It goes on to say that qi flows from one’s xin (2A2), that one’s xin must undergo great discipline in order to produce “flood-like qi” (6B15), and that a well-developed xin will manifest itself in radiance that shines from one’s qi into one’s face and general appearance (7A21). By showing how good benevolence will lead you to being as high as a king, against bad benevolence will lead you to a sad and depressed life, shows the reader and listener that good benevolence will always lead to a better life for anyone. Even though Xunzi rejected Mencius’ central claim regarding human nature, he approved of the concept of the Four Seeds in that, by observing rituals which encouraged these virtues, one could become a superior human being. Mencius inherits from Confucius a set of terms and a series of problems. While no early Chinese thinker questioned the need for autocratic rule as an instrument of unification, philosophers differed on whether and how the ruler ought to consider moral limitations on power, traditional religious ceremonies and obligations, and the welfare of his subjects. Mencius believed that people had four virtues that drove their thoughts and actions. Thinkers such as Zhang Zai (Chang Tsai, 1020-1077 CE), Zhu Xi (Chu Hsi, 1130-1200 CE) and Wang Yangming (1472-1529 CE), while distinct from one another, agree on the primacy of Confucius as the fountainhead of the Confucian tradition, share Mencius’ understanding of human beings as innately good, and revere the Mencius as one of the “Four Books” — authoritative textual sources for standards of ritual, moral, and social propriety. Like Confucius, he says that “Tian does not speak – it simply reveals through deeds and affairs” (5A5). Confucius would put more emphasis on the fact that his uncle takes precedence over his younger brother, but he would also agree that the elder’s respect naturally comes before the younger. In the end, Mencius is committed to a type of benevolent dictatorship, which puts moral value before pragmatic value and in this way seeks to benefit both ruler and subjects. Having heard of and seen the many negative actions of humans I believe that human nature is inherently bad. Drawing humanity and right from human nature is like making cups and bowls from willow wood." If after repeated admonishments he still will not listen, they depose him…. While out of office, veteran shi might gather small circles of disciples – young men from shi backgrounds who wished to succeed in public life – and seek audiences with rulers who might give them an opportunity to put their ideas into practice. By the time of Mencius, the concept of Tian appears to have changed slightly, taking on aspects of “fate” and “nature” as well as “deity.” For Confucius, Tian provided personal support and sanction for his sense of historical mission, while at the same time prompting Job-like anxiety during moments of ill fortune in which Tian seemed to have abandoned him. Finally, the last book, VII, deals with issues of fate, destiny, and death. Xunzi’s view is that nature is given by heaven and cannot be learned, and that conscious activity can be learned. As the Zhou polity emerged and triumphed over the previous Shang tribal rule, Zhou apologists began to regard their deity, Tian (“Sky” or “Heaven”) as synonymous with Shangdi, the deity of the deposed Shang kings, and explained the decline of Shang and the rise of Zhou as a consequence of a change in Tianming (“the mandate of Heaven”). Mencius, “H uman Nature is Good ” 2 Gao Zi said: “Human nature is like whirling water. Kao Tzu thought that humans were like “whirling water,” that they do not show any preference for good nor for bad, just as whirling water does not. Their work is an attempt to make Mencius not only intelligible, but also valuable, to contemporary Westerners. For Mencius, the locus of philosophical activity and self-cultivation is the xin (hsin), a term that denotes both the chief organ of the circulatory system and the organ of thought, and hence is translated here and in many other sources as “heart-mind.” Mencius’ views of the divine, political organization, human nature, and the path toward personal development all start and end in the heart-mind. 1 2. Zhang Zai’s interest in qi as the unifier of all things surely must have been stimulated by Mencius’ theories, while Wang Yangming’s search for li (cosmic order or principle) in the heart-mind evokes Mencius 6A7: “What do all heart-minds have in common? How about receiving a customized one? If that does happen, the people will go over to him as water tends downwards, in a torrent – who could stop it? The question is, how does Mencius account for this optimism in light of human nature? Into the philosophical gap created by a lack of political unity and increasing social mobility stepped members of the shi (“retainer” or “knight”) class, from which both Confucius and Mencius arose. Does one then violate a human being’s nature by training him to be good? Like the historical Confucius, the historical Mencius is available only through a text that, in its complete form at least, postdates his traditional lifetime (372-289 BCE). It was a brutal and turbulent era, which nonetheless gave rise to many brilliant philosophical movements, including the Confucian tradition of which Mencius was a foremost representative. Better known in China as “Master Meng” (Chinese: Mengzi), Mencius was a fourth-century BCE Chinese thinker whose importance in the Confucian tradition is second only to that of Confucius himself. And when you understand your nature, you understand Heaven. Comparing the rightness that manifests itself in filial piety to such visceral activities as eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse, Mencius points out that, just as one’s attraction or repulsion regarding these activities is determined by one’s internal orientation (hunger, thirst, lust), one’s filial behavior is determined by one’s inner attitudes, as the following imaginary dialogue with one of his opponents shows: [Ask the opponent] “Which do you respect, your uncle or your younger brother?” He will say, “My uncle.” “When your younger brother is impersonating an ancestor at a sacrifice, then which do you respect?” He will say, “My younger brother.” You ask him, “What has happened to your respect for your uncle?” He will say, “It is because of the position my younger brother occupies.” (6A5). The Jixia Academy was a kind of early Chinese “think tank” sponsored the ruler of Qi that produced, among other thinkers, Mencius’ later opponent Xunzi (Hsun-tzu, 310-220 BCE). Thus, Mencius makes an assertion about human beings – all have a heart-mind that feels for others – and qualifies his assertion with appeals to common experience and logical argument. Guided by the examples of ancient sages and the ritual forms and texts they have left behind, one starts to develop one’s heart-mind further by nurturing its qi through habitually doing what is right, cultivating its “sprouts” into virtues, and bringing oneself up and out from the merely human to that which Tian intends for one, which is to become a sage. Today contemporary philosophical interest in evolutionary psychology and sociobiology has inspired fresh appraisals of Mencius, while recent philological studies question the coherence and authenticity of the text that bears his name. 35-52. Don’t waste time! This can be compared to the views of Confucius on Filial Piety. Certainly, similar-sounding spiritual exercises are described in other early Chinese texts, such as the Neiye (“Inner Training”) chapter of the Guanzi (Kuan-tzu, c. 4th-2nd centuries BCE). Mencius’ replies to King Xuan are bracingly direct, in fact, but he can be coy. They can be categorized into four groups: Again, as with Confucius, so too with Mencius. Berea College Mencius believed that people had four virtues that drove their thoughts and actions. This cursory review of some important interpreters of Mencius’ thought illustrates a principle that ought to be followed by all who seek to understanding Mencius’ philosophical views: suspicion of the sources. The mind of mortification is the driving force of righteousness. But as it happens, shifts in external circumstances can effect changes in status; one’s younger brother can temporarily assume the status of a very senior ancestor in the proper ritual context, thus earning the respect ordinarily given to seniors and never shown to juniors. It is merely the feeling that counts. He was believed to have similar view to the philosopher Confucius, and he had a strong view on human nature. Email: Jeffrey_Richey@berea.edu (2A6). "Human nature is like the willow tree and right is like cups and bowls. Having made a teleological argument from the inborn potential of human beings to the presumption of virtues that can be developed, Mencius then offers his sketch of moral psychology – the structures within the human person that make such potential identifiable and such development possible. The two Confucians Mencius and Xunzi held opposing views about human nature. The two best known early interpreters of Mencius’ thought – besides the compilers of the Mencius themselves – are the Warring States philosophers Gaozi (Kao-tzu, 300s BCE) and Xunzi (Hsun-tzu, 310-220 BCE). “The Semasiology of Some Primary Confucian Concepts,” in, Bosley, Richard. (2A2). (5B9). The dependence of Tian upon human agents to put its will into practice helps account for the emphasis Mencius places on the satisfaction of the people as an indicator of the ruler’s moral right to power, and on the responsibility of morally-minded ministers to depose an unworthy ruler. Our writers will create an original "Mencius and Others on Human Nature" essay for you Create […] 11 Mencius said, “If a man love others and no responsive attachment is shown to him, let him turn inwards and examine his own benevolence. As for the water metaphor, Mencius rejects it by remarking that human nature flows to the good, just as water’s nature flows down. Another view of Mencius is that righteousness is internal rather than external. He placed great emphasis on the necessity for one to try to recover his original goodness an… Most of the anecdotes consist of conversations between Mencius and his disciples or, occasionally, a ruler. (1A6). Being the master of . Mencius’ faith in Tian as the ultimate source of legitimate moral and political authority is unshakeable. He will say, “My uncle. As feudal lords were defeated and disenfranchised in battle and the kings of the various warring states began to rely on appointed administrators rather than vassals to govern their territories, these shi became lordless anachronisms and fell into genteel poverty and itinerancy. Mencius (Mengzi, or Meng Ke) was a particularly powerful advocate for the thought of Confucius. Gaozi’s dialogue with Mencius on human nature can be found in book six of the Mencius, in which both Mencius’ disciples and Gaozi himself question him on his points of disagreement with Gaozi. In a dialogue with King Xuan of Qi (r. 319-301 BCE), Mencius says: The people are to be valued most, the altars of the grain and the land [traditional symbols of the vitality of the state] next, the ruler least. Now the complexity of Mencius’ seemingly simplistic position becomes clearer. For Mencius, the heart is a gift from the heavens which inherently contains compassion, shame, courtesy, and a sense of morality which will sprout into benevolence, dutifulness, observation of rites, and wisdom. It is not for the sake of being on good terms with the child’s parents, and it is not for the sake of winning praise for neighbors and friends, nor is it because they dislike the child’s noisy cry. While it is not clear that Mencius’ views prevailed in early Chinese philosophical circles, they eventually won out after gaining the support of influential medieval commentators and thinkers such as Zhu Xi (Chu Hsi, 1130-1200 CE) and Wang Yangming (1472-1529 CE). While Mencius endorses a “right of revolution,” he is no democrat. Mencius is famous for claiming that human nature (renxing) is good. The Chinese philosopher Mencius is considered the “second sage” in Confucianism, after Confucius. Even so, Mencius and Xunzi agreed that people could become good by adherence to ritual and a discipline of self-improvement. Again, trying to ground his belief that the way is achievable, Mencius argues in Book VI for his position that human nature is essentially good. The two Confucians Mencius and Xunzi held opposing views about human nature.Mencius believed that human nature is good. What is human nature? Almost all of our sources for reconstructing Mencius’ views postdate him or come from a hand other than his own, and thus all should be used with caution and with an eye toward possible influences from outside of fourth century BCE China. The Virtues and Their Cultivation One of Mencius's most influential views was his list of four innate Mencius believed that people had four virtues that drove their thoughts and actions. He does so using examples taken from that quintessentially Confucian arena of human relations, filial piety (xiao). Although Xunzi condemns Mencius’ arguments in no uncertain terms, when one has risen above the smoke and din of the fray, one may see that the two thinkers share many assumptions, including one that links each to Confucius: the assumption that human beings can be transformed by participation in traditional aesthetic, moral, and social disciplines. In such roles, shi found themselves in and out of office as the fortunes of various patron states ebbed and flowed. If there is drought during the seventh and eighth months, the shoots wither, but if dense clouds gather in the sky and a torrent of rain falls, the shoots suddenly revive. As A.C.Graham (1967) demonstrated in a classic essay, Mencius and hiscontemporaries regarded the nature of X as the characteristics that Xwill develop if given a healthy environment for the kind of thing Xis. Mencius was born in a period of Chinese history known as the Warring States (403-221 BCE), during which various states competed violently against one another for mastery of all of China, which once was unified under the Zhou dynasty until its collapse, for all intents and purposes, in 771 BCE. ... Mencius on Human Nature. This is the basis of Mencius’ appeal to King Hui of Liang (r. 370-319 BCE): [The king] asked abruptly, “How shall the world be settled?”. If anyone having the four sprouts within himself knows how to develop them to the full, it is like fire catching alight, or a spring as it first bursts through. “The Nature and Historical Context of the. Whereas Mencius claims that human beings are originally good but argues for the necessity of self-cultivation, Xunzi claims that human beings are originally bad but argues that they can be reformed, even perfected, through self-cultivation. Mencius goes further and identifies the four basic qualities of the heart-mind (sympathy, shame, deference, judgment) not only as distinguishing characteristics of human beings – what makes the human being qua human being really human – but also as the “sprouts” (duan) of the four cardinal virtues: A heart-mind that sympathizes is the sprout of co-humanity [ren]; a heart-mind that is aware of shame is the sprout of rightness [yi]; a heart-mind that defers to others is the sprout of ritual propriety [li]; a heart-mind that approves and condemns is the sprout of wisdom [zhi]…. Every person is born instilled with four main virtues; Righteousness, Ritual property, Wisdom and Benevolence. Can human nature be good even if the world contains some notably bad people? He does so in response to the philosopher Kao Tzu, who claimed that human nature is amoral: neither good nor bad. To sum up, both biology and culture are important for Mencian self-cultivation, and so is Tian. It is here that Mencius is at his most mystical, and recent scholarship has suggested that he and his disciples may have practiced a form of meditative discipline akin to yoga. The text records several encounters with various rulers during Mencius’ old age, which can be dated between 323 and 314 BCE, making Mencius an active figure no later than the late fourth century BCE. If we tend our sprouts assiduously — through education in the classical texts, formation by ritual propriety, fulfillment of social norms, etc. ” (Mencius, Book IV) From these two examples we can see that Mencius could easily be called an extremist on his view of inherently good human nature. In many ways, he played the role of St. Paul to Confucius’ Jesus, interpreting the thought of the master for subsequent ages while simultaneously impressing Confucius’ ideas with his own philosophical stamp. (1B8). He thinks Mencius never understood human nature and never came to the realization that human nature differs from conscious actions. Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? I disagree with Mencius’ view on human nature. ” He will say, “It is because of the position my younger brother occupies. (2A6). Can human nature be good even if the world contains some notably bad people? If it were, one always would show respect to one’s uncle and never to one’s younger brother or anyone else junior to oneself. Mencius went further and taught that man possessed intuitive knowledge and intuitive ability and that personal cultivation consisted in developing one’s mind. Kim-chong Chong, “Debating Human Nature: Mencius and Gaozi” in Early Confucian Ethics (Chicago: Open Court, 2007), pp. Mencius said, "Can you make cups and bowls from willow wood by following its natural grain or is it only after you have hacked the willow wood that you can make a cup or bowl? Like Mencius, Xunzi claims to interpret Confucius’ thought authentically, but leavens it with his own contributions. His ideal ruler is the sage-king, such as the legendary Shun, on whose reign both divine sanction and popular approval conferred legitimacy: When he was put in charge of sacrifices, the hundred gods delighted in them which is Heaven accepting him. Nature is crucial, but so is nurture. MENCIUS AND XUNZI ON HUMAN NATURE The suggestion that we approach questions of human nature by looking at how development occurs in a normal social environment certainly seems to be in tension with Hobbes and Rousseau, or at least certain Every person is born instilled with four main virtues; Righteousness, Ritual property, Wisdom and Benevolence. In spite of the mystical tone of this passage, however, all that the text really says is that qi can be nurtured through regular acts of “rightness” (yi). In general, one can say that where Confucius saw a unity of inner and outer – in terms of li (ritual propriety), ren (co-humanity), and the junzi (profound person)-xiaoren (small person) distinction – Mencius tends to privilege the inner aspects of concepts, practices, and identities. … Should there be one without a taste for killing, the people will crane their necks looking out for him. (5A5). Mencius is famous for claiming that human nature (renxing) is good. Therefore, I have a preference more towards Xunzi’s view. Mencius said: “Persons who have developed their hearts and minds to the utmost, know … While faint glimpses of what may be ascetic and meditative disciplines sometimes appear in the Analects, nowhere in the text are there detailed discussions of nurturing one’s qi such as can be found in Mencius 2A2. The philological controversy surrounding the date and composition of the text that bears his name is far less intense than that which surrounds the Confucian Analects, however. A person has these four driving forces, just the same as he has four limbs. (7A36). (2A6). Mencius successfully shows the difference between benevolence in good human nature and benevolence in evil human nature. Mencius is quoted to say, “Therefore, it can be suggested that without a mind of commiseration is not human, that a person without a mind of mortification is not human, that a person without a mind of conciliation is not human, and that a person without a mind of discernment is not human. ” “When your younger brother is impersonating an ancestor at a sacrifice, then which do you respect? To answer it directly ) these four virtues were applied to all men Mencius considered! One can not attain it by sporadic Righteousness the greatest Chinese philosophers focusing! 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