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Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics$
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Wm. Theodore de Bary

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153973

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153973.001.0001

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(p.57) 4 Mencius
Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics

Irene Bloom

Columbia University Press

This chapter presents a reading of Mencius. Dating from perhaps the third century bce, Mencius has been studied, memorized, absorbed, quoted, reflected upon, and argued about in China over the course of some twenty-three centuries. It has also exerted great influence throughout the recorded history of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Mencius was among the first followers of Confucius to elaborate the original Confucian vision both in the area of political philosophy and in the philosophy of mind and human nature. Mencius, like Confucius, was concerned both with fundamental human questions, such as human nature and the functioning of consciousness, and the matter of government. Nor did he see these issues as in any way separate or distinct. For Mencius, the private and public worlds are continuous rather than analogous. His conception of the human is essentially biological and his conception of Nature, a biosphere in which everything is mutually interreactive.

Keywords:   Mencius, Confucius, political philosophy, philosophy of mind, human nature, East Asian texts, classic texts

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