性三品 – Chinese philosophy and culture

xìng sān pǐn 性三品

Human Nature Has Three Levels.

人性分为三个等级。“性三品”说是古代的一种人性论观点。该说认为,人的本性是不同的,分为上、中、下三个等级。上品之人性善,下品之人性恶。中间之人,本性或无善无恶,或善恶相混。有些人认为,人天生所具有的人性等级,尤其是上下二品,是不可改易的。也有人主张,后天的教化可以改变人性,甚至超越固有的品级。

Human nature may be categorized as having three levels. This is a view of human nature held by ancient Chinese people. According to this theory, different people have different inherent natures, which can be divided into upper, middle and lower levels. People of the upper level have a good nature. People of the lower level have an evil nature. The nature of those in the middle level is either devoid of the distinction between good and evil, or is a mixture of good and evil. Some believe that human nature is inborn, particularly in those of the upper and lower levels, and is unchangeable. Others think that education can change human nature, allowing people to advance to the next higher level.

引例 Citation:

◎余固以孟轲言人性善者,中人以上者也;孙卿言人性恶者,中人以下者也;扬雄言人性善恶混者,中人也。(王充《论衡·本性》)

(我认为孟子所言人性善,是指中等以上的人;荀子所言人性恶,是指中等以下的人;扬雄所言人性善恶混杂,是指中等的人。)

Mencius said that people were good by nature. I believe the people he referred to are those above the middle level. Xunzi said that people were evil by nature. I believe the people he referred to are those below the middle level. Yang Xiong said that the nature of people was mixed with good and evil. I believe the people he referred to are those in the middle level. (Wang Chong: A Comparative Study of Different Schools of Learning)

◎性之品有上中下三。上焉者,善焉而已矣;中焉者,可导而上下也;下焉者,恶焉而已矣。(韩愈《原性》)

(人性的品类有上中下三等。上等之人,性本就善罢了;中等之人,可以引导而性善或性恶;下等之人,性本就恶罢了。)

Human nature can be divided into three levels, namely: upper, middle and lower levels. The nature of people in the upper level is innately good. The nature of people in the middle level can be guided towards good or evil. The nature of people in the lower level is innately evil. (Han Yu: An Inquiry into Intrinsic Nature)

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