Mencius: Is Human Nature Good or Bad?

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Philosophy Response – Mencius Throughout Mencius, there is continual debate amongst the people regarding human nature; is it, by nature, good or bad? Every option is discussed by Mencius himself, ranging from whether all are born good, born evil, born with both or born with neither. Overall, Mencius succeeds in his description of all possibilities of whether human nature is good or bad. The main permutation discussed by Mencius is that all humans are born good. In Book 2, Part A, Section 6, Mencius describes a child falling down a well. If a human were to see this child fall down the well, they would not just stand there doing and feeling nothing, because they have a heart. Any human with a heart would feel sorrow and sadness for the child that just fell down the well. For anyone without a heart, this would mean that they would feel nothing and their human nature is ultimately evil. In the same part, Mencius describes the “4 Shoots” of human nature. These four shoots, when accepted and learned by humans, ultimately lead to good human nature for the rest of their lives. The four shoots are “the heart of compassion, benevolence; the heart of shame, dutifulness; the heart of courtesy and modesty, observance of rites; and the heart of right and wrong, wisdom” (2A6). These four shoots, throughout the book, show how they apply more to humans with a good nature rather than a bad nature. Benevolence, as described by Mencius, is a primary part of the four shoots of human nature. In one section, Mencius states “One who puts benevolence into effect through the transformation influence of morality will become a true king, and his success will not depend on the size of his state” (2A3). This means that the human with a good nature that uses benevolence correctly will ultimately end up with the best in life, as shown in this example by showing how a normal person will become a king over the people. Also, this shows that no matter what you have will not matter because you...
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