Is Xunzi a utilitarian? Revisiting a disagreement

Asian Philosophy 28 (4):358-367 (2018)

Abstract
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 behaviours by their utility. However, he does not limit utility to only basic animal desires such as food and sex. In Xunzi’s view, humans also have innate emotions; hence, these emotions should also be accounted for in their utility. This is similar to John Stuart Mill’s redefinition of Bentham’s concept of utility. Are Xunzi’s and Mill’s concepts of utility exactly the same? This question has yet to be examined. This article is a comparative study between utilitarianism and Xunzi’s philosophy which especially explores the compatibility of these two philosophies.
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DOI 10.1080/09552367.2019.1538085
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References found in this work BETA

Xunzi: The Complete Text.Eric L. Hutton - 2014 - Princeton University Press.
The World of Thought in Ancient China.Benjamin I. Schwartz - 1985 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The World of Thought in Ancient China.Benjamin I. Schwartz - 1988 - Philosophy East and West 38 (4):411-419.
Mencius.D. C. Lau - 1972 - Philosophy East and West 22 (1):113-114.

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