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Mencius On Human Nature Essay

349 words - 2 pages

Mencius' philosophy about human nature improves upon Taoism and Confucianism in that it is more rational in concern with the human's development in relation to it's environment. Taoists believed that humans did not need cultural refinement, adjustment, or molding based on an external environment, but that it was only their pre-existing natural inborn goodness that needed to be tapped into. Confucians (like the Xunzi for example) thought that people were born innately evil. Mencius improved upon both of those by claiming the natural ...view middle of the document...

Within the analogy of the four germ sprouts, Mencius states four potentials that are hardwired into human genes; “From the feeling of commiseration benevolence grows; from the feeling of shame righteousness grows; from the feeling of courtesy ritual grows; from a sense of right and wrong, wisdom grows. People have these four germs, just as they have four limbs”. These views on human behavior point more toward modern psychology/sociology because they accept that innate human states are less significant than their position within the context of an influence from their environment. Mencius responds to Gaozi's statement about water with, “There are no people who are not good and no water that does not flow down . Still water if splashed can go higher than your head; if forced, it can be brought up a hill. This isn't the nature of water; it is the specific circumstances.” and more so than the approach of his predecessors, Mencius' perspective advocated, with a more intelligent critical reflection, the identification of those things that splash the water (or those things within society that cause people to turn bad.) The human nature aspect of Mencius philosophy made advancements in the efficiency of logic and it is easy to see how it's influence usurped that of Confucianism.

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