Philosophers are some of the world’s brightest and intelligent men. Thanks to their amazing portfolios together with pure ingenuity and class, these men have made the world a better place. Their unending quest for knowledge has led them to build monuments and schools of thought a lot of people today revere. When you talk about politics, science, art, religion or other human endeavors, these group of highly educated men have carved a niche for themselves. One philosopher whose philosophical beliefs has continued to revolutionize the world till date is Mencius, a highly revered Chinese philosopher from the Confucian school of thought. His extraordinary achievements are the reason we are writing this article. And we hope to tell you more about who Mencius was.
Early Life of Mencius
The extraordinary life of prominent Confucian philosopher Mencius dates back to 372 BC, the year he was born in the state of Zou. This place is known today as Zhou Cheng in Shandong province. Mencius was from the ruling family of the Meng-sun clan. Although there are no early records of his childhood, sources claim he was brought up by his mother after his father’s death. Also, findings show that Mencius attended Confucian schools established by Tzu-su, the grandson of Confucius. It is in this school he learned and mastered Confucian beliefs and teachings.
The adult life of Mencius is vague. However, it is believed that the Confucian philosopher gained his reputation as a teacher in Tsou before proceeding to Qi where he served as a state official from 1046 BC to 221 BC. Because of his wealth of knowledge and his desire to change the way government carried out its responsibilities, Mencius traveled all through China admonishing rulers on the need for reform. To further propagate his beliefs, Mencius served as a scholar at the Jixia Academy in the State of Qi.
Notwithstanding, Mencius retired from public life out of disappointment as he could not make the heterodoxic changes he desired. It is believed that Mencius died around 289 BC and was eventually buried in Zhou.
Mencius was a highly revered Confucian who believed firmly that human nature should be centered on goodness. According to him, there are four beginning that defines the human nature. They include the feeling of commiseration, the feeling of shame, the feeling of courtesy, and the feeling of right and wrong. He stated that if these four beginnings are rightly cultivated, it would result in four cardinal virtues of propriety, wisdom, righteousness and decorum. Furthermore, Mencius was a staunch supporter of education as evident in his quote: “One who believes all of a book would be better off without books.” According to him, the purpose of books is to awaken the innate abilities of the mind.
Although history puts it that Mencius retired from public life having been disappointed at his inability to effect change in his contemporary society, his teachings are still being revered by millions of people intrigued by moral psychology. Here are his major contributions:
- Cultural and Academic Contribution: One of Mencius greatest contributions is in the area of culture and academics. His book Meng Zi which is today considered a classic of Confucianism bears record of his political viewpoint as well as his most cherished quotes. This book records his thought on the benevolent of politics, people-centered theory and a host of others.
- Politics: Mencius contributions to politics cannot be quantified. According to him, there is a two-way relationship that exists between rulers and subject. Hence if a ruler fails to perform his responsibility to his subject, he can be justifiably removed.
There is no doubt that the teachings and philosophical belief of Mencius have endeared him to millions of followers’ worldwide. Hence, he would forever be remembered as a philosopher who lived by what he preached.
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