Resenting Heaven in the Mencius: An Extended Footnote to Mencius 2B13

Abstract

It is widely accepted among Mencius scholars that for Mencius, the junzi 君子 is the kind of person who accepts Heaven’s will and never resents Heaven. There are, however, several passages where resentment seems to be presented as a quality that the junzi possesses. In particular, Mencius 2B13 has been the subject of much contention. In Section 1, I will discuss various interpretations of 2B13, building on and updating Philip Ivanhoe’s helpful 1988 survey. In Section 2, I will present an argument for resentment against Heaven in the Mencius. I argue from passages in the Mencius and its relationship with the Shijing 詩經 (Book of Odes) that we have good reason to think that, under certain circumstances, the junzi ought to resent Heaven. In Section 3, I will develop a theory of resentment from the Mencius and demonstrate how 2B13 can be understood in the larger context of this theory.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Bryan Van Norden for helpful conversations at an earlier stage in my research, and Loy Hui-Chieh, Qu Hsueh Ming, Gabrièle Escoffier, Wei Qianqian, the participants at the Singapore–Hong Kong–Macau Symposium on Chinese Philosophy 2019, Yong Huang, and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this essay.

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Ooi, D. Resenting Heaven in the Mencius: An Extended Footnote to Mencius 2B13. Dao 20, 207–229 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11712-021-09773-0

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Keywords

  • Mencius
  • Shijing 詩經
  • Resentment
  • Theodicy
  • Role-ethics