天命之性 – Chinese philosophy and culture

tiānmìngzhīxìng 天命之性

Character Endowed by Heaven

天所赋予人的道德本性,又称“天地之性”,与“气质之性”相对。先秦时期即有儒者提出人的道德本性源自于天。宋儒继承这一观念,提出了“天命之性”的概念,用以指称每个人都具有的禀受于天的道德本性。“天命之性”是纯善的,是人的道德行为的内在依据。但由于人性还受到其他因素的影响,“天命之性”可能会被遮蔽。

This term refers to the moral character endowed to a person by Heaven, also known as the “properties of heaven and earth,” as opposed to the “properties of qi, or vital force.” Some early pre-Qin Confucian scholars maintained that human moral characters originated from Heaven. Confucian scholars of the Song Dynasty, inheriting this concept, further propounded the notion of “characters endowed by Heaven,” meaning that all people were endowed by Heaven with moral characters. “Characters endowed by Heaven” are purely good, providing the inner basis for a person’s moral principle and conduct. However, as human characters are subject to other influences, “characters endowed by Heaven” can be obscured.

引例 Citations:

◎形而后有气质之性,善反之则天地之性存焉。(张载《正蒙·诚明》)

(事物凝聚成形以后就禀受了气质之性,善于复归本原则天地之性得以实现。)

Physical matters take up their shape which acquires the properties of qi, or vital force; if we are thus good at returning to it, then the nature endowed by Heaven and Earth will be preserved. (Zhang Zai: Enlightenment Through Confucian Teachings)

◎天命之性,指理言;率性之道,指人物所行言。(《朱子语类》卷六十二)

(天命之性,是就天理而言的;率性之道,是就人的行事而言的。)

Characters endowed by Heaven refer to heavenly laws; the way of following those characters refers to human conduct. (Classified Conversations of Master Zhu Xi)

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