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Xunzi (Book) 荀子 – Top 100 Books in China

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A summary of the thoughts of various schools of thought


Chinese Name: 荀子

English Name: Xunzi

Author: Xunzi(Xun Kuang荀况) and his disciples

Originally Published: Warring States Period战国时期

Genre: Philosophy

Brief Introduction of Xunzi

Xunzi is a philosophical work compiled or recorded by Xunzi and his disciples during the Warring States period.

Xunzi has 32 chapters in total, and its viewpoint is consistent with Xunzi’s consistent proposition.Except for a few chapters, most of them were written by himself. His articles are good at reasoning, well-organized, penetrating analysis and analogy. He often uses parallelism sentences to enhance the momentum of discussion. His language is rich in police training, and has strong persuasion and appeal.


Xunzi is a master of Confucianism. He developed Confucianism while absorbing Legalists. He respected the king and sought hegemony; Advocating propriety and righteousness, and stressing the rule of law; While “law precedes the king”, it also advocates “law precedes the king”. Mencius created the theory of good nature性善论, emphasizing the cultivation of nature; Xunzi’s theory of subjective evil nature性恶论, All these show that he is different from legitimate Confucianism. He also put forward some simple materialist views, such as man can conquer nature, oppose fatalism, and everything runs and changes according to the laws of nature.


The book Xunzi reflects Xunzi’s three major ideas:

1, Theory of evil nature性恶论

Xunzi believes that the natural character of human beings is evil, and the good character comes from later hard study, not innate.

2, Theory of heaven and man天人论

Xunzi believes that the law of nature exists objectively. It is independent of personnel and does not transfer the quality of personnel or politics. However, people can give full play to their subjective initiative, strengthen the foundation and save use, maintain health, resist natural disasters and govern the country.

3, Social morality社会道德观

Another important ideological proposition of Xunzi is to emphasize law, people can group, and rule by level,
Among them, paying attention to etiquette is the most prominent. Xunzi believed that the evil of human nature needed to be restricted by etiquette, righteousness and law.


Author of Xunzi

The authors of the book “Xunzi” were Xunzi and his disciples.

Xunzi (about 313 B.C. – 238 B.C.), also name Xun Quang荀况 or Xun Qing荀卿. He is a famous thinker, philosopher, educator, representative man of Confucianism, and a master of a hundred schools of thought in the pre-Qin era.



Xunzi’s profound knowledge, on the basis of inheriting the early Confucianism, absorbed the strengths of various schools, integrated and transformed them, established his own ideological system and developed the tradition of ancient materialism.

He attaches great importance to the status and role of teachers in teaching. He believes that if the country wants to prosper, it must value teachers. At the same time, he puts forward strict requirements for teachers. He believes that students can’t practice if teachers don’t set an example for students.

Meng Tian, Li Si and Han Fei are all Xunzi’s disciples.

Excerpts of Xunzi

不积跬步,无以至千里;不积小流,无以成江海 。

There is no way to reach a thousand miles without accumulating a step-by-step journey; Without accumulating small water, there is no way to merge into rivers and seas.



Learning cannot be stopped. Indigo is extracted from bluegrass, but it is darker than bluegrass; Ice is made of water, but it is colder than water.


People all over the world know how to be beautiful, so there is ugliness; We all know what is good, so there is bad.



The law of nature is eternal. It does not exist or perish because of anyone. It is auspicious to adapt to it with stable measures, and it is dangerous to deal with it with chaotic measures.

Evaluation of Xunzi

After Mencius, Confucianism had no outstanding scholars. Until Xunzi appeared, Confucianism added a new talent.

Feng Youlan冯友兰

Those who study Xunzi’s theory should pay attention to the relationship between Xunzi and various theories of the same era.

Hu Shih胡适

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