Confucius and his disciples: Public DomainXunzi questioned many of Mengzi's teachings, especially his claim that human beings are born with a predisposition toward ren. For Xunzi, human beings were born with a natural tendency toward selfishness and disorderly conduct, which had to be overcome through the corrective power of culture. Nonetheless, both Mengzi and Xunzi taught that human beings are capable of moral perfection and that cultural formation through ritual and textual education is the key to achieving this perfection. The idea that human beings are incapable of moral self-transformation is completely alien to both Mengzi and Xunzi as well as the teacher whom both revered, Kongzi. In this sense, Confucian thought has no concept analogous to the Christian notion of "original sin." This apparent optimism about human beings probably is the most significant view shared by Confucianism's founders.

Study Questions:
     1.     What was Confucius' background?
     2.     What was Mengzi's understanding of human nature?
     3.     What was Xunzi's understanding of human nature?
     4.     How do Confucian and Christian understandings of human nature compare?

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