Chapter

No Need for Hemlock: Mencius's Defense of Tradition

Franklin Perkins

in Ethics in Early China

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9789888028931
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9789882209800 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5790/hongkong/9789888028931.003.0004
No Need for Hemlock: Mencius's Defense of Tradition

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This chapter examines the problematic intersection between reliance on tradition and demands for justification, particularly the implications of this tension for the meaning of philosophy. It concentrates on the Mencius as an attempt to maintain the primacy of tradition while answering the demand for justification, a demand prompted by the Mohists. These issues are approached following the work of Chad Hansen, in particular by working through a dilemma Hansen sets up between two interpretations of Mencius's view of human nature: a strong position that claims that human nature determines the details of Confucian morality and ritual, and a weak position that claims only that human nature drives us to develop morality, ritual, and so on, without determining their precise forms.

Keywords: justification; philosophy; Mencius; Mohists; Chad Hansen

Chapter.  7881 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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