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Man Is Good-natured According To Mencius








Oriental scholars, especially the Chinese men of letters, seem to

have taken so keen an interest in the study of human nature that they

proposed all the possible opinions respecting the subject in

question-namely, (1) man is good-natured; (2) man is bad-natured; (3)

man is good-natured and bad-natured as well; (4) man is neither

good-natured nor bad-natured. The first of these opinions was

proposed by a most reputed Confucianist scholar, Mencius, and his

followers, and is still adhered to by the majority of the Japanese

and the Chinese Confucianists. Mencius thought it as natural for man

to do good as it is for the grass to be green. 'Suppose a person has

happened,' he would say, 'to find a child on the point of tumbling

down into a deep well. He would rescue it even at the risk of his

life, no matter how morally degenerated he might be. He would have

no time to consider that his act might bring him some reward from its

parents, or a good reputation among his friends and fellow-citizens.

He would do it barely out of his inborn good-nature.' After

enumerating some instances similar to this one, Mencius concludes

that goodness is the fundamental nature of man, even if he is often

carried away by his brutal disposition.





[FN#161] Mencius (372-282 B.C.) is regarded as the beat expounder of

the doctrine of Confucius. There exists a well-known work of his,

entitled after his own name. See 'A History of Chinese Philosophy,'

by R. Endo, and also 'A History of Chinese Philosophy' (pp. 38-50),

by G. Nakauchi.






Next: Man Is Bad-natured According To Siun Tsz

Previous: How To Worship Buddha



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