The Warring States Concept of Xing

Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (1):31-51 (2011)
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Abstract

This essay defends a novel interpretation of the term xìng 性 as it occurs in Chinese texts of the late Warring States period (roughly 320–221 BCE). The term played an important role both in the famous controversy over the goodness or badness of people’s xìng and elsewhere in the intellectual discourse of the period. Extending especially the work of A.C. Graham, the essay stresses the importance for understanding xìng of early Chinese assumptions about spontaneity, continuity, health, and (in the human case) motivation. These assumptions make xìng fundamentally different from the contemporary nature concepts with which it is often equated. In particular, people’s xìng is not a near-equivalent of human nature or (in modern Chinese) of rénxìng 人性.

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Dan Robins
University of Hong Kong

References found in this work

Mencius.D. C. Lau - 1984 - Penguin Classics. Edited by D. C. Lau.
The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu.Burton Watson (ed.) - 1968 - Columbia University Press.
The concept of man in early China.Donald J. Munro - 1969 - Stanford, Calif.,: Stanford University Press.

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