Xin (The Heart-Mind) and Feeling Tones: A Unifying Systems Theory Framework

“In Chinese philosophy, xin can refer to one’s “disposition” or “feelings” (Chinese: 心; pinyin: xīn), or to one’s confidence or trust in something or someone (Chinese: 信; pinyin: xìn). Literally, xin (心) refers to the physical heart, though it is sometimes translated as “mind” as the ancient Chinese believed the heart was the center of human cognition. For this reason, it is also sometimes 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 (心) to be cultivated during one’s life, in contrast to innate qualities of xing (Chinese: 性; pinyin: xìng), or human nature.[2]

A Daoist view, specifically from the philosopher Zhuangzi, understands xin (心) as being socialized, with environmental pressures influencing personal intentions, sometimes in such a way that can provoke disagreements and conflict. While a Confucian might take heart that xin (心) may be cultivated in order to develop de, or moral virtue, Zhuangzi considered this socialization as detrimental to one’s personal nature, somewhat along the lines of the later French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. However, unlike Rousseau, René Descartes and many other Enlightenment-era European philosophers following the classical example of Plato, emotion and reason were not considered separate entities, but rather as coextensive; xin (心) itself is a concept that is as much cognitive as emotional.[3][4] Read More