Main CategoriesTaoism and ConfuciusConfucian Classics Mencius


Product no.: 0-14-044228-6
A philosopher who worked in the fourth century B.C., Mencius studied with the grandson of Confucius and is credited with the development of orthodox Confucianism.

Product is in stock

Additional product information

Publisher's Synopsis

The fullest of the four great Confucian texts, Mencius draws out the implications of the master's moral principles stressing the importance of individual conscience and the necessity for morality in personal and public life.


"Mencius (Meng Tzu, 372-289 B.C.) was a contemporary of Plato and utilized Confucian teachings to build an ideal state as Plato attempted in his Republic. Mencius moved from court to court in search of opportunities for the practical application of his political ideas and theories. But even in political doctrines the paradox was maintained, for Mencius preached in the same breath divine right of kings and democracy. He was more emphatic than Confucius himself in reference to the heaven-appointed sovereign, but he made it amply clear that people got as ruler what they deserved. He quotes as the Great Declaration - 'Heaven sees according as the people see; Heaven hears according as the people hear.' Therefore 'the people are the most important element in a nation; the spirits of the land and the grain are the next; the sovereign is the lightest.'

Mencius went so far as to advocate revolt against an unworthy sovereign - raise a standard not of rebellion but of righteousness. He advises looking for the minister of Heaven when the sovereign has become worthless and useless; for, 'it is not enough to remonstrate with a sovereign on account of the mal-employment of his ministers. Once rectify the prince and the kingdom will be firmly settled.'

Material well-being of the people was his one aim, and therefore he preaches that the state should supply the twofold nourishment, for body and mind, hence he recommends agriculture and education as of first rate importance. 'The way of the people is this: if they have a certain livelihood, they will have a fixed heart; if not they will not have a fixed heart, and then there is nothing which they will not do in the way of self-abandonment, of moral deflection, of depravity, and of wild license. When they have thus been involved in crime, to follow them up and punish them - this is to entrap the people. How can such an entrapping be done under the rule of a benevolent man?' "       ~Theosophy Magazine

Author Mencius
Translator Lau, D.C.
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 280 pp.
Publisher Penguin Books 1970
Browse this category: Confucian Classics

We also recommend