of Chinese Studies
Volume 1 Number 1 March 2001
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Xing ("inner nature") is the most important feature of each of "the ten thousand things" wan wu, or, as Isabelle Robinet (1986, 183) called it, "that something which every being is born with, that is, its original nature and thus, fundamentally, that which is inborn in it."
The character xing comes from the root "heart" (xin) and the phonetic "life," "to give birth," "to be born," (sheng). In Léon Wieger's opinion xing designates "the complex of features and dispositions, the heart (xin) that a human being has received at birth," namely his nature, qualities and natural dispositions that are inborn. By this explanation, Léon Wieger reduces the semantic field of the term xing ("inner nature") to the human perspective. Similarly restrictive, the definition in Shuo wen jie zi yi zheng reads: "xing is the human being's yang breath; xing is that which is good." However, in Wang Chong's (27 ~ 97) commentary in the Lun Heng (Ben xing) that follows this definition, the term xing ("nature", "intrinsic nature") is related to qing ("feelings") and is thus introduced in the complex system of Chinese concepts and categories. According to Wang Chong, from the writings of his predecessors one may draw a conclusion such as the following: "Heaven's major law is that it is composed of a yin element and a yang element; man's major law is that it is composed of feelings and nature; nature is born in the yang, feelings are born in the yin; the yin breath lacks humanity, the yang breath is full of humanity..."and so on; from this point forward, correlations keep growing both numerologically, by discussing the five elements of nature and the six feelings, and ethically, by distinguishing the components of good and evil. Thus xing ("inner nature") seen as being of the yang ("male," "bright," "active") kind is for qing ("feelings"), which is classified as yin ("female," "dark," "passive"), just as light is to dark. At the same time, in general "feelings" (qing) are considered to be basic impulses, uncontrolled urges that demean inner nature and cause excess.
We shall not insist upon the various possibilities of defining and understanding "inner nature" (xing) as related to other notions, nor shall we linger over the debate concerning the essence of "human nature" (ren xing), however interesting the analysis of the decisive factor of defining traditional Chinese thought as philosophy may be; much less shall we dwell on the philosophical debate that various theories put forward during the Warring States period and developed over the centuries caused in the Song dynasty, when a movement of recovering the legacy of antiquity burst out. Instead, we shall concentrate our analysis upon the various aspects of the relationship between the notion of xing ("inner nature") and moral values in the Zhuangzi, whether this relationship is mediated, conditioned or caused by other notions such as qing ("feelings"), ming ("destiny"), etc., or not. We must emphasize the fact that we are engaging upon this course of analysis fully aware that the notion of xing ("inner nature") appears but once in the first seven chapters of the Zhuangzi, the only chapters that are almost unanimously recognized as authentic. We must also specify that in the course of our analysis we shall consider the Zhuangzi as a unitary whole. The notion of xing ("inner nature") is frequently used in the middle part of the book with meanings that do not differ from the ones we find in the Confucian texts.
In our opinion, the Zhuangzi makes it quite clear that the "World under Heaven" (tian xia) is ruled by the disorder caused exclusively by human factors, such as a sovereign (jun) unworthy of his task or a so-called "sage" (sheng ren) who promotes different doctrines than the one promoted by the author of the text. The only one who can straighten the World under Heaven and discard all evil is yet another human factor, represented by the true "sage" who acts according to a law superior to human laws - the dao. That is why the Daoist philosopher takes into consideration the relationship between xing ("inner nature," specifically understood as "human nature") and morality, i.e. the way in which the inner nature of things and humans may be and actually is modified by the acceptance of moral values, the way in which morality is a component of human nature and, of course, the way in which human ethics correspond to the universal order.
Should one go back, along with Zhuangzi, to the ideal level of the "time of perfect virtue" (zhi de zhi shi), one might find out that each thing has the shape and role allotted to it by nature, the very ones that make it possible for it to fulfill itself in universal harmony. Therefore, for the Daoist philosopher, "The fact that things fulfill themselves in their natural reason is called shape. The shape and the body protect the spirit. The fact that each has its own principle is called inner nature. Inner nature cultivates itself and returns to virtue. Virtue perfects itself and resembles the beginning. The resemblance is indeed the void; the void is indeed great." Thus, for Zhuangzi, in those immemorial times, "inner nature" (xing) interrelates with "shape" (xing), in the sense that, on the one hand, "shape" matches "inner nature" and, on the other, "inner nature" makes possible the realization of "shape": It should also be pointed out that "nature", to the degree it is cultivated according to Daoist principles, is rediscovered and completed in "virtue" (de), the supreme human value.
Nevertheless, in opposition to the statement above about the necessity for "inner nature" (xing) to be cultivated in order to complete itself as well as to his entire system of thought, Zhuangzi, the unparalleled master of relativity for whom everything is in ceaseless change, holds that "Nature cannot be changed, destiny cannot be transformed, time cannot be stopped, the dao cannot be confined." If we proceed to a more careful analysis of this contradiction, we shall find out that it is, in fact, only apparent, as there is no real inadvertence. In our view, the fact that "nature cannot be changed " or that "destiny cannot be transformed" does not mean either permanence or stillness. Both "inner nature" (xing) and "destiny" (ming) enclose within themselves the very core of motion and becoming; they do move and evolve, but this time only unidirectionally, in the natural course imposed by natural laws. That is why, for Zhuangzi, "In the World under Heaven there is common nature, according to which whatever is bent is not so because of the hook, whatever is straight is not so because of the rope, whatever is round is not so because of the compass, whatever is angled is not so because of the square..."; any outer intervention on "shape" (xing), in the sense of violating natural laws and the commandments of Heaven, can only result in modifying, demeaning or even annihilating "nature" (xing). Thus, in order to avoid any reckless intervention, the one who has acquired the skill of "acting by non-action" (wu wei wei zhi) must be fully aware of the "inner nature" (xing) of each and every thing, as well as their features and destinations. But in the field of knowledge, where everyone strives to promote his own teachings, his individual point of view, and to convince the others - mostly the rulers - about his own "truth" and thus gain a privileged position or greater and more numerous advantages, relativity has no limits. Moreover, whatever is favorable, good, suited to the "inner nature" (xing) of a certain category of beings or things becomes the very opposite with respect to all the others. For example: "Should somebody sleep in dampness, his kidneys could catch a fatal disease; but is it the same for the loach? Should he dwell up in trees, he would feel frightened and restless; but is it the same for the monkey? Which one of the three knows the normal dwelling? Man feeds on plants and various animals, the stag feeds on grass, the myriapod makes the snake's desert and the owl likes mice. Which one of these four knows the normal taste?"
Synthesizing the few points that we have applied to a general, abstract field, or maybe to "the time of perfect virtue" (zhi de zhi shi), we may now emphasize, first of all, the fact that "inner nature" (xing) and "shape" (xing) are of major importance to the establishing of the place and meaning of each entity in the World under Heaven; in other words, to the establishing of its mission or "destiny" (ming). Secondly, it should be pointed out that, in order to act according to the universal natural laws, man must be aware of the particulars of each one of the "ten thousand things" wan wu, namely their "shape" (xing), their "inner nature" (xing) and their "destiny" (ming). Finally, it should be emphasized that "inner nature" (xing) completes itself in "virtue" (de) - the dao's way of manifestation on the human plane.
These facts grant us at least three new possibilities of analysis. The first would focus on the study of the relational field of "inner nature" (xing) beginning from the binomial pair "inner nature" (xing) . "shape" (xing) with a focus on the Zhuangzi; this analysis is out of the scope of the present paper. The second would consist in approaching the relationship between "inner nature" (xing) and "knowledge" (zhi), with an emphasis on the second notion, followed by an exploration of the theme of knowledge in Daoist perspective as contrasted with the Confucian one: this analysis will make the subject of further research. Finally, another possibility is to analyze the relationship between "inner nature" (xing) and moral values with a focus on the relationship between "inner nature" (xing) and "virtue" (de): this is what we shall attempt below.
Taking into account the ideas above, namely that "inner nature" (xing) perfects itself in de ("virtue"), which is the corresponding term of the dao, the way in which the dao manifests itself especially on the human level, and also that "virtue" covers the particular moral values of human beings beginning with the major ones - ren, "humanity", and yi, "justice" - as well as fulfilled "inner nature" (xing), one may want to explore the possibility of direct connection between these elements, which are all contained in de ("virtue"). At the same time, we should point out that, on one hand, from the Daoist perspective the supreme moral values are similar to those of the Confucians, i.e. ren ("humanity") and yi ("justice"), and that, on the other hand, "inner nature" (xing) manifests itself through "feelings" qing. Thus, a possible way to connect "inner nature" and moral values is that of inclusion, in the sense that "inner nature" (xing), interposing itself between de ("virtue") and the particular moral values of ren ("humanity") and yi ("justice"), comprises them within itself, while the latter take up the same form of manifestation as "inner nature" (xing), namely that of "feelings" (qing). Yet, the Daoist philosopher, looking around and noticing that "The man who is an example of humanity of our times grieves over the misfortunes of the world with bleary eyes; the man who lacks humanity, despising the feelings of nature and fate, ardently seeks fame and fortune," is right in wondering whether "humanity" (ren) and "justice" (yi) belong to human nature or not, whether they are truly human feelings or not; in other words, whether they are natural features or artificial skills, imposed by human laws and obtained by altering "inner nature" (xing).
The conclusion reached by Zhuangzi brings us to another aspect of social polarization in the Daoist perspective. At one end we find "the man full of humanity," "the humane man" (ren ren), the Daoist scholar, of course, who finds himself incapable of taking any action; at the other end we see " the man who lacks humanity," "the inhumane man" (bu ren), the Confucian or the Mohist scholar (but not only), who can but strive for social fame and who would, for his goal, "& demean and interrupt rites and music, cultivate and order humanity and justice, serve and soothe the hearts in the World under Heaven yet loses his ordinary nature." If, as we have suggested elsewhere, we can find in the Daoist message two categories of "humanity" (ren) and "justice" yi - one, of Confucian origin, which is artificial, human, separated from the commandments of "Heaven" (tian) and "inner nature" (xing) and which alters the very inner nature of each and every thing, and another one, of Daoist origin, which is natural, subject to universal laws and which allows change to be as natural as it can be, then there are no more paradoxes in the quoted passage. It then becomes more clear that "the man who lacks humanity" (bu ren) can be any scholar, not only the Confucian or the Mohist scholar who criticizes the Daoists, and that the type of "humanity" (ren) and "justice" (yi) that he promotes are, of course, artificial.
If we accept that Daoist moral values are included in "inner nature" (xing), it is interesting to notice that the man who practices a kind of morality that is of human and not heavenly origin and which harms both the others and himself, "loses his ordinary nature." He is, however, sincerely convinced of the just character of the teachings he has received from his Master, which he assiduously advocates, and thus does not notice the harm done by the constraints imposed upon the "inner nature" (xing) of things. Moreover, he even despises the solution put forward by the Daoist scholar who promotes the observance of the commandments of "Heaven" (tian) and of the natural laws just as in the "time of perfect virtue" (zhi de zhi shi), taking this solution to be regress rather than progress. On the other hand, the Daoist scholar vehemently criticizes the actions of all those who, through their teachings, turn the young away from obeying the laws of "nature" (xing), and condemns them for their actions, which he sees as crimes that irreversibly modify the "nature" (xing) of the various beings, even though this modification is not indispensable to the existence and life of human beings. But when it comes to human life, of course, the attitude of the Daoist philosopher is not the same.
Therefore, Zhuangzi states implicitly and not explicitly that the relationship between xing ("inner nature") and moral values is one of inclusion, in the sense that moral values are included in "nature" (xing) and manifest themselves through qing ("feelings"). Also, in our view, Zhuangzi dissociates, once more implicitly and not explicitly, the moral values of "humanity" (ren), "justice" (yi) and so on into moral values of Confucian origin and moral values of Daoist origin, while referring to them with the same words and thus making them harder to differentiate. For the Daoist philosopher, this kind of dissociation opens a wide field for the action of relativity, and the only way through which "humanity" (ren) and "justice" (yi) can be harmonized with "nature (xing) begins with the rejection of the desire for fame and the return to the universal natural laws for which "nature" (xing) is partly the measure. Since moral values are included in "nature" (xing) and manifest themselves through "feelings" (qing), thus being considered natural features, it is also quite interesting that Zhuangzi does not appeal to reason as a means of becoming aware of them.
The fact that reason does not intervene in the ways of manifestation of moral values is illustrated by the Daoist philosopher in the equation he draws between what is "good" (zang) - a term synonymous to (shan), "good" - and the "feelings of nature" (xing qing), which he differentiates from the moral values of Confucian kind, "humanity" (ren) and "justice" (yi). That is why he states that "What I call good is neither humanity nor justice; it is the free rein given to the feelings of nature and to fate and nothing more." Thus by relating "nature" (xing) to zang ("good") there emerges a new possibility of analyzing a particular aspect of the relationship between xing ("inner nature") and moral values and of explaining what Zhuangzi thinks to be "good" (zang), namely the dao as a norm for perfection.
Analyzing the dichotomies established in the Zhuangzi with respect to moral values as embodied in "the humane man" (ren ren) and "the inhumane man" (bu ren), it may be appropriate to specify that, just as the lack of "humanity" (ren) of the Daoist kind is not welcome, as it alters "nature" (xing), so the excess of moral values, of whatever sort, has no beneficial effect and does not make the one who abuses them one of "the true men of the olden days" (gu zhi zhen ren). Hence, "The one who abuses humanity and justice that dwell in the five viscera is not the norm of the dao and virtue." And if "the inhumane man" (bu ren) strives to gain "fame and fortune," "The man who has humanity to spare gets rid of virtue, suppresses his nature and rejoices on fame." It is thus quite clear that the excessive "humanity" (ren) and "justice" (yi) Zhuangzi refers to represent as many distorted aspects of these values - "Confucian", as we might call them - because they do not dwell in the dao ("The Absolute") and in de ("virtue"). The one who has such values, overlooking his own "inner nature" (xing), aims at goals that the Daoists find unworthy and mean, such as titles, wealth and fame. The distortion of these moral values does not come from the fact that they dwell within the very human being, in definite spaces such as "the five viscera" (wu zang), but from their way of action. It may be appropriate to mention here that, according to traditional Chinese thought, man is one of the three fundamental elements of the cosmos, the equal of Heaven and Earth, contained in the dao ("The Absolute") and containing the dao ("The Absolute") within himself. That is why Zhuangzi is of the opinion that moral values are not perverted by the space in which they are situated - "the five viscera" (wu zang) are also the headquarters of emotions, except for the "heart-mind" xin which is also the headquarters of "reason" (li) - but by their excessive use, in disagreement with the universal laws.
At the same time, the Daoist philosopher realizes that immoderation does not stop at the manifest forms of "humanity" (ren) and "justice" (yi) or to their exponent - "the humane man," "the man full of humanity" (ren ren) - but harms the whole field of affectivity. Thus, for example, "The one with excessive feelings in his five viscera, spoiling the acts of humanity and justice, abuses his hearing and vision." Therefore, the existence of the excessive and its misuse not only in the manifest forms of "humanity" (ren) and "justice" (yi), but in those of any kind of "feelings" (qing) put us in the vicious circle of distortion. The excess of "feelings" (qing) perverts moral values and the perverted moral values, included in "nature" (xing), pervert it once more. The "inner nature" (xing) that has been harmed manifests itself in the "feelings" (qing) which it perverts once more, and the twice-perverted "feelings" (qing) act upon moral values and so forth. The way of reestablishing harmony lies, of course, in eliminating the excess and compensating for the deficiency. This demonstration also makes it clear that "feelings" (qing) are not mere forms of manifestation of moral values, but that they establish with them relationships of inter-determination.
As we have already seen, man is where the connection between xing ("inner nature"), qing ("feelings") and moral values, particularly "humanity" (ren) and "justice" (yi), is realized. Yet man, whether he is a "man full of humanity" (ren ren) or a man "lacking humanity" (bu ren), is not only a driving belt between causes and effects, be they positive or negative; he is, most of the times, an active factor, even though, by behaving this way and changing "nature" (xing), he distorts, from a Daoist perspective, the essence. This is what the Carpenter who "destroyed the pure wood in order to make plates out of it," the Horse-trainer who shod and harnessed wild horses in order to tame them, the Stone-cutter who broke white jade in order to carve slates and seals out of it, did. Yet Zhuangzi notices that the difference between the things that these artisans made - things that they thought useful for humans - and the waste that appears after processing is over is only apparent. Such is the case with "the one-hundred-year-old tree out of which they carve libation vessels adorned with green and yellow; the waste is tossed in the hole. Should one compare the libation vessels to the waste in the hole, the difference between beauty and ugliness will appear; but they had already lost their own nature." From this example it would follow that the Daoist philosopher embraces wild nature and opposes any form of human progress. But let us not forget that "the libation vessels" do not truly represent worship objects, but rather symbols of the traditional cult, the cult of the ancestors, which had only begun to be taken over by a particular category of "scholars" who, for the sake of its preservation, dared to enclose it within the limits of stricter and stricter rules and to make a living out of practicing and spreading it. And these "scholars" whom Zhuangzi fought were mostly, but not exclusively, Confucians.
From the level of surrounding nature Zhuangzi extends his analysis on the human world and discovers that the effects of human action on it are utterly the same as that on other creatures, i.e. a loss of "inner nature" (xing). Thus, "Comparing Zhi to Zeng and Shi  brings up the difference in making justice, even if they have equally lost their nature." The association of these three characters is striking at first. The fact that Zeng and Shi have lost their "inner nature" (xing) should not surprise us. The first character, Zengzi, was one of Confucius's disciples, and it was only natural, at least from the Daoist philosopher's point of view, that through the doctrine he embraced and passed on he perverted his own "inner nature" (xing). The second character, Shi Qiu, exemplary in his practice of "justice" (yi) - of course, of Confucian flavor - chose to be put to death, to lose not only his "inner nature" (xing) but also its support, "life" (sheng), rather than fail to make his master, King Ling of Wei, aware of his own mistakes. In contrast, Great Robber Zhi and his moral teachings - such as "To presume that there are treasures in a room is wisdom; to go in [there] first is courage; to be the last to go out is justice; to know for sure what can be [stolen] and what cannot is knowledge; to equally share [the plunder] is humanity; [and] without these five qualities no one has ever become a Great Robber in the World under Heaven." - received the author's true support. And yet, because of his activity, even Great Robber Zhi lost his life. Therefore he also acted in the sense of harming "inner nature" (xing). That is why Zhuangzi believes that, in regard to the destruction of "nature" (xing), Great Robber Zhi is not different from the other two.
The Daoist philosopher does not overlook this kind of conclusion and tries to reveal the causes of the loss or distortion of "inner nature" (xing). A possible interpretation could be that: "The dao was forsaken and humanity was used. Virtue was put at risk and action was used. Abandoning their nature, men submitted to the heart-mind. One heart-mind knew another heart-mind, but this knowledge was not enough to put the World under Heaven on a path. Then they added the Scriptures to knowledge and enriched it with erudition. The Scriptures destroyed substance, erudition stifled the heart-mind." Therefore the use of "good" shan, "action" (xing) but especially that of "knowledge" (zhi) led to man's estrangement from the natural factors, i.e. "inner nature" (xing), "virtue" (de) and the dao. But this time Zhuangzi does not insist anymore on the conditions which have led to the substitution of the natural factors with the artificial ones nor on the agents that realized, or at least favored, the transformation.
Instead, sensing the structural alteration of the natural elements of all kingdoms, mineral, vegetal, and animal, induced by the actions of men and determined by "knowledge" (zhi) and ethics, Zhuangzi inquires about the possibility of harmonizing the negative, artificial factors and the positive, natural ones. That is why he asks and asks himself rhetorically: "How can humanity and justice be reached without discarding the dao and virtue? How can rites and music be used without forsaking nature and feelings?" He cannot grant us any explicit solution, just as with all his essential questions. The implicit answer is negative and leads to the conclusion that, in order to keep what is natural - the dao and its form of manifestation, de ("virtue"), xing ("nature") and its semblance, qing ("feelings") - everything artificial, namely "knowledge" (zhi), the moral values of "humanity" (ren) and "justice" (yi), as well as all the other factors it comes in relationship with must be abandoned. We must point out that, in our view, the Daoist philosopher refers to "knowledge" (zhi), "humanity" (ren), "justice" (yi), etc. as understood, practiced and transmitted to the descendants by other philosophical schools, especially by the Confucians, and not to the ones that he himself advocates, which are comprised in "the great humanity" da ren or in "virtue" (de), found in the dao and impossible to forsake.
Moreover, for the Daoist philosopher it is extremely disturbing that the people of his times do not contend themselves with altering the "inner nature" (xing) of the things or creatures around them, but that they extend this kind of action to other humans and even on to themselves. And this is even more disturbing as this kind of situation has not been so forever, for there was a time, "the time of perfect virtue" (zhi de zhi shi), when people had only one purpose, as it were, which they did not admit or even know of, i.e. to preserve their vital energy, "the breath" (qi). It was the time when men were passionless and different only by virtue of skill not of rank, a time when the entire human existence was developing naturally, within the limits of necessity. But the ideal society of these times evolved and became transformed; in fact, it underwent a process of moral decay which spoiled not only the entire system of government but also "nature" (xing) and "virtue" (de), without even compensating for this disturbance of things with other values cherished by the Daoists such as "peace" (tian) and "happiness" (yu). That is why, "In the old days, Yao, governing the World under Heaven, made people rejoice. People brought happiness to their nature but this did not bring them peace. Jie, governing the World under Heaven, made people get tired. People embittered their nature but this did not bring them happiness. So, without peace and happiness there is no virtue."
This primary stage of harming "inner nature" (xing) by of "joy" (le) and "toil" (ku) is followed, during the Warring States period - when the task of governing is fulfilled by a "sovereign" (junzi) more or less wise, with the help of a "sage" (shengren), mostly a Confucian - by a total modification of "inner nature" (xing). Therefore, when "The Great Sage governs the World under Heaven, he troubles the hearts of people, having them change their customs in order to fulfill his teachings, burn down their thievish hearts and follow all his will only. If he only acts according to his nature, the people will never be aware of the reason of their actions."
It is interesting to note, in view of a possible analysis of the relationship between "inner nature" (xing) and "knowledge" (zhi), that in this case the modification of "inner nature" (xing) did not imply the awareness or the agreement of those who are subject to it. Thus, the "Great Sage" (da sheng) can be simultaneously blamed for many mistakes, the result of, in fact, one single action. First, he is guilty of having distorted the "inner nature" (xing) of the people he governs. Second, he is guilty of not having made the people aware of his actions and their consequences. Third, he is guilty of having made people adopt a certain way of action and/or reaction.... And the list of charges could go on and on.
From this secondary stage of "changing the inner nature" (yi xing), the supreme one, i.e. sacrifice, is reached, because, through their efforts, people uselessly consume their vital energy, "the breath" (qi). This is why ever since the three dynasties - Xia, Shang-Yin and Western Zhou - when "humanity" (ren) and "justice" (yi) as practiced by Huangdi, Yao and Shun first emerged, but mostly since the times of Yu, when the Confucians and the Mohists appeared, each individual, regardless of his position in society, has pursued a goal for the sake of which he has harmed his own nature and body. Thus, "The common man sacrifices for wealth, the officer sacrifices for fame, the nobleman sacrifices for his clan, the sage sacrifices for the World under Heaven." It goes without saying that Zhuangzi equally discards all the four kinds of sacrifice, and that by the expression "sage" (sheng ren) he means all the thinkers of the other schools and philosophical doctrines. Yet all the other humans perceive differently their own actions and the actions of their fellows. That is why for them, "The one who sacrifices for humanity and justice is usually called a sage king, whereas the one who sacrifices for assets and wealth is usually called a commoner." "The sage king" (junzi) of the Warring States cannot be equated with "the sage king" (junzi) of the "times of true virtue" (zhi de zhi shi) who followed "Heaven" (tian) and obeyed the commandments of "The Great Dao" (da dao). That is why the ruler of Zhuangzi's time was "a sage king for the people, but a commoner for Heaven:" he stops at human laws.
At this point of our analysis, where we have reached a new relationship created around moral values, this time with the act of governing seen from the point of view of its impact on "inner nature" (xing), we actually find ourselves at a new juncture. Without claiming to have followed all the way to the end the problems concerning the relationship between "inner nature" (xing) and moral values, we should point out that this analysis could go on in three directions. First, one could follow the links established between "inner nature" (xing) and other notions such as "knowledge" (zhi), "life" (sheng) and "death" (si), "good" (hao), "beautiful" (mei) and even the "heart-mind" (xin). Second, one could analyze the binomial pair moral values.governing, from the point of view of the actors, the upholders of such values as "humanity" (ren) and "justice" (yi). And last, if we concentrate upon the pair made by the two poles of society - "the wise ruler" (junzi) and the "commoner" (xiao ren) - a survey of the social typology during the Warring States period could be conducted, with the possibility of extending the field of study both synchronically and diachronically.
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