Confucianism According to Mencius

Discusses the views on human nature held by the Confucian scholar, Mencius.

This paper talks about the Confucian scholar, Mencius, and his claim that human nature is good. The paper compares this claim with that of Kao Tzu, who disagreed, saying that human nature is neither good nor bad, but it can become good or bad. The paper also examines Mencius’s idea of an innate moral sense, which he termed the four sprouts, Mencius’s views on equality, and learning and self-cultivation.
“Human nature (hsing), according to Mencius, is a combination of basic “humaness” (jen) and a spirit of rightness or good. Kao-tzu’s analogy of bowls seems to suggest that these qualities come from a compilation of experiences that make up an artificial or empirical hsing. Human nature is a product of genes (innate hsing) in the context of environment. Mencius counters this point with the assertion that human nature has a purpose and a direction, like water that has to flow downhill, unless it’s diverted by something. The need is innate, while the obstacles may set the hsing on a “wrong” path. The water will make its way to the ocean, however, because it will follow the laws of its nature to flow downhill. Kao-tzu is left with arguing that hsing comes from the process of living – not what is born with the child. Humaness is born with the individual (internal) while rightness is learned through experience (external).”