The Chinese Mencius
has not been the least successful in his generalization.
"That in which men differ from brute beasts," says Mencius
, "is a thing very inconsiderable; the common herd lose it very soon; superior men preserve it carefully." Who knows what sort of life would result if we had attained to purity?
Taking leadership tasks and the responsibility for the welfare of others seriously are important aspects of the Mencius
Confucius and his brilliant followers, Mencius
and Xunzi, while they discoursed on many different aspects of human life, were nevertheless predominantly interested in governance: trying to bring about a good government and society.
(Mengzi) and Hsun Tzu (Xunzi), a sophisticated critic of the Mencian thesis, share this idea, but their reason for advocating it are significantly different.
The upwelling of philosophy, insight, and intellect from that era lives today in the works of Socrates, Plato, Lao-tzu, Confucius, Mencius
, Buddha, Jeremiah, Rabbi Hillel, and others.
said, "Virtue alone is not sufficient for the exercise of government; laws alone cannot carry themselves into practice".
also makes the point that how well the seeds of virtue grow will depend on the richness of the soil and the supply of water--that is, on the cultural context--as well as on the "amount of human effort spent on it." The difference in effort between one person and another "is due to what ensnares their hearts" (Lau 6A7).
of Science and Technology) offers a philosophical account of the ethical thought by three early Confucian thinkers: Confucius himself (552-479 BCE), Mencius
(371-289 BCE), and Xunzi (298-238 BCE).
Although he asserted that tic was not "fond of disputation" (3B9), Mengzi (Mencius
) was a frequent and skilled debater, who employed techniques such as reductio ad absurdum (for example, 6A3) and thought experiments (for example, 2A6, 3A5) to attack rival philosophical positions.
We now notice that our students, once they themselves must invent characters who are consistent, connect endings to beginnings, and carry forward thematic emphases through an entire 90-minute performance, become much more intrigued by questions that invite them to discover the theme, the structure, the argument, and the overall intention governing a text written by Mencius
or Jane Austen or Toni Morrison.
The doctrine for which he is remembered reflects the perennial Chinese interest in human nature, which Yang regarded as a mixture of good and evil, avoiding the extreme positions taken by Mencius
(original goodness) and Xunzi (original evil).