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He believes that “Individual effort was needed to cultivate oneself, but one’s natural tendencies were good to begin with. In this way, Mencius has integrated elements of Taoism into his theory. Basically, people are born well with good intentions, but they must work to maintain their good nature. Mencius says, “Every person has a heart-mind which feels for others” . He applies this to a famous example – if one witnessed a child falling into a well, it is not possible to not feel anything. Every person has the heart-mind that would be shocked and sympathetic, which may become the motivation to act and save the child.
It would not be for the sake on being on good terms with the child’s parents, or be praised by the neighbors . However, if one listens to their senses of desire, “I don’t want to be involved” or “If I try to save the child, I might injure myself in the process”, then they would stop themselves from helping. It is important to point out that Mencius did not mention anything about how ones responding “act”, and that it is having the “feeling” that counts. On the other hand, Xunzi believed that human nature is bad. Nobody is born with principles accustomed in their nature.
For that reason, people must be educated and cultivated in ethics to become good. “Human nature is evil, and goodness is caused by intentional activity. ” “A person is born with feelings of envy and hate. If he gives way to them, they will lead him to violence and crime, and any sense of loyalty and good faith will be abandoned. ” However, he also believed that, although human nature is bad, people still have the capacity to becoming good. For example, a great leader like Martin Luther King was born no differently from Adolf Hitler.
They both inherited the same nature at birth. Applying Xunzi’s theory, the differences would be that one practiced benevolence and righteousness, as well as followed the proper rules and standards, and one (Hitler) obviously did not. This also suggests that these elements are principles that have to be known first before being put into practice. It is about the environment that one is brought up with that influences the way one acts. “‘If you do not know a man, look at his friends; if you do not know a ruler, look at his attendants. ‘ Environment is the important thing!
Environment is the important thing! ” As for the basis for ruling a country, I would personally choose Mencius’s assertion of human nature is good. For example, if the leader of America thought about Iraq in Xunzi’s perspective, that human nature is bad, they would be on guard and suspicious of the motives of the Iraqi people. This leads to the feeling of unease and both sides are tensed. The inability to trust will result to both countries expecting the worst, and therefore making the situation more aggravated and war will be more likely to break out.
While, by thinking in Mencius’s perspective, America would only assume the good in Iraqi people, and that there can be a solution made through a mutual understanding through trust, decency and self-actualization. No more nuclear weapons will be produced and less conflicts will happen, which leads to less innocent people dying. It is better to assume that people are born good, so it is easier to feel security and trust each other. 100% Mencius for everyone is the perfect recipe to WORLD PEACE. That’s right.