Hsün Tzu says that man’s nature is naturally evil. Hsün Tzu wrote Man’s Nature is Evil in the year 300 BCE. Tzu thought that man’s nature is naturally evil and needs to be taught by a teacher to overcome this. He Mencius has not completely understood what man’s nature really is. Tzu also believes that if a man lacks something in himself that they go to look for whatever they lack in someone else. The last thing he talks about is how to differentiate between good and evil.
Hsün Tzu’s belief that man’s nature is naturally evil is partially true, he does not believe in Mencius’s view whatsoever, Tzu believes that man looks for those attributes that he does not have in other people, and he also expresses the difference between good and evil. Tzu’s reasons apply to people in current day life because when people are born they do not know right from wrong, and I believe he is right when he says people look for attributes they lack themselves in others around them.
Man’s nature is naturally evil according to Hsün Tzu; therefore man needs a teacher to guide him towards what is good. Tzu states in his writing, “A warped piece of wood must wait until it has been laid against the straightening board, steamed, and forced into shape before it can become straight; a piece of blunt metal must wait until it has been whetted on a grindstone before it can become sharp (pg. 101).” When Mencius is talking about this quote it means that a person does not start their life being the perfect human being.
Everyone needs a teacher, leader, or mentor to show him or her the right and good way of doing things. When a person grows up without having some to look over them and guide them in the right direction they may start to go into the wrong direction. People need that mentor there to help them when they do not know what the right thing to may be. Then Hsün Tzu says, “Hence, today any man who takes to heart the instructions of his teacher, applies himself to his studies, and abides by ritual principles may become a gentleman, but anyone who gives free rein to his emotional nature, is content to indulge his passions, and disregards ritual principles becomes a petty man (pg. 101).”
This statement by Tzu means that every man should listen to every word that his or her mentor gives them and never forget them. These words of advice that a person’s teacher gives them are going to help them achieve all of their goals for the rest of their lives. These wise words from the mentors will make a man become good for the rest of their life. Hsün Tzu also states that if a man does not listen to the words of their mentor they will never be able to know what being good feels like.
These people will live their entire lives going towards evil and will never be able to change it without the help of a mentor. I agree with Tzu on this topic because if it was not for our teachers and mentors people would be causing trouble all of the time. Hsün Tzu does not agree with Mencius’s thought on this subject matter. Tzu states that, “Mencius states that man is capable of learning because his nature is good, but I say that is wrong. It indicates that he has not really understood man’s nature nor distinguished between the basic nature and conscious activity (pg. 101).”
Tzu explains basic nature as something that is just given to you by heaven when you are born. On the other hand, conscious activity is the things that are taught to people and that they learn from their mentors. The way Hsün Tzu explains basic nature and conscious activity is, “That part of man which cannot be learned or acquired by effort is called the nature; that part of him which can be acquired by learning and brought to completion by effort is called activity. This is the difference between nature and conscious activity (pg. 101).”
Hsün Tzu speaks about how man does not have every quality, but he will strive to get as many qualities as he can no matter what the circumstances are. Tzu makes a statement that says, “A man whose accomplishments are meager longs for greatness; an ugly man longs for beauty; a man in cramped quarters longs for greatness; a poor man longs for wealth; a humble man longs for eminence. Whatever a man lacks in himself he will seek outside. But if a man is already rich, he will not long for wealth, and if he is already eminent, he will not long for greater power.
What a man already possesses himself he will not bother to look for outside (pg. 103).” When Hsün Tzu says this he means that when someone does not have a quality that they want or may need they go and try to take that quality they are seeking from another person. I believe this happens because people are insecure about themselves and need to take things from others to make themselves feel good about themselves. Tzu the says, “Hence, man in the state in which he is born neither possesses nor understands ritual principles. If he does not possess ritual principles, his behavior will be chaotic, and if he does not understand them, he will be wild and irresponsible.
In fact, therefore, man in the state in which he is born possesses this tendency towards chaos and irresponsibility (pg. 103).” This is showing that Tzu thinks when a person is born they do not yet understand what ritual principles are and they believe they can do anything they want to do. Hsün Tzu then follows this by saying, “From this it is obvious, then, that man’s nature is evil, and that his goodness is the result of conscious activity (pg. 103).”
I completely agree with Tzu’s theory on this concept because I believe this is the reason why some people feel the need to bully others. Hsün Tzu then talks about the distinction between good and evil. Tzu says, “All men in the world, past and present, agree in defining goodness as that which is upright, reasonable, and orderly, and evil as that which is prejudiced, irresponsible, and chaotic (pg.103).” Hsün defines the difference between being good and being evil. The way to be good in Tzu’s head is be accepting of other thoughts even if they do not make complete sense.
I believe Tzu means that to be good people need to give everyone a chance no matter what their thoughts are. Tzu then goes on to talk about being evil. I believe that from what Tzu says being evil is judging a person by how he or she looks. Another way of being evil that I got out of this is that if someone does something wrong they try to go and blame it on someone else.
Another thing that Hsün Tzu says is, “Therefore, in ancient times the sages, realizing that man’s nature is evil, that it is prejudiced and not upright, irresponsible and lacking in order, for this reason established the authority of the ruler to control it, elucidated ritual principles to transform it, set up laws and standards to correct it, and meted out strict punishments to restrain it (pg. 104).” This is a great statement mad by Tzu because it explains that without people leading us we would resort to doing all things evil.
The sages knew that man’s nature was evil so they set up laws and rulers to restrict people from being evil and making them resort to being good. In my own life I had to be taught the difference between good and evil. I was born not knowing the difference between the two. My parents were a huge part of teaching me the difference between being good and not being evil. They were they to tell me when I was doing something wrong. After they told me that I did something wrong they would always try and help
me correct it to the best of their ability.
I also had all of my teachers growing up there to teach me things about being good that my parents did not teach me. I also had positive role models to look up to and hope to achieve what they did when I was growing up. I always wanted to be like Derek Jeter when I was growing up as a kid. He was my biggest inspiration out of any famous sports star. He was just a regular kid like me, and with the help of his parents, teachers, and role models he got to where he is today. Now he is a role model and inspiration for children all over the world. I believe that Hsün Tzu’s theory that what a man does not have in himself in looks for in others is a very true theory.
I believe this has a lot to do with bullying. When a person bullies another human being I would say it is because they are insecure about themselves. The bullying of another helps that person feel more complete and better about him or herself. This is also another reason why we need teachers; they help us avoid doing this type of thing. Teachers are always going to be there to tell a person to stop doing something like this and correct them. In conclusion, I completely agree with Hsün Tzu’s ideas. Man’s nature is evil when he or she is born, and when the person is growing up they learn what is good through their parents, teachers, and mentors.
Tzu talks about how Mencius does not fully understand what man’s nature is, and I agree with Hsün Tzu. I love Tzu’s idea of how if a man lacks a quality in himself he will go out and look for that quality in someone else. I agree with how Hsün Tzu defines the difference between good and evil. I was able to relate his theory of man being born with an evil nature by saying how my parents, teachers, and role models taught me what is right from wrong. I also see, in real life, people are always trying to get attributes that they lack themselves from other people around them. I believe that Hsün Tzu is a very intelligent man and I agree with his theories on human nature.
Courtney from Study Moose
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