Philosophical Differences Between Confucius And Mencius Research Paper

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Philosophy Although there are a few philosophical differences between Confucius and Mencius, the most significant is Mencius' insistence on the goodness of human nature. For Mencius, humanness (ren) is an innate moral character that can unfortunately be corrupted by society or bad leadership. Mencius views all persons as inherently equal and inherently good. When he pleads with Kings in his dialogues (in The Essential Mengzi), the philosopher urges the King to rule with "benevolence and righteousness," (p. 1). This is because Mencius is primarily concerned with moral character. Mencius emphasizes the active role a human being can take in order to achieve moral righteousness as well as philosophical wisdom.

Confucius was concerned with ethics, and also emphasizes ren as a core component of a strong moral character. However, Confucius did not emphasize ren as much as Mencius would. Moreover, Confucius did not postulate much on human nature and whether human beings have...

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Confucius remained primarily concerned with collective and macro-issues, such as social order and harmony. Mencius probed deeper into the individual's moral character. The philosophy of Mencius remarkably resembles that of Aristotle due to their mutual consideration of and concern for virtue ethics.
Mencius builds on some core Confucian philosophies, expanding on ideas like the chun-tzu (superior man), as well as ren and li, or rites. Like his predecessor, Mencius believed that following the traditional rites could be an ethical act. Mencius took Confucius's ideas a step further, though, by suggesting that a virtuous person follows the rites instinctively. Mencius views motives behind human actions as being as important as the actions themselves, an issue that Confucius is ambiguous about. Confucius mentions learning as a means by which to achieve ethical goodness, but Mencius believes that a human being is…

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Works Cited

Confucius. Analects. Retrieved online: http://classics.mit.edu/Confucius/analects.html

Mencius (Mengzi). The Essential Mengzi. Ed. Van Norden. Hackett, 2009.


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