The 6th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Xun Kuang ([ɕy̌n kʰwâŋ]; Chinese: 荀況, c. 310 – c. 235 BC, alt. c. 314 – c. 217 B.C.), known as "Master Xun" (Xunzi), was a Chinese Realist Confucian philosopher who lived during the Warring States period and contributed to one of the Hundred Schools of Thought.
Witnessing the chaos surrounding the fall of the Zhou dynasty and rise of the Legalistic Qin state, counter to Mencius's view that man is innately good Like Shang Yang he believed that man's inborn tendencies were evil, and that ethical norms had been invented to rectify mankind.
Though his focus is on Confucian ritual, Xunzi would be the teacher of Qin Chancellor Li Si and Realpolitikal synthesizer Han Feizi, proponents of Legalism believing in control of the state by law and penalty.
Xunzi was born Xun Kuang (荀況). Some texts recorded his surname as Sun (孫) instead of Xun, either because the two surnames were homophones in antiquity or because Xun was a naming taboo during the reign of Emperor Xuan of Han (73–48 BC), whose given name was Xun. Herbert Giles and John Knoblock both consider the naming taboo theory more likely.
Nothing is known of his lineage.
In 238 BC, Lord Chunshen was assassinated by a court rival and Xunzi subsequently lost his position.
Of his disciples, the most notable are Li Si (prime minister to the First Emperor of Qin) and the Han state royal Han Feizi, who developed the quasi-authoritarian aspects of his thought into the doctrine called the School of Law, or Legalism.