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 on Human Nature. Mencius explains the good and bad life. There is no man who is not good; there is no water that does not flow downward. 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. Mencius said: “To fathom the mind is to understand your nature. It is the sort of qi that matches the right [yi] with the Way [Dao]; without these, it starves. Home 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. 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. Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? 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. 1 2. 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. 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. 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. 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). Mencius (370-290 BCE) or Menzi, the second in command of Confucianism by popular consent in the tradition, believed that Confucius taught that human nature is good and develops out of the heart, growing and developing the virtues through love. Jeffrey Richey This can be backed up when Mencius talks to Kao Tzu about human nature. 35-52. 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 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). To sum up, both biology and culture are important for Mencian self-cultivation, and so is Tian. When the king asks whether it is true that various sage kings (Tang and Wu) rebelled against and murdered their predecessors (Jie and Zhou), Mencius answers that it is true. Mencius inherits from Confucius a set of terms and a series of problems. 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. 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. It is merely the feeling that counts. If, by uprightness, you nourish it and do not interfere with it, it fills the space between Heaven and Earth. 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. The mind of discernment is the driving force of wisdom. 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? If anything one does fails to meet the standards of one’s heart-mind, it starves. For Munro, the “essence” is Mencius’ grounding ethics in inborn nature, while the “dross” is Mencius’ appeals to Tian as the author of that inborn nature. As for the water metaphor, Mencius rejects it by remarking that human nature flows to the good, just as water’s nature flows down. Hence winning the favor of the common people you become Emperor…. He believed in the essential goodness of human nature, but he was highly skeptical of government. Matthew Walker (Yale-NUS College) looks at the views of the early Confucian thinker Mengzi (Mencius). 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). 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. In the text, Mencius takes a more careful route in order to arrive at this view. 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. The two Confucians Mencius and Xunzi held opposing views about human nature. 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. 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. While neither Gaozi nor Mencius is willing to entertain the notion that human beings might originally be evil, this is the cornerstone of Xunzi’s position on human nature. Detailed discussion of Mencius’ key interpreters is best reserved for an article on Confucian philosophy. Mencius (Mengzi, or Meng Ke) was a particularly powerful advocate for the thought of Confucius. 'human nature" is good or bad begins to gain some scientifically as- sessable content.5 3. 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