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The Emotions in Early Chinese Philosophy$
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Curie Virág

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190498818

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190498818.001.0001

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Human Nature and the Pattern of Moral Life in Mencius

Human Nature and the Pattern of Moral Life in Mencius

(p.101) 4. Human Nature and the Pattern of Moral Life in Mencius
The Emotions in Early Chinese Philosophy

Curie Virág

Oxford University Press

Mencius’s theory of the goodness of human nature, which traces the human potentiality for virtue to certain innate dispositions, has been interpreted as positing “emotive” grounds for morality. This has made it difficult to reconcile Mencius’s ethical theory with his clear emphasis on the role of thinking and on the need to “extend” the dispositional sprouts through the cognitive workings of the mind. This chapter argues that crucial to understanding what the emotions were and what they signified for Mencius was his naturalistic conception of the human being as a coherent, intelligible entity characterized by certain distinct inclinations and tendencies. Such an idea was resonant with developments in natural philosophy during this period, which recognized that the elements that made up the world were not simply inert, but possessed characteristic inclinations and tendencies.

Keywords:   Mencius, goodness, dispositional sprouts, cognition, inclinations, natural philosophy, natural, patterns

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