Taught by a disciple of Confucius grandson, and the events of his life paralleled Confuciuss very closely.
The four "beginnings"Ren*, yi, li, and zhi (wisdom). Not "original goodness" but potentials still inclined to the good (Mencius 6a1).
Doctrine of graduated love vs. the universal love of the Mohists. Confucius, too. For the latter at the outer reaches of any social circle ren* becomes hui (generosity).
TWO MAJOR INNOVATIONS
1. But for Mencius ren* must reach out to the animals.
2. The right to revoltMencius radical innovation.
Development in dialectical skills (not an innovation, but present throughout this period). Analogical reasoning and reductio ad absurdum. Dialectical exchanges and extended give and take. No simple appeal to authority.
Apparently Mencius did this reluctantly--only to be able to defeat the views of his opponents. "Outsiders all say," says Kungduzi his disciple, "that you are fond of argument. I venture to ask why? "I am not fond of argument," announces Mencius, "I simply have no alternative [in a world of Mohist dialectic and his view not favored]" (Schwartz, p. 258).
Discussions about human nature (xing):
1. Neither good nor evil: Gaozi.
2. Its good or evil, depending on who rules (or environment?). Gaozi appears to switch to this position in 6a2.
3. Intrinsic goodness (Shun) and intrinsic badness (Shuns father).
4. Its good or more precisely: humans have the potential for goodness: Mencius.
5. Its evil or more precisely: humans tend to evil: Xunzi (Hsün-tzu).
For Gaozi ren* simply means love as a natural affection that stems from a basic sexual desire, which along with hunger, are Gaozis two beginnings. Therefore, that which is sheng* (inborn)desire for sex and foodis xinghuman nature.
Who is Gaozi anyway? A Daoist, as some say? Much more likely, as Schwartz says, he is a Confucian (2a2 speaks of him almost as a colleague) who simply disagrees with Mencius about human nature. He is, for example, closer to Mencius than the Confucian Xunzi is.
Please note the elevation of Confucius above the sage kings. Zaiwo: "In my view, the Mater surpassed greatly Yao and Shun [great sage kings]"; and Zigong adds that "through the rites of a state he could see its government; through its music, the moral quality of its ruler. Looking back over a hundred generations he was able to appraise all the kings, and no one has ever been able to show him to be wrong in a single instance. Ever since man came into this world, there has never been another like the Master" (2a2, Lau trans.)
Correlation between feelings (qing) and virtues (de).
Feeling of commiseration <> ren*
Lau: heart of compassion
heart of shame <> yi
Schwartz: sentiment of respect <> li
sentiment of right and wrong<> wisdom (zhi)
Mencius believes in the unity of the virtues just as the Greeks did.
Chan, p. 54: No one can develop his [ones] original endowment to the full extent." Not even the sage?
The Child in the Well (2a6): "All men have the mind which cannot bear to see the suffering of others." Lau: "No man is devoid of a heart sensitive to the sufferings of others."
ARGUMENT BY ANALOGY
Philosophical analogies approximate the form of mathematical proportions and therefore might appear to be tight deductive systems. For example, A is to B as C is to D has the same form as 1/2 = 2/4, but the "numerators" and "denominators" of philosophical analogies are never mathematically identical. This ultimately makes mathematical proportions and philosophical analogies quite different. It makes them inductive arguments, an argument that does not lead to necessary truths. Only deductive arguments give us truths that are true in all cases and without exceptions, e.g., the truths of logic, math, and geometry.
In assessing the value of philosophical analogies, we must ask two questions: Are the things compared similar? and are the things similar in the particular respect in question? If these two questions can be answered in the affirmative, then a convincing argument from analogy probably exists.
In his book Practical Logic, Monroe C. Beardsley contends that there is no such thing as an argument from analogy. "Analogies illustrate, and they lead to hypotheses, but thinking in terms of analogy becomes fallacious when the analogy is used as a reason for a principle" (p. 107). Beardsley does, however, give a good example of an analogy which is "strong" and which can be used to represent one thing as another. This is the analogy of a map: "The dots on the map are not very much like actual cities, and the lines on the map are not all like mountains or wet like rivers.... But the structure of the map, if it is a good one, corresponds to the structure of the country it represents. That is, the shapes of the states are like the shapes on the map; ...and the relative distances between actual cities are like the relative distances between the dots on the map" (p. 106). It is clear that such analogies can be very helpful in clarifying the form and structure of some arguments, even to the point of discrediting a specific argument.
Parallels vs. Analogies
A parallel argument: all elements are equal or similar in all essential particulars;
Or at least identical syntactical elements in corresponding positions.
Analogies have neither of these features.
Mathematical ratios are perfect parallel deductive arguments.
Chap. 6 Mencius
The wood is destroyed in making cups and bowls, but Mencius thinks that it is absurd to think that xing is destroyed in making humans moral.
D. C. Lau puts the reductio ad absurdum in an interesting way. The analogy of doing violence to the wood is moral evil, so the implication of Gaozis analogy is that it is evil to make humans moral.
Further implication: Violence is done to the wood whether we make good bowls or bad ones. So violence is done to human nature whether the person becomes immoral or moral! So this amounts to a double reductio ad absurdum.
Giers version of 6a1:
This reading fits Confucian virtue ethics must better. It gives a picture of crafting a noble soul from raw material that already has a potential for virtue-beauty in it. It also gives an argument for the goodness/beauty of this potential.
6a2 In the second argument Gaozi switches from his standard positionhuman nature is neither good nor evilto the second position mentioned in 6a6: human nature may be made good or evil.
Mencius: water going east and west are not natural inclinations, but simply indifferent. "Xing is naturally good just as water naturally flows downward." Couldn't Xunzi (the next Confucian who believes that humans tend to evil) use this same analogy and simply say that downward flowing water symbolizes the tendency of humans to become evil? Xunzi has the Yin-Yang philosophy on his side because down is Yin and up is Yang.
6a3: Gaozi believes that which is sheng (that which is inborn; Ware "life" is misleading) is sex and a desire for food. So for Gaozi sex and desire for food is human xing. If sheng is xing, then:
Mencius: In that case all natures are the same? Reductio ad absurdum. Further analysis: "nature" is an "empty, formal term" and has to be filled with specific content, while "whiteness" already has minimum specific content, which will define it as the same predicate for all things that are qualified by it. As Lau states: "The nature of a thing depends entirely on what the thing is, while whether a thing is white or not depends on whether it includes the characteristic which we define as whiteness independently." The first is inherent, innate, internal; the other is accidental, external. Similar to the distinction between primary and secondary qualities.
Mencius implies that there is something more than just desire for sex and food to make human nature distinctive. That, for him of course, is ren*yi* and the other innate moral potentials.
Please note that Gaozi has set up a parallel argument but because the syntax (numerators and denominators are equivalent), he cannot prove the truth of the distinctive natures of each being.
Below you will find a bright student's formulation of 6a4. This is scanned from an overhead transparency, so that's the reason for the poor resolution. Ignore the asterix on the yi.