(c. 372—289 bc) Chinese philosopher

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The greatest Confucian, Mencius was born in Shantung, and studied under the grandson of Confucius, Tzu Ssu. Like Confucius he travelled extensively, vainly trying to persuade rulers to improve their ways, before retiring to write the seven books that make up The Book of Mencius. He added to Confucianism the doctrine of the original goodness of human beings, so that the end of learning is to seek the lost state of virtue. The way of righteousness is opposed to utilitarian considerations of advantage and profit. Politically one consequence is that since goodness is inherent in people, they have the right to partake in government and to revolt against bad government.

Subjects: Religion.

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