He thinks punishments will still be necessary because some people will break the law, but a sage king will only rarely need to employ punishments to keep the people in line, while a lord-protector or ordinary ruler will have to resort to them much more.
It was only through practice that one could realize the beauty of ritual, ideally coming to appreciate it for itself.
Whereas Mencius claimed that man is born with an inclination to do good, Kao Tzu believed that all of mankind is born morally neutral. Heaven does not reward good kings with peace and prosperity, nor punish tyrants by having them deposed.
The political thinkers of the time instead tried to impose checks through tradition and thought, rather than law. Ivanhoe, eds. Xunzi views these achievements as products of the sage's acquired nature, not his original nature.
His beliefs fell between the difference of nature and morality.
The chief function of language is to communicate, and anything that interferes with communication, such as the word games and paradoxes of other philosophers, should be eliminated. According to one story, a philosopher, having just convinced a king through his arguments, then took the other side and persuaded the king that his earlier arguments were wrong.
Desires are part of human nature, and can be activated without our necessarily being conscious of them. Yet the rationalism, religious skepticismconcern for man in society, historical and cultural sensitivity, and fondness for ancient lore and customs that pervade his writings also pervaded Chinese intellectual life for more than two millennia.
Today, he is still considered to be the second most important figure in Confucianism, with Confucius himself being the most important.