Term Paper: Plato, Mencius, and Hsun Tzu on Human

Pages: 7 (2092 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies - Philosophy  ·  Buy This Paper

Plato, Mencius, And Hsun Tzu on Human Nature

Reading Response

Human beings have been faced with many challenges like war, power, and crime. These challenges have caused problems for mankind and caused hatred. The three philosophers Plato, Mencius, and Hsun Tzu have different views in regards to human beings, but they all agree that human beings need to be taught, trained, or led in order for them to live moral lives. Mencius believes that humans are born with good nature while Hsun Tzu believed that all humans are born evil, but they can be taught to become good. Plato believes that human beings had a desire to seek one another in an attempt to complete them. The three philosophers lived in different times, and the perceptions that people had of human beings at that time were quite different. Hsun Tzu and Mencius both agree that human beings give birth to offspring based on their inherent reaction towards life. If the children are not given proper teachings they would become uncivilized, and ineffective towards contributing anything in society. The tender age is very vital as it is at this time that the children's perspectives can be formulated. The point where these two philosophers differ is based on the rationality of good nature and evil nature. They both placed claim on the interpretation of their philosophical teacher, Confucius but with very contrasting ideas. The ideas of Hsun Tzu seemed to resonate well with the people of China. Plato believes that human nature is filled with a desire to love one another, and share this love with each other. It is because of this love that human beings seek one another and embrace each other Lane ()

. The ideas of Hsun Tzu indicate the true nature of human beings. All humans are born with a desire to make a profit and if this desire is not curtailed we would all forever be evil in nature. Teaching people how to be good and exercise restraint in order to avoid making mistakes is the main purpose for sages. People also learn from their mistakes, and if a person does not make mistakes it is unlikely that they will learn to be good.

Human nature based on the three philosophers

Hsun Tzu was a devout follower of Confucius, although he departed from the Confucian way of thinking. His beliefs were totally based on the dedication and effectiveness that political officials based their governance. The official would be taught self-cultivation in order to better his virtues and live a modest life. The teachings of Hsun Tzu encouraged people to cultivate sacrifice in order for them to live a modest life. The lack of faith in the corrupt government of his time was naturally due to Hsun Tzu's belief in Confucian teachings Tran ()

. Hsun Tzu stated that people were naturally born evil because they had desires to gain profit for their own good. This is why an individual needed to be taught by a sage how to become good. To prove his point he said that if people were to follow their desires, then a hungry person would not wait for their elders to serve first, they would follow their hunger and not respect their elders. Hsun Tzu goes ahead to show that a person who is not taught how to be good will forever follow the path of evil. This is because the individual will follow their emotions and not be concerned with what is good. This is a clear indication that humans are born evil, and they should be taught how to attain good. For a person to become good, they will need to follow the ritual teachings of sages. These rituals are not products of men, but rather they are the conscious activities of the sages. To demonstrate this Hsun Tzu uses the analogy of a potter who molds clay into a vessel, the vessel is not a product of the potter's human nature, but rather of the potter's conscious activity Austin, Page102()

Mencius believed that all human beings are born good. He uses the analogy of water to demonstrate his beliefs when he says that water will always flow downstream. He states that just as there is no water that will not flow downhill, human nature is inherently good Austin, Page 95.

Mencius continues to say that human nature responds to forces around it. Therefore, one can make a person become evil. Mencius believed that if a person is evil, they were not born like that. Everyone has a heart of reverence, conscience, right, and wrong.

While Hsun Tzu believed that people are taught rituals, Mencius believed that people were born with rituals. Mencius and Plato seem to be speaking of the same things but using different analogies. Mencius speaks of the heart, and Plato speaks of love. These two all represent the same thing called love. Plato understood that when people love one another they will endeavor to be good to those people at all times. Mencius believed that all good things if natured they will blossom. If human beings embrace that which they love they will see it grow but if they ignore it will fizzle. It is clear that all three philosophers believed that human nature can be good at all times. It does not matter if one is taught or they are born with it. Their philosophies are all geared towards the goodness of human nature.

Mencius did not believe that people are different, he believed we are all the same and all one needed was to be taught how to cultivate their own innate tendencies Chan ()

. He uses the example of Yi Ya who was able to savor different tastes. Why was it possible that people could all manage to savor the same tastes that Yi Ya savored? Before Yi Ya people still savored taste, it is just that Yi Ya was the first to discover that which tongues savor Austin, Page 97.

This demonstrates that all people are born the same, and it is only through teachings that they are able to use their innate tendencies. Without teachings people would not have managed to savor the different tastes, yet before the teachings, they used to have the same taste, but since they were not aware of them they could not have differentiate the tastes Bloom ()

. The main flaw in the philosophy of Mencius was due to the contradictions and vacuity of his arguments.

In Plato's philosophy, according to Austin (Page 91)

when the androgynous creature was split in two, it desired to be re united with its other half. The two creatures having been used to doing things together could not functions without each other, which led them to embrace each other in an attempt to get back together. Since the creature did not get any satisfaction from embracing they would spend the whole time embraced, and they would not eat, this lead to death. When one partner died the one left would seek to embrace another one. It was not until Zeus moved their genitals to the front that the creatures would only embrace for a short while then resume their normal work. This indicates that human nature is inherently evil and seeks to satisfy its own desires just as Hsun Tzu pointed out. If their genitals had not been moved the humans would have continued embracing each other till death. If human nature had been inherently good, then these humans would not prefer death over their own desires. When they got hungry they would not let go of the other in order to satisfy their hunger. The creatures too would not have been obsessed with their own satisfaction, but rather they would have been more interested in their partner's satisfaction.

Though not all philosophers agree that human nature is good or is evil it is clear that Hsun Tzu arguments make a lot of sense. Mencius argues that people are good naturally, but Hsun Tzu asks if people are good then why do we need ritual, or sages Collins ()

. There is no need for people to have rituals because they will know what to do naturally, and there is no need for sages because people do not need to be taught anything. This argument proves that people are naturally evil, and it is only after they are taught that they become good. Another argument to indicate that people are naturally born evil is that there is no need to straighten a straight piece of wood Austin, Page 101.

People will only straighten pieces of wood that are curved. Hsun Tzu used this analogy to indicate that if people are good, and they lead the straight life then they do not need to be taught and molded. It is only those who are crooked that will need to be trained.

Hsun Tzu argues that everyone can accumulate good acts just like the sage, but no one can be… [END OF PREVIEW]

Hsun Tzu and Seneca on Education Term Paper

Mencius' View That Human Nature Is Good Essay

Human Nature Has Been a Subject Essay

Human Resources Management Employment Background Checks A-Level Coursework

Human Resource Information Systems Essay

View 1,000+ other related papers  >>

Cite This Term Paper:

APA Format

Plato, Mencius, and Hsun Tzu on Human.  (2013, March 9).  Retrieved September 16, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/plato-mencius-hsun-tzu-human/5818816

MLA Format

"Plato, Mencius, and Hsun Tzu on Human."  9 March 2013.  Web.  16 September 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/plato-mencius-hsun-tzu-human/5818816>.

Chicago Format

"Plato, Mencius, and Hsun Tzu on Human."  Essaytown.com.  March 9, 2013.  Accessed September 16, 2019.