Being the master of . Matthew Walker (Yale-NUS College) looks at the views of the early Confucian thinker Mengzi (Mencius). 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 (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. (1A1). Can human nature be good even if the world contains some notably bad people? 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. 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 is famous for claiming that human nature (renxing) is good. Nonetheless, an outline of the most important commentators and their philosophical trajectories is worth including here. The Chinese philosopher Mencius is considered the “second sage” in Confucianism, after Confucius. Mencius believed that people had four virtues that drove their thoughts and actions. He is known in Chinese as Mengzi (meaning “Master Meng”). In the text, Mencius takes a more careful route in order to arrive at this view. 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. 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. 35-52. Thus, a new role for shi as itinerant antiquarians emerged. (2A6). Hire a Professional to Get Your 100% Plagiarism Free Paper. Home 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. 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. Lau, D. C. “On Mencius’ Use of the Method of Analogy in Argument.” In Lau, trans., Munro, Donald J. Email: Jeffrey_Richey@berea.edu “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. Mencius develops his argument based on four major components of human nature that are empathy, righteousness, wisdom and propriety (Zhang 103). Like Mencius, Xunzi claims to interpret Confucius’ thought authentically, but leavens it with his own contributions. Xunzi’s view is that nature is given by heaven and cannot be learned, and that conscious activity can be learned. The Virtues and Their Cultivation One of Mencius's most influential views was his list of four innate 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. If able to develop them, he is able to protect the entire world; if unable, he is unable to serve even his parents. 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. 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. 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. Instead, one must emulate the sage-kings both in terms of outer structures (good laws, wise policies, correct rituals) and in terms of inner motivations (placing ren and yi first). Xunzi believes that human nature is inherently bad. Mencius believed that human nature was intrinsically benevolent. 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 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. 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). The philosopher Xunzi would very much disagree with Mencius. Has Your Majesty noticed rice shoots? If you let it out on the east side, it will go east. Drawing humanity and right from human nature is like making cups and bowls from willow wood." Their work is an attempt to make Mencius not only intelligible, but also valuable, to contemporary Westerners. There is no man who is not good; there is no water that does not flow downward. If we tend our sprouts assiduously — through education in the classical texts, formation by ritual propriety, fulfillment of social norms, etc. Mencius’ faith in Tian as the ultimate source of legitimate moral and political authority is unshakeable. He disagrees with Mencius belief that because humans learn they are good. Mencius devotes some energy to arguing that “rightness” (yi) is internal, rather than external, to human beings. (2016, Dec 10). 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. According to Mencius, human conduct develops based on the thoughts developed in one’s mind. 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). 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). 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. 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. Our writers will create an original "Mencius and Others on Human Nature" essay for you Create […] (5B9). He was believed to have similar view to the philosopher Confucius, and he had a strong view on human nature. 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. These virtues will only develop fully if it … 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. I have only the co-humane [ren] and the right [yi]. Can human nature be good even if the world contains some notably bad people? In such roles, shi found themselves in and out of office as the fortunes of various patron states ebbed and flowed. Challenging the carved wood metaphor, Mencius points out that in carving wood into a cup or bowl, one violates the wood’s nature, which is to become a tree. 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. “It will be settled by unification,” I [Mencius] answered. 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. He will say, “My uncle. 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. 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. He placed great emphasis on the necessity for one to try to recover his original goodness an… This can be backed up when Mencius talks to Kao Tzu about human nature. What makes us human is our feelings of commiseration for others’ suffering; what makes us virtuous – or, in Confucian parlance, junzi – is our development of this inner potential. “Mencian Arguments on Human Nature (, Boodberg, Peter A. He believes that Heaven is a moral force whose mandate is to be respected and followed by human beings. When that happens, who could stop it? Are You on a Short Deadline? No, he says, it is possible to violate a human being’s nature by making him bad, but his nature is to become good. Mencius said: “Persons who have developed their hearts and minds to the utmost, know … It is important to point out here that Mencius says nothing about acting on this automatic affective-cognitive response to suffering that he ascribes to the bystanders at the well tragedy. Mencius (372 – 289 BC) was a Chinese sage who developed a tradition of Confucianism based around the belief that human nature was essentially good but needed to careful nurturing. 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? To paraphrase Irene Bloom on this point, there is no sharp conflict between “nature” and “nurture” in Mencius; biology and culture are co-dependent upon one another in the development of the virtues. … Should there be one without a taste for killing, the people will crane their necks looking out for him. Berea College 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. 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. 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. As with most reductions of philosophical positions to bumper-sticker slogans, this statement oversimplifies Mencius’ position. (Gaozi’s metaphor of carved wood, incidentally, is one of Xunzi’s favorites.) Every person is born instilled with four main virtues; Righteousness, Ritual property, Wisdom and Benevolence. How about receiving a customized one? If anything one does fails to meet the standards of one’s heart-mind, it starves. Cultivate yourself well – and patient in that perfection, let it come. Mencius’ office in the state of Qi probably was no more than an honorary title. The mind of commiseration is the driving force of benevolence. He is most famous for his theory of human nature, according to which all human beings share an innate goodness that either can be cultivated through education and self-discipline or squandered through neglect and negative influences, but never lost altogether. Is human nature good or bad? The primary function of Mencius’ moral psychology is to explain how moral failure is possible and how it can be avoided. 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 goes on to describe what he means by “flood-like qi“: It is the sort of qi that is utmost in vastness, utmost in firmness. Mencius states that, “water does not show any preference for either east or west, but does it show the same indifference to high and low? Does one then violate a human being’s nature by training him to be good? 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