Moral Rights and Justification of Revolution: Heart-Nature Theme of Mencius

Chapter

Abstract

In the Confucian tradition symbolized by The Tao (Dao) of Confucius and Mencius, the doctrine of Mencius’ Righteousness in the Paragon of Confucian Humaneness (kongren) and Mencian Righteousness (mengyi) has been associated with Heart-Nature (xinxing), which leads consequently to an intended personality of Confucian ethics and politics. The concept of righteousness, for Mencius, connotes the cosmological ethics under the heaven, transcending the secular powers of father in family and monarch in country under the auspices of heavenly sanctity. Such transcendence is often vindicated by Righteousness-Oriented Destruction of One’s Relatives (dayimieqin) and The Overthrow of Government by Performing Heaven’s Mandate (titianxingdao). The concept of Heart-Nature in Mencius is the transformation of Heaven-Mandated-Nature (xingming) from the Doctrine of the Mean (zhongyong), attesting to the subjectivity and ethics in Confucian epistemology and cosmology. The combination between Heart-Nature and Tao-Righteousness in Mencius reveals the universally existed moral rights and ethical obligations of human beings as well as the ethical transcendence and restrictions on secular powers of Son of Heaven, i.e. monarchs and dukes. The dialectics exposed in this relation between moral rights and its restrictions on administrative powers justifies social revolutions in case of moral rights being violated and abused by administrative powers.

Keywords

Filial Piety Song Dynasty Confucian Tradition Social Revolution Moral Courage 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Confucian StudiesChina University of Political Science and LawBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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