Aristotle, Confucius and Rousseau on Human Nature and the Golden Mean: A Comparative Analysis

Prajna Vihara 22 (1):71-84 (2021)
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Philosophers of different cultural traditions have written extensively on the nature of the human being. In the ancient times, Aristotle contended that human beings are not naturally good but are led to be good in the society through education. He also expounded a doctrine of the golden mean, a kind of middle-way philosophy, as a theory on how human beings learn to be good, achieve happiness and live the good life. In the modern times, Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau also provided some political reflections on these topics. Other cultures apart from the West have developed explanations on the nature of human beings. For instance, Confucianism in the East talks about the nature of human beings in their natural conditions and prescribes a middle-way doctrine for the ultimate happiness of human beings in the society. This paper takes a comparative approach to understand the areas of convergence and divergence in the thoughts of Aristotle, Confucius and Rousseau on the middle-way philosophy and the natural goodness of man. This is necessary in order to know the points at which various cultures and philosophical traditions or thought systems in the world can connect and overlap or differ on certain philosophical matters.
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