To the acknowledgement of the above said words we can use the following quotation which helps to understand that exactly person define the right path of own life: “Is the philanthropic spirit far to seek, indeed?’ the Master exclaimed; ‘I wish for it, and it is with me!” (Confucius, 7:29). In other words, explaining previous statements we should note that all people can cultivate virtue, and bring self into compliance with the dictates of Heaven.
Confucius made it clear that the result of following the Way of Heaven is a subjective experience of pleasure (Creel, 1960). Optimism about human possibilities, however, does not mean optimism about the current state of human affairs. The truth, according to Confucius, is in the fact that the holy sage is a very rare person in human life (Creel, 1960). We can quote the following as an acknowledgement of this fact: “It is not given to me,’ he said, ‘to meet with a sage; let me but behold a man of superior mind, and that will suffice. Neither is given to me to meet with a good man; let me but see a man of constancy, and it will suffice. —It is difficult for persons to have constancy, when they pretend to have that which they are destitute of, to be full when they are empty, to do things on a grand scale when their means are contracted!” (Confucius, 7:25). These words mean that Confucius even did not expect to meet the man of perfect wisdom. It is obvious that Confucius believed that all people have a potential of this perfect wisdom, but most of them were in a terrible condition.
Dwelling on the fact that Confucius did not give a detailed definition of human nature, he insisted that people are inherently equal. All differences between people come from different lifestyles: “When you go forth from your door, be as if you were meeting some guest of importance. When you are making use of the common people (for State purposes), be as if you were taking part in a great religious function. Do not set before others what you do not desire yourself. Let there be no resentful feelings against you when you are away in the country, and none when at home” (Confucius, 12:2). This statement means that the nature brings people to each other, while the habit, vice versa, distances people. As a continuation of this explanation we can add that people are extremely susceptible. According to Confucius, people can become almost everything, because they are unfinished and receptive, moreover, they need the constant formative influence in order to achieve their ultimate goal of moral excellence (Creel, 1960).
In this part of the paper, it is necessary to demonstrate that Confucius, like modern sociologists and psychologists, made it clear that the environment and way of life largely determines our character. Hence, his great interest in the exemplary personalities as well as to the role they play in the organization of an ideal human being is determined by the wish to understand true essence of things. It is a fact that human life brings disastrous results without a carefully shaped culture.
In addition, in connection with the ideas of Confucius about human nature we should address two issues. Firstly, the ideal of moral person to Confucius is a ‘noble man’. This is clearly a ‘male’ term. In some cases, it can be applied to both sexes, but Confucius used it in the narrow sense. He said little about women and did it only in the scornful tone. Secondly, although Confucius said that human nature is fundamentally united, he did not explain whether this is a good nature, so people should protect it, or bad, and it requires major changes. As a result, exactly the uncertainty on this issue has generated a lot of heated debates in the late Confucianism.
In conclusion, we have explained Confucius view at human nature, using different evidences for the acknowledgement of the presented facts and explanation of their meaning. We have proved that Confucius gave a lot of evidences to show that his views about human nature are correct.
Confucius. Confucian Analects. Translated and annotated by William Jennings. George Routledge and Sons, 1895.
Creel, H. G. Confucius and the Chinese Way. Harper Torchbook, 1960.
Wilhelm, R. and Danton, R. Confucius and Confucianism. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1931.