Abstract

Responding to Donald J. Munro’s recent challenge regarding the importance of “Heaven” in the philosophy of the Mencius, this article asks whether or not Mencius’ theories of “human nature” (renxing 人性) and tian 天 can be retained and interpreted along more naturalistic lines. The thought of John Dewey is presented as a resource for helping us to think more naturalistically about each of these notions. It is argued that a more naturalistic reading of the Mencius is possible, and that such a reading provides a nuanced account of Mencius’ intentions, allows a flexible interpretation of his attitude towards tian, and illuminates both the normative and the religious dimensions of his philosophy. In fact, it is argued that readings that ascribe a more transcendent “human nature” and tian to Mencius do not provide as coherent an account in these respects.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1898
Print ISSN
0031-8221
Pages
pp. 492-515
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-23
Open Access
No
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