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Man Is Bad-natured According To Siun Tsz








The weaknesses of Mencius's theory are fully exposed by another

diametrically opposed theory propounded by Siun Tsz (Jun-shi) and his

followers. 'Man is bad-natured,' says Siun Tsz, 'since he has inborn

lust, appetite, and desire for wealth. As he has inborn lust and

appetite, he is naturally given to intemperance and wantonness. As

he has inborn desire for wealth, he is naturally inclined to quarrel

and fight with others for the sake of gain.' Leave him without

discipline or culture, he would not be a whit better than the beast.

His virtuous acts, such as charity, honesty, propriety, chastity,

truthfulness, are conduct forced by the teachings of ancient sages

against his natural inclination. Therefore vices are congenial and

true to his nature, while virtues alien and untrue to his fundamental

nature.





[FN#162] Siun Tsz's date is later by some fifty years than Mencius.

Siun Tsz gives the reason why man seeks after morality, saying that

man seeks what he has not, and that he seeks after morality simply

because he has not morality, just as the poor seek riches. See 'A

History of Chinese Philosophy' (pp. 51-60), by G. Nakauchi, and 'A

History of Development of Chinese Thought,' by R. Endo.





These two theories are not only far from throwing light on the moral

state of man, but wrap it in deeper gloom. Let us raise a few

questions by way of refutation. If man's fundamental nature be good,

as Mencius maintains, why is it easy for him to be vicious without

instruction, while he finds it hard to be virtuous even with

instruction. If you contend that good is man's primary nature and

evil the secondary one, why is be so often overpowered by the

secondary nature? If you answer saying that man is good-natured

originally, but he acquires the secondary nature through the struggle

for existence, and it gradually gains power over the primary nature

by means of the same cause, then the primitive tribes should be more

virtuous than the highly civilized nations, and children than grownup

people. Is this not contrary to fact?



If, again, man's nature is essentially bad, as Siun Tsz holds, how

can he cultivate virtue? If you contend that ancient sages invented

so-called cardinal virtues and inculcated them against his natural

inclination, why does he not give them up? If vices be congenial and

true to man's nature, but virtues be alien and untrue to him, why are

virtues honoured by him? If vices be genuine and virtue a deception,

as you think, why do you call the inventors of that deceiving art

sages? How was it possible for man to do good before these sages'

appearance on earth?






Next: Man Is Both Good-natured And Bad-natured According To Yan Hiung

Previous: Man Is Good-natured According To Mencius



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