The Chinese philosopher Mencius is considered the “second sage” in Confucianism, after Confucius. To sum up, both biology and culture are important for Mencian self-cultivation, and so is Tian. He does so using examples taken from that quintessentially Confucian arena of human relations, filial piety (xiao). Mencius believed that people had four virtues that drove their thoughts and actions. Mencius believed that people had four virtues that drove their thoughts and actions. Mencius is famous for claiming that human nature (renxing) is good. This can be compared to the views of Confucius on Filial Piety. What is human nature? 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. The mind of discernment is the driving force of wisdom. At the same time, critics have noted that much of the authentic Mencius may be discarded on the cutting room floor in this process of reclaiming him for contemporary minds. To the extent that Mencius is concerned with justifying the ways of Tian to humanity, he tends to do so without questioning these three assumptions about the nature of Tian, which are rooted deep in the Chinese past, as his views on government, human nature, and self-cultivation will show. It is possible to make people bad, just as it is possible to make water flow up – but neither is a natural process or end. Mencius said: “To fathom the mind is to understand your nature. 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). “Biology and Culture in the Mencian View of Human Nature,” in, Bloom, Irene. As Antonio S. Cua has noted, for Mencius, moral failure is the failure to develop one’s xin (heart-mind). 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. Even so, Mencius and Xunzi agreed that people could become good by adherence to ritual and a discipline of self-improvement. 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. Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? If anything one does fails to meet the standards of one’s heart-mind, it starves. Mencius remains a perennially attractive figure for those intrigued by moral psychology, of which he was the foremost practitioner in early China. In other words, Wu was morally justified in executing Zhou, because Zhou had proven himself to be unworthy of the throne through his offenses against ren and yi – the very qualities associated with the Confucian exemplar (junzi) and his actions. 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. Li [cosmic order] and yi [rightness].” Both thinkers also display a bent toward the cosmological and metaphysical which disposes them toward the mysticism of Mencius 2A2, and betrays the influence of Buddhism (of which Mencius knew nothing) and Daoism (of which Mencius indicates little knowledge) on their thought. ” He will say, “My younger brother. 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. Having heard of and seen the many negative actions of humans I believe that human nature is inherently bad. If, by uprightness, you nourish it and do not interfere with it, it fills the space between Heaven and Earth. Mencius tries to refute the view that human nature is neither good nor bad, arguing that humans are inherently good. Mencius believed that human nature is good. Following A. C. Graham, one can see his argument as having three elements: (1) a teleology, (2) a virtue theory, and (3) a moral psychology. Moreover, when Mencius says that human nature is good, he uses the word "good" (shana), and it is quite different from the word "agree-able" (yiiehb) used in preceding paragraph. As with most reductions of philosophical positions to bumper-sticker slogans, this statement oversimplifies Mencius’ position. Mencius beliefs are a lot like Christianity, which is the religion that I am most familiar with. In the text, Mencius takes a more careful route in order to arrive at this view. 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. Every person is born instilled with four main virtues; Righteousness, Ritual property, Wisdom and Benevolence. “The Semasiology of Some Primary Confucian Concepts,” in, Bosley, Richard. For Mencius, this demonstrates that the internal orientation of the agent (e.g., rightness) determines the moral value of given behaviors (e.g., filial piety). What remains is for him to explain why other thinkers are incorrect when they ascribe positive evil to human nature – that human beings are such that they actively seek to do wrong. It is merely the feeling that counts. The mind of mortification is the driving force of righteousness. The primary function of Mencius’ moral psychology is to explain how moral failure is possible and how it can be avoided. As for the water metaphor, Mencius rejects it by remarking that human nature flows to the good, just as water’s nature flows down. If you let it out on the west side, it In order to account for the moral mechanics of the xin, Mencius offers a quasi-physiological theory involving qi (vital energy) – “a hard thing to speak about” (2A2), part vapor, part fluid, found in the atmosphere and in the human body, that regulates affective-cognitive processes as well as one’s general well-being. His basic philosophy, if it can be called that, is an extreme idealism which views human nature as basically good and evil as only an obfuscation of one's innate goodness. Mencius (Mengzi) well known as Master Meng was a fourth- century BCE Chinese philosopher whose significance in the Confucian tradition is second best to that of Confucius. A helpful passage-by-passage explanation of Mencius 6A1-5 in which Mencius debates Gaozi in order to establish some key arguments for the goodness of human nature and its consequences for morality. Thus, a new role for shi as itinerant antiquarians emerged. What will come will come. When Mencius is asked about his personal strengths, he says: I know how to speak, and I am good at nourishing my flood-like qi. Mencius believed that people had four virtues that drove their thoughts and actions. 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 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. Can human nature be good even if the world contains some notably bad people? He also is thought to have become a minister of the state of Qi (Ch’i), which also was famous as the home of the Jixia (Chi-hsia) Academy. He believed in the essential goodness of human nature, but he was highly skeptical of government. Therefore, in the view of human nature Mencius and Xunzi differ very much. (2016, Dec 10). “Mencius, Xunzi, and Dai Zhen: A Study of the, Taylor, Rodney L. “The Religious Character of the Confucian Tradition.”. 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). Mencius believed that human nature was intrinsically benevolent. The text of the Mencius claims to record Mencius’ teachings to his disciples as well as his dialogues with the philosophers and rulers of his day. Mencius is best known as the teacher for knowledge and wisdom he explains the problems how we work on issues. 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. 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. 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? These virtues will only develop fully if it … In other words, the rightness that one manifests in filial piety is not dependent on fixed, external categories, such as the status of one’s younger brother qua younger brother or one’s uncle qua one’s uncle. Mencius reformulated Confucianism some 150 years after Confucius’ death. He is known in Chinese as Mengzi (meaning “Master Meng”). 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. (2A2). Here, Mencius reveals his antipathy for – and competition with – philosophers who followed Mozi, a fifth-century BCE contemporary of Confucius who propounded a utilitarian theory of value based on li (benefit): Why must Your Majesty say “benefit” [li]? (2A6). Mencius inherits from Confucius a set of terms and a series of problems. 2, Human nature is good onfucius didn’t say that human nature is good, but the idea was implied in his teachings. The philosopher Xunzi would very much disagree with Mencius. 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). (2A6). We follow Heaven’s mandate by knowing and nourishing our human nature. Hence winning the favor of the common people you become Emperor…. Thus, theistic justifications for conquest and rulership were present very early in Chinese history. 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. Human nature is good just as water seeks low ground. They can be categorized into four groups: Again, as with Confucius, so too with Mencius. 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 Now the complexity of Mencius’ seemingly simplistic position becomes clearer. The king then asks: “Is it permissible for a vassal to murder his lord?”, Mencius replied, “One who robs co-humanity [ren] you call a `robber’; one who robs the right [yi] you call a `wrecker’; and one who robs and wrecks you call an `outlaw.’ I have heard that [Wu] punished the outlaw Zhou – I have not heard that he murdered his lord. 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. Drawing humanity and right from human nature is like making cups and bowls from willow wood." Mencius believed that human nature was intrinsically benevolent. Mencius explains the good and bad life. 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. Their work is an attempt to make Mencius not only intelligible, but also valuable, to contemporary Westerners. “The Nature and Historical Context of the. 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. Human nature While Confucius himself did not explicitly focus on the subject of human nature, Mencius asserted the innate goodness of the individual, believing that it was society's influence – its lack of a positive cultivating influence – that caused bad moral character. Gaozi, who is known only from the Mencius, evidently knew Mencius personally, but Xunzi knew him only retrospectively. Hire a Professional to Get Your 100% Plagiarism Free Paper. (1A6). When that happens, who could stop it? The two Confucians Mencius and Xunzi held opposing views about human nature.Mencius believed that human nature is good. 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. In the text, Mencius takes a more careful route in order to arrive at this view. Against Mencius, Xunzi defines human nature as what is inborn and unlearned, and then asks why education and ritual are necessary for Mencius if people really are good by nature. It is the sort of qi that matches the right [yi] with the Way [Dao]; without these, it starves. Has Your Majesty noticed rice shoots? I have only the co-humane [ren] and the right [yi]. The Virtues and Their Cultivation One of Mencius's most influential views was his list of four innate Like Mencius, Xunzi claims to interpret Confucius’ thought authentically, but leavens it with his own contributions. 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. During the Qing (Ch’ing) dynasty (1644-1911 CE), late Confucian thinkers such as Dai Zhen (Tai Chen, 1724-1777 CE) developed critiques of Xunzi that aimed at the vindication of Mencius’ position on human nature. Another view of Mencius is that righteousness is internal rather than external. Mencius successfully shows the difference between benevolence in good human nature and benevolence in evil human nature. Don’t waste time! Mencius thus shares with Confucius three assumptions about Tian as an extrahuman, absolute power in the universe: (1) its alignment with moral goodness, (2) its dependence on human agents to actualize its will, and (3) the variable, unpredictable nature of its associations with mortal actors. ” He will say, “It is because of the position my younger brother occupies. … Should there be one without a taste for killing, the people will crane their necks looking out for him. Mencius’ office in the state of Qi probably was no more than an honorary title. A number of current thinkers have focused on Mencius’s views about human nature as a resource for developing Confucian concep-tions of human rights. There is no reason, of course, why Mencius shouldn’t take this step; as Alan K. L. Chan has pointed out, ethics and spirituality are not mutually exclusive, either in the Mencius or elsewhere. “Mencian Arguments on Human Nature (, Boodberg, Peter A. Gaozi – whom later Confucians identified, probably anachronistically, as a Daoist — offers multiple hypotheses about human nature, each of which Mencius refutes in Socratic fashion. For the early Chinese (c. 16th century BCE), the world was controlled by an all-powerful deity, “The Lord on High” (Shangdi), to whom entreaties were made in the first known Chinese texts, inscriptions found on animal bones offered in divinatory sacrifice. Mencius said: “Persons who have developed their hearts and minds to the utmost, know … 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). 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?”. (2A2). “By fully developing one’s heart-mind, one knows one’s nature, and by knowing one’s nature, one knows Heaven.” (7A1) One cannot help but begin with “a heart-mind that feels for others,” but the journey toward full humanity is hardly complete without having taken any steps beyond one’s birth. He believes that Heaven is a moral force whose mandate is to be respected and followed by human beings. Although Dai Zhen shares Mencius’ view of the centrality of the heart-mind in moral development, in the end, he does not ascribe to the heart-mind the same kind of ethical directionality that Mencius finds there. He ascribes the virtues of ren (co-humanity), yi (rightness), li (ritual propriety), zhi (wisdom), and sheng (sagehood) to Tian (7B24) and explicitly compares the rule of the moral king to the rule of Tian (5A4). What is human nature? Nature is crucial, but so is nurture. In short, here is where Mencius’ case for human nature seems to leave philosophy and reasoned argumentation behind and step into the world of ineffability and religious experience. The common intellectual and political problem that Warring States thinkers hoped to solve was the problem of China’s unification. While Mencius endorses a “right of revolution,” he is no democrat. 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. View Mencius.Human nature.SEP.docx from ETHICS 101 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. If after repeated admonishments he still will not listen, they depose him…. (1A1). Appealing to experience, he says: Supposing people see a child fall into a well – they all have a heart-mind that is shocked and sympathetic. 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 believed that human nature is good. Mencius has often been described as “the second Sage” and the most important … Also like Mencius, Xunzi sees li as the key to the cultivation of renxing. 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. 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. 35-52. More recently, the philosophers Roger Ames and Donald Munro have developed postmodern readings of Mencius that involve contemporary developments such as process thought and evolutionary psychology. Can human nature be good even if the world contains some notably bad people? Mencius’ model of moral psychology is both a “discovery” model (human nature is good) and a “development” model (human nature can be made even better): A person’s surroundings transform his qi just as the food he eats changes his body. Second, according to Creel's interpretation, Mencius' theory of human nature cannot be wrong because "that it is good" has been made a part of It is especially abundant outdoors at night and in the early morning, which is why taking fresh air at these times can act as a physical and spiritual tonic (6A8). When he was put in charge of affairs, the affairs were in order and the people satisfied with him, which is the people accepting him. Mencius explains the moral sense that makes human suffering. This is an example of Mencius engaging in the “rectification of names” (zhengming), an exercise that Confucius considered to be prior to all other philosophical activity (Analects 13.3). What matters about actions is whether they are moral or not; the question of their benefit or cost is beside the point. It also is at this point that Mencius seems to depart most radically from what is known about the historical Confucius’ teachings. No, he says, it is possible to violate a human being’s nature by making him bad, but his nature is to become good. He will say, “My uncle. (7A36). Cultivate yourself well – and patient in that perfection, let it come. 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. 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]…. Which indicated that Mencius thought no man was born having an inherently bad human nature. He does so in response to the philosopher Kao Tzu, who claimed that human nature is amoral: neither good nor bad. Mencius made a big step forward in the good-nature theory. (5B9). How about receiving a customized one? The other major source of information about Mencius’ life is the biography found in the Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian) of Sima Qian (c. 145-90 BCE), which states that he was a native of Zou (Tsou), a small state near Confucius’ home state of Lu in the Shandong peninsula of northeastern China. These four shoots, when accepted and learned by humans, ultimately lead to good human nature for the rest of their lives. Mencius is perhaps best–known for his claim that “[human]nature is good” (xìng shàn). Mencius’ philosophical concerns, while scattered across the seven books of the text that bears his name, demonstrate a high degree of consistency unusual in early Chinese philosophical writing. One thinks of David Nivison’s warning to philosophers, past and present, not to indulge in “wishful thinking” and excise or explain away what one does not wish to see in the Mencius. Mencius’ faith in Tian as the ultimate source of legitimate moral and political authority is unshakeable. Mencius’ basic assertion is that “everyone has a heart-mind which feels for others.” (2A6) As evidence, he makes two appeals: to experience, and to reason. Kim-chong Chong, “Debating Human Nature: Mencius and Gaozi” in Early Confucian Ethics (Chicago: Open Court, 2007), pp. All rights reserved, Mencius Views on Human Nature. And when you understand your nature, you understand Heaven. The two Confucians Mencius and Xunzi held opposing views about human nature. Mencius (372-298 BC) was one of the greatest Chinese philosophers, focusing on political theory and practice. 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 mind of commiseration is the driving force of benevolence. Their knowledge of aristocratic traditions, however, helped them remain valuable to competing kings, who wished to learn how to regain the unity imposed by the Zhou and who sought to emulate the Zhou by patterning court rituals and other institutions after those of the fallen dynasty. ” “When your younger brother is impersonating an ancestor at a sacrifice, then which do you respect? Every person is born instilled with four main virtues; Righteousness, Ritual property, Wisdom and Benevolence. Mencius devotes some energy to arguing that “rightness” (yi) is internal, rather than external, to human beings. As with most reductions of philosophical positions to bumper-sticker slogans, this statement oversimplifies Mencius' position. 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. “Trends in the Interpretation of Confucian Religiosity,” in, Bloom, Irene. Mencius believed that human nature was intrinsically benevolent. Mencius (Mengzi, or Meng Ke) was a particularly powerful advocate for the thought of Confucius. He said “ y nature men are alike”, humanity means “to love men”, and “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you”. ” (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. He proves this by saying when a man is hungry he will eat, but if he is in presence of his elder he will wait to eat until his elder had eaten. 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. This can be backed up when Mencius talks to Kao Tzu about human nature. Home ” Confucius would agree and disagree with Mencius’ view. 1 2. If that does happen, the people will go over to him as water tends downwards, in a torrent – who could stop it? ” (Mencius, Book VI) These four virtues were applied to all men. 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. 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. He was believed to have similar view to the philosopher Confucius, and he had a strong view on human nature. 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”). Most of the anecdotes consist of conversations between Mencius and his disciples or, occasionally, a ruler. Like Confucius, Mencius places an enormous amount of confidence in the capacity of the ordinary person to respond to an extraordinary ruler, so as to put the world in order. So using examples taken from that quintessentially Confucian arena of human nature Mencius and his immediate disciples, shortly! Psychology, of which he was the problem of China ’ s mandate by and... 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