Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the Complete Works. Vol. I: Books 1-6
Review author[s]: William G. Boltz
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 54, No. 2. (1991), pp. 414-418.
“The most egregious translation lapse of this
kind, and the one that introduces serious misconceptions
into his presentation, is Knoblock’s
choice of ‘ evil ‘ for the word eh s.One cannot
use the English word ‘evil’ in any serious
philosophical or epistemological context
without inevitably introducing the Judeo-
Christian notions of ‘original sin , ‘absolute
good ‘, and its dual (not ‘ polar ‘) counterpart.
‘absolute bad ‘, as well as all of the associated
connotations implicit in this theological complex.
Such notions and connotations are
entirely foreign to, and inapplicable to, the
Chinese word eh, the contexts in which it is
used, and indeed to the whole religious and
intellectual environment of pre-Han China.
When Xunzi says that ‘ man’s nature is eh ‘ he is
by no means making anything close to a claim
that ‘ man’s nature is " evil " ‘, for such a concept
would be completely unknown to him. He
means rather that man’s nature is intrinsically
" ugh “, that is ‘ dis~usting’, ‘ repellant ‘,
‘ revolting ‘, ‘ despicable , abhorrent ‘, or any
of a number of other such descriptives that do
not carry Judeo-Christian overtones. And
because his nature is intrinsically, i.e.,
‘ naturally ‘, this way, man stands, Xunzi would
have us believe, in constant and dire need of the
cultivating and civilizing force of the ethical and
moral values of a Ruist society." (416)