World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Gaozi

Gaozi (Chinese: 告子; pinyin: Gàozĭ; Wade–Giles: Kao-tzu; literally: "Master Gao"; ca. 420-350 BCE), or Gao Buhai (告不害), was a Chinese philosopher during the Warring States period. Gaozi's teachings are no longer extant, but he was a contemporary of Mencius (ca. 372-289 BCE), and most of our knowledge about him comes from the Mencius book (6) titled "Gaozi".

Warring States philosophers disputed whether human nature is originally good (Mencius) or evil (Xunzi).[1] The "Gaozi" chapter begins with a famous metaphor about a type of willow tree (qiliu (杞柳). (Qi was also an ancient place name, best known through the four-character idiom qirenyoutian [杞人憂天, "person from Qi who worried heaven might fall"] "groundless fears; superfluous worry".)

The philosopher [Gao] said, 'Man's nature is like the [qi]-willow, and righteousness is like a cup or a bowl. The fashioning benevolence and righteousness out of man's nature is like the making cups and bowls from the [qi]-willow.'
Mencius replied, 'Can you, leaving untouched the nature of the willow, make with it cups and bowls? You must do violence and injury to the willow, before you can make cups and bowls with it. If you must do violence and injury to the willow in order to make cups and bowls with it, on your principles you must in the same way do violence and injury to humanity in order to fashion from it benevolence and righteousness! Your words, alas! would certainly lead all men on to reckon benevolence and righteousness to be calamities.'
The philosopher [Gao] said, 'Man's nature is like water whirling round in a corner. Open a passage for it to the east, and it will flow to the east; open a passage for it to the west, and it will flow to the west. Man's nature is indifferent to good and evil, just as the water is indifferent to the east and west.'
Mencius replied, 'Water indeed will flow indifferently to the east or west, but will it flow indifferently up or down? The tendency of man's nature to good is like the tendency of water to flow downwards. There are none but have this tendency to good, just as all water flows downwards. Now by striking water and causing it to leap up, you may make it go over your forehead, and, by damming and leading it you may force it up a hill - but are such movements according to the nature of water? It is the force applied which causes them. When men are made to do what is not good, their nature is dealt with in this way.' (6A, tr. James Legge, 1895:394-396 [2])

References

  1. ^ see Graham (1967) and Chan (1996)
  • Graham, A.C. 1967. "The Background of the Mencian Theory of Human Nature." Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies 6, 1967.
  • Chan, C.W. " Good and Evil in Chinese Philosophy", The Philosopher 84, 1996.

External links

  • 告子上, Mencius Book 6A "Gaozi", with original Chinese and Legge translation, Chinese Text Project
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.