BY NATURE WARPED IV

Zhuangzi:  We’re ganging up on Xun, which hardly seems fair. Why don’t we rather consider how we are the same and leave our differences behind us?

Xunzi:  Given the radical differences between our positions, that may not be easy, but I’m willing to give it a try.

Zz:  Apart from the practical education of Scott—opening him up into “greater openness and unfixedness”—I invited you along because your take on human nature might help us to answer the problem we encountered in trying to move naturally from our self-centrism to collective- and cosmo-centrism.

Xunzi:  It is because I take our self-centeredness as an intrinsic part of human nature that I say it is evil. Humans are by nature self-seeking and avaricious.

Scott:  If we assume that human nature is natural, then there is no disjunction between that nature and Nature. Do you agree?

Xunzi:  No, I do not. Human beings are evil precisely because they have turned against Nature. Only by the guidance of the enlightened gentleman are they able to once again be brought into harmony with Nature.

Scott:  By what power are humans able to act outside of Nature? And by what power is the gentleman able to transcend the evil of his own nature?

Xunzi:  By the power of choice.

Scott:  And did not Nature endow us with that power?

Zz:  From the human point of view, the power of moral choice is humanity as transcendent of Nature. But from the point of view of Dao—let’s call it Nature to avoid debate on what is Dao—from the point of view of Nature, absolutely nothing escapes its power. When we say Nature, we mean absolutely everything conceivable. We are required, then, to hold these two apparently contradictory points of view simultaneously.

Scott:  Agreed. Xunzi?

Xunzi:  Disagreed. Nature is good; humanity has taken the straight and true and warped it, and is thus evil and outside of Nature.

Scott:  Okay. I think we need to agree to disagree on this point. But can you tell me more about the enlightened gentleman—presumably an intrinsically warped human being like you and I—by what power then does he transcend his evil?

Xunzi:  By the power of his instruction in the Dao of the Sage-Kings.

Scott:  But why did he pursue it if naturally warped? And how did the sage-kings acquire their goodness if that Dao had yet to be formulated? Were they not mere mortals like you and I?

Xunzi:  We cannot understand every mystery until we too are enlightened gentlemen.

Scott: You are not an enlightened gentleman? Then you too are presumably warped. How can a warped individual know what is good and what is evil and know which Dao can rectify our evil condition?

Zz:  To think I also considered bringing Mencius along! If words are like wind on water, we’d be swamped and sinking by now!

Xunzi:  What need for Mencius!?  Scott has thoroughly adopted his position! “Human nature is good.”

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