Human nature and moral cultivation in the guodian 郭店 text of the Xing zi Ming Chu 性自命出 (nature derives from mandate)

The debate over whether human nature is good or bad and how this is related to self-cultivation was central in the minds of traditional Chinese thinkers. This essay analyzes the interrelationship between the key concepts of xing 性 (human nature), qing 情 (human emotions/feelings), and xin 心 (heart-mind) in the Guodian text of the Xing Zi Ming Chu 性自命出 (Nature Derives from Mandate) discovered in 1993 in Hubei province. The intellectual engagements evident in this Guodian text emerge as more syncretic and dynamic than those that can be found in the discourse of any single tradition, such as Gaozi, Mencius, or Xunzi. Its thesis on human nature and moral cultivation reveals the existence of a possibly more diverse intellectual discourse from which the different foci of philosophical debate represented by later thinkers developed.
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