化性起伪 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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huà xìnɡ qǐ wěi 化性起伪

Transform Intrinsic Evil Nature to Develop Acquired Nature of Goodness

改变人的本性的恶而兴起人为的善。伪:人为。“化性起伪”是荀子在“性恶”论基础上提出的一种道德教化的主张。荀子认为,人天生的本性中包含着对外物的欲求。如果放纵本性中的欲望,就会导致人与人之间的纷争,社会将陷入混乱。因此,需要通过后天的教化,在恰当安顿人的欲望的同时,确立起对道德、礼法的认同与遵守。

This term means changing element of evil in one’s intrinsic nature and developing acquired nature of goodness. This ethical principle is put forward by Xunzi based on his belief that human nature is evil. Xunzi believes that the desire for external things is an intrinsic part of human nature. Unrestrained pursuit of such desire leads to rivalry between people and throws society into chaos. Therefore, it is imperative to rein in human desire and make people accept and observe rites and laws.

引例 Citations:

◎不可学、不可事而在人者谓之性,可学而能、可事而成之在人者谓之伪,是性、伪之分也。(《荀子·性恶》)

(不可以通过学习、从事而为人所具备的,称之为“性”;可以通过学习、从事而为人所具备的,称之为“伪”,这是“性”和“伪”的分别。)

Attributes that people have and that cannot be gained by learning and practice are called intrinsic nature. Abilities learned or mastered through practice are called acquired nature. Such is the difference between intrinsic nature and acquired nature. (Xunzi)

◎故圣人化性而起伪,伪起而生礼义,礼义生而制法度。(《荀子·性恶》)

(因此圣人改变人的本性的恶而兴起人为的善,人为的善兴起而产生了礼义,礼义产生而后制定法度。)

Thus, what the sage does is to transform the evil element in people’s intrinsic nature and develop acquired nature of goodness. The acquired nature of goodness gives rise to rites and ethical standards, which in turn give birth to laws. (Xunzi)

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