Zhu Xi

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    The central topic of Confucian moral philosophy is ren xing, or “human nature.” Within that tradition, the two most influential accounts of the topic are those of Mencius (fourth century bce; see Mencius) and Zhu Xi (1130–1200). Mencius lived at a time when many thinkers were troubled by a profound metaphysical doubt as to whether “heaven” (tian) underpins human moral values. Ren xing is what links us with the nonhuman universe, the normative order of heaven. Mencius maintained that humans (ren) are beings born for goodness; at birth, there exists a natural tendency for goodness, as inevitable as the natural tendency of water to flow downward. When left unhindered and properly nurtured, our innate good tendencies – the moral predispositions of our “heart‐mind” (xin) – will become manifest of their own accord (see Intuitions, Moral).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe International Encyclopedia of Ethics
    EditorsHugh LaFollette
    Place of PublicationUnited States of America
    PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Inc
    ISBN (Print)9781444367072
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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