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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 & Dubs 1928 that also include the Chinese original text.
Introductions Littlejohn 2010 Robins 2008
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344 found
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  1. Epistemic Competence and Agency in Sosa and Xunzi.Chris Fraser - forthcoming - In Sosa and Chinese thought.
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  2. Confucianism and Totalitarianism: An Arendtian Reconsideration of Mencius Vs. Xunzi.Lee Wilson - forthcoming - Philosophy East and West 71 (4).
    Totalitarianism is perhaps unanimously regarded as one of the greatest political evils of the last century and has been the grounds for much of Anglo-American political theory since. Confucianism, meanwhile, has been gaining credibility in the past decades among sympathizers of democratic theory in spite of criticisms of it being anti-democratic or authoritarian. I consider how certain key concepts in the classical Confucian texts of the Mencius and the Xunzi might or might not be appropriated for ‘legitimising’ totalitarian regimes. Under (...)
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  3. Yi as “Meaning-Bestowing” in the Xunzi.Soon-ja Yang - 2021 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 20 (1):115-131.
    This essay aims to explore Xunzi’s 荀子 problem, which was originally proposed by David S. Nivison. The problem revolves around a tension in Xunzi’s writings about human nature. In his chapter “Human Nature is Bad,” Xunzi states that humans have inborn selfish desires and natural feelings, and if they do not control or regulate these desires and feelings, there will certainly be chaos. However, in the chapter “The Regulations of a Sage King,” Xunzi argues that human beings possess yi 義, (...)
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  4. Debating the Xing (性): In the Light of Xing Zi Ming Chu and Xunzi.Ka-lai Chan - 2020 - Philosophy Study 10 (12).
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  5. Xunzi and the Problem of Different Strokes for Different Folks: On T ang Siufu’s Self-realization through Confucian Learning.Eric L. Hutton - 2020 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 19 (1):113-120.
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  6. The Core Message of Xunzi’s Claim that Xing is Bad.Doil Kim - 2020 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 19 (1):121-131.
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  7. Xunzi’s Theory of Music: An Educational Implication.In Kim - 2020 - Journal of Moral Education 32 (1):43-58.
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  8. Xunzi’s Ritual Program as a Response to Han Feizi’s Criticism of Confucianism.Colin J. Lewis - 2020 - Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture 34 (August):129-153.
    One of Han Feizi’s most subtle criticisms of Confucianism targets a central feature of its moral cultivation program, namely an appeal to modelling oneself on ancient sages. According to Han Feizi, this ideal of model emulation is doomed to failure due to imperfect knowledge of past exemplars, the fact that certain ideals of practice may not be applicable to (or catastrophic for) some practitioners, and the additional fact that one cannot always rely on past examples to provide good guidance for (...)
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  9. Xunzi: Moral Education and Transformation.Xiufen Lu - 2020 - Asian Philosophy 30 (4):340-350.
    A fair amount of recent Xunzi scholarship has focused on the problem of moral transformation. The problem being addressed supposedly arises this way. According to Xunzi, human nature is innately or...
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  10. Differing Views on Heaven's Role in Accounts of Undeserved Hardship in Early China.Yunwoo Song - 2020 - Philosophy East and West 70 (3):801-818.
    There is [that which is controlled by] Heaven, and there is [that which is within the power of] man, and each has its separate lot. Once one has examined the division between Heaven and man, one will know how to act.1Since the discovery of the Guodian 郭 店 manuscripts in 1993, the Qiongda yi shi 窮 達 以 時 has gathered much attention, mainly thanks to this opening line, which practically invalidates the previously widely held belief that the division between (...)
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  11. Why Confucianism Matters in Ethics of Technology.Pak-Hang Wong - 2020 - In Shannon Vallor (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Technology. Oxford University Press.
    There are a number of recent attempts to introduce Confucian values to the ethical analysis of technology. These works, however, have not attended sufficiently to one central aspect of Confucianism, namely Ritual (‘Li’). Li is central to Confucian ethics, and it has been suggested that the emphasis on Li in Confucian ethics is what distinguishes it from other ethical traditions. Any discussion of Confucian ethics for technology, therefore, remains incomplete without accounting for Li. This chapter aims to elaborate on the (...)
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  12. Relating the Political to the Ethical: Thoughts on Early Confucian Political Theory.Eirik Harris - 2019 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 18 (2):277-283.
    This essay examines the role that the the ethical plays in early Confucian political philosophy. By focusing primarily on the political thought of Xunzi, I argue that there is a necessary relationship between ethical ideas and political ideas in texts such as the Analects, Mengzi, and Xunzi. In particular, I argue against a more ‘realist’ reading of the tradition which argues that for early Confucians political order was not only a goal independent of ethical goals but also one in which (...)
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  13. Xunzi on the Role of the Military in a Well-Ordered State.Eirik Lang Harris - 2019 - Journal of Military Ethics 18 (1):48-64.
    Chapter 15 of the Xunzi stands as the most comprehensive account of the early Confucian analysis of warfare. Unlike a range of other early, non-Confucian discussions on warfare, particular strategies and tactics are taken to be of secondary importance. Thus, Xunzi refuses to discuss practical military strategy without framing it within a much broader ethical, social, and political context. On his account, a well-ordered, flourishing state necessarily rests upon a particular set of rituals and social norms in which people can (...)
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  14. Aesthetic Education in Confucius, Xunzi, and Kant.Christian Helmut Wenzel - 2019 - Yearbook for Eastern and Western Philosophy 2018 (3):59-75.
    This essay introduces ideas from Confucius, Xunzi, the Six Dynasties, and Kant about beauty, music, morality, and what we might today call “aesthetic education.” It asks how beauty and morality are related and how they ideally should be related to each other. We know that beauty and morality can drift apart, and we may wonder how aesthetic education might work best. Should the arts be a means for developing morality? Or should it be the other way around? These questions are (...)
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  15. Xunzi’s Concept of Hsing: Relation to Desire.Kwang-Min Kim - 2019 - Journal of Moral Education 31 (3):21-39.
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  16. Theorizing Confucian Virtue Politics : The Political Philosophy of Mencius and Xunzi.Sungmoon Kim - 2019 - Cambridge University Press.
    Surprisingly little is known about what ancient Confucian thinkers struggled with in their own social and political contexts and how these struggles contributed to the establishment and further development of classical Confucian political theory. Leading scholar of comparative political theory, Sungmoon Kim offers a systematic philosophical account of the political theories of Mencius and Xunzi, investigating both their agreements and disagreements as the champions of the Confucian Way against the backdrop of the prevailing realpolitik of the late Warring States period. (...)
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  17. The Ontological Dimension of Xunzi's Ritual Propriety: A Comparative Study of Xunzi and Heidegger.Jifen Li - 2019 - Philosophy East and West 69 (1):156-175.
    In Confucianism, ritual propriety 1 is commonly understood as an instrument for guiding people's actions. In this essay, however, I argue that taking ritual propriety merely as an instrument external to human beings fails to appreciate important aspects of Xunzi's conception of ritual propriety. Drawing on suggestions from Martin Heidegger's philosophy, I argue that ritual propriety in the Xunzi is analogous to language in Heidegger in important ways. For Heidegger, language is the "house of Being." For Xunzi, ritual propriety could (...)
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  18. The Art of Convention: An Aesthetic Defense of Confucian Ritual.Irene Liu - 2019 - In Colin Marshall (ed.), Comparative Metaethics: Neglected Perspectives on the Foundations of Morality. New York, USA: Rutledge. pp. 119-138.
    This paper aims to produce a defense of the ethical significance of Confucian ritual. An adequate defense must explain how these conventions are based in a culturally-neutral, objective ground. After a brief account of how Confucians view the relationship between rituals and moral goodness, I consider three sorts of justification. Mencian naturalism appeals to a conception of flourishing that is grounded in human nature. Xunzian consequentialism looks to how ritual brings about social order. I argue that both of these approaches (...)
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  19. Self-Realization Through Confucian Learning: A Contemporary Reconstruction of Xunzi’s Ethics. By Siufu Tang. [REVIEW]John Ramsey - 2019 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 46 (3-4):253-256.
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  20. On the View That People and Not Institutions Bear Primary Credit for Success in Governance: Confucian Arguments.Justin Tiwald - 2019 - Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture 32:65-97.
    This paper explicates the influential Confucian view that “people” and not “institutional rules” are the proper sources of good governance and social order, as well as some notable Confucian objections to this position. It takes Xunzi 荀子, Hu Hong 胡宏, and Zhu Xi 朱熹 as the primary representatives of the “virtue-centered” position, which holds that people’s good character and not institutional rules bear primary credit for successful governance. And it takes Huang Zongxi 黃宗羲 as a major advocate for the “institutionalist” (...)
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  21. Wittgenstein and the Xunzi on the Clarification of Language.Thomas D. Carroll - 2018 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 17 (4):527-545.
    Broadly speaking, language is part of a social activity in both Wittgenstein and Xunzi 荀子, and for both clarification of language is central to their philosophical projects; the goal of this article is to explore the extent of resonance and discord that may be found when comparing these two philosophers. While for Xunzi, the rectification of names is anchored in a regard for establishing, propagating, and/or restoring a harmonious social system, perspicuity is for Wittgenstein represented as a philosophical end in (...)
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  22. Aquinas and Gregory the Great on the Puzzle of Petitionary Prayer.Scott Hill - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5.
    I defend a solution to the puzzle of petitionary prayer based on some ideas of Aquinas, Gregory the Great, and contemporary desert theorists. I then address a series of objections. Along the way broader issues about the nature of desert, what is required for an action to have a point, and what is required for a puzzle to have a solution are discussed.
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  23. Integrative Ethical Education: Narvaez’s Project and Xunzi’s Insight.Yen-Yi Lee - 2018 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 50 (13):1203-1213.
    In the early 2000s, some scholars suggested integrative ethical education as an approach to reconcile the gap between cognitive-development education, based on rule ethics, and traditional character-ethics education, inspired by character ethics in Western ethical education. Darcia Narvaez also tried to establish a comprehensive and systematic model. Nonetheless, she has indicated four questions that need further research. This paper aims to respond to Narvaez’s project and its questions from the angle of Xunzi’s ritual education. It argues that Xunzi’s thought may (...)
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  24. Ritual Education and Moral Development: A Comparison of Xunzi and Vygotsky.Colin Lewis - 2018 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 17 (1):81-98.
    Xunzi’s 荀子 advocacy for moral education is well-documented; precisely how his program bolsters moral development, and why a program touting study of ritual could be effective, remain subjects of debate. I argue that these matters can be clarified by appealing to the theory of learning and development offered by Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky posited that development depends primarily on social interactions mediated by sociocultural tools that modify learners’ cognitive architecture, enabling increasingly sophisticated thought. Vygotsky’s theory is remarkably similar to Xunzi’s account (...)
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  25. Yu in the Xunzi: Toward a Precise Understanding.Colin J. Lewis - 2018 - Asian Philosophy 28 (2):157-169.
    An ongoing dialogue in Xunzi scholarship addresses the role of yu (欲), often rendered as ‘desire,’ in motivation, but little has been said about what yu actually is, or whether the translation of ‘desire’ accurately reflects Xunzi’s use of the term. Employing textual analysis alongside research in cognitive science, most notably work on the so-called ‘wanting-liking’ distinction, I work toward a more precise understanding of Xunzi’s notion of yu and its functions. I suggest that yu be construed as a kind (...)
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  26. Zhi and Neng Belong to Mind: A Study of the Capacity to Be Good in the Mind of Xunzi.Lizhu Li - 2018 - Asian Philosophy 28 (4):348-357.
    ABSTRACTThe mainstream of academia thinks that Xunzi’s theory of human nature, which claims that human nature is bad, is in contrast with those of Confucius and Mencius and is unable to provide a foundation for human moral subjectivity. However, there are more and more scholars bringing up different ideas, such as Lu Debin and Fung Yiuming. They think that Xunzi’s wei 偽, which includes zhi知 and neng 能, is a kind of inborn capacity to think and activate that belongs to (...)
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  27. Is Xunzi a Utilitarian? Revisiting a Disagreement.Zhaohui Mao - 2018 - Asian Philosophy 28 (4):358-367.
    ABSTRACTIn Chinese scholarship, Xunzi is often regarded as an eclectic Confucian master who accepted some form of utilitarian thoughts. This characteristic was also observed by some western scholars such as Benjamin I. Schwartz. In a recent study, I argued that the basic character of Xunzi’s philosophy is utilitarianism in a broad sense based on an examination on his intellectual criticism and political criticism. Xunzi asserts that humans are innately driven by self-interested desires, and he evaluates all intellectual works and political (...)
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  28. Xunzi and Mimamsa on the Source and Ground of Ritual: An Analogical Argument.Alexus McLeod - 2018 - Philosophy East and West 68 (3):737-761.
    In recent years, there have been debates surrounding various aspects of the early Confucian philosopher Xunzi's view on ritual as a specific core element of his ethical thought.1 One of the main questions concerns the source of ritual. Is ritual something that humans discover in the world, or is it instead something they create? That is, does Xunzi offer a realist or a conventionalist view of ritual? The answer to this question is of great import for understanding the thought of (...)
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  29. Xunzi on Heaven, Ritual, and the Way.Michael R. Slater - 2018 - Philosophy East and West 68 (3):887-908.
    According to a dominant line of interpretation in recent Anglophone Xunzi scholarship, Xunzi conceived of Heaven along impersonal rather than personal lines, and regarded Heaven—together with Earth—roughly as the orderly and indifferent forces of Nature, as opposed to a deity who is aware of and takes an interest in the affairs of human beings; who rewards virtue and punishes vice; whose ways can be known through divination; and who can be propitiated through sacrifice.1 This general view of Xunzi's philosophy has (...)
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  30. Is Fa a Way for Achieving Good Government?Wei Sun - 2018 - Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy 9:69-73.
    Confucius, Mencius and Xunzi had different views of good government. Due to their different understandings of good government, Confucius, Mencius and Xunzi formulated their different approaches to achieving a good government. Confucius argued for li and allowed some room for fa in achieving a good government. However, since Mencius’ view is that a good government results from the moral cultivation of the ruler, ministers and people and moral persuasion, he neglected li as the approach to achieve a good government. In (...)
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  31. Wang, Qingguang 王慶光,A Comparison Between Xunzi and the Daoist School of Qi荀子與齊道家的對比: Taipei 臺北: Da’an Chubanshe 大安出版社, 2014, 481 Pages.Benoît Vermander - 2018 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 17 (2):301-303.
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  32. Chen, Guanglian 陳光連,Research on the Meaning of “Fen” in the Xunzi荀子“分”義研究: Nanjing 南京: Dongnan Daxue Chubanshe 東南大學出版社, 2013, 283 Pages.Benoît Vermander - 2018 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 17 (1):121-123.
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  33. Confucian Ethics as Virtue Ethics.Kai Wang - 2018 - Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy 9:75-79.
    Against the background of modern academic study, this article consciously uses Aristotle’s virtue ethics as a tool to theoretically analyze Xunzi’s ethical philosophy. This article tries to briefly analyze the basic structure of Xunzi’s moral philosophy and to reveal its unique rationalist theoretical character by exploring the following three topics: “the understanding of human beings,” “the establishment of a moral foundation,” and “the accomplishment of virtue in practice.” From the perspective of comparative philosophy, this article can also be viewed as (...)
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  34. Virtue and Virtuosity: Xunzi and Aristotle on the Role of Art in Ethical Cultivation.Lee Wilson - 2018 - Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture 30:75–103.
    Christian B. Miller has noted a “realism challenge” for virtue ethicists to provide an account of how the character gap between virtuous agents and non-virtuous agents can be bridged. This is precisely one of Han Feizi’s key criticisms against Confucian virtue ethics, as Eric L. Hutton argues, which also cuts across the Aristotelian one: appealing to virtuous agents as ethical models provides the wrong kind of guidance for the development of virtues. Hutton, however, without going into detail, notes that the (...)
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  35. Is Xunzi a Utilitarian? Revisiting a Disagreement.M. A. O. Zhaohui - 2018 - Asian Philosophy 28 (4):358-367.
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  36. Kant, Xunzi and the Artificiality of Manners.Anja Berninger - 2017 - Asian Studies 5 (1):173-192.
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  37. Normative Reasons and Moral Reasoning in the Mengzi and the Xunzi.Philippe Brunozzi - 2017 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 44 (1-2):33-52.
    Given that moral reasoning is directed towards providing well-supported answers to moral questions, our understanding of what it means to be a normative reason that speaks in favor or against a line of conduct largely informs our conception of moral reasoning. This article focuses on this relationship between moral reasoning and normative reasons and tries to clarify how the early Confucian conceptions of moral reasoning we find in the Mengzi and the Xunzi are conditioned by their underlying accounts of normative (...)
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  38. Solving for the Triad: Xunzi and Wendell Berry on Sustainable Agriculture as Ethical Practice.Matthew Duperon - 2017 - Philosophy East and West 67 (2):380-398.
    The classical Confucian thinker Xunzi is often characterized as a hard-nosed realist, and stands out in the early Chinese canon for his uncompromising materialist cosmology. Xunzi sees the actions of Heaven in terms of natural material forces rather than supernatural theistic ones, and this view leads him to reject various forms of supernaturalism. Xunzi's cosmological concept of the Triad formed by Heaven, Earth, and Humans also places humans at the center of the cosmos, and as such makes his stance very (...)
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  39. Confucianism and American Philosophy.Mathew A. Foust - 2017 - Albany, USA: SUNY Press.
    In this highly original work, Mathew A. Foust breaks new ground in comparative studies through his exploration of the connections between Confucianism and the American Transcendentalist and Pragmatist movements. In his examination of a broad range of philosophers, including Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Peirce, William James, and Josiah Royce, Foust traces direct lines of influence from early translations of Confucian texts and brings to light conceptual affinities that have been previously overlooked. Combining resources from (...)
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  40. Which Teacher Should I Choose?: A Xunzian Approach to Distinguishing Moral Experts From Fanatics.Eirik Lang Harris - 2017 - Journal of Religious Ethics 45 (3):463-480.
    This essay examines whether an invocation of an epistemological privilege on the part of supposed moral experts prevents potential students from being able to evaluate among potential candidates for the role of plausible moral teacher. Throughout, it works to demonstrate that it is possible for even the untutored student to distinguish between a fanatic and a moral expert. In particular, this essay focuses on the version of virtue ethics espoused by the early Chinese philosopher Xunzi. It argues that by reflecting (...)
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  41. Musical Harmony in the Xunzi and the Lüshi Chunqiu: Different Implications of Musical Harmony Resulting From Their Dissimilar Approaches to the Concept of Resonance Between Sound and Qi.J. O. Jungeun - 2017 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 16 (3):371-387.
    This article discusses two interpretations of musical harmony around the 3rd century BCE based on the Xunzi 荀子 and the Lüshi Chunqiu 呂氏春秋, comparing the concepts of resonance between sound and qi 氣 in each interpretation. The Xunzi supports the moral influence of the sage kings’ music where ethical resonance between sound and bodily qi serves as firm ground for musical harmony begetting social harmony. In contrast, the Lüshi Chunqiu advocates the idea of physical resonance between sound and cosmic qi (...)
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  42. Confucianism and American Philosophy. [REVIEW]Andrew Lambert - 2017 - Review of Metaphysics 71 (4).
  43. Xunzi’s Philosophy of Mourning as Developing Filial Appreciation.Jifen Li - 2017 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 16 (1):35-51.
    Unlike Kongzi 孔子, Xunzi 荀子 emphasizes that serving the dead is as important as serving the living. This is best shown in his emphasis on simu 思慕, or “appreciative mourning.” Xunzi views simu as an important component of self-cultivation. In mourning deceased parents, one deeply reflects on their kindness and develops further respect and appreciation for them. Through mourning rituals and processes, one strengthens the family relationship that seems to have been broken and continues to become a more filial and (...)
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  44. Wong on Three Confucian Metaphors for Ethical Development.Christian Miller - 2017 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 16 (4):551-558.
    This is my contribution to a symposium on David Wong’s paper, “Early Confucian Philosophy and the Development of Compassion.” I simply grant Wong his reading of the relevant texts and consider the merits of the ideas about ethical development on their own terms. In particular, my aim is to see how fruitful these ideas might be in the contemporary philosophical landscape.
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  45. Li (Ritual) in Early Confucianism.Thomas Radice - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (10):e12463.
    Li 禮 (translated variously as “ritual”, “etiquette”, or “propriety”) plays a central role in early Confucianism, but its complexity is not always fully understood. At first glance, it may seem as if li behaviors are merely attempts to promote conservative practices from the idealized Chinese past. However, by examining the nature and function of li, as described the Analects (Lunyu 論語) and the Xunzi 荀子 (two key texts in the early Confucian tradition), it becomes overwhelmingly apparent that li is a (...)
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  46. Method Mourning: Xunzi on Ritual Performance.Thomas Radice - 2017 - Philosophy East and West 67 (2):466-493.
    Xunzi's 荀子 essay, "A Discussion of Rituals" is the earliest attempt in early China to theorize at length about the nature and importance of rituals. This essay is crucial to understanding the importance of ritual in Xunzi's philosophy of self-cultivation, of which there is no shortage of analysis.1 Most of this analysis centers on the notion of ritual in general, but Xunzi's essay also reveals his reaction to several criticisms to specific ritual practices, especially mourning rituals and ancestral sacrifices, that (...)
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  47. Xunzi and the Primitivists on Natural Spontaneity (Xìng 性) and Coercion.Frank Saunders - 2017 - Asian Philosophy 27 (3):210-226.
    This article explores two opposing views from Warring States China concerning the value of human natural spontaneity and large-scale government coercion. On the one hand, the Ruist philosopher Xunzi championed a comprehensive and coercive ethical, political, and social system or Way that he believed would lead to social order and moral cultivation while opposing people’s xìng. On the other hand, the authors of roughly books 8–10 of Zhuangzi, the primitivists, criticized a Way bearing a striking resemblance to Xunzi’s on the (...)
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  48. 10. Mencius, Xunzi, and Dai Zhen.Kwong-Loi Shun - 2017 - In Alan K. L. Chan (ed.), Mencius: Contexts and Interpretations. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 216-241.
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  49. Two Rival Interpretations of Xunzi's Views on the Basis of Morality.Michael R. Slater - 2017 - Journal of Religious Ethics 45 (2):363-379.
    This essay examines the textual evidence and arguments for two rival ways of interpreting Xunzi's accounts of the origins and normative bases of ritual and the Way: a human-centered line of interpretation which maintains that the moral order constituted by the Confucian Way and its ritual tradition was the artificial creation of a group of ancient sages, and a Heaven-centered line of interpretation which maintains, in contrast, that those same sages based the Confucian Way and its ritual tradition on a (...)
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  50. Hutton, Eric L., Ed., Dao Companion to the Philosophy of Xunzi: Dordrecht: Springer, 2016, Xxiii + 565 Pages. [REVIEW]Winnie Sung - 2017 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 16 (3):441-445.
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1 — 50 / 344