Back to OWR Homepage Back
to Confucianism flowchart

The School of Hsun Tzu

Doctrines  The doctrines of the School of Hsun Tzu are a development of those of Confucius in the direction of naturalism and rationalism. They are concerned with human affairs rather than the spirits. Unlike the schools of Tzu Ssu and Mencius, which view Heaven as a personal power and the source of morality and social sanction, the School of Hsun Tzu, under the influence of Taoist metaphysics, equates Heaven with nature and cosmic change and, therefore, regards Heaven as unresponsive to human behaviour. Human beings should not react to what Heaven does, nor look for omens in nature portending good or evil; instead, they should make use of the laws of nature for their own ends.
In contrast to Mencius' proposition that human nature derives from Heaven and, therefore, is innately good, the School of Hsun Tzu maintains that human beings are born with desires that, if not being guarded and restricted, would lead humans to conflict and strife, and that in this sense human nature is evil and his goodness is only from acquired training. However, somewhat in keeping with the School of Mencius, the school of Hsun Tzu holds that human beings have the ability to become good through following rituals and rules of propriety that have been designed by sages. But, unlike Mencius, who stressed the need to nourish the heart/mind, the School of Hsun Tzu emphasised accumulative learning, training, education, enforced by laws, music, rituals and the rules of propriety.

History The School of Hsun Tzu was formed by the eminent Confucianist of the Warring States period, Hsun K'uang (325?-238? BCE), a well-known scholar who once led the famous Academy of Ch'i Hsia. Hsun Tzu's emphasis on learning and moral education is be lieved to have been influenced by the ideas embodied in the Great Learning, supposedly transmitted and commentated by Tseng Tzu, a disciple of Confucius. His theories on human nature led many Confucian scholars to adopt a position mid-way between affirming either the original goodness or the original evil nature of human beings. His rationalistic tendencies stimulated the development of the Old Text School of the Han dynasty. That this should happen demonstrated the considerable influence which Hsun Tzu's thought enjoyed during the Han dynasty within scholarship. Two of his disciples, Han Fei and Li Ssu, became very prominent scholars in the School of Legalism and the latter the Premier of the Ch'in dynasty (221-207 BCE) . However, the association of Hsun Tzu's pupils with the Ch'in dynasty proved in the long term to be disastrous for the place of Hsun Tzu in Confucian history, for the Ch'in dynasty was a dictatorship which suppressed Confucianism and burn its books. During the Sung dynasty Hsun Tzu's thought was declared heterodox, and has since that time been outside of the mainstream Confucian tradition.

Symbols The School of Hsun Tzu does not have a distinctive symbol system.

Adherents It is not possible to determine the numberical size of the School of Hsun Tzu.

Headquarters/
Main Centre
 The School of Hsun Tzu does not have a headquarters or main centre.