, who believes that the poor should remain poor, since that is their fault. Han Fei Tzu believes that government is the most important thing, and has the right to both reward and punish people. He thinks that only through this form of treatment can you create order in a state/nation. Mencius specifically thought that government should be responsible for their people, especially that profit should not be talked about before the concerns of the people. Mencius included the well-field system in his philosophy, which provided people with the ability to provide for themselves in a sufficient manner. Legalists like Han Fei Tzu believed that government was the way to correct people and that a rule through power and punishment would be able to create order and control during a warring time. He especially believes that scholars and education were the source of loss of control, due to the way in which education could lead to separation of one’s loyalty to the state (aka central government).
As made self-evident, the attitudes, which Confucius, Mencius, and Han Fei Tzu maintain towards the ideas of education, rituals and government, shape the overall philosophies of each.
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