Sorai and Xunzi on the construction of the way

Asian Philosophy 15 (2):117 – 141 (2005)
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While Sorai's intellectual debt to Xunzi is often mentioned, the similarities between their views have not often been explored at length in English2.2 Further, while Maruyama Masao does compare the two thinkers in his influential monograph Studies in the Intellectual History of Tokugawa Japan, he stresses (apparent) differences between Xunzi and Sorai, in order to hail Sorai's uniqueness. Without meaning to take anything away from Sorai as an independent thinker, I maintain that with regard to precisely those views for which Sorai is lauded as unique - that dao is a product of real people that evolved over time and continues to evolve - his position was also held by Xunzi. In addition, there is a related yet rarely highlighted aspect of Xunzi's thought that is also acknowledged by Sorai. That is, virtues acquired by participating in the way in turn qualify one to contribute to its continuous open-ended development.



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