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Pan, "A picture of human composition: An interpretation of Mencius' theory about human nature," 2005

USC thesis in East Asian Languages and Culture.
August 21, 2009

Yue Pan, M.A

Abstract (Summary)

This thesis examines Mencius' theory about human nature, one of the most famous issues in the study of the intellectual history of China, from the perspective of human composition. It is argued that in the Book of Mencius , there are three levels in the notion of human being: human physicality, human mind, and human nature. Three issues, namely, Mencius' definition of "human nature", the meaning of "good" in "human nature is good", and the origin of the "bad elements" in human and the relationship between good nature and bad behavior, have been thoroughly discussed. Finally, it is concluded that Mencius' assertion that "human nature is good" neither means a "good potential in human being's make-up", nor an "ideal that need to be nurtured to be full-fledged"; but rather, "human nature is good" is an absolute and unchangeable fact.