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Mencius

Mencius (孟子 371 BC - about 289 BC) was an Chinese itinerant philosopher and sage. Like Confucius, he travelled China for forty years to offer advice to rulers for reform. He served as an official in the state of Qi (齊 qi2) from 319 BC to 312 BC. He expressed his filial devotion when he took an absense of three years from his official duties for Qi to mourn his mother's death. Disappointed at his failure to effect changes in his contemporary world, he retired from public life.

A follower of Confucianism, Mencius argued for the infinite goodness of the individual, believing that it was society's influence - its lack of a positive cultivating influence - which caused bad character. Mencius argued that human beings are born with an innate moral sense which society has corrupted, and that the goal of moral cultivation is to return to one's innate morality.

Mencius' interpretation of Confucianism has generally been considered the orthodox version by subsequent Chinese philosophers. A book of his conversations with kings of the time is one of the Four books which form the core of orthodox Confucian thinking. In contrast to the saying of Confucius which are short and self-contained, Mencius' book consists of long dialogues with extensive prose.



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