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Mencius (Chinese-English)

  • Mencius
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Product Description

Library of Chinese Classics: Mencius
Written by Mencius
Translated into English by Zhao Zhentao, Zhang Wenting, Zhou Dingzhi
Translated into modern Chinese by Yang Bojun
Publisher: Foreign Languages Press
Publication Date: 1999-9
Language: Chinese and English
ISBN: 7543820854
Library Binding: hardcover, 354 pages

Book Description
Mencius is a Confucian classic recording the words of Mencius, a thinker and an educator of the mid Warring States period and an important representative of the Confucian school, and his followers. It was compiled by Mencius and his disciples.
There are 7 existing "books" or chapters in Mencius, which mainly record Mencius' political activities and doctrines, and his philosophical, ethical and educational thoughts. Mencius was an ardent advocator of the Confucian doctrine. He developed Confucius' thinking of "benevolence" into the doctrine of "benevolent government", and he advanced the theory that "human nature is good", using it as the theoretical basis for this doctrine. He also advocated being modeled on the sage Kings Yao and Shun, instituting the 'jing-field system", "esteeming the virtuous and able", and practicing "true kingship" With regard to the relationship between the ruler and his people, he held that the people are of the first importance while "the ruler is of the least importance".

The English translation of this edition, with reference to various translations, is the latest English translation of the book.

Very few people in the West have heard of Mencius. However, in East Asia he is known as "the second sage" of Confucianism ?second only to Confucius himself. Mencius (most accepted dates: 372 BC ?289 BC; other possible dates: 385 BC ?303 BC or 302 BC) was born in the State of Zou, now forming the territory of the county-level city of Zoucheng, Shandong province, only 30 km (18 miles) south of Qufu, the town of Confucius. He was an itinerant Chinese philosopher and sage, and one of the principal interpreters of Confucianism. Like Confucius, according to legend, he traveled China for forty years to offer advice to rulers for reform. He served as an official during the Warring States Period (403 ?221 BC) in the State of Qi from 319 BC to 312 BC. He expressed his filial devotion when he took an absence of three years from his official duties for Qi to mourn his mother's death. Disappointed at his failure to effect changes in his contemporary world, he retired from public life.

A follower of Confucianism, Mencius is most famous for his claim that human nature is good. He illustrates this by asking us to imagine a person who suddenly sees a child about to fall into a well. Anyone, Mencius claims, would have a feeling of alarm and compassion at this sight. This feeling is a manifestation of our innate tendency toward benevolence. Mencius is aware that, despite having this innate tendency toward virtue, most people fail to act in a benevolent manner. But he claims that this is due to bad environmental factors, as well as a failure to cultivate one's "sprouts" of virtue¬ólack of a positive cultivating influence. Mencius argued that human beings are born with an innate moral sense which society has corrupted, and that the goal of moral cultivation is to return to one's innate morality. He even argued that it was acceptable for people to overthrow or even kill a ruler who ignored the people's needs and ruled harshly.

Mencius' interpretation of Confucianism has generally been considered the orthodox version by subsequent Chinese philosophers, especially the Neo-Confucians of the Song dynasty. Mencius (also spelled Mengzi or Meng-tzu), a book of his conversations with kings of the time, is one of the Four books which form the core of orthodox Confucian thinking. In contrast to the sayings of Confucius which are short and self-contained, Mencius consists of long dialogues with extensive prose.

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