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Mengzi vs. Xunzi Comparative Analysis

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    During the month of October, 2011, a two-year-old girl named Yue Yue, was involved in a hit and run accident, when a driver did not see the toddler and crushed the girl beneath the front tire of the van. After realizing what happened, the driver proceeded down the street, again, crushing the girl with the rear wheels of the van, and fled the scene. Yue Yue was lying helplessly in the street, when luckily someone came into the alley-way where she was hit, although, they looked at her and carried on and selfishly took a blind eye.

    After the first person passed by, seventeen more people walked, rode or drove by, ignoring the child in desperate need, and carried on with their route. Xunzi’s theory is proven when eighteen people pass by the child, before someone offers to help. Xunzi’s theory also shows that no one wanted to help Yue Yue, due to the fact that they did not want to be blamed for the child’s agony, or punished for helping the innocent toddler. Mengzi would argue that the street cleaner that comes to the girl’s rescue and pulls her off the road, is naturally good and showed remorse and supports his theory.

    Although a kind deed was done, despite the human nature shown in China, Xunzi would respond that the street cleaner gaining a reward from her actions, would again, support his theory. Humans have to think about being good, and their conscious activity is what brings this goodness. Humans are evil by nature and are evil until they tell themselves to be good. Xunzi is a philosopher that theorized “Human nature is evil: its goodness derives from conscious activity” (Xunzi). Xunzi’s theory implies that if one were to perform a good moral action, it was because they were scared of punishment or the loss that they might incur.

    He believes that they do not perform a good moral action because they primarily want to, but because they are scared of the consequences of ones actions. Mengzi is another philosopher that theorized “Everyone has a heart that is sensitive to the sufferings of others” (Mengzi). Mengzi’s theory implies that if one is constantly subjected to negative influence, then their character is bound to follow accordingly, regardless of occasional good education. Mengzi believes that this is not ones original nature. One’s original nature, according to Mengzi, is good, and the evil or badness is from and external influence.

    Xunzi’s beliefs on human nature are proven and shown in the video of Yue Yue being repeatedly run over and ignored by the citizens of Guangdong, China. “Human nature is evil” (Xunzi). The adjective evil is described as being profoundly immoral and malevolent, meaning not conforming to accepted standards of morality in society and showing a wish to be malicious toward others. Knowingly ignoring and passing by a helpless, innocent child, that has done nothing to deserve the agony and pain she is experiencing, is seen as evil, in many peoples eyes. Eighteen people passed by Yue Yue.

    Some were walking and had to change their path to get around her. Some road bike and carts, looked at the tragic scene, and still continued on with their day. Trucks and cars drove by without a care in the world, as to what happened to this little girl, bleeding, as she lay in the gutter. This quotation, “I couldn’t see clearly because it was dark then” (National Post), or this one, “The girl was bleeding in mouth and ear and crying a little. I was so scared and my cried because of fear, therefore, we left” (China Daily), are only a few excuses as to how easily one human could disregard another without feeling guilty.

    These ignorant people are showing that people are evil by nature The question ‘Why are these people being evil? ’ is considered when something tragic like this occurs. Xunzi’s theory is proven with the story of Yue Yue, because of people’s evilness towards her, although everyone watching this from a surveillance camera is wondering why these eighteen people would do such a thing. In China, many people are aware and educated around a term ‘Nanjing judge’, which refers to an infamous precedent. The incident happened in 2006 when a young man helped an elder after she had fallen down.

    The case went to court after the elder accused the man of pushing her down, and the court ruled in the elder’s favour, forcing the man to pay for the elder’s hospital bills (New York Times). “Kinhua reports that “Good Samaritans” in China have often ended up paying the price” (National Post). Due to this unfortunate event, the people of China are scared or frightened to help someone in distress, because of the chance of being blamed for someone else’s anguish. The chance of being blamed was too much risk for one to help a young girl in need.

    The consequence would not be considered if a person’s first instinct were alarm or concern. Xunzi would say that, although there is a reason, these people’s actions are considered evil doings, and supports his theory. Xunzi’s theories are portrayed in many areas of the film, but are not the only theories that are shown. Mengzi would argue that the street cleaner that pulls Yue Yue off to the side of the street is naturally good, and supports his theory. When Mengzi says, “Anyone today who suddenly saw a baby about to fall into a well would feel alarmed and concerned.

    It would not be because one wanted to improve ones relationship with the child’s parents, not because one wanted a good reputation among ones friends and neighbours, nor because one disliked hearing the child cry” (Mengzi), it reflects the point in the story of Yue Yue when she is pulled off the street by a kind stranger. Mengzi would argue that Chen Xianmei, the helpful stranger, did not help the girl because she wanted to improve her relationship with Yue Yue’s parents, or because she wanted a good reputation, but because she was genuinely alarmed and concerned when she saw the young girl, and felt it was necessary to help.

    Chen Xianmei pulled Yue Yue off of the street and called for help. Chen’s generosity and helpfulness was awarded by local officials with 10,000 Yuan ($1,588. 00). A local company that became aware of this event was said to have offered the rescuer 50,000 Yuan ($7,945. 00), along with a better job to obtain stable income (National Post). If Mengzi argued the fact that human nature is naturally good, shown by Chen’s aid toward the child, he would make a good argument.

    Xunzi may respond to that point by stating that getting a profit out of the deed in the end, would support his theory, that humans have to think to be good, and only show goodness if it benefits the individual. Xunzi theorizes “It is human nature to be born with a fondness for profit” (Xunzi). In the case of Chen Xianmei -although we cannot predict or know her motives- she did receive a profit, and it could have been her plan the entire time, while saving and helping the toddler. Xunzi would say that she easily could have refused or declined the award, but she didn’t, because humans by nature have a fondness for profit.

    In conclusion, humans have to think about being good, and their conscious activity is what brings this goodness. Humans are evil by nature and are evil until they tell themselves to be good. Xunzi’s theory on human nature is proven by many points in the story of Yue Yue and the unfortunate event that occurred on October 13, 2011. When eighteen people passed by Yue Yue while bleeding from her ears and mouth, Xunzi would analyze this situation and say that these people that ignored the girl, are evil by nature and support his theory.

    The fact that people passed by this helpless girl, and didn’t offer a lending hand due to the fact that they did not want to be blamed for her agony, their human nature would be considered evil and again, support Xunzi’s theory. Mengzi would look at Yue Yue’s story and say that humans, by nature, are naturally good, because of Chen Xianmei’s grateful action to help the girl, assuming that she helped the toddler because she felt alarmed and concern as a first instinct.

    In response to Mengzi’s argument, Xunzi would argue that Chen got a profit out her ‘selfless action’ and did not refuse or decline the award, but accepted it, and therefore supported Xunzi’s theory that all humans by nature are born with a fondness for profit. Therefore Xunzi’s theories and beliefs would support the unfortunate event of Yue Yue, which resulted in much deep thought about oneself of those living in Guangdong, China.

    Mengzi vs. Xunzi Comparative Analysis. (2017, Jan 07). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/mengzi-vs-xunzi/

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