This is a course on theories and practices regarding human nature in the history of Chinese traditions, such as Confucianism, Daoism, Legalism, Buddhism, and Neo-Confucianism. What does it mean to be a human? Do all humans have something in common? How should we conduct our lives with respect to those common characteristics? Thinkers from both Western and Eastern traditions have offered their own distinctive and thought-provoking answers to those questions.
In the West we are more familiar with the concept of "rational animal" which remains the classical understanding of human nature since the time of Plato and Aristotle. In the history of the Chinese tradition, however, very different approaches towards human nature were adopted, such as the concepts of sympathy, effortless action, no-self, and original enlightenment. Together they can offer us some new insights into the concept of human nature beyond just rationality.