Mencius Summary

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This book is the first, published in 1997, of three projected volumes examining Confucian-Mencian ethical thought by Professor Kwong-loi Shun. This book is to explore the possibilities of the text (Roetz, 1999, p. 385) and to study the reflective ethical thinking of Mencius with subsequent references to and comparisons with that of other early Chinese thinkers such as Confucius, Mo Tsu, the Yangists and Hsün Tsu, through assessing and analyzing traditional and contemporary interpretations of the Meng-tzu in commentaries and translations. By ethical thinking, the author means thinking about how one should live; a conception of the ethical life or the ethical ideal is an answer to this question. Due to the separation from the more philosophical…show more content…
Chapter 1 works as the introduction, explaining the subject matter and methodological issues from the research approach to how to deal with the interpretations. The details of all these are mentioned above. The author also, in a few sentences, shows a brief summary about the remaining chapters of the book for readers to gain a better understanding about the flow of the research. Chapter 2 covers a discussion of the subsequent aspects of the teachings of Confucius, Mo Tsu, the Yangists as the background of the main discussion of Mencius. In chapter 3, Mencius’s conception of the ethical ideal is presented based on the discussion of Confucius in the previous chapter; in addition to the four attributes, jen (仁 benevolence, humaneness), yi (義 righteousness, propriety), li (禮 observance of rites), chih (智 wisdom), Mencius’s idea of the unmoved heart/mind (不動心 pu tung hsin) attitude towards ming (命 decree, destiny) are also considered. After introducing the fundamental concepts, Shun begins further discussion and argumentation in remaining chapters. In Chapter 4, he investigates the relation between yi and hsin (心 heart/mind) in the context of Mencius’s disagreement with Kao Tsu and the Mohist Yi Chih; part of this discussion concerns Mencius’s response to the Mohist challenge. In Chapter 5, he deals with Mencius’s conceptions of self-cultivation, the restoration of political order, and the sources of ethical failure. Chapter 6, the last chapter, is on hsing (性 nature, characteristic tendencies) and Mencius’s claim that hsing is good, which contains Mencius’s response to the Yangist challenge and the differences with Hsün Tsu’s views on hsing. For convenience of review, summaries and comments chapter by chapter will be provided below, following the structure of this book, just as how some reviews to which are here referred
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