Sunday, June 17, 2012

On to Mencius

Trey Smith

Now that we've finished the Doctrine of the Mean, we next move on to The Works of Mencius translated by James Legge via Mencius, you ask? Who is that?

According to the entry on Wikipedia,
Mencius, also known by his birth name Meng Ke or Ko, was born in the State of Zou, now forming the territory of the county-level city of Zoucheng (originally Zouxian), Shandong province, only thirty kilometres (eighteen miles) south of Qufu, Confucius' birthplace.

He was an itinerant Chinese philosopher and sage, and one of the principal interpreters of Confucianism. Supposedly, he was a pupil of Confucius' grandson, Zisi. Like Confucius, according to legend, he travelled China for forty years to offer advice to rulers for reform. During the Warring States Period (403–221 BCE), Mencius served as an official and scholar at the Jixia Academy in the State of Qi (1046 BCE to 221 BCE) from 319 to 312 BCE. 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.
Even though this blog is dedicated to philosophical Taoism, I think it's important to understand the philosophic milieu that influenced sages such as Lao Tzu and Zhuangzi. Their philosophic formulations were not born in a vacuum; they and subsequent Taoist philsophers were responding, in part, to the formulations of other sages.

If nothing else, this exercise in providing serialized posts of ancient Chinese philosophical writings allows you to read some of the greatest books ever written! If you read most of the entries, you might be able to amaze your friends with quotes or paraphrases of quotes from philosophers they've never heard of!

Who knows? They make scratch their heads and decide they've underestimated your intellectual prowess! ;-)

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