"The Heart That Cannot Bear...the Other": Reading Mengzi on the Goodness of Human Nature
This paper will discuss the ancient Chinese thinker Mengzi’s 孟子 (ca. 390-ca. 305 B.C.) thought of human nature. But let us first quote from an increasingly influential modern French thinker: Emmanuel Levinas. The purpose of this citation is two-fold: on the one hand, it is an attempt to form a potentially constructive dialogue between what we will say about Mengzi in this paper and what Levinas has said about man as being inescapably responsible for the other; on the other hand, this citation should also serve to situate our discussion in wider philosophical contexts. We hope thus we may be able, at least in an implicit manner, to bring closer two thoughts or two intellectual traditions, viz., Chinese and European, and also to show how Mengzi’s thought of human nature, as it is read and interpreted in this paper, can go beyond the borders of Chinese thought and language, and take on more universal significance.