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The Implications of the Phrase: “Existence Precedes Essence.”

Kung Tzu or Confucius as he is better known as was born in 551 BC and was a Chinese thinker and teacher (as he preferred to see himself) developed a system of philosophy and religion known as Confucianism. One part of his thoughts in particular are currently of interest to us; his views on human nature. Confucius believed that human nature is neither good nor evil, but develops through out one’s life.

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The actions, choices and thoughts of every person all contribute towards a person’s nature; and as a result of this thought he justified that there is no collective human nature and that human nature varies from person to person. This may be summed up into one phrase: “existence precedes essence”. The statement in this case would mean that people are born without any nature as such, and are neither good nor evil to begin with; quite simply they’re like a hollow husk with no character, soul or substance (mental and emotional) that would make them human.The character develops and grows as a person experiences live and all the challenges and rewards that accompany life and is reflected through the actions and decisions of each person. This would imply that every individual is born with a ‘clean sate’ and are thus free to determine the direction of their existence weather for good or evil as a culmination of their lives thus far. It also means that all human beings are born equal (at least on a moral plain) because every individual at birth has no essence or soul; quite simply, they may be compared to animals.It is their lives and experiences that shape who they are in essence and their actions and choices that reflect who they are. Further more as a result of the equality implications is could be deduced that all people regardless of their economic or social class are equally capable of committing good and evil and no individual is incapable of committing either good or evil regardless of their social or economic class.