BY NATURE WARPED I

Scott:  Hello Zhuangzi! And a new friend!

Zhuangzi:  I’d like to introduce my friend Xunzi.

Scott:  Eh, glad to meet you.

Zz:  I told you he’d be at a loss at meeting you!

Xunzi:  You did. Glad to meet you too, Scott. And glad to be of service.

Scott:  Service?

Xunzi:  Of course, service! Your distaste for my dao is your opportunity to discover what it is to wander among all daos—something you clearly aren’t doing! Ha, ha.

Scott:  True. And coincidentally I just finished reading selections from your work, and so I’ve been refreshed in my distaste.

Zz:  Coincidentally, indeed! Another coincidence is how Xunzi’s take on human nature so clearly meshes with the problem we discussed at our last meeting—how we can move from self-centeredness to cosmo-centeredness without appeal to some positive transcendent value.

Scott:  Yes, I see that. Xunzi answered that; starting with: “Human nature is evil” and “Human nature is by Nature warped.” I love this last one especially! Love to hate it!

Xunzi:  Well, if you love to hate it, maybe you’re doing some wandering after all. But I seem to recall having read that you agree with my assessment of human nature.

Scott:  You’ve read my blabber!?

Xunzi:  Only the few lines Zhuang has shown me—sorry to disappoint. So, do you agree with me?

Scott:  Yes and no. I agree with you that human nature is naturally warped. But I don’t agree that being warped and being “evil” are the same thing. I don’t believe that Nature is evil or that anything it has created is evil. It might be an incredibly messy business from the human point of view—a morally informed point of view—disturbingly “red in tooth and claw” and all that—but that doesn’t make it evil. I prefer to let Nature help me transcend my so-called “morality” rather than to judge Nature on the basis of it.

Xunzi:  So you would have humanity behaving like the beasts?

Scott:  Not at all. Transcending right and wrong is not abolishing it. It’s simply putting it in perspective—the view from Dao which both affirms it and relativizes it. Our moral sense is, to my thinking, part of our natural warpedness. It’s out of sync with everything else in the universe. And we won’t find it anywhere in the universe except in humanity. Nevertheless, it has been one of the keys to the incredible success of the human species. It enabled us to stop killing each other off enough that we could cooperate and become the lords of the earth.

Zz:  But from the point of view of the earth, it would have been better if we had behaved like the beasts!

Scott:  Exactly. That’s part of the warpedness.

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