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The Goodness Of People

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Coinciding with the Warring states and Spring and Autumn periods, the Hundred Schools of Thought emerged as a period of intellectual expansion in China, lasting from 770 to 222 B.C.E. During this period, many new schools of thought developed to explain human nature and to attempt to create an ideal governing system around that. Confucianism emphasizes the use of ritual, importance of family ties and obligation (filial piety), fulfilling one's role in society, and an overarching principle of humaneness, or "ren". Mohism advocates the principle of "universal love" and a structured moral guide. Daoism urges no structure and individuals to adapt and flow the natural world to follow the Way (dao) in order to maintain harmony. The Legalist philosophy imposes an authoritarian and rigid societal structure full of strict discipline and unfeeling sentiments toward humankind. Mencius followed Confucianism, however added a new dimension called yi, meaning rightness to supplement Confucian's idea of ren. The most crucial aspect of human nature is the ability to relate to and genuinely care for one another, and through respect for others, achieve harmony. Out of these four philosophies, each a result of the Hundred Schools of Thought, Mencius' ideas most clearly and logically explain human nature and the Confucian system caters most logically to society as a whole; it provides adequate structure to maintain order, while also paying heed to human emotions and emphasizing the importance of treating one another justly and kindly in order to maintain social harmony and to keep from oppressing the citizens.

According to Confucian, the ruler of a state is the rightful ruler due to the "mandate of Heaven", which is the authorization of the greater power to rule over the people of China. The chosen ruler practices humaneness and must rule wisely, or else Heaven gives the Mandate to someone else. As Mencius asserts, humans are innately good beings and are capable of feeling compassion for other humans with whom they interact. Humans first realize this ability through loving their immediate families. Mohists , focused on the idea of a "universal love" claim that everyone should practice loving every being equally, and that that is the way to achieve order an harmony in society, since "partiality gives rise to all the great harms in the world"(Sources 70) due to all the conflict it causes. Mohists claim that if everyone loves anyone loves one thing more than another there would be order since everyone would regard everyone and everything with equal affection. This is not true to human nature however; it is not natural for humans to hold every different entity in the world with the same regard. It is unrealistic to expect people to love strangers the same way they love their parentsÐ'--while humans have a natural affection for one another, humans naturally differentiate their various relationships, as some are more significant than others. The relationships people have with their parents are much more personally significant than the relationship one has with a passing stranger. The amount of caring one has for a passing stranger could never equal the amount of caring one would feel for one's parent. If one were to express this love for the stranger as equal, it would be insincere and "it has never happenedÐ'...that one who is not sincere is able to move [others]"(Sources 139).

Humans are unable to exist in a society where there is no structure. Humans cannot handle the freedom that comes with a passive government and no roles or preconceived order of things. Daoism believes in each individual seeking out "the way" and doing things only according to what comes naturally. Daoism is in many ways the opposite of Confucianism in that is completely nebulous and so individual-based that society would not function if it were to adopt this philosophy. If humans did not need to coexist, Daoism would be more plausible, however, since it plays so much off subjectivity and the relativism of everything in life, many individuals' interests would eventually clash; "but such is the vagueness and ambiguity of the Laozi text and the subtlely of its thought that it may yield different interpretations and be approached on very different levels"(Sources 79). Apart from simply leaving people to float around indefinitely with no clear place in society, or the world as a whole, Daoism rejects the natural preferences of people and assumes no responsibility for society. Any disorder that may arise would fall on laissez-faire authorities that preach "wuwei", or nonassertion. By "not [allowing] likes or dislikes to get in and doÐ'...harm [not trying] to help life along"(Sources 108), the Daoist stance is impractical when it comes to an entire society. Confucianism takes responsibility for society and attempts to foster the innate good in people rather than encouraging an undefined, chaotic environment, which humans ultimately cannot handle.

On the other end of the spectrum lies Legalism, which assumes that humans are inherently selfish and instates autocratic ruling accordingly. Believing that humans need harsh discipline, Legalism oppresses the non-ruling members of society and exalts the state. The unsentimental Legalists, like Feizi, believe that "severe punishments would restrain any



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