Theoretical characteristics of the Huainanzi: Theories of human nature and governance

Asian Philosophy 28 (2):183-195 (2018)
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ABSTRACTBy showing its organic linkage between theories of human nature and governance, this article illustrates that the Huainanzi is a scripture that holds a systematic and unique theory. The ideal governance of the Huainanzi is mystical transformation, i.e. the Daoist concept of non-action. Rule by simple Confucian rituals is not at odds with mystical transformation. However, mystical transformation does not include the rule by rituals. Moreover, excessively complicated rituals are incompatible with mystical transformation. Human nature in the Huainanzi does not contradict humanity and righteousness. Human nature’s growth into humanity and righteousness is as natural as the approach of a butterfly to flowers. However, the humanity and righteousness of the Huainanzi are not innate to human nature. Likewise, unlike a flower, a butterfly is not part of a plant. Moreover, artificial flowers, which correspond to excessively complicated rituals, are incompatible wi...



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