Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mengzi (Meng Tzu), Chinese Philosopher, Notes

  • (Meng Tzu)
  • will try to defend the Confucian point of view against two other authors:
    • Mozi
    • Yang Zhu (Yong Gchu)
      • Yangism 5th - 4th Century B.C.E.
      • Emphasized nourishing one's Xing (shing)
        • xing – your own human nature, your predisposition self
          • live a long life, satisfy basic desires – food, drink, procreation
          • avoid politics – gets you excited, it uses up your Qi (Chi – energy, of which you only have so much)
          • don't worry about the affairs of the world, worry about yourself
          • egoism – you ought to do your best in order to nourish you own nature
            • “I would not try to benefit the world, if I would have to pluck out one hair”
  • Mengzi is not an egoist, but does believe in human nature/human predisposition
    • it makes sense to ask, “what is the nature of the human being?”
    • we are naturally inclined to benevolence, to look out for others
    • though our nature leans toward the good, it must be cultivated
  • benevolence → 'sprouts'
    • born with a sprout of Ren, if it does not grow, it can die and you will be evil
    • one
  • the nature in me (xing) is connected to heaven (tian)
  • this microcosm of nature in me is connected to the macrocosm
    • conjecture by corner -- the human being is a replica of the universe as a whole
  • there is continuity between the human and heaven
  • Mengzi makes no reference to 'bad sprouts' (or weeds)
    • you might not need bad sprouts
    • if you ignore compassion, your sprouts of good will not grow
  • xing – human heart, mind
    • blurs the distinction we tend to make between heart/mind
  • four sprouts
    • ren – benevolence, humanity
    • li – observance of rites
      • a natural instinct toward habit
    • yi – propriety, righteousness
    • zhi – wisdom
  • human nature like water – flows downhill, we can keep water by building a dam

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