Differences between the teachings of Mencius and Confucius

In essence, Mencius was one of the most prominent interpreters of Confucianism and was apparently believed to be the pupil of Confuciuss grandson, Zisi. In accordance with the views put forth by various Chinese scholars of different ages, Menciuss elucidation of Confucianism is primarily an extremely orthodox version and it is this factor that was the main reason why he essentially gained more influence than Confucius himself. Mencius disciples included various feudal lords as well as kings. This brief report will attempt to identify the main differences between the teachings of both these philosophers.

As has been mentioned in the previous paragraph, Mencius was able to derive far more influence than Confucius himself. In comparison, Confuciuss teachings were brief and to the point whereas Menciuss schooling methodology contained detailed arguments portrayed through extensive dialogues and prose. Primarily, both had a different view in regards to the teachings that they imparted concerning the aspect of human nature in the development of human beings. In his actual teachings, Confucius did not give much importance to the perspective of human nature. On the other hand, Mencius believed that every human being is born with an intrinsic kindness and decency thereby stating that eventually it is the society that plays a major role in the development of human beings societys impact upon an individual then, resultantly, leads to positive or negative results. Hence, Mencius stressed upon the fact that society is one of the essential factors that develop the characters of human beings. This aspect of his teachings can be personified adequately by one of his most famous quotes which inherently stated that an individual who can exert his or her mind to the fullest extent will eventually discover his actual nature.

In retrospect, however, Mencius unlike Confucius adopted a more aggressive approach towards the promulgation of his teachings. Consequently, he was regarded as a precarious philosopher primarily because of his formulation of a concept known in todays times as a social contract. In accordance with Confucianism, Mencius essentially believed that kings and rulers were required to maintain peace and harmony within the civilization that they were ruling upon. However, unlike Confucius, if the ruler or king failed to adequately fulfill his duties in regards to the maintenance of peace and prosperity throughout the region, then his subjects had the right object against his laws and policies to the extent that they had the option of initiating a rebellion. Hence, Mencius incorporated into Confuciuss teachings, a certain degree of aggressiveness that was absent in the former.

Fundamentally speaking, Mencius promulgated teachings that stated that in order to be the son of heaven, as had been taught by Confucius, an individual has to accept the methodology based upon Ren Yi, which is the practice of mercy and honesty. Hence, a ruler is required to be merciful and honest in his dealings with his subjects as well as with other states within his dwellings. Thus, the fact that merciful and honest treatment of his subjects is one of the pre-requisites for the path to heaven and inadvertently Ren Yi inherently means that an individual can be born a ruler but may not attain the path to heaven if he diverges from the teachings of Ren Yi. Resultantly, a ruler will lose his rightful throne if he maintains Ren Yi.

In contrast, Confucius believed in the fact that one is born a ruler and on the basis of his position, attains the path to heaven. He continued along the same lines by stressing that under conditions where the ruler proceeds to act unjustly towards his own subjects causes him to be dethroned by another ruler. However, people do not have the right to rebel against the king or ruler because that would be negating the teachings put forth by Li Jiao, Order of Rites. Thus, as has been stated previously, only another Son of Heaven or ruler has the authority to rebel and overthrow the king.

Hence, as has been explained in the previous paragraph, the main point of contention lies within the fact that Confucius believed in the sovereignty and rule of the king whereas Mencius advocated that people come first whereas rulers or kings are the least important aspect of the equation. Consequently, this difference might have been the primary reason why Confucianism became the state ideology during the rule of Han Wudi. Hence, while Mencius did inherently promulgate the basic teachings of Confucius, however, both differed in regards to their doctrines.


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