Xing 性 and Qing 情: human nature and moral cultivation in the Guodian text Xing zi ming chu 性自命出 (Nature Derives from Endowment)

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Whether human nature is good or bad and how this is related to self-cultivation was a subject of debate among thinkers in early China. This essay analyses the interrelationship of the key concepts human nature (xing 性), human emotions/feelings/affective tendency as manifested xing (qing 情), and heart-mind (xin 心) in the Guodian manuscript Nature Derives from Endowment (Xing zi ming chu 性自命出) discovered in 1993 in Hubei province. The intellectual engagements evident in this Guodian text emerge as more syncretic and dynamic than those that can be found in the discourse of any single tradition, such as Gaozi, Mencius, or Xunzi. Its theory of human nature and moral cultivation reveals the existence of a possibly more diverse intellectual discourse from which the different foci of philosophical debate represented by later thinkers developed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDao companion to the excavated Guodian bamboo manuscripts
EditorsShirley Chan
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783030046330
ISBN (Print)9783030046323
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameDao Companions to Chinese Philosophy
PublisherSpringer Nature
ISSN (Print)2211-0275
ISSN (Electronic)2542-8780


  • Chinese philosophy
  • Ancient history
  • Classical Chinese
  • excavated texts
  • Confucianism
  • Daoism
  • human nature
  • Human nature
  • Human emotions/feelings
  • Qing 情
  • Guodian texts
  • Heart-mind
  • Xing zi ming chu 性自命出
  • Xin 心
  • Affective tendencies
  • Nature Derives from Endowment
  • Xing 性
  • Moral cultivation


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