Man Is Bad-natured According To Siun Tsz
: THE NATURE OF MAN
The weaknesses of Mencius's theory are fully exposed by another
diametrically opposed theory propounded by Siun Tsz (Jun-shi) and his
followers. 'Man is bad-natured,' says Siun Tsz, 'since he has inborn
lust, appetite, and desire for wealth. As he has inborn lust and
appetite, he is naturally given to intemperance and wantonness. As
he has inborn desire for wealth, he is naturally inclined to quarrel
fight with others for the sake of gain.' Leave him without
discipline or culture, he would not be a whit better than the beast.
His virtuous acts, such as charity, honesty, propriety, chastity,
truthfulness, are conduct forced by the teachings of ancient sages
against his natural inclination. Therefore vices are congenial and
true to his nature, while virtues alien and untrue to his fundamental
[FN#162] Siun Tsz's date is later by some fifty years than Mencius.
Siun Tsz gives the reason why man seeks after morality, saying that
man seeks what he has not, and that he seeks after morality simply
because he has not morality, just as the poor seek riches. See 'A
History of Chinese Philosophy' (pp. 51-60), by G. Nakauchi, and 'A
History of Development of Chinese Thought,' by R. Endo.
These two theories are not only far from throwing light on the moral
state of man, but wrap it in deeper gloom. Let us raise a few
questions by way of refutation. If man's fundamental nature be good,
as Mencius maintains, why is it easy for him to be vicious without
instruction, while he finds it hard to be virtuous even with
instruction. If you contend that good is man's primary nature and
evil the secondary one, why is be so often overpowered by the
secondary nature? If you answer saying that man is good-natured
originally, but he acquires the secondary nature through the struggle
for existence, and it gradually gains power over the primary nature
by means of the same cause, then the primitive tribes should be more
virtuous than the highly civilized nations, and children than grownup
people. Is this not contrary to fact?
If, again, man's nature is essentially bad, as Siun Tsz holds, how
can he cultivate virtue? If you contend that ancient sages invented
so-called cardinal virtues and inculcated them against his natural
inclination, why does he not give them up? If vices be congenial and
true to man's nature, but virtues be alien and untrue to him, why are
virtues honoured by him? If vices be genuine and virtue a deception,
as you think, why do you call the inventors of that deceiving art
sages? How was it possible for man to do good before these sages'
appearance on earth?