Of one mind or two? Query on the innate good in mencius: Whalen Lai

Religious Studies 26 (2):247-255 (1990)
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Every man, says Mencius, has within him this mind of commiseration, this pu-jen chih hsin that cannot bear to see another person suffer. To support his argument, Mencius cites the parable of the child about to fall into a well. A man with an innate mind of compassion unable to bear to see the child suffer would naturally feel the urge to run ahead to save the child . Yet elsewhere in Mencius 4A.17, it appears that had the potential victim been a drowning sister-in-law, the man would also be momentarily checked by a fear of impropriety. Since the sense of propriety has its beginning in the mind as much as the sense of compassion, is not the mind of goodness somehow divided against itself? The present essay will examine this possible dilemma



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