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Xun Zi On Capacity, Ability And Constitutive Rules

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Chapter Summary

There is a persistent issue in Chinese Philosophy of how to understand the relation between certain alleged inborn features of the heart-mind, and their full intentional expression or manifestation. This chapter describes the issue and some contemporary attempts to resolve it. Instead of resolving the issue, however, these attempts only serve to highlight it. The best solution, the author thinks, lies in a distinction that Xun Zi makes between 'capacity' and 'ability', and the connection between this distinction and constitutive rules. In conclusion, the author would like to return to a consideration of Mencius's claim that an innate capacity will manifest itself as ability, given 'appropriate circumstances'. This will serve as a reminder and a summary of Xun Zi's capacity/ability distinction.

Keywords: capacity/ability distinction; distinction and constitutive rules; inborn features of the heart-mind; Mencius's claim; XUN ZI



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