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Lecture 9

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University of Toronto St. George
East Asian Studies

Lecture 9 Zhuangzi on Body and Mind Mencius on Mind 'That whereby the superior man is distinguished from other men is what he preserves in his heart - namely, benevolence and propriety.’ - What makes us human is our feelings of commiseration for others’ suffering; what makes us virtuous – or, in Confucian parlance, junzi – is our development of this inner potential. - If our sprouts are left untended, we can be no more than merely human – feeling sorrow at the suffering of another, but unable or unwilling to do anything about it. - Now, when a person suddenly see a child about to fall into a well, he has a feeling of alarm and distress, not to gain friendship with the child’s parents, nor to seek the praise of their neighbors and friends, nor because he dislikes the child’s crying for help. - From such a case, we see that a person without the feeling of commiseration is not human; and a person without a feeling of shame and dislike is not human; a person without the feeling of deference and compliance is not human; a person without the feeling of right and wrong is not human. - If we tend our sprouts assiduously — through education in the classical texts, formation by ritual propriety, fulfillment of social norms, etc. – we can not only avert the suffering of a few children in some wells, but also bring about peace and justice in the entire world. “By thinking, it gets the right view of things; by neglecting to think, it fails to do this. These – the senses and the mind – are what Heaven has given to us.” - The term xin 心 “mind/heart/feeling”, as general term, denotes human intellectual and affective capacity; as specific term, it denotes the feelings of commiseration, of shame and dislike, of deference and compliance, and of right and wrong. - For Mencius, if one can unfold sincerely his xin to its utmost degree, he will be able to get to know his own human nature and thereby get to know Heaven. “What belongs by his nature to the superior man are benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and knowledge. These are rooted in his heart; their growth and manifestation are a mild harmony appearing in the countenance, a rich fullness in the back, and the character imparted to the four limbs.” - Like Confucius, Mencius is looking for the transcendental foundation of human ethical actions. He names this human transcendental capacity of becoming good siduan 心心 “four sprouts” or “four beginnings”. These could be seen as four transcendental capacities of human nature tending towards goodness. Virtues such as humanness, righteousness, propriety and wisdom, are to be seen as fulfillment or unfolding in full of these four beginnings in human nature. Confucians about bodily manifestations of virtue “The internal grief and sorrow produced a change in his outward appearance; and with the severe pain in his heart, his mouth could not relish any savoury food, nor his body find ease in anything pleasant.” - It’s by sincerity (psychological/metaphysical) in each one of us that leads us to the fulfillment of human nature. Mencius calls the inborn ability liangneng 良良 and inborn knowledge liangzhi 良良 - The ability possessed by man without their having acquired it by learning is innate ability, and the knowledge possessed by them without deliberation is innate knowledge. Children carried in the arms all know to love their parents. As they grow, they all know to respec
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