I bring a new thesis of historical holism to bear on the well-known Mencius-Xunzi dispute about xing/性. The significance of doing so seems bi-directional: in the first direction, i.e. applying the thesis to the dispute, my reconstruction of both Mencius’s and Xunzi’s views aims at revealing a largely neglected but important aspect of Confucian thought. While in the second direction, whoever is otherwise convinced by the Mencian insight may find its successful reconstruction as a case of historical holism good evidence for the thesis itself, which seems ground-breaking in certain areas of contemporary analytic philosophy. The paper largely focuses on the first direction, with quite detailed exposition of key analytic elements for understanding historical holism. A notion of retrospective necessity stands out in the exposition, supporting the main idea of path-bound normativity which turns out to be, for our present case, a notion of implicit and endogenous normativity.
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- Historical holism
- Mencius-Xunzi dispute
- path-bound normativity
- retrospective necessity