Xunzi and the Prudence of Dao : Desire as the Motive to Become Good

Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (1):53-70 (2011)
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Xunzi is often interpreted as offering a method for transforming our desires. This essay argues that, strictly speaking, he does not. Rather, Xunzi offers a method of developing an auxiliary motivational structure capable of overpowering our original desires, when there is a conflict. When one succeeds in transforming one’s overall character, original desires nevertheless remain and are largely satisfied. This explains why one may be motivated to follow the way even before one has developed noble intentions. On Xunzi’s view, following dao provides the best chance of satisfying one’s original desires, as well as fulfilling the more noble aspirations that arise from the process



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Kurtis Hagen
University of Hawaii (PhD)

Citations of this work

Early Confucian Philosophy and the Development of Compassion.David B. Wong - 2015 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 14 (2):157-194.
Yu in the Xunzi: Can Desire by Itself Motivate Action?Winnie Sung - 2012 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (3):369-388.

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References found in this work

Mencius.D. C. Lau - 1984 - Penguin Classics. Edited by D. C. Lau.
Mencius.D. C. Lau (ed.) - 2003 - Cambridge University Press.
Mengzi and Xunzi.Bryan W. Van Norden - 1992 - International Philosophical Quarterly 32 (2):161-184.
Evil and Human Nature.Roy W. Perrett - 2002 - The Monist 85 (2):304-19.

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