Man Is Good-natured According To Mencius
: THE NATURE OF MAN
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 mo
t 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.