Mencius, Chinese philosopher: biography, teaching, quotes

Man is kind by nature. So considered the famous philosopher who lived in the rd of the Fighting States, Mencius. It is also peculiar to a person to be kind, as it is typical of water to flow downwards. He who exhausts his heart comprehends his own nature, which means that He knows Heaven. In these quotations, Mencius discovered the essence of his teaching in the best possible way. The innate knowledge of good and the ability to create it are inherent in man, taught by the great Chinese philosopher. Evil is the result of mistakes made, it can be eradicated by restoring the original human nature.

Meng Zi

Mencius: the living image of the thinker

Legends are his descendant of an ancient aristocratic family. Mencius was a student of Zi-Si, the grandson of Confucius. It is known that the sage visited a number of states in central China in order to influence their rulers.

The philosophical ideas of the great predecessor had a great influence on the thinker who became their successor.According to the thoughts expressed in the books of Confucius, they were bound together by politics and ethical rules. The scientist has always stressed that moral qualities are the root of government in a state. The relationship of the subject and his master Mencius likened the relationship of children and fathers. He tried to teach the rulers, like the parents in the family, to take care of the people. The great Chinese philosopher inspired the people to treat their rulers as parents with respect and care.

At the age of 70, these attempts by the thinker were abandoned. It is known that he returned to private life and, together with his students, began to create a treatise "Men-Tzu". According to experts, the work was written on a large scale. Many note the presence of deep feelings, vivid explanations, acute irony and in-depth criticism. After millennia, readers of the book "Men-Tzu" keenly feel how strong feelings owned the philosopher. In the treatise the character of the thinker is clearly revealed, his living image is visible.

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Biography of Mencius: the birth

According to Sima Qian, the founder of Chinese historiography (2–1 centuries BC), the philosopher was born about 389 BC. erHis homeland was the possession of Zou, culturally and historically connected with the state of Lu (peninsula of Shandong), from where the great Confucius came. From his teacher Tzu-Si, the grandson of a great thinker, Meng Zi, his living covenants were directly perceived.

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The mother of the future philosopher was a widow, like Confucius's mother. In China, traditionally, she is considered exemplary because she is known to have moved three times in search of a more suitable environment for raising her younger son (from the cemetery where they lived with her son, moved to the market, and then to school). It is also known about this woman that she continued to raise her son even after he married. But in the end she followed the “path of the woman” and became, as befits a widow, to obey her son. After her death, Mencius was accused of having his mother buried more magnificently than his father.

Save the Celestial

From his youth, young Mencius set out to save his country. The means for this, he considered "clearing the minds of people." Throughout his subsequent life, the philosopher devoted himself to exposing false ideas, eradicating bad behavior, and promoting iridum from "seductive speeches."

"Second Confucius"

It is known that Mencius did not hesitate to call himself that. The researchers of his biography and teachings do not exclude that it is precisely because of this that he later became known as the “second sage” in China. During the Tang Dynasty, his treatise Meng-Tzu was recognized as a model work. One of the highest achievements of ancient Chinese philosophy.

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It is known that the sage studied the books of Confucius and, like him, visited several states in central China. In the capital city of Qi, where he labored at the Ji Xia Academy, the philosopher tried to influence the rulers. He read to the authorities quotations of philosophers, including the great Confucius, but did not succeed in their “enlightenment”. Following the covenant of the teacher, in the declining years of Mencius, following the “wishes of his heart,” he quit trying to rehabilitate the kings and devoted himself entirely to theory. The philosopher died, according to his biographies, in the period from 289th to 305 BC. er


The main book of his life, "Men-Tzu" is the final treatise of the Confucian canon of the Thirteen Books. Researchers express the opinion that the treatise was made after his death by the pupils. The book includes statements by the teacher, other quotes from the philosophers of China, his life story and facts from the lives of prominent political figures.The book consists of 7 chapters, each of them, in turn, is divided into 2 parts.

According to experts, the value of the treatise largely lies in the fact that it, like a mirror, reflects the identity of the author. Getting acquainted one by one with the short paragraphs that make up the chapters (each of them is devoted to a separate topic - dispute, surrender, preaching, casus, historical fact, reminiscence, frank edification of fiction or justification of their own behavior in some cases) not only the assessments and thoughts of the philosopher, but also the style of his thinking and arguing. In addition, in the course of reading, the features of the very complicated, somewhere arrogant, sometimes quick-tempered and absurd nature of the philosopher are revealed before everyone.

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His doctrine: main ideas

The man, taught by the philosopher, is inherently good by nature, according to Mencius, the nature of man is initially characterized by many virtues, the main of which he called humanity and duty, justice.

To realize his virtues, a person is obliged to cultivate them. This meant that each person at the beginning of life is endowed with a certain moral potential, but only if the innate potentialities are fully developed by him, is man destined to become a real sage.Many researchers of Chinese philosophy believe that without Mencius would never fully reveal such a phenomenon as Confucianism to humanity.

But then, where does evil come from in the world? Mencius explained his existence by the fact that man is sometimes incapable of developing his natural inclinations, or his nature is completely lost.

Meng Tzu treatise

About moral virtues

The philosopher considered the main virtues of man to be "jen" and "and", which are a unified follower of Confucius. “Ren” is defined by him as the “human heart”. In modern China, “jen” is often translated as “humanity.” The category "and" of Mencius was defined as the "path that must be followed." In his ethics, "and" is even more significant than "jen." He taught that the essence of the “and” is to realize the need for a person to fulfill his moral duty, otherwise he will have to sacrifice his own life.

According to the researchers, Mencius was based in similar judgments on the examples of the many martyrs who gave their lives for the sake of proving loyalty to their lord or ruler.Confucius was created only a common philosophical paradigm. Mencius also managed to fill it with flesh and blood, create an inspiring pattern, and, by combining action and knowledge, transform philosophy into a semblance of religion.

About metaphysics

According to Mencius, each person can achieve the state of a sage. But for this, it is necessary to overcome a certain spiritual path, which is mostly long and thorny and belongs not to the field of religion, but to the sphere of metaphysics and ethics. Mencius he is designated as “perfecting his qi,” that is, spirit and morality. This can be done only through the constant systematic commission and accumulation of good deeds. To achieve the improvement of "qi", doing good deeds only from time to time, is impossible.

Confucius closely linked this spiritual feat with the idea of ​​an ideal person, the so-called "Junzi" (translated from Chinese "noble husband"). Mencius went further than the teacher and created the image of “yes changfu” (with the Chinese. “Great husband”). Neither poverty, nor wealth, nor glory can destroy this ideal person, it is opposed to any pressure and violence.The “great husband” in the Celestial, as the philosopher believed, was destined to be a great career.

About politics

The political views of Mencius were in many respects under the strong influence of Confucius, who considered rule with the help of jen (heart) ideal. He goes beyond the teacher and distinguishes between “van dao” (“royal path” or “ruler’s path”, which is based on the principle of “jen”) and “ba dao” (“hegemonic path”, whose rule is based solely on force and coercion ). During his wanderings around the country, Mencius persuaded the rulers, with whom he stayed, to rule with the help of "jen." But none of them accepted his views. The idea of ​​the “royal path” remained unrealized in Confucianism.

Mencius was well acquainted with the political structure of the modern state. His political ideal was the golden age of the existing dynasty. According to the philosopher’s beliefs, a rigid hierarchy must be established in society, in which everyone — from the ruler to the last subject — must take their places and carry out corresponding duties. Exalting the "people", arguing about his values ​​in the state, the philosopher fundamentally defended estate interests and boundaries, the democratic ideas of equality and self-government were alien to him.

In addition, Mencius's skepticism about foreign influences is known. The philosopher insisted on the purely Chinese model of the state of Zhou, just as it was described by Confucius himself.

About economics

Today, it is not thoroughly known about the economic views of Confucius, but the essence of the economic theory of Mencius is well known. Most likely, its reference point was the Zhawsky model of land distribution. Anyway, the thinker was proposed the concept of so-called. "Well fields". This system involves the division of a square with a side of one mile into 9 smaller squares. Eight of them, peasant families should cultivate for themselves, and the central square, the ninth, should be declared public land, the harvest from it, according to the theory of Mencius, should go to the needs of the state and belong to the ruler. According to modern historians, this land use system has never been used in China.

On disputes with representatives of other schools

In the treatise "Men-Tzu" there are many chapters that describe the controversy of its author with representatives of other philosophical directions that existed in China.Particularly strong were the disagreements with the Moists, as well as the followers of Xu Xing and Yang Zhu.

The latter, being a supporter of Taoism, argued the need to save power, save the reserves of vital energy. They were raised on the shield of the idea of ​​moral selfishness. The supporter of altruism, Mencius, considered the category “jen” and the concept of social hierarchy to be true.

Xu Xing, a representative of the “agrarian school”, who expressed views close to the ideas of early communism, argued that the ruler, along with his subjects, should plow the land and consume the products of their own labor. Mencius, as a supporter of a hierarchical society, inspired contemporaries that the lot of the smarter is to rule, and the lot of his subjects is labor. In the basis of the division of social labor, in accordance with the views of the philosopher, should be based on individual characteristics - a great capacity for physical or mental labor.

Mo-tzu (the younger contemporary of Confucius) adhered to the views of utilitarianism. At one time, his philosophy was very authoritative. The Moists denied the Confucian ritual, in particular, they considered the wasteful rituals of lush burial as well as prolonged mourning to be harmful to society.Mencius for such criticism led his arguments and recalled that in ancient times people threw dead bodies of their parents into a ditch near the house, where they were eaten by foxes and insects. Over time, the picture has changed. The natural good in man gained the upper hand, and he began to bury the bodies of the dead in the ground. In a modern respectful son, especially if he practices “jen”, feelings for his dead parents are even higher, so he gives them all kinds of honors. Such an argument, appealing to the psychology and feelings of man, is very characteristic of Confucianists.

On the peculiarities of the character of the thinker

As can be seen from his treatise, as well as the research of his biographers, Mencius in his judgments was rather sharp. In the assessments he showed considerable determination, the philosopher clearly lacks the gentleness and tolerance that distinguish Confucius. About the Great Teacher it is also known that he could be harsh, uncompromising and uncompromising. Mencius also surpassed his famous predecessor.

maine zi human nature

His uncompromising sometimes was angry and bordered on boldness. It is known that the sage could have tricked the kings, who, as a rule, not only treated him with great respect, but also received him royally.In addition, they meekly contained hundreds of students and assistants of the philosopher, who always accompanied him, as well as households, following the famous relative with their belongings on dozens of carts.

In the history of China, rulers who were not virtuous enough (of course, from the point of view of Confucianism) have never had such a formidable opponent. Mencius openly called for overthrowing them from the throne, falling on the "unworthy" with all his temperament and anger, which he was capable of. Despite his remarkable charm, he caused embarrassment to his royal companions. They were ready to pay dearly for the philosopher not to bother them. It is known that in the last decades of his life, a wise man was removed from current affairs, and thus deprived of the opportunity to try to influence the fate of the state, teaching its rulers.

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