PAPER - Meredith Martinuzzi EALC 110 9am Discussion Mencius...

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Meredith Martinuzzi March 11, 2010 EALC 110 9am Discussion Mencius and Xunzi are known as two great philosophers of Confucianism. The philosopher Mencius, was the single most influential contributor to a Confucian view on human nature. His view on human nature of believing humans were born good with ‘Four Beginnings of Virtue’, became dominant in China and other places in East Asia that practiced Confucianism (Bary & Bloom 116). Xunzi though, was not influenced by Mencius’s view and thought Mencius’s ideas were an inaccurate depiction of human nature. Xunzi thought that humans were born with three forms of evil. Although Mencius and Xunzi had opposing views on human nature, they both could agree that people had potential to improve from their beginning state and move towards individual betterment. Mencius thought that by nature humans were good, because they had ‘Four Beginnings of Virtue’, but that these virtues could either reach their potential or be taken over by the external force of evil. The first virtue of pity and compassion comes from the fact that all people have a natural instinct to help others when they see them in danger. “All human beings have a mind that cannot bear to see the sufferings of others” and “if anyone were suddenly to see a child about to fall into a well, his mind would always be filled with alarm, distress, pity and compassion” and from there “act accordingly” to the problem (Bary & Bloom 129). This virtue was also the first sign of the potential for humanness. The second virtue was shame and aversion, which was the beginning of rightness. The third virtue was modesty and compliance, which was the beginning of propriety and decorum and the last virtue was the sense of right and wrong, which was the beginning of wisdom. These virtues all show the potential humans have to achieve
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perfection, but the external force of evil is what is standing in the way. Gaozi remarked on this idea by making water a metaphor out of it and said “The nature is like a swirling water”, and Mencius responded “The goodness of human nature is like the downward course of water. There is no human being lacking in tendency to flow downward. Now by striking water and splashing it, you may cause it to go over your head…It is the force that makes this happen” (Bary & Bloom 147). In this example, the striking and splashing of water that makes a person’s good nature go off course is a metaphor for evil. Mencius also believed that humans were inherently good, because it was natural
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PAPER - Meredith Martinuzzi EALC 110 9am Discussion Mencius...

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