Mencius (/ˈmɛnʃiəs/ MEN-shee-əs)[1] or Mengzi (372–289 BC or 385–303 or 302 BC) was a Chinese philosopher who has often been described as the "second Sage", that is after only Confucius himself.[2][3]

Half Portraits of the Great Sage and Virtuous Men of Old - Meng Ke (孟軻)
As depicted in the album Half Portraits of the Great Sage and Virtuous Men of Old (至聖先賢半身像), housed in the National Palace Museum
Born372 BC
Died289 BC
EraAncient philosophy
RegionChinese philosophy
Main interests
Ethics, Social philosophy, Political philosophy
Notable ideas
Right to revolution as an aspect of the Mandate of Heaven
Mengzi (Chinese characters)
"Mencius" in seal script (top) and regular (bottom) Chinese characters
Hanyu PinyinMèngzǐ
Literal meaning"Master Meng"
Ancestral name: Ji (Chinese: ; pinyin: )
Clan name: Meng (; Mèng)[a]
Given name: Ke (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: )
Courtesy name: Unknown[b]
Posthumous name: Master Meng the Second Sage[c] (simplified Chinese: 亚圣孟子; traditional Chinese: 亞聖孟子; pinyin: Yàshèng Mèngzǐ)
Styled: Master Meng (孟子; Mèngzǐ)


Temple of Mencius - Yasheng Hall - inside - P1050921
An image of Mencius in the sanctuary of the Mencius Temple, Zoucheng

Mencius, also known by his birth name Meng Ke (孟軻), was born in the State of Zou, now forming the territory of the county-level city of Zoucheng (originally Zouxian), Shandong Province, only thirty kilometres (eighteen miles) south of Qufu, Confucius's birthplace.

He was an itinerant Chinese philosopher and sage, and one of the principal interpreters of Confucianism. Supposedly, he was a pupil of Confucius's grandson, Zisi. Like Confucius, according to legend, he travelled throughout China for forty years to offer advice to rulers for reform.[4] During the Warring States period (403–221 BC), Mencius served as an official and scholar at the Jixia Academy in the State of Qi (1046 BC to 221 BC) from 319 to 312 BC. He expressed his filial devotion when he took three years leave of absence 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.[5]

Mencius is buried in the "Mencius Cemetery" (孟子林, Mengzi Lin, also known as 亞聖林, Yasheng Lin), which is located 12 km to the northeast of Zoucheng's central urban area. A stele carried by a giant stone tortoise and crowned with dragons stands in front of his grave.[6]


Mencius's mother is often held up as an exemplary female figure in Chinese culture. One of the most famous traditional Chinese four-character idioms is 孟母三遷 (pinyin: mèngmǔ-sānqiān; literally: 'Mencius's mother moves three times'); this saying refers to the legend that Mencius's mother moved houses three times before finding a location that she felt was suitable for the child's upbringing. As an expression, the idiom refers to the importance of finding the proper environment for raising children.

Mencius's father died when Mencius was very young. His mother Zhǎng () raised her son alone. They were very poor. At first they lived by a cemetery, where the mother found her son imitating the paid mourners in funeral processions. Therefore, the mother decided to move. The next house was near a market in the town. There the boy began to imitate the cries of merchants (merchants were despised in early China). So the mother moved to a house next to a school. Inspired by the scholars and students, Mencius began to study. His mother decided to remain, and Mencius became a scholar.

Another story further illustrates the emphasis that Mencius's mother placed on her son's education. As the story goes, once when Mencius was young, he was truant from school. His mother responded to his apparent disregard for his education by taking up a pair of scissors and cutting the cloth she had been weaving in front of him. This was intended to illustrate that one cannot stop a task midway, and her example inspired Mencius to diligence in his studies.

There is another legend about his mother and his wife, involving a time when his wife was at home alone and was discovered by Mencius not to be sitting properly. Mencius thought his wife had violated a rite, and demanded a divorce. His mother claimed that it was written in The Book of Rites that before a person entered a room, he should announce his imminent presence loudly to let others prepare for his arrival; as he had not done that in this case, the person who had violated the rite was Mencius himself. Eventually Mencius admitted his fault.

She is one of 125 women of which biographies have been included in the Lienü zhuan ('Biographies of Exemplary Women'), written by Liu Xiang.


Duke Huan of Lu's son through Qingfu (慶父) was the ancestor of Mencius. He was descended from Duke Yang of the State of Lu (魯煬公). Duke Yang was the son of Bo Qin, who was the son of the Duke of Zhou of the Zhou dynasty royal family. The genealogy is found in the Mencius family tree (孟子世家大宗世系).[7][8][9]

Mencius's descendants lived in Zoucheng in the Mencius Family Mansion, where the Mencius Temple was also built and also a cemetery for Mencius's descendants.

Meng Haoran and Meng Jiao were descendants of Mencius who lived during the Tang dynasty.

During the Ming dynasty, one of Mencius's descendants was given a hereditary title at the Hanlin Academy by the Emperor. The title they held was Wujing Boshi (五經博士; 五經博士; Wǔjīng Bóshì).[10][11][12] In 1452 Wujing Boshi was bestowed upon the offspring of Mengzi-Meng Xiwen (孟希文) 56th generation[13][14][15][16][17] and Yan Hui-Yan Xihui (顔希惠) 59th generation, the same was bestowed on the offspring of Zhou Dunyi-Zhou Mian (週冕) 12th generation, the two Cheng brothers (Cheng Hao and Cheng Yi-Chen Keren (程克仁) 17th generation), Zhu Xi-Zhu Ting (朱梴) 9th generation, in 1456–1457, in 1539 the same was awarded to Zeng Can's offspring-Zeng Zhicui (曾質粹) 60th generation, in 1622 the offspring of Zhang Zai received the title and in 1630 the offspring of Shao Yong.[18]

One of Mencius's direct descendants was Dr. Meng Chih (Anglicised as Dr. Paul Chih Meng) former director of China House, and director of the China Institute in 1944. Time magazine reported Dr. Meng's age that year as 44. Dr. Meng died in Arizona in 1990 at the age of 90. [19] North Carolina's Davidson College and Columbia University were his alma mater. He was attending a speech along with Confucius descendant H. H. Kung.[20]

In the Republic of China there is an office called the "Sacrificial Official to Mencius" which is held by a descendant of Mencius, like the post of "Sacrificial Official to Zengzi" for a descendant of Zengzi, "Sacrificial Official to Yan Hui" for a descendant of Yan Hui, and the post of "Sacrificial Official to Confucius, held by a descendant of Confucius.[21][22][23]

The descendants of Mencius still use generation poems for their names given to them by the Ming and Qing Emperors along with the descendants of the other Four Sages (四氏): Confucius, Zengzi, and Yan Hui.[24][25]

Historical sites related to his descendants include the Meng family mansion (孟府), Temple of Mencius (孟廟), and Cemetery of Mencius (孟林).

One of Mencius's descendants moved to Korea and founded the Sinchang Maeng clan.

Main concepts

Mencius, from Myths and Legends of China, 1922 by E. T. C. Werner

Human nature

While Confucius himself did not explicitly focus on the subject of human nature, Mencius asserted the innate goodness of the individual, believing that it was society's influence – its lack of a positive cultivating influence – that caused bad moral character. "He who exerts his mind to the utmost knows his nature"[26] and "the way of learning is none other than finding the lost mind."[27]

The four beginnings (or sprouts)

To show innate goodness, Mencius used the example of a child falling down a well. Witnesses of this event immediately feel

alarm and distress, not to gain friendship with the child's parents, nor to seek the praise of their neighbors and friends, nor because they dislike the reputation [of lack of humanity if they did not rescue the child]...

The feeling of commiseration is the beginning of humanity; the feeling of shame and dislike is the beginning of righteousness; the feeling of deference and compliance is the beginning of propriety; and the feeling of right or wrong is the beginning of wisdom.

Men have these Four Beginnings just as they have their four limbs. Having these Four Beginnings, but saying that they cannot develop them is to destroy themselves.[28]

Human nature has an innate tendency towards goodness, but moral rightness cannot be instructed down to the last detail. This is why merely external controls always fail in improving society. True improvement results from educational cultivation in favorable environments. Likewise, bad environments tend to corrupt the human will. This, however, is not proof of innate evil because a clear thinking person would avoid causing harm to others. This position of Mencius puts him between Confucians such as Xunzi who thought people were innately bad, and Taoists who believed humans did not need cultivation, they just needed to accept their innate, natural, and effortless goodness. The four beginnings/sprouts could grow and develop, or they could fail. In this way Mencius synthesized integral parts of Taoism into Confucianism. Individual effort was needed to cultivate oneself, but one's natural tendencies were good to begin with. The object of education is the cultivation of benevolence, otherwise known as Ren.


According to Mencius, education must awaken the innate abilities of the human mind. He denounced memorization and advocated active interrogation of the text, saying, "One who believes all of a book would be better off without books" (盡信書,則不如無書, from 孟子.盡心下). One should check for internal consistency by comparing sections and debate the probability of factual accounts by comparing them with experience.


Mencius also believed in the power of Destiny in shaping the roles of human beings in society. What is destined cannot be contrived by the human intellect or foreseen. Destiny is shown when a path arises that is both unforeseen and constructive. Destiny should not be confused with Fate. Mencius denied that Heaven would protect a person regardless of his actions, saying, "One who understands Destiny will not stand beneath a tottering wall". The proper path is one which is natural and unforced. This path must also be maintained because, "Unused pathways are covered with weeds." One who follows Destiny will live a long and successful life. One who rebels against Destiny will die before his time.

Views on politics and economics

Mencius emphasized the significance of the common citizens in the state. While Confucianism generally regards rulers highly, he argued that it is acceptable for the subjects to overthrow or even kill a ruler who ignores the people's needs and rules harshly. This is because a ruler who does not rule justly is no longer a true ruler. Speaking of the overthrow of the wicked King Zhou of Shang, Mencius said, "I have merely heard of killing a villain Zhou, but I have not heard of murdering [him as] the ruler."[29]

This saying should not be taken as an instigation to violence against authorities but as an application of Confucian philosophy to society. Confucianism requires a clarification of what may be reasonably expected in any given relationship. All relationships should be beneficial, but each has its own principle or inner logic. A Ruler must justify his position by acting benevolently before he can expect reciprocation from the people. In this view, a King is like a steward. Although Confucius admired Kings of great accomplishment, Mencius is clarifying the proper hierarchy of human society. Although a King has presumably higher status than a commoner, he is actually subordinate to the masses of people and the resources of society. Otherwise, there would be an implied disregard of the potential of human society heading into the future. One is significant only for what one gives, not for what one takes.

Mencius distinguished between superior men who recognize and follow the virtues of righteousness and benevolence and inferior men who do not. He suggested that superior men considered only righteousness, not benefits. That assumes "permanent property" to uphold common morality. [30] To secure benefits for the disadvantaged and the aged, he advocated free trade, low tax rates, and a more equal sharing of the tax burden.[31]

Comparisons to contemporaries

His alleged years make him contemporary with Xun Zi, Zhuangzi, Gaozi, and Plato.

Xun Zi

Xun Zi was a Confucian who believed that human nature is centered on self-interest and greed, and the purpose of moral cultivation is to develop our nature into goodness. This put him at odds with Mencius. Later, the thinker Zhu Xi declared the views of Xun Zi to be unorthodox, instead supporting the position of Mencius.


Mencius's argument that unjust rulers may be overthrown is reminiscent of Socrates's argument in Book I of Plato's Republic.


Temple of Mencius - possibly Yuan bixi near Qisheng Hall - P1050933
A Yuan Dynasty turtle with a stele honoring Mencius

Mencius's interpretation of Confucianism has generally been considered the orthodox version by subsequent Chinese philosophers, especially by the Neo-Confucians of the Song dynasty. Mencius's disciples included a large number of feudal lords, and he is said to have been more influential than Confucius had been.[32]

The Mencius (also spelled Mengzi or Meng-tzu), a book of his conversations with kings of the time, is one of the Four Books that Zhu Xi grouped as the core of orthodox Neo-Confucian thought. In contrast to the sayings of Confucius, which are short and self-contained, the Mencius consists of long dialogues, including arguments, with extensive prose. It was generally neglected by the Jesuit missionaries who first translated the Confucian canon into Latin and other European languages, as they felt that the Neo-Confucian school largely consisted of Buddhist and Taoist contamination of Confucianism. Matteo Ricci also particularly disliked Mencius's strong condemnation of celibacy as unfilial. François Noël, who felt that Zhu's ideas represented a natural and native development of Confucius's thought, was the first to publish a full edition of the Mencius at Prague in 1711;[33][d] as the Chinese rites controversy had been recently decided against the Jesuits, however, his edition attained little influence outside central and eastern Europe.

In a 1978 book purporting to estimate the hundred most influential persons in history to that point, Mencius is ranked at 92.[35]

See also


  1. ^ The original clan name was Mengsun (孟孫), later shortened into Meng (孟). It is unknown whether this occurred before or after Mencius's death.
  2. ^ Traditionally, his courtesy name was assumed to be Ziche (子車), sometimes incorrectly written as Ziyu (子輿) or Ziju (子居), but recent scholarly works show that these courtesy names appeared in the 3rd century AD and apply to another historical figure named Meng Ke who also lived in Chinese antiquity and was mistaken for Mencius.
  3. ^ , meaning second only to Confucius. The name was given in 1530 by the Jiajing Emperor. In the two centuries before 1530, the posthumous name was "The Second Sage Duke of Zou" (鄒國亞聖公) which is still the name that can be seen carved in the Mencius ancestral temple in Zoucheng.
  4. ^ Noël's transcription of the name as "Memcius or Mem Tsu" reflects the orthography of his day, which rendered /ŋ/ as ⟨m⟩. See, e.g., "Nankim" for "Nanjing" and "Kiamnim" for "Jiangning" on the map of China published in the 1687 Confucius, Philosopher of the Chinese.[34]



  1. ^ "Mencius". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  2. ^ Mei, Yi Pao (1985). "Mencius," The New Encyclopædia Britannica, v. 8, p. 3.
  3. ^ Shun, Kwong Loi. "Mencius". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  4. ^ Chan 1963: 49.
  5. ^ Jaroslav Průšek and Zbigniew Słupski, eds., Dictionary of Oriental Literatures: East Asia (Charles Tuttle, 1978): 115-116.
  6. ^ 孟子林 Archived 2012-08-05 at (Mencius Cemetery)
  7. ^ 《三遷志》,(清)孟衍泰續修
  8. ^ 《孟子世家譜》,(清)孟廣均主編,1824年
  9. ^ 《孟子與孟氏家族》,孟祥居編,2005年
  10. ^ H.S. Brunnert; V.V. Hagelstrom (15 April 2013). Present Day Political Organization of China. Routledge. pp. 494–. ISBN 978-1-135-79795-9.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-04-25. Retrieved 2016-04-17.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Present day political organization of China".
  13. ^ "熾天使書城----明史".
  14. ^ "Kanripo 漢籍リポジトリ : KR2m0014 欽定續文獻通考-清-嵇璜".
  15. ^ Sturgeon, Donald. "欽定歷代職官表 : 卷六十六 - 中國哲學書電子化計劃".
  16. ^ "明史 中_翰林院".
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-10-07. Retrieved 2016-10-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ Wilson, Thomas A.. 1996. “The Ritual Formation of Confucian Orthodoxy and the Descendants of the Sage”. The Journal of Asian Studies 55 (3). [Cambridge University Press, Association for Asian Studies]: 559–84. doi:10.2307/2646446. JSTOR 2646446 p. 571.
  19. ^ "Paul Chih Meng, 90, Headed China Institute". The New York Times. 7 February 1990.
  20. ^ "Education: China House". TIME. Sep 4, 1944. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
  21. ^ "台湾拟将孔子奉祀官改为荣誉职 可由女性继承_台湾频道_新华网".
  22. ^ "台湾儒家奉祀官将改为无给职 不排除由女子继任_新闻中心_新浪网".
  23. ^ "台湾拟减少儒家世袭奉祀官职位并取消俸禄" [Taiwan intends to reduce Confucian hereditary positions and cancel the salary.]. (in Chinese).
  24. ^ (in Chinese) 孔姓 (The Kong family, descendents of Confucius) Archived 2011-09-03 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ (in Chinese) 孟姓 (The Meng family, descendents of Mencius) Archived 2006-01-16 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ The Mencius 7:A1 in Chan 1963: 78.
  27. ^ The Mencius 6:A11 in Chan 1963: 58.
  28. ^ The Mencius 2A:6 in Chan 1963: 65. Formatting has been applied to ease readability.
  29. ^ The Mencius 1B:8 in Chan 1963: 62.
  30. ^ Yagi, Kiichiro (2008). "China, economics in," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, v. 1, p. 778. Abstract.
  31. ^ Hart, Michael H. (1978), The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, p. 480.
  32. ^ Charles O. Hucker, China to 1850: A Short History, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1978, p. 45
  33. ^ Noël (1711).
  34. ^ "Paradigma XV Provinciarum et CLV Urbium Capitalium Sinensis Imperij", Confucius Sinarum Philosophus... [Confucius, Philosopher of the Chinese...], Paris: Daniel Horthemels, 1687, Bk. III, p. 104. (in Latin)
  35. ^ Hart, Michael H. (1978), The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, p. 7, discussed on pp. 479–81.


External links

Byasa mencius

Byasa mencius is a species of butterfly from the family Papilionidae (swallowtails). It is found in China.

The wingspan is 10–11 cm. The wings are dark brown with chain of large red spots on the hindwings. The underside of the body is covered in red hairs.The larvae feed on Cocullus carolinus.

Byasa rhadinus

Byasa rhadinus is a species of butterfly from the family Papilionidae. It is found in China.


For the Celtic F.C. footballer, see Zheng Zhi

There are many Chinese words whose pronunciation can be represented as "chih" (or, in the modern romanization, zhi) in Chinese:

志 zhì, aspiration, will. The "will" is a fundamental concept in the philosophy of Mencius, leading authorities such as David Nivison to classify Mencius as a "voluntarist" philosopher. Mencius believes that humans have four fundamental "beginnings" or embryonic drives that can, if protected and properly nurtured, form the basis of a human being who has immense powers to retain his or her autonomy. Each individual's zhì chooses that person's course in life on the basis of the four fundamental ethical drives and on other factors such as the desire for food, water, and the fulfillment of other ordinary requirements of life.

智 zhì, wisdom. This "wisdom" is the name of one of Mencius's four virtues which grow from the above-mentioned four beginnings. It is the innate ability to distinguish right from wrong in the actions of other people. For instance, one will automatically see something wrong when a large and powerful person takes advantage of a weaker adult or a child and be motivated to rectify the situation.

知 zhī, to know

質 zhí, substance. The Huai-nan-zi, 3:1a/19, says:Heaven (seen here as the ultimate source of all being) falls (duo 墮, i.e., descends into proto-immanence) as the formless. Fleeting, fluttering, penetrating, amorphous it is, and so it is called the Supreme Luminary. The dao begins in the Void Brightening. The Void Brightening produces the universe (yu-zhou ). The universe produces qi. Qi has bounds. The clear, yang [qi] was ethereal and so formed heaven. The heavy, turbid [qi] was congealed and impeded and so formed earth. The conjunction of the clear, yang [qi] was fluid and easy. The congelation of the heavy, turbid [qi] was strained and difficult. So heaven was formed first and earth was made fast later. The pervading essence (xi-jing) of heaven and earth becomes yin and yang. The concentrated (zhuan) essences of yin and yang become the four seasons. The dispersed (san) essences of the four seasons become the myriad creatures. The hot qi of yang in accumulating produces fire. The essence (jing) of the fire-qi becomes the sun. The cold qi of yin in accumulating produces water. The essence of the water-qi becomes the moon. The essences produced by coitus (Yin) of the sun and moon become the stars and celestial markpoints (chen, planets). The idea that there is a heavier fraction of qi seems to have originated with this passage. Similar ideas show up in the writing of Song dynasty philosopher, particularly Zhu Xi, and there this kind of "materialized lifebreath" is called zhí. Zhu Xi uses the idea of "materialized lifebreath" to explain what we today would call the phenotypical nature of a human being as opposed to the genotypical nature of that human being.

Curtis Yarvin

Curtis Guy Yarvin (born June 25, 1973), also known by the pen name Mencius Moldbug, is an American political theorist and computer scientist. Writing in his blog "Unqualified Reservations," he played a fundamental role in the Dark Enlightenment and Alt-right movement. He is the creator of the Urbit computing platform, through his startup company Tlon, which is backed by Peter Thiel.In the book Alt-Right: From 4Chan to the White House, Mike Wendling called Yarvin "the Alt right’s favorite philosophy instructor." He added, "Yarvin’s key contribution to the development of alt-right thought was a searing critique of democracy based on supposed genetic 'facts' combined with a dash of intellectual snobbery."

De (Chinese)

De (; Chinese: 德) is a key concept in Chinese philosophy, usually translated "inherent character; inner power; integrity" in Taoism, "moral character; virtue; morality" in Confucianism and other contexts, and "quality; virtue" (guna) or "merit; virtuous deeds" (punya) in Chinese Buddhism.

Four Sages

The Four Sages, Assessors, or Correlates (Chinese: 四配; pinyin: Sì Pèi) are four eminent Chinese philosophers in the Confucian tradition. They are traditionally accounted a kind of sainthood and their spirit tablets are prominently placed in Confucian temples, two upon the east and two upon the west side of the Hall of the Great Completion (Dacheng Dian).

The Four Sages are:

Yan Hui, Confucius's favourite disciple

Zengzi or Zeng Shen, another disciple of Confucius and author of the Great Learning

Zisi or Kong Ji, Confucius's grandson, student of Zengzi, and author of the Doctrine of the Mean

Mencius or Master Meng, student of Zisi and author of the Mencius.Within a traditional Confucian temple, Yan Hui's tablet is placed first to the east of Confucius.The families of the descendants of the Four Sages 四氏 still hold hereditary offices in the Republic of China (Taiwan) such as the Sacrificial Official to Confucius, "Sacrificial Official to Mencius", "Sacrificial Official to Zengzi", and "Sacrificial Official to Yan Hui". They use generation poems for their names given to them by the Ming and Qing Emperors.


Gaozi (Chinese: 告子; pinyin: Gàozǐ; Wade–Giles: Kao-tzu; literally: 'Master Gao'; ca. 420-350 BCE), or Gao Buhai (告不害), was a Chinese philosopher during the Warring States period.

Gaozi's teachings are no longer extant, but he was a contemporary of Mencius (ca. 372-289 BCE), and most of our knowledge about him comes from the Mencius book (6) titled "Gaozi".

Warring States philosophers disputed whether human nature is originally good (Mencius) or evil (Xunzi). The "Gaozi" chapter begins with a famous metaphor about a type of willow tree (杞柳 (qǐliǔ)). (Qi was also an ancient place name, best known through the four-character idiom '杞人憂天' [qǐrényōutiān, "person from Qi who worried heaven might fall"] "groundless fears; superfluous worry".)

The philosopher [Gao] said, 'Man's nature is like the [qi]-willow, and righteousness is like a cup or a bowl. The fashioning benevolence and righteousness out of man's nature is like the making cups and bowls from the [qi]-willow.'

Mencius replied, 'Can you, leaving untouched the nature of the willow, make with it cups and bowls? You must do violence and injury to the willow, before you can make cups and bowls with it. If you must do violence and injury to the willow in order to make cups and bowls with it, on your principles you must in the same way do violence and injury to humanity in order to fashion from it benevolence and righteousness! Your words, alas! would certainly lead all men on to reckon benevolence and righteousness to be calamities.'

The philosopher [Gao] said, 'Man's nature is like water whirling round in a corner. Open a passage for it to the east, and it will flow to the east; open a passage for it to the west, and it will flow to the west. Man's nature is indifferent to good and evil, just as the water is indifferent to the east and west.'

Mencius replied, 'Water indeed will flow indifferently to the east or west, but will it flow indifferently up or down? The tendency of man's nature to good is like the tendency of water to flow downwards. There are none but have this tendency to good, just as all water flows downwards. Now by striking water and causing it to leap up, you may make it go over your forehead, and, by damming and leading it you may force it up a hill - but are such movements according to the nature of water? It is the force applied which causes them. When men are made to do what is not good, their nature is dealt with in this way.' (6A, tr. James Legge, 1895:394-396 [1])

Lu Jiuyuan

Lu Jiuyuan (Chinese: 陸九淵; pinyin: Lù Jiǔyuān; 1139–1192), or Lu Xiangshan (陸象山; Lù Xiàngshān), was a Chinese philosopher and writer who founded the school of the universal mind, the second most influential Neo-Confucian school. He was a contemporary and the main rival of Zhu Xi.

In China, Japan, and Western countries, he is known by his honorific name rather than his private name.

Mandate of Heaven

The Mandate of Heaven or Tian Ming (Chinese: 天命; pinyin: Tiānmìng; Wade–Giles: T'ien-ming, literally "the will of the sky") is a Chinese political and religious doctrine used since ancient times to justify the rule of the King or Emperor of China. According to this belief, heaven (天, Tian)—which embodies the natural order and will of the universe—bestows the mandate on a just ruler of China, the "Son of Heaven" of the "Celestial Empire". If a ruler was overthrown, this was interpreted as an indication that the ruler was unworthy, and had lost the mandate. It was also a common belief among citizens that natural disasters such as famine and flood were signs of heaven's displeasure with the ruler, so there would often be revolts following major disasters as citizens saw these as signs that the Mandate of Heaven had been withdrawn.

The Mandate of Heaven does not require a legitimate ruler to be of noble birth, depending instead on the just and able performance of the rulers and their heirs. Dynasties such as the Han and Ming dynasties were founded by men of common origins. The concept is in some ways similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings; however, unlike the European concept, it does not in theory confer an unconditional right to rule, despite this being exactly the case in practicality. The Mandate would in theory be a preoccupation in a ruler's lifetime, when he would hold onto the Mandate and live according to Heavens. Intrinsic to the concept of the Mandate of Heaven was the right of rebellion against an unjust ruler. Chinese historians interpreted a successful revolt as evidence that Heaven had withdrawn its mandate from the ruler. Throughout Chinese history, times of poverty and natural disasters were often taken as signs that heaven considered the incumbent ruler unjust and thus in need of replacement. The Mandate of Heaven was often invoked by philosophers and scholars in China as a way to curtail the abuse of power by the ruler. While each dynasty was not the same, they each had a lineage that passed on the prospective ruler by order of generational descent or their priority of birth. Many emperors during the imperial times would optimize to have many sons who could be candidates to fill the position after the current ruler has died. In addition Heaven was thought to be of how a ruler's works and performance was, which reflected upon how favorable they would be to Heaven.

Mencius, a great philosopher who many thought was the successor to Confucius, said:The people are of supreme importance; the altars of the gods of earth and grain come next; last comes the ruler. That is why he who gains the confidence of the multitudinous people will be Emperor... When a feudal lord endangers the altars of the gods of earth and grain, he should be replaced. When the sacrificial animals are sleek, the offerings are clean and the sacrifices are observed at due times, and yet floods and droughts come [by the agency of heaven], then the altars should be replaced.

The concept of the Mandate of Heaven was first used to support the rule of the kings of the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BCE), and legitimize their overthrow of the earlier Shang dynasty (1600–1069 BCE). It was used throughout the history of China to legitimize the successful overthrow and installation of new emperors, including non-Han ethnic monarchs such as the Qing dynasty (1636–1912).

Mencius (book)

The Mencius (Chinese: 孟子; pinyin: Mèngzǐ; Old Chinese: *mˤraŋ-s tsəʔ) is a collection of anecdotes and conversations of the Confucian thinker and philosopher Mencius on topics in moral and political philosophy, often between Mencius and the rulers of the various Warring States. Mencius was a disciple of one of the students of Zisi, a grandson of Confucius, and the Mencius records his travels and audiences with the various rulers of the Warring States period, his students, and his other contemporaries. A number of linguistic and textual clues suggest that the text was not written by Mencius himself but by his disciples, probably during the late 4th century BC.

Meng (surname)

Meng (Chinese: 孟; pinyin: Mèng; Wade–Giles: Meng) is a Chinese surname. Meng is a shi surname or clan name (氏), as opposed to the xing (姓) category of surname. Meng is of the type of surname which was a member of the list of names denoting seniority within a certain family: in ancient usage, the characters of meng (孟), zhong (仲), shu (叔) and ji (季) were used to denote the first, second, third and fourth eldest sons in a family. These were sometimes adopted as surnames. Of these, Meng is the best known, being the surname of the philosopher Mencius.

Ming yun

Ming yun (Chinese: 命運; pinyin: mìng yùn) is a concept of the personal life and destiny in the Chinese folk religion. Ming is "life" or "right", the given status of life, and yùn defines "circumstance" and "individual choice"; mìng is given and influenced by the transcendent force Tiān (天), that is the same as the "divine right" (tiān mìng) of ancient rulers as identified by Mencius. Personal destiny (mìng yùn) is thus perceived as both fixed (the status of life) and flexible, open-ended (the individual choice in matters of bào yìng).

Xu Xing (philosopher)

Xu Xing (Chinese: 許行; Wade–Giles: Hsü Hsing) (c. 372 BC - c. 289 BC) was a Chinese philosopher and one of the most notable advocates of Agriculturalism, a political philosophy that advocated peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism. With a group of followers he settled in the state of Teng in about 315 BC. A disciple of his visited the Confucian philosopher Mencius, and a short report of their conversation discussing Xu Xing's philosophy survives.

Xun Kuang

Xun Kuang (; Chinese: 荀況; pinyin: Xún Kuàng [ɕy̌n kʰwâŋ]; c. 310 – c. 235 BC, alt. c. 314 – c. 217 BC), also widely known as Xunzi (; Chinese: 荀子; pinyin: Xúnzǐ; Wade–Giles: Hsün-tzu, "Master Xun"), was a Chinese Confucian philosopher and writer who lived during the Warring States period and contributed to the Hundred Schools of Thought. A book known as the Xunzi is traditionally attributed to him. His works survive in an excellent condition, and were a major influence in forming the official state doctrines of the Han dynasty, but his influence waned during the Tang dynasty relative to that of Mencius.Xunzi discusses figures ranging from Confucius, Mencius, and Zhuangzi, to Linguists Mozi, Hui Shi and Gongsun Long and "Legalists" Shen Buhai and Shen Dao. He mentions Laozi as a figure for the first time in early Chinese history, and makes use of Taoist terminology, though rejecting their doctrine.

Yang Zhu

Yang Zhu (; simplified Chinese: 杨朱; traditional Chinese: 楊朱; pinyin: Yáng Zhū; Wade–Giles: Yang Chu; 440–360 BC), also known as Yang Zi or Yangzi (Master Yang), was a Chinese philosopher during the Warring States period. An early ethical egoist alternative to Mohist and Confucian thought, Yang Zhu's surviving ideas appear primarily in the Chinese texts Huainanzi, Lüshi Chunqiu, Mengzi, and possibly the Liezi and Zhuangzi.The philosophies attributed to Yang Zhu, as presented in Liezi, clash with the primarily Daoist influence of the rest of the work. Of particular note is his recognition of self-preservation (weiwo 為我), which has led him to be credited with "the discovery of the body". In comparison with other Chinese philosophical giants, Yang Zhu has recently faded into relative obscurity, but his influence in his own time was so widespread that Mencius (孟子) described his philosophies along with the antithetical ideas of Mozi (墨子) as "floods and wild animals that ravage the land" (Liu: 1967: 358).


Yangism (Chinese: 楊朱學派; pinyin: Yángzhūxuépài) was a philosophical school founded by Yang Zhu, existent during the Warring States period (475 BCE – 221 BCE), that believed that human actions are and should be based on self-interest. The school has been described by sinologists as an early form of psychological and ethical egoism. The main focus of the Yangists was on the concept of xing, or human nature, a term later incorporated by Mencius into Confucianism. No documents directly authored by the Yangists have been discovered yet, and all that is known of the school comes from the comments of rival philosophers, specifically in the Chinese texts Huainanzi, Lüshi Chunqiu, Mengzi, and possibly the Liezi and Zhuangzi. The philosopher Mencius claimed that Yangism once rivaled Confucianism and Mohism, although the veracity of this claim remains controversial among sinologists. Because Yangism had largely faded into obscurity by the time that Sima Qian compiled his Shiji, the school was not included as one of the Hundred Schools of Thought.


Zengzi (505–435 BC), born Zeng Shen, courtesy name Ziyu (子輿), was an influential Chinese philosopher and disciple of Confucius. He later taught Zisi (Kong Ji), the grandson of Confucius, who was in turn the teacher of Mencius, thus beginning a line of transmitters of orthodox Confucian traditions. He is revered as one of the Four Sages of Confucianism.

Zhao Qi (Han dynasty)

Zhao Qi (died 201), courtesy name Binqing, was an official and scholar who lived during the Eastern Han dynasty of China. He wrote the Commentaries on Mencius (孟子章句), one of the few major commentaries on Mencius from that period still in existence.


Zoucheng (simplified Chinese: 邹城; traditional Chinese: 鄒城; pinyin: Zōuchéng) is a county-level city in the south of Shandong province, China. Before it became a city, it was known as Zou County or Zouxian.Zoucheng is located about 20 km south of the city of Qufu, and like Qufu, is administratively under the prefecture-level city of Jining. Its population was 1,116,692 at the 2010 census even though its built-up (or metro) area is much smaller.

Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinMèngzǐ
Bopomofoㄇㄥˋ   ㄗˇ
Gwoyeu RomatzyhMenqtzyy
Wade–GilesMêng4 Tzŭ3
Yale RomanizationMèngdž
Yue: Cantonese
Yale RomanizationMaahngjí
Southern Min
Hokkien POJBēng-chú
Middle Chinese
Middle ChineseMæ̀ng-tzí
Old Chinese
Baxter–Sagart (2014)*mˤraŋ-s tsəʔ
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