, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 198-210

On the creativity and innateness of the “strong, moving vital force”: A discussion of Feng Youlan’s “explanation of Mencius’ chapter on the ‘strong, moving vital force’”

Abstract

Feng Youlan emphasizes the concept of “creativity” in his article “Explanation of Mencius’ Chapter on Strong, Moving Vital Force”, in particular highlighting the problem whether the “strong, moving vital force” is “innate” or “acquired”. Cheng Hao and Zhu Xi believed the “strong, moving vital force” was endowed by Heaven, so was therefore innate; “nourishment” cleared fog and allowed one to “recover one’s original nature”. Mencius’ theory on “the good of human nature” is illustrated in the concept of integrated “original endowment”. So Cheng Hao and Zhu Xi’s theory of “recovering the original nature” proposed that the “strong, moving vital force” was innate, which is in complete agreement with Mencius and of which there is ample evidence in Mencius. However, “nature” is “created by the accumulation of righteousness”. Namely, it is the completion and presentation of the process of creation and transformation of human beings. Only when we consider both Cheng Hao and Zhu Xi’s theory and Feng Youlan’s theory can we fully understand Mencius’ theory of “the nourishment of the strong, moving vital force”, which is of great theoretical and academic value in accurately understanding Mencius and the Confucian theory of mind-nature.

摘要

冯友兰先生 «孟子浩然之气章解» 一文, 拈出“生”这一概念, 特别凸显出浩然之气是“先天”还是“后天”的问题。 程朱认为浩然之气乃人禀自于天, 为先天本有; 所谓“养”, 只是去除蒙蔽以“复其初”。 孟子的“性本善”是在整体性的“才”的观念中, 得到全面的展现。 程朱“浩然之气”为人先天所有的“复其初”说, 在 «孟子» 中有充分的根据, 但这个“先天”是“集义所生”, 即经实存创生转化历程的实现与呈显。 把程朱的先天说和冯先生的创生说统一起来, 才能全面地理解孟子“养浩然之气”的意义。 这对准确理解孟子和儒家心性论的精神实质, 具有理论和学术价值。

Translated by Lei Yongqiang from Shehui kexue zhanxian 社会科学战线 (Social Science Front), 2007, (5):12–16