Theories of Human Nature in Chinese Philosophy

"The correlation between Heaven and Human" is a basic proposition in Chinese philosophy. The axis of this 'correlation/harmony' is human nature. Thus, the theory of human nature pervades throughout practically all of the philosophical discussions of different schools of thoughts and all the way through the Chinese history. This aspect is so important that one of the key developments of Buddhism in China is the acquisition of Buddha nature. We will present the major theories of human nature over the centuries and the important connecting key notions such as emotion, mind, heart, etc.

The discussions of human nature strongly affected Chinese history and way of life. It is not an over statement to say that the adaptation of the Legalist theory of "Evil" over that of the Confucianist "Good" human nature had enabled the Qin to unify China and the continuation of the more than two centuries of imperial rules in China. Others such as the importance and contents of education, the role of emotion and desire, are all influenced by the concepts of human nature.

The lecture will be concluded by a comparison of Chinese and the Western philosophical approaches, with emphasis on the theory of Original Sin in Christianity.

The whole lecture will be supported with PowerPoint slides.

Venue: China Culture Center, Beijing, China.