From SamuraiWiki
Jump to navigationJump to search
  • Born: c. 312-300 BCE
  • Died: c. 237-220 BCE

Xunzi, also known as Xun Kuang, was a Confucian philosopher of the Warring States period.

Originally from the State of Zhao, Xunzi had more success than most of China's other greatest philosophers at being hired as a court advisor or teacher. He taught at the Jixia Academy in the State of Qi for a time before political reasons forced him to leave; he was then appointed to an official position in the State of Chu.

In contrast to his rough contemporary Mencius (370-290 BCE), who argued that human nature was inherently good, Xunzi purported that human desires and emotions, if left unchecked, would lead to societal conflict. He felt that education was aimed at teaching etiquette and morality, in order to help check these natural desires, selfishness, and unruliness, and advocated systems of punishment and reward to help shape people's actions. Xunzi also purported that the will of Heaven was impartial and amoral, and indifferent to whether temporal rulers were benevolent or tyrannical. This notion is in stark contrast to Mencius' idea of a moral will of Heaven that enforced benevolence, and a Mandate of Heaven, a divine legitimacy, which could be 'lost' by tyrannical rulers.

Xunzi's students included Li Si and Han Feizi, two of the most prominent officials & thinkers of the Qin Dynasty.


  • Albert Craig, The Heritage of Chinese Civilization, Third Edition, Prentice Hall (2011), 19.
  • Conrad Schirokauer, et al, A Brief History of Chinese and Japanese Civilizations, Fourth Edition, Cengage Learning (2012), 38-.