Friday, September 21

Reading: Mencius

On Friday, we turn to the thought and career of the most famous Confucian after Confucius himself:  Mencius (the only other Confucian whose name was reduced to a Latinate form by the early European students of China -- his Chinese title would be Mengzi, Master Meng).

In discussing Mencius, it's as important to describe his career as it is to discuss his ideas (although his ideas are of great interest, and had enormous influence).  In class, I'll be discussing Mencius's life in terms of the Confucian doctrine of "timeliness," a set of ideas that had enormous influence on both Confucian activity during the Warring States period, and on the advent of Daoism, which we'll be studying next week. We will see that Mencius's ideas - many of which continue to have forceful impact in China and East Asia today - were shaped by the political and intellectual circumstances of his day, as well as by his commitments to the central projects of the Confucian community, of which he was the most prominent representative of the time