Last modified on 18 December 2014, at 23:18

Xun Zi

Xún Zǐ or Hsün Tzu (荀子; born Zhao c.312 BC - 230 BC) was a Chinese Confucian philosopher.


  • The person attempting to travel two roads at once will get nowhere.
    • Quoted in: Errick A. Ford (2010) Iron Sharpens Iron: Wisdom of the Ages, p. 48.
  • In order to properly understand the big picture, everyone should fear becoming mentally clouded and obsessed with one small section of truth.
    • Quoted in: Joan Klostermann-Ketels (2011) HumaniTrees, p. 96.
  • Human nature is evil, and goodness is caused by intentional activity.
    • Quoted in: Fayek S. Hourani (2012) Daily Bread for Your Mind and Soul, p. 336.

An Exhortation to LearningEdit

  • Learning proceeds until death and only then does it stop. ... Its purpose cannot be given up for even a moment. To pursue it is to be human, to give it up to be a beast.
    • Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (2001), p. 258
  • The learning of the gentleman enters through his ears, fastens to his heart, spreads through his four limbs, and manifests itself in his actions. ... The learning of the petty person enters through his ears and passes out his mouth. From mouth to ears is only four inches--how could it be enough to improve a whole body much larger than that?
    • Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (2001), p. 259
  • The gentleman knows that whatever is imperfect and unrefined does not deserve praise. ... He makes his eyes not want to see what is not tight, makes his ears not want to hear that is not right, makes his mouth not want to speak what is not right, and makes his heart not want to deliberate over what is not right. ... For this reason, power and profit cannot sway him, the masses cannot shift him, and nothing in the world can shake him.
    • Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (2001), p. 260

"Cultivating oneself"Edit

  • One whose intentions and thoughts are cultivated will disregard wealth and nobility. One whose greatest concern is for the Way and righteousness will take lightly kings and dukes. It is simply that when one examines oneself on the inside, external goods carry little weight. A saying goes, "The gentleman makes things his servants. The petty man is servant to things."
    • Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (2001), p. 263
  • If an action ... involves little profit but much righteousness, do it.
    • Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (2001), p. 263

External linksEdit

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