Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Project of Philosophy and Contemporary Society, Advanced Research Center for Human Sciences, Waseda University


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The ‘Subjective Attraction’ and ‘Objective Attractiveness’ of the Practice of the Rites in the Xunzi

Angel On Ki Ting

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.9, No.1 (June 2019):16-32




Xunzi is well-known for his claim that “human nature is evil (e 惡)” and that the rites (li 禮) are established to bring order to a society. Most research on Xunzi has thus focused on how the transformation of human nature (hua xing qi wei 化性起偽) is possible and the role of the rites in the development of a moral agent. However, what has not been explored is the extent to which the practice of the rites contributes to a meaningful life that is comparable to some Western conceptions of meaningfulness. Through surveying the conception of meaningfulness given by Susan Wolf, this paper aims to show that the practice of the rites in the Xunzi has both objective and subjective values that are necessary for rendering a life meaningful. Furthermore, the practice of the rites resolves the tension that arises in contemporary Western discussions of meaningfulness regarding the choice between being moral and satisfying self-interest, thus leading one to live a flourishing life.

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