Xunzi 荀子

The inheritor and representative of Confucianism


Chinese Name: 荀子

English Name: Xunzi

Other Names: Xun Kuang 荀况:Xun Qing 荀卿

Born: 313BC

Died: 238BC


One of the main representatives of the Confucianism 儒家学派主要代表人物之一

created Xunzi 创作了《荀子》

Brief Biography of Xunzi

Xunzi 荀子 summed up the theoretical achievements of a hundred schools of thought and his academic thought, and established a complete philosophical system of naive materialism in the pre-Qin period.

Xunzi critically accepted and creatively developed the orthodox ideas and theories of Confucianism, advocated the thought that man can conquer nature, opposed the superstition of ghosts and gods, put forward the theory of evil nature, attached importance to the influence of custom and education, and emphasized the application of learning.

Xunzi is also call Xun Kuang. Some texts recorded his surname as Sun (孙) instead of Xun, either because the two surnames were homophones in antiquity or because Xun was a naming taboo during the reign of Emperor Xuan of Han (73–48 BC), whose given name was Xun. Herbert Giles and John Knoblock both consider the naming taboo theory more likely.

Xunzi 荀子
Xunzi 荀子

Nothing is known of his lineage, and the early years of Xunzi’s life are shrouded in mystery. Accounts of when he lived conflict, he is said to have met a King Kuai of Yan during the time of Mencius, while Liu Xiang states that he lived more than a hundred years after Mencius. The Sima Qian records that he was born in Zhao, and Anze County has erected a large memorial hall at his supposed birthplace.

It is recounted that at the age of fifty he went to the state of Qi to study and teach at the Jixia Academy. The Shi Ji states that he became a member of the academy during the time of King Xiang of Qi, discounting the story of his being a teacher of Han Fei, but its chronology would give him a lifetime of 137 years.

After studying and teaching in Qi, Xunzi has visited the state of Qin, possibly from 265 BC to 260 BC, praised its governance, and debated military affairs with Lord Linwu (临武君) in the court of King Xiaocheng of Zhao. Later, Xunzi was slandered in the Qi court, and he retreated south to the state of Chu. In 240 BCE Lord Chunshen, the prime minister of Chu, invited him to take a position as Magistrate of Lanling (兰陵卫), which he initially refused and then accepted. However, Lord Chunshen was assassinated In 238 BC by a court rival and Xunzi subsequently lost his position. He retired, remained in Lanling.

Xunzi 荀子
Xunzi 荀子

The year of his death is unknown, though if he lived to see the ministership of his supposed student Li Si, as recounted, he would have lived into his nineties, dying shortly after 219 BC.


Xunzi’s main thoughts

The main point of view Xunzi has criticized all schools, but respected Confucius’s thoughts, that is the best idea of governing the country. Xunzi to the successor of Confucius, with special emphasis on the inheritance of Confucius ” Wang school. “

To some extent, Xunzi inherited the ideas of Confucius.

He also critically summarized and absorbed various schools of thought from the standpoint of epistemology, and formed the characteristic view of nature of ” the distinction between heaven and man “, the moral view of ” the transformation of nature ” and the social-historical view of ” the rule of etiquette “.

Xunzi 荀子
Xunzi 荀子

Xunzi witnessed the chaos surrounding the fall of the Zhou dynasty and rise of the Qin state which upheld “doctrines focusing on state control, by means of law and penalties” (Chinese Legalism). Like Shang Yang, Xunzi believed that humanity’s inborn tendencies were evil and that ethical norms had been invented to rectify people.

His variety of Confucianism, therefore, has a darker, more pessimistic flavor than the optimistic Confucianism of Mencius, who tended to view humans as innately good, though like most Confucians he believed that people could be refined through education and ritual. However, he believed that only an elite could accomplish this. He adapted Confucianism to the ideas of the Mohists and Legalists. Therefore, unlike other Confucians, Xunzi allowed that penal law could play a legitimate, though secondary, role in the state.

A memorial to Xunzi

Xunzi’s tomb is located one kilometer southeast of Lanling(兰陵)town, Lanling county, Linyi(临沂) city. East-west 10 meters long, north-south 8 meters wide, east-west two ends 7 meters high, the middle 3 meters high, above all over the locust, there are two stone tablets: first, ad 1841, the monument seal for the ” repair Xunzi Tombstone “, the inscription and signature is not clear; the other is the 1904 Shandong Governor Zhou fu li.

In 1976 was listed as a critical cultural relics protection unit in Shandong Province. The local government has invested heavily, the cemetery has been built into a large antique cemetery.

Xunzi 荀子
Xunzi 荀子

Xunzi statue base 8 meters,19.67 meters high, in the county area of 1967 square kilometers of the broad sense, hold up Xunzi, the hometown of eternal pride of the times superman.

Now in Anze County, Linfen city, Shanxi Province, the construction of a generation of Confucian Xunzi cultural park, the top of the hill stands a statue of the great Confucian, overlooking the river.

Xunzi 荀子
Xunzi 荀子

The Xunzi memorial, a landscape restored in 2014 according to documents, is located in a historical and cultural district in Handan city, Hebei Province, China. It was built in 2013 and completed by 2015. The building was built in memory of Handan Xunzi.

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