The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Ancestral name (姓): Ji (Chinese: ; Pinyin: Jī)
Clan name (氏): Meng¹ (Ch: ; Py: Mng)
Given name (名): Ke (Ch: ; Py: Kē)
Courtesy name (字): Unknown²
Posthumous name (謚): Master Meng the Second
(Ch: 亞聖孟子 ;
Py: Yshng Mngzǐ)
Styled: Master Meng 4
(Ch: 孟子; Py: Mngzǐ)
1 The original clan name was Mengsun (孟孫), but was
shortened into Meng (
), before or after Mencius's life,
it is not possible to say.
2 Traditionally, his courtesy name was assumed to be Ziche
子車), sometimes incorrectly written as Ziyu (子輿) or Ziju
子居), but recent scholarly works show that these courtesy
names appeared in the 3rd century AD and apply to another
historical figure named Meng Ke who also lived in Chinese
antiquity and was mistaken for Mencius.
3 I.e. the 2nd sage after Confucius. Posthumous name given in
1530 by Emperor Jiajing. In the two centuries preceding 1530,
the posthumous name was "The Second Sage Duke of Zou"
鄒國亞聖公) which is still the name that can be seen carved
in the Mencius ancestral temple in Zoucheng .
4Romanized as Mencius.

Mencius (most accepted dates: 372 BC289 BC; other possible dates: 385 BC303 BC or 302 BC) was born in the State of Zou (鄒國), now forming the territory of the county-level city of Zoucheng (邹城市), Shandong province, only 30 km (18 miles) south of Qufu, the town of Confucius. He was an itinerant Chinese philosopher and sage, and one of the principal interpreters of Confucianism. Like Confucius, according to legend, he travelled China for forty years to offer advice to rulers for reform. He served as an official during the Warring States Period (403 – 221 BC) in the State of Qi (齊 q) from 319 BC to 312 BC. He expressed his filial devotion when he took an absence of three years from his official duties for Qi to mourn his mother's death. Disappointed at his failure to effect changes in his contemporary world, he retired from public life.

A follower of Confucianism, Mencius argued for the infinite goodness of the individual, believing that it was society's influence—its lack of a positive cultivating influence—which caused bad character. He even argued that it was acceptable for people to overthrow or even kill a ruler who ignored the people's needs and ruled harshly. Mencius argued that human beings are born with an innate moral sense which society has corrupted, and that the goal of moral cultivation is to return to one's innate morality.

Mencius' interpretation of Confucianism has generally been considered the orthodox version by subsequent Chinese philosophers, especially the Neo-Confucians of the Song dynasty. Mencius (also spelled Mengzi or Meng-tzu), a book of his conversations with kings of the time, is one of the Four books which form the core of orthodox Confucian thinking. In contrast to the sayings of Confucius which are short and self-contained, Mencius consists of long dialogues with extensive prose.

Mencius spoke frequently and highly of the well-field system.

See also

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Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04