Mencius' Theory Different Than That Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Confucius had mentioned filial concern, but Mencius places emphasis on this filial concern prioritizing between special concern for and obligations towards family that is closest to oneself gradating down to others, and stated proper attitude to family as essential to order in society (Lau, 1970).

Mencius extended yi to refer not only to propriety of conduct, but also to self-dignity / self-respect. For instance, he provides the example of a beggar who, starving to death, would, and should, rather die than accept food given to him in a contemptuous manner. 'Yi', as are the other traits, are innate in the individual. One has to cultivate this trait so that one lives one's life according to a certain modicum of self-respect and ethical standards (Shun, 1997).

Mencius retained 'li's connotation to proper conduct but he extended it to the formulation that tendency to accord to 'li' and its nuances (or rules) in the required and proper manner is innate. Appended to it, Mencius described some of the attitudes and required mental conduct of 'li' such as expected conduct in mourning, and ceremonial niceties in social interaction. When necessary, Mencius recommends that certain aspects of 'li' should be disregarded (Shun, 1997).

Mencius also adopts a fourth term, 'zhi' which he translates as 'wisdom'. Early Chinese thought regarded the heart as the base of both cognitive and affective operations (Nivison, 1996). This was the heart/mind of Mencius' 'zhi' (Shun, 1997), which requires the ability to follow affect or cognition according to one's best discretion, to balance the two, and to achieve a rational equilibrium in assessing situations and formulating decisions. Heart/mind must be in accordance; both should be used, but man should employ his better judgment in deciding which to use according to the appropriate situation.

Mencius also prescribed persistence and calm, and the habit to steadfastly pursue one's goal despite setbacks and anxiety. The focus should be on effort, with an endeavored fortitude to accepting ming the fate or mandates that are beyond or contrary to one's control (Lau, 1970).

Finally, and in a political sense, Confucius merely elaborated on three terms: tian (Heaven), ming (destiny or decree) and de (power, or virtue) using Tian -- the sky -- in a sense that best correlates to the Western idea of an omnipotent God, Ming -- refers to the ruler's mandate and powers from tian to rule, and the ruler's attributes -- whilst De -- refers to qualities such as honesty, generosity, humility, dedication, and most importantly, caring for the people and diligence to his duties (if the ruler has these qualities, he is granted Tian Ming -- the Mandate from heaven to rule). Mencius later added to this the statement that the people's opinions should be taken into consideration particularly in the equation of significant matters (Nivison, 1996; Shun, 1997).


Lau, D.C. (1970) Mencius. London: Penguin.

Nivison, D.S. (1996). The ways of Confucianism: Investigations in Chinese Philosophy.…

Sources Used in Document:

Lau, D.C. (1970) Mencius. London: Penguin.

Nivison, D.S. (1996). The ways of Confucianism: Investigations in Chinese Philosophy. Ill: Open Court.

Shun, K.L. (1997). Mencius and early Chinese thought. CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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