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Summary Xunzi  was the influential philosopher of China's Warring States period (479–221 B.C.E.). He considered himself a follower of Confucius and his philosophy belongs to the tradition of what might be called classical Confucianism. It certainly took part in consolidating the doctrine. Xunzi's significance has often been underestimated, especially in favour of Mencius. Xunzi system addresses topics ranging from economic and military policy, through the justification of traditional authority and institutions, to action theory and the philosophy of language.
Key works Original texts by Xunzi can be found in Xunzi 1963. There are alternative, older translations of Xunzi texts Xunzi 1928 that also include the Chinese original text.
Introductions Littlejohn 2010 Robins 2008
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  1. Robert E. Allinson (1998). The Debate Between Mencius and Hsün-Tzu: Contemporary Applications. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 25 (1):31-49.
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  2. Alejandro Bárcenas (2012). Xunzi and Han Fei on Human Nature. International Philosophical Quarterly 52 (2):135-148.
    It is commonly accepted that Han Fei studied under Xunzi sometime during the late third century BCE. However, there is surprisingly little dedicated to the in-depth study of the relationship between Xunzi’s ideas and one of his best-known followers. In this essay I argue that Han Fei’s notion of xing, commonly translated as human nature, was not only influenced by Xunzi but also that it is an important feature of his political philosophy.
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  3. James Behuniak (2000). Nivison and the "Problem" in Xunzi's Ethics. Philosophy East and West 50 (1):97-110.
    David Nivison has argued that there is a problem in Xunzi's ethical thinking resulting from a tension between the "deontological" and "consequentialist" tendencies in his thought. Here it is argued that the problem Nivison locates in Xunzi is not so severe once it is recognized that being human, according to Xunzi, has more to do with being social, recognizing distinctions, and assuming roles than with having an open, unfilled "sense of duty." The famous "ladder" passage in the Xunzi (9.16a) is (...)
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  4. John Berthrong (2013). Xunzi and Zhu Xi. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 40 (3-4):400-416.
    Mou Zongsan 牟宗三 ironically once wrote that Zhu Xi 朱熹 could be considered Xunzi's 荀子 philosophical revenge on Mengzi 孟子. Mou implied that when you retreat from Zhu's staunch rhetorical support of Mengzi philosophy, what you discover are all kinds of significant analogies between the philosophical lexicon as well as deeper structural affinities between Xunzi and Zhu Xi. We discover, ironically, that there is a great deal of merit in Mou's offhanded suggestion of the comparison of two of the greatest (...)
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  5. John Berthrong (2010). Father and Son in Confucianism and Christianity: A Comparative Study of Xunzi and Paul – by Yanxia Zhao. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 37 (2):330-333.
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  6. John Berthrong (2003). From Xunzi to Boston Confucianism. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 30 (3-4):433-450.
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  7. Joanne D. Birdwhistell (2002). Rituals of the Way: The Philosophy of Xunzi (Review). Philosophy East and West 52 (4):498-500.
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  8. Nicholas Bunnin (2008). Situating Xunzi. In Zhongying Cheng & On Cho Ng (eds.), The Imperative of Understanding: Chinese Philosophy, Comparative Philosophy, and Onto-Hermeneutics: A Tribute Volume Dedicated to Professor Chung-Ying Cheng. Global Scholarly Publications.
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  9. Liang Ch'I.-Hsiung (1974). A Descriptive Review of Hsün-Tzu's Thought. Contemporary Chinese Thought 6 (1):4-60.
    The sources of "knowledge," for Hsün-tzu, came from the realities in objective existence. He took the impressions of these objectively existent realities as his basis of knowledge.
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  10. Bo Chen (2009). Xunzi's Politicized and Moralized Philosophy of Language. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 36 (1):107-139.
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  11. Lai Chen (2009). “ Ru ”: Xunzi's Thoughts on Ru and its Significance. [REVIEW] Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (2):157-179.
    No matter what the original meaning of “ Ru ” was, looking at it from the perspective of the history of philosophy, the image of “ Ru ” as portrayed by other schools in the Warring States period was infused with the characteristics of Confucianism of that time. The self-understanding of Warring States Confucians expressed by their employment of the character “ Ru ” clearly displayed Ru ’s character as well as the main points of the Ru school, namely Confucianism. (...)
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  12. Lisheng Chen (2010). Courage in the Analects : A Genealogical Survey of the Confucian Virtue of Courage. [REVIEW] Frontiers of Philosophy in China 5 (1):1-30.
    The different meanings of “courage” in The Analects were expressed in Confucius’ remark on Zilu’s bravery. The typological analysis of courage in Mencius and Xunzi focused on the shaping of the personalities of brave persons. “Great courage” and “superior courage”, as the virtues of “great men” or “ shi junzi 士君子 (intellectuals with noble characters)”, exhibit not only the uprightness of the “internal sagacity”, but also the rich implications of the “external kingship”. The prototype of these brave persons could be (...)
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  13. Chung-ying Cheng (2008). Xunzi as a Systematic Philosopher: Toward an Organic Unity of Nature, Mind, and Reason. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 35 (1):9–31.
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  14. Chung-Ying Cheng, Roger T. Ames, Vincent Shen, Kim-Chong Chong, Paul R. Goldin, Karyn L. Lai & Tan Mingran (2008). Philosophy of Xunzi and Antonio S. Cua. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 35 (1).
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  15. Leo K. C. Cheung (2001). The Way of the Xunzi. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 28 (3):301–320.
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  16. Chaehyun Chong (2012). Xunzi'sSanhuo(Three Types Of Cognitive Delusions). Journal of Chinese Philosophy 39 (3):424-435.
    This article explicates Xunzi's three types of cognitive delusions in Xunzi's Zhengming Pian. The followings are my conclusions: first, general names such as “a white horse,” “a horse,” “a thief,” and “a man” are thought of as proper nouns because the classic Chinese theory of language concerned pragmatics rather than semantics. Second, classic Chinese epistemology does not address conceptual knowledge or knowledge based on argumentation distinguished from the art of description. Third, Gongsun Long believes in an extreme form of one‐name‐one‐thingism. (...)
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  17. Kim Chong Chong (2003). Xunzi's Systematic Critique of Mencius. Philosophy East and West 53 (2):215-233.
    : Some commentators hold that Xunzi's criticism of Mencius' thesis that human nature is good depends more on Xunzi's definition of xing or nature than on substantive argument. Some also claim that Xunzi is committed to accepting Mencius' thesis. A more precise account of Xunzi's critique is offered here, based on an elaboration of his distinction in the "Xing e pian" between ke yi (capacity) and neng (ability). Others have noted this distinction, but no one has sufficiently appreciated its role (...)
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  18. Kim-Chong Chong (2008). Classical Confucianism (Ii) : Meng Zi and Xun Zi. In Bo Mou (ed.), Routledge History of Chinese Philosophy. Routledge.
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  19. Kim-chong Chong (2008). Xunzi and the Essentialist Mode of Thinking on Human Nature. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 35 (1):63–78.
  20. Kim-Chong Chong, Ritual Transformation—Xunzi's Response to Mozi in the Lilun Pian.
    It is well known that Mozi (墨子) criticizes the ritual practices of the Ru (儒, the Confucian school) for being wasteful. However, another criticism has been less appreciated: These practices are merely conventional habituations and violate the Ru’s own moral ideals of ren 仁 (humanity), yi 義 (right, righteousness) and xiao 孝 (being filial). Xunzi (荀子) responds to both criticisms in the Li Lun Pian 禮論篇 (“Discourse on Ritual Principles”). Based on an account of Mozi’s arguments and Xunzi’s replies, this (...)
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  21. Kim-Chong Chong (2003). Xunzi's Systematic Critique of Mencius. Philosophy East and West 53 (2):215 - 233.
    Some commentators hold that Xunzi's criticism of Mencius' thesis that human nature is good depends more on Xunzi's definition of xing or nature than on substantive argument. Some also claim that Xunzi is committed to accepting Mencius' thesis. A more precise account of Xunzi's critique is offered here, based on an elaboration of his distinction in the "Xing e pian" between ke yi (capacity) and neng (ability). Others have noted this distinction, but no one has sufficiently appreciated its role in (...)
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  22. Chih-I. Chʻêng (1928). Hsüntzu's Theory of Human Nature and its Influence on Chinese Thought. [Peking.
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  23. Erin M. Cline (2008). Mirrors, Minds, and Metaphors. Philosophy East and West 58 (3):pp. 337-357.
    The metaphor of the heart or mind as a mirror appears not only in the work of Zhuangzi and Xunzi but also in the work of Western philosophers such as Kierkegaard and Rorty. This essay shows how a properly contextualized comparison of the mirror metaphor in the work of these four philosophers highlights the different ways in which they use it, helping us to understand more clearly critical differences between their views. The significance of the mirror metaphor in the work (...)
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  24. Erin M. Cline (2006). Human Nature, Ritual, and History: Studies in Xunzi and Chinese Philosophy – Antonio S. Cua. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 33 (3):453–455.
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  25. Amina Crisma (2004). Conflitto E Armonia Nel Pensiero Cinese Dell'età Classica: Il Trattato Sui Riti di Xunzi. Unipress.
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  26. A. S. Cua (2005). Human Nature, Ritual, and History: Studies in Xunzi and Chinese Philosophy. The Catholic University of America Press.
    In this volume, distinguished philosopher Antonio S. Cua offers a collection of original studies on Xunzi, a leading classical Confucian thinker, and on other ...
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  27. A. S. Cua (1989). The Problem of Conceptual Unity in Hsün Tzu, and Li Kou's Solution. Philosophy East and West 39 (2):115-134.
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  28. A. S. Cua (1987). Hsün Tzu and the Unity of Virtues. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 14 (4):381-400.
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  29. A. S. Cua (1985). Ethical Uses of the Past in Early Confucianism: The Case of Hsün Tzu. Philosophy East and West 35 (2):133-156.
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  30. A. S. Cua (1983). Hsün Tzu's Theory of Argumentation: A Reconstruction. Review of Metaphysics 36 (4):867 - 894.
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  31. A. S. Cua (1979). Dimensions of Li (Propriety): Reflections on an Aspect of Hsün Tzu's Ethics. Philosophy East and West 29 (4):373-394.
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  32. A. S. Cua (1978). The Quasi-Empirical Aspect of Hsün-Tzu's Philosophy of Human Nature. Philosophy East and West 28 (1):3-19.
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  33. A. S. Cua (1977). The Conceptual Aspect of Hsün Tzu's Philosophy of Human Nature. Philosophy East and West 27 (4):373-389.
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  34. Antonio S. Cua (2003). The Ethical Significance of Shame: Insights of Aristotle and Xunzi. Philosophy East and West 53 (2):147 - 202.
    A constructive interpretation of the Confucian conception of shame is offered here. Xunzi's discussion is considered the locus classicus of the Confucian conception of shame as contrasted with honor. In order to show his conception as an articulation and development of the more inchoate attitudes of Confucius and Mencius, and excursion is made into the Lunyu and the Mengzi. Aristotle's conception of shame is used as a sort of catalyst, an opening for appreciating Xunzi's complementary insights.
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  35. Antonio S. Cua (2003). The Ethical Significance of Shame: Insights of Aristotle and Xunzi. Philosophy East and West 53 (2):147-202.
    : A constructive interpretation of the Confucian conception of shame is offered here. Xunzi's discussion is considered the locus classicus of the Confucian conception of shame as contrasted with honor. In order to show his conception as an articulation and development of the more inchoate attitudes of Confucius and Mencius, an excursion is made into the Lunyu and the Mengzi. Aristotle's conception of shame is used as a sort of catalyst, an opening for appreciating Xunzi's complementary insights.
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  36. Wiebke Denecke (2010). The Dynamics of Masters Literature: Early Chinese Thought From Confucius to Han Feizi. Distributed by Harvard University Press.
    Introduction: Chinese philosophy and the translation of disciplines -- The faces of masters literature until the Eastern Han -- Scenes of instruction and master bodies in the Analects -- From scenes of instruction to scenes of construction: Mozi -- Interiority, human nature, and exegesis in Mencius -- Authorship, human nature, and persuasion in Xunzi -- The race for precedence: polemics and the vacuum of traditions in Laozi -- Zhuangzi and the art of negation -- The self-regulating state, paranoia, and rhetoric (...)
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  37. Homer H. Dubs (1956). Mencius and Sün-Dz on Human Nature. Philosophy East and West 6 (3):213-222.
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  38. Werner Eichhorn (1969). Hsün-Tzu Translated Into German. Philosophy and History 2 (1):37-38.
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  39. David Elstein, Xunzi. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  40. Chris Fraser (2013). Xunzi Versus Zhuangzi: Two Approaches to Death in Classical Chinese Thought. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 8 (3):410-427.
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  41. Chris Fraser (2013). Happiness in Classical Confucianism: Xúnzǐ. Philosophical Topics 41 (1):53-79.
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  42. Chris Fraser (2012). The Limitations of Ritual Propriety: Ritual and Language in Xúnzǐ and Zhuāngzǐ. [REVIEW] Sophia 51 (2):257-282.
    This essay examines the theory of ritual propriety presented in the Xúnzǐ and criticisms of Xunzi-like views found in the classical Daoist anthology Zhuāngzǐ. To highlight the respects in which the Zhuāngzǐ can be read as posing a critical response to a Xunzian view of ritual propriety, the essay juxtaposes the two texts' views of language, since Xunzi's theory of ritual propriety is intertwined with his theory of language. I argue that a Zhuangist critique of the presuppositions of Xunzi's stance (...)
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  43. Chris Fraser (2011). Knowledge and Error in Early Chinese Thought. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (2):127-148.
    Drawing primarily on the Mòzǐ and Xúnzǐ, the article proposes an account of how knowledge and error are understood in classical Chinese epistemology and applies it to explain the absence of a skeptical argument from illusion in early Chinese thought. Arguments from illusion are associated with a representational conception of mind and knowledge, which allows the possibility of a comprehensive or persistent gap between appearance and reality. By contrast, early Chinese thinkers understand mind and knowledge primarily in terms of competence (...)
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  44. Chris Fraser (2006). Zhuangzi, Xunzi, and the Paradoxical Nature of Education. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 33 (4):529–542.
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  45. Yiu-Ming Fung 馮耀明 (2012). Two Senses of “Wei 偽”: A New Interpretation of Xunzi's Theory of Human Nature. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (2):187-200.
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  46. Nicholas F. Gier (1995). Xunzi and the Confucian Answer to Titanism. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 22 (2):129-151.
    The term "humanism" has been used to describe only one eastern philosophy: Confucianism. Commentators on Indian philosophy are sometimes emphatic in their judgment that Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism represent the very antithesis of western or Confucian humanism. Heinrich Zimmer is typical: "Humanity ... was the paramount concern of Greek idealism, as it is today of western Christianity in its modern form: but for the Indian sages and ascetics... humanity was no more than the shell to be pierced, shattered, and dismissed." (...)
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  47. Paul R. Goldin (2003). Response to Joanne D. Birdwhistell's Review of "Rituals of the Way: The Philosophy of Xunzi". Philosophy East and West 53 (4):591-592.
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  48. Paul Rakita Goldin (1996). The Philosophy of Xunzi. Dissertation, Harvard University
    Scholarship on Xunzi in English has been plagued by imprecise readings of the text and general philosophical naivete. It is hoped that this account will provide a sympathetic and accurate reading of this central thinker. ;The Introduction addresses the problems of interpretation raised by the text at hand, and all philosophical texts like it. A method of "interpretation as integrity," modeled on the theory of "law as integrity" put forward by Ronald Dworkin, is finally defended and adopted. ;Chapter I takes (...)
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  49. Paul Rakita Goldin & Hsün-tzu (1999). Rituals of the Way the Philosophy of Xunzi.
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  50. Chauncey Goodrich (1990). A New Translation Of The Hsün-Tzu. [REVIEW] Journal of the American Oriental Society 110 (3):487-492.
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