This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Age Old Question Of Good Versus Evil

1496 words - 6 pages

Virtually ever since humans began roaming the Earth, there has existed an ongoing debate about whether humans are inherently good or evil. In this paper, I will first summarize and analyze three arguments from philosophers far before our time. In the first discussion, Mencius conveys that humans are fundamentally good. In the following discussions, Xunzi and Plato contend that humans are inherently evil. I will conclude the paper with the argument that the views expressed by Xunzi provide are the strongest of those examined in this paper.
Mencius argues that humans are fundamentally good by establishing that every person has within himself or herself a sense of sympathy and compassion for others. Mencius directly states that “no man is devoid of a heart sensitive to the suffering of others” (“Introducing Philosophy,” page 462). He then provides a hypothetical example of a man sighting a child about to fall into a well. Mencius argues that this man would “certainly be moved to compassion” (“Introducing Philosophy,” page 463) and would save the child. In that split-second decision, the man saved the child on accord of his own sympathy without thought of positive praise from his parents, villagers, or friends, or because he disliked the sound of the child’s cry. The man’s actions were not malicious or selfish, but were instead driven by a sense of concern and consideration rooted in the human race.
Mencius then contends that every human has four ‘germs:’ benevolence, dutifulness, observance of the rites, and wisdom. He maintains that any person devoid of any one of these germs is not human. A person who denies these germs within themselves is only crippling his or her own potential. These germs can be found in a person’s occupation, which a person should be careful in choosing – a doctor is clearly more well-meaning than a coffin-maker, and a maker of armor is more goodhearted than a maker of arrows. Mencius offers that “benevolence is the highest honour bestowed by Heaven” (“Introducing Philosophy,” page 463), and a person can find benevolence within themself.
In contrast to Mencius, Xunzi asserts that humans are inherently evil. The opening statement to his argument sets the tone for his discussion: “The nature of man is evil; his goodness is acquired” (“Introducing Philosophy,” page 464). Xunzi claims that humans are born with selfish desires, and unless raised and taught properly, conflict will arise from the person. Furthermore, people are inherently envious and hateful, resulting in malice unless people are trained otherwise. Finally, people are born with a greediness of beautiful objects and sounds, which develops into excess and disorderliness if not curbed. According to Xunzi, these fundamental traits of humans can be corrected by teachers, laws, order and hierarchy, and the observation of proper etiquette.
While Mencius argued that people learn because they are fundamentally good, Xunzi counters that people learn because they lack...

Find Another Essay On The Age-Old Question of Good versus Evil

The Formula for Fruition: The Age Old Debate of Nature Versus Nurture by Kendra Cherry

1887 words - 8 pages the future in a logical and helpful way, weighing natural passion and skill over the resources and support we may initially have. Works Cited Cherry, Kendra. "The Age Old Debate of Nature Versus Nurture." About.com Psychology. Web. 18 May 2014. . Mason, Lydia. “Nature vs. Nurture in Education”. Survey. 15 May 2014. Mason, Cynthia. Personal interview. 10 May 2014. Webley, Kayla

Good versus Evil in Movies Essay

1075 words - 5 pages Good versus Evil themes appear often in movies but I’m not talking about themes – I’m talking about the quality of them. People put labels upon movies such as good, decent, fine, nice, bad, horrible, okay, evil, and plenty of others but more times than ever, they mislabel the move as being too kind to it without even knowing the conditions of the movie’s budget or even give it a second thought. Effective movies (or “good” as most people say

Empirical versus Theoretical Economics: A Commoner’s Perspective of the Age Old Debate

2141 words - 9 pages because I am not capable and qualified for doing that, and partly because it is unwarranted. The objective is to rather look at certain aspects of writing up a paper in economics with a specific research question in mind and on discussing some of the problems that researchers notwithstanding budding students, face around the globe. Coming back to our good old friend who is desperate to buy this new gadget of his, consider now, that he is given a lump

John Steinbeck's East of Eden - Good Versus Evil

993 words - 4 pages Good Versus Evil in East of Eden   The idea of good versus evil is illustrated in several ways in John Steinbeck's East of Eden. This is seen through the external conflicts in the novel, the internal conflicts of the characters, and a universal understanding of the battle between good and evil.   External conflicts between the main characters, Cathy and Adam, reflect the idea of good versus evil in their relationship. Cathy, who is

This is an analytical essay on Beowulf and the role of evil versus good. It talks about how evil is needed to define the good guy

1269 words - 5 pages versus good, and how there must in fact be some sort ofrelationship between Beowulf and his enemies. Beowulf's death at the hands of the enemy fullydefines Beowulf as a hero and because of this he is forever remembered in history.Evil actions of the enemy are truly needed in each and every context in which a hero ispresent. In this poem this author wants us to understand and grasp the enemy from the verybeginning. These creatures, dark death

Good versus Evil in the Movie Unforgiven Directed by Clint Eastwood

780 words - 4 pages The 1992 film Unforgiven, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, has a central theme that is one of good versus evil in which good overcomes evil by bringing justice to those who are evil. Munny has changed from the vicious murderer he was in the past and now wishes to bring justice to evil men who harmed the innocent prostitute Delilah and his friend Ned. The film is not quite the traditional Western film by any means as Eastwood’s character

"The Devil's Disciple" by Bernard Shaw. (Examining the theme of good versus evil between the characters of Anthony Anderson and Dick Dudgeon)

1189 words - 5 pages The play 'The Devil's Disciple' was written by Irish playwright Bernard Shaw and is set in New Hampshire in the year 1777. The story focuses on the town of Websterbridge, the Dudgeon family and the local Presbyterian minister Anthony Anderson. The current political situation sees the American colonies struggling to achieve their independence from Britain. In retaliation the British troops are invading the American colonies and hanging selected

The Problems of Good & Evil

1300 words - 5 pages evil things in this world for which there is no amount of good to justify that evilness permitted by God. God would only allow as much evil or suffering as is absolutely necessary in order to achieve greater goods. However, when we look at the world around us, we see that there are inexcusable evils. Evils in which there seems to be no such greater good.Two gratuitous evils we discussed were the rape of a five-year-old girl, and the slow

The Question of Free Will Versus Fate

1164 words - 5 pages The question of free will--the idea that we are free to make decisions unhindered by external forces--is very disconcerting to deal with because most people are not willing to accept that we are not in control of our lives. It is also controversial because it wrestles with the idea of a world possibly without moral responsibility. If there is no free will how do we hold a person responsible for molesting someone or for stealing? If someone

The Age Old Debate of Caffeine Consumption

1534 words - 7 pages that you could possibly need to make an educated decision on if you want to allow you child to consume caffeine. By weighing out the relevance of the benefits and disadvantages of consuming caffeine, you should be able to make a proper decision. Parents often deal with the conflict on whether or not to allow their children to consume sodas, maybe even coffee. However, with evidence at hand, the decision is yours and when you decide what side you are on there can be no dispute. Whether it is to restrain, allow, or moderate caffeine consumption by your children is up to you, but this age old debate can finally come to an end.

The Age Old Debate

1051 words - 5 pages genetic dispositions with the area they were located. In other words, it could show where the three factors of the research for TEDS seemed to spike on a map of London. Areas of negative aspects were higher in area with overpopulation, higher crime rate, and impoverish communities. I believe the key data here shows that it is not the question of whether it is nature versus nurture, rather how much nature or nurture is involved. In impoverished

Similar Essays

Good Versus Evil Essay

1019 words - 4 pages Good versus Evil Ever since the start of time, from stories being told by mothers to their children all the way through modern films, good versus evil has been a very common theme. Disney classic movies such as Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Hercules, and many others would always have a plot centered on this idea, along with love, for little kids. The kids that watched the movies since they were little would always be glad to watch it again when

The Battle Between Good Versus Evil

1207 words - 5 pages , Piggy's glasses for the fire, and the conch. Notably, the Lord of the Flies is a character mentioned rarely by name throughout the novel, yet it portrays the battle between good and evil in a religious manner mainly through the eyes of Simon. It all begins when Jack becomes chief and slaughters a pig. He sharpens a stick at both ends, sticking one end of the stick into the ground. The other end is for the sow's head he cuts off and places on the

The Age Old Question Of Confronting The Darker Side Of Self

1668 words - 7 pages There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, `that it behoves us all not to talk about the rest of us'" (variant: `... that it hardly becomes any of us to talk about the rest of us'). - Robert Louis Stevenson. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a Victorian gothic novel that explores the age-old question of confronting the darker side of self in which the society of that time considers this subject somewhat a

Student Or Athlete: The Age Old Question Of Paying College Athletes

1613 words - 6 pages the answer, in Wifrid Sheed's article "Why Sports Matter" he attempts to answer this age old question many people have. Mr. Sheed begins by recounting why sports were thought to be a bad thing in the 19th century and how they began turning into good outlet for people, even why it became acceptable for people to have sports in their lives. Sheed tells readers what sports can teach those who participate, over those who do not join in. He shows the