In Hsun Tzu’s, “Man’s Nature is Evil” the author explains why the human characteristics are wicked. The author uses basic illustrations of people’s jealousy and envy to prove that human nature is truly evil. Tzu’s essay proves through many examples that man’s nature is evil, and that everything that is considered good comes from people that go against their “evil nature” to make the concept of morality. Hsun Tzu’s “Man’s Nature is Evil” is a great analysis of human nature to suppose that in fact, man’s nature is truly evil. The writer uses metaphors and history of human kind to support his reasoning. This paper will analyze Tzu’s essay and propose with supporting facts that man’s nature is justifiably evil.
Hsun Tzu enlightens the reader with evidence to establish that man’s nature is evil. Tzu explains how human kind is full of jealousy and rooted with sin. Hsun says man, “…is born with a fondness for profit.” He also says man is born with feelings of jealousy and hate. If man indulges in these, it will lead up to violence and crime. This is a prime example that man is born evil because signs of jealously and envy are stained in the most raw form of human kind. A prime example of this is how man is competitive. He struggles to do better than his fellow human. People try to get better jobs, nicer houses, bigger cars, and the scariest thing now is that they perform surgery to enhance their physical appeal. People of all ages are always jealous of someone else, regardless if they have money, good looks, or fame. These feelings are the root to evil and sin.
Tzu continues his influence by speaking on how one must be taught the “rules” society sets forth so that they don’t become a criminal. If man were truly a good creature, would he even need rules to follow? Or would we need some form of society to place these rules? It is obvious by Tzu’s terms that if we have to ask these questions then man’s roots are questionable as well. He also implies that the only reason we have these “set of laws” is because a person was thinking outside of their nature. Tzu refers to these “conscious thinkers” as the Sages of society.
Tzu continues by saying that good only comes from conscious activity, therefore asserting man’s nature as sinful and evil. Another way to think of this is using children as an example of human nature. Kids are taught how to behave and act by their parents. If nobody taught these children how to act, they would just act off of their instinct and nature. When kids are with their parents at grocery stores, they just grab what they want without knowing the consequences of stealing. Parents teach morals and instill ethics in the adolescent youth.
Children don’t know any better about stealing and sharing until they are taught that. This proves that humans in their juvenile state (children) are selfish and only think for themselves. The only way that they “learn” how to be good is to be taught. This is the point Tzu was trying to reach. Mothers and fathers discipline their children and tell them to be “good”. Kids act off of impulse and natural feelings. If their natural feelings aren’t to be good, they must be the latter. This clearly suggests that man’s evil nature.
In “Man’s Nature is Evil”, Hsun Tzu effectively criticizes his detractor, Mencius, who believes man’s nature is good. Arguing Tzu’s point, Mencius states “man is capable of learning because his nature is good.” Tzu criticizes Mencius for not knowing the difference between basic nature and conscious activity. Basic nature is how someone would react without having been taught how to approach a situation. Hsun’s main argument against Mencius is that he doesn’t understand the concept of basic nature and consciousness. Conscious activity is applying what you have been taught. This is the theme of Tzu’s belief that man is taught to be good and originally evil in nature.
Continuing this theme, Tzu explains conscious activity by explaining the work of a carpenter is not his nature; it is in fact conscious activity. This is an effective analogy because it suggests that a carpenter must be taught his trade, it is not his basic nature. Man doesn’t know specific rules without being taught them. The Sages who think consciously are the basis of our rules. A basketball player wouldn’t know how to dribble a ball unless he was taught how. A man who knows nothing about the game, wouldn’t even know were to start from. Tzu applies this to humans’ nature in general.
Suggesting that man is not good in nature, and that good is the product of conscious activity is the authors’ main point. Tzu states that, “Every man that desires to do good does so precisely because his nature is evil.” The authors’ evidence for this is the idea how a poor man strives to be rich or an ugly man longs to be beautiful. People want things that they don’t already have. This is incorporated in our society. This is the idea of popularity and stature. If subject A has something subject B doesn’t, it is in subject B’s nature to strive to acquire it. Tzu states this thought of striving to be good as an evil nature. Man isn’t born with “ritual principles”. Tzu explains life without “ritual principles” as “…chaotic and full of irresponsibility”. Therefore it proves Tzu’s theory of not being good in nature and we acquire it from conscious activity.
The author compares warped wood to the core roots of mans evil and twisted nature. As with a warped board, it must be straightened by a straightening board and steamed and forced into shape. The writer uses this as a metaphor to compare an evil man to the warped board, and the sage kings were the straightening mechanism to conform the individual. This goes back to the idea that man is bad or evil in nature. Man is taught or forced to conform to societies rules. If these rules were not in place, man would go back to his origin of evilness.
Tzu ends his argument with an appropriate analogy: “A person with two feet is theoretically capable of walking to every corner of the earth, although in fact no one has ever found it possible to do so.” Walking the earth suggests that we are all capable of acting good due to our conscious activity, but not every man will attempt to change their basic instincts. This is due to man acting only on nature. Tzu implies that if one was to think consciously, they would be acting righteously and not evil. This is the only basic problem in his arguments. But it is easily countered by looking at the foundation of humans in general. If mans nature was good, wouldn’t there be more sages compared to the rest of the population?
Throughout Tzu’s essay “Man’s Nature is Evil”, the writer gives details why the human is rooted to evil. The author, Tzu, employs fundamental instances of people’s jealousy and envy to confirm that human nature is beyond doubt evil. Tzu’s paper proves through many examples that man’s nature is evil, and that everything that is measured good comes from the small group of conscious thinkers that go against their “evil nature” to make the idea of morality. Hsun Tzu’s, “Man’s Nature is Evil”, is a excellent investigation of human nature to prove that in fact, man’s nature is justly evil. The author uses metaphors and facts of the human class to hold up his way of thinking. So ultimately man’s nature is indeed evil.