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We Are Good by Nature: Are We Born Good Or Evil

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I was taught by the famous Chinese philosopher Mencius when I was a young age. He suggested that humans are inherently good. And his thought inspired me to think more about the nature of humans.

There have always been debates on whether human beings are born good or evil. It is extremely hard to define what is good and evil. Modern psychologists suggest that ‘being good’ is being morally correct and making ethical decisions; while ‘being bad’ means a person is making selfish decisions, and not caring about the consequences of their actions to others. However, natural evil is a bad state of affairs thadoesdo not result from the intentions or ignorance of moral agents. Therefore, the point I would like to find out is whether humans are born naturally evil or not.

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From the philosophical aspect, there are mainly three different views on whether a human is born good or evil. That’s a very controversial issue and there are arised a lot of debates concerning this. Some believe humans are born evil, some believe humans are born good. While some believed human nature is neither born ‘good’ or ‘evil’, but instead is born in a blank slate, where babies do not have the capacity of understanding what is good and what is bad.

Xunzi, an ancient philosopher, suggested that human is born self-centered, with hatred and dislike of others. He believed that this characteristic of humans would lead to a society full of conflicts. However, a man can think about whether his desire is leading him in the right way. Therefore Xunzi believed through the intelligence of a human, we can distinguish what is right and what is wrong, and we will be able to sacrifice our desire for the other

But Mencius disagreed, Mencius used the famous ‘Child in a well’ experiment to explain his thought. In this experiment, when we see a child that is about to fall into a well, we will be alarmed, feel passionate, and wanted to save her. These kinds of reactions are spontaneous and unthinking. We are not saving the child because we wanted to be thanked by the parents of the child nor because we hate the sound of the child’s cries. Instead, our response emerges from our instinct without any calculation. Therefore Mencius believed that righteousness is “internal,” which means that it grows out of and is determined by one’s mind and heart.

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