性无善无恶 – Chinese philosophy and culture

xìng wú shàn wú è 性无善无恶

Human Nature Is Neither Good nor Evil.

人性无所谓善与恶。“性无善无恶”之说是古代的一种人性论观点,告子即主张此说。这里所言人性,指人天生所具有的属性。在告子看来,人天生所具有的仅仅是对于外物的生理上的诉求,如食色之欲等。这样的本性并不具有道德含义,是无所谓善恶的。人之善恶是后天人为塑造、影响而成的。受到好的影响即可以为善,而在不好的环境中即会为恶。

Human nature has nothing to do with good or evil, which is a view held by ancient Chinese people. The philosopher Gaozi was one of the advocates of this “neither good nor evil” theory. Here, human nature refers to the in-born attributes of a human being. According to Gaozi, a person’s inherent desires directed to the outside world reflects no more than physical needs, such as the need for food and for sex. Such instincts are irrelevant to ethics, free of good or evil. A person’s good or evil traits result from cultivation and social influence in life after birth. People who are exposed to good influences tend to do good things. People who live in a bad environment tend to do bad things.

引例 Citations:

◎告子曰:“性犹湍水也,决诸东方则东流,决诸西方则西流。人性之无分于善不善也,犹水之无分于东西也。”(《孟子·告子上》)

(告子说:“人性犹如湍急的河水,从东面掘开河岸则朝向东流,从西面掘开河岸则朝向西流。人性无法区分确定是善还是不善,犹如水无法区分确定是向东流还是向西流。”)

Gaozi said: “Human nature resembles the rapid flow of river water. When a breach occurs on the eastern bank of a river, the water flows towards east. When a breach occurs on the western bank of the river, the water flows towards west. Just as flowing water cannot determine where it goes, human nature cannot be characterized as good or evil.” (Mencius)

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