Xin (philosophy)

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In Chinese philosophy, xin can refer to either one's "heart" and "mind" (Chinese: ; pinyin: xīn), or to the concept of sincerity or faithfulness (Chinese: ; pinyin: xìn).

Xin (heart-mind)[edit]

Literally, xin () refers to the physical heart, though it also refers to the "mind" as the ancient Chinese believed the heart was the center of human cognition. However, emotion and reason were not considered as separate, but rather as coextensive; xin is as much cognitive as emotional, being simultaneously associated with thought and feeling. For these reasons, it is also often translated as "heart-mind". It has a connotation of intention, yet can be used to refer to long-term goals.[1]


Xunzi, an important early Confucian thinker, considered xin () to be cultivated during one's life, in contrast to innate qualities of xing (Chinese: ; pinyin: xìng), or human nature.[2]


A Daoist view, specifically that of Zhuang Zhou, describes xin () as being socialised, with environmental pressures influencing personal intentions, sometimes in such a way that can provoke disagreements and conflict. Whereas Confucians viewed it necessary to cultivate xin to develop de, or moral virtue, Zhuang Zhou considered this socialisation to be detrimental to one's personal nature.[3][4]

Xin (virtue)[edit]

Often translated as sincerity or faithfulness, xin () is one of "five constants" (Chinese: 五常; pinyin: wŭ cháng), a group of five cardinal virtues recognised in Confucianism which adds xin to the "four sprouts" (Chinese: 四端; pinyin: sì duān) listed in the Mengzi.[1]

See also[edit]



  • Hansen, Chad (2012). "Taoism". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • Ivanhoe, P.J.; Van Norden, B.W., eds. (2001). Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (2nd ed.). Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.
  • Robins, Dan (2008). "Xunzi". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • Shun, Kwong Loi (2010). "Mencius". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.