This work was probably compiled by his disciples or disciples of his disciples. It was subsequently edited and shortened by Zhao Qi in the second century C. This version of the text was used by subsequent scholars and is the version available to us nowadays. Mencius lived in the second half of the Zhou dynasty c.
The problem There is a very fundamental problem in ethics and morals that is hardly ever seen, or if seen hardly ever faced. Briefly explained, it comes to this: For the past Mencius thesis, at least, all major civilizations and religions have accepted and taught - with broad variations and many differences on detail - a similar moral conception of what it is to be a human being and live in a human society.
This conception can be seen as the elaboration of the notions that all men are similar in what makes them human; that all men have similar needs in similar circumstances; that all men can understand all men as regards general ideas and common feelings; that all men share ideas about fair sharing, honesty, probity and decency, and can come to agreements about socializing and cooperating; and that a very useful rough guide to treat one another is based on empathy and the Golden Rule "Do unto others as thou woulds't be done by" - which indeed presupposes the presumptions just articulated, in that it assumes that the feelings and ideas of one human being are a fair guide to Mencius thesis feelings and ideas of another human being.
What was said in the previous paragraph can be found in the moral and ethical teachings of the Hindus, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Christians, the Mohammedans, even though in each of these religions there is much additional detail, and there are many differences about many dogmas and about the foundations of each and any religion or philosophy.
Now the problem is that if there is such wide human agreement on the essence and fundament of how to behave to each other in a humane way, and if these agreement have been preached and taught for 25 centuries, then what is the explanation for the fact that during all those centuries, almost everywhere, as Gibbon puts it "History is little else but the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind" or also, in Chamfort's words "Presque toute l'Histoire n'est qu'une suite d'horreurs.
Mencius on human qualities and human goodness It is this problem I wish to consider, and it so happens that there is a fine illustration in the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Mencius. I quote from "The Concept of Man" - Ed. Radhakrishnan and Raju, p. It is that man's nature is originally good.
To support his own position, he pointed to the fact that 'When men suddenly see a child about to fall into a well, they all have the feeling of alarm and distress, not in order to gain friendship with the child's parents, nor to seek the praise of their neighbours and friends, nor because they dislike the reputation for being unvirtuous.
The feeling of commiseration is the beginning of the feeling of love; the feeling of shame and dislike is the beginning of righteousness; the feeling of deference and complaisance is the beginning of wisdom.
Men have these four beginnings just as they have four limbs. We are originally provided with them.
And in fact, Mencius insists that all men at least share feelings and notions of commiseration, shame, deference and right and wrong, and indeed agree widely on what or whom they commiserate with children in distress ; feel ashamed for dishonesty, egoism ; have deference for elder people, one's parents ; and consider right and wrong.
Indeed, the last notions can be phrased, at least for one's own group or family! He went even further and said that not only is goodness inherent in man's nature, but also man does not require any learning to practise it or any thought to know it, for man does so intuitively.
In his own words, 'the ability possessed by man without the necessity of thought is native knowledge. Chiildren carried in the arms all know to love their parents. As they grow, they all know to respect their brothers.
To have filial affection for parents is love, and to respect elders is righteousness.
Their feelings are universal in the world, that is all. They are universal because innate goodness and intuitive ability to know and do good are common to the human species. The sage and we are the same in kindMencius’s personality is a dominant factor in the, and the book shows uMencius s a brilliant, volatile, charismatic, irritating, self-righteous man, whose intellectual insights can be so keen that his influence is still felt in China today, and whose self-justifying rationalizations can be so.
On a fundamental problem in ethics and morals.
There is a very fundamental problem in ethics and morals that is hardly ever seen, or if seen hardly ever faced. Briefly explained, it comes to this: , Mencius argues his thesis that human beings are basically altruistic and agree widely on what they hold to be good and bad, by drawing.
Xunzi was Mencius’s opponent and polemicizing with him, put forward opposing views on human nature. Moreover, in contrast to Mencius, he puts forward a thesis about a man’s evil nature and all his abilities and good qualities are a result of upbringing.
Mencius (fourth century BCE) was a Confucian philosopher. Often referred to as the "Second Sage" of Confucianism (meaning second in importance only to Confucius himself), Mencius is best known for his claim that “human nature is good.” This thesis runs the danger of becoming viciously circular: we might characterize goodness as the.
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Mencius (fourth century BCE) was a Confucian philosopher. Often referred to as the "Second Sage" of Confucianism (meaning second in importance only to Confucius himself), Mencius is best known for his claim that “human nature is good.”.