Abstract：It is commonly argued that, given the master-disciple relation between Xunzi and Hanfeizi, they naturally share the view of human nature that human beings are born to be bad. In this paper, I will argue that in terms of intellectual history, the evidence for the master-disciple relation between the two is not adequate. More importantly, this relation is different from the relation of intellectual lineage, and the latter needs to presuppose the similarities of thought between the alleged master and the disciple. The aforementioned common view actually commits the mistake of circular argument between intellectual lineage and similarities of thought. On the theory of human nature, although there are debates about how to characterize Xunzi’s view, it is commonly agreed that Xunzi believed that human beings in their “natural state” would inevitably quarrel and fight with each other. This is why we need to use moral cultivation, led by the sages, to eliminate the disorder. In contrast, Hanfeizi actually acknowledged the innocence and even the goodness of human beings, and this goodness is sufficient for the existence of order under certain circumstances. These ideas are clearly different from Xunzi’s, and are in line with the Laozi. But Hanfeizi also argued that this inborn goodness is too fragile to resist the challenge of material scarcity. Facing disorder under scarcity, Hanfeizi rejected the effectiveness and necessity of moral cultivation, which was advocated by early Confucians, Xunzi included, as a response to disorder. Instead, he argued that we should follow the fact of human affairs, a view in line with the so-called Huang-Lao school. Therefore, in terms of theory of human nature, Hanfeizi is close to Huang-Lao, and is sharply different from Xunzi.
Bai Tongdong. Did Hanfeizi Inherit Xunzi’s Theory of the Badness of Human Nature? ——A Case Study of Intellectual Lineage[J]. Journal of Peking University(Philosophy and Social Sciences), 2022, 59(5): 42-50.