Revisiting Resentment against Heaven in Mengzi 2B13

Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 23 (1):59-75 (2024)
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Abstract

This essay suggests a coherent reading of Mengzi 孟子 2B13 where Mengzi appears to at once resent Heaven for the current social disorder and also deny his resentment. Some scholars opt to argue that Mengzi resents Heaven either briefly in the beginning or throughout the whole passage, presupposing that Mengzi considers Heaven as an agent that can be responsible for social disorder. The present essay opposes such view, suggesting that Mengzi cannot resent Heaven in a strict sense, but only figuratively. During the pre-Qin 秦 period, resentment was understood to consist of hatred toward the intentional object and belief that the agent is ultimately responsible for the undesirable event or action. Therefore, to resent Heaven requires one to hold Heaven morally accountable for certain events. However, there are good reasons to believe that Mengzi might not hold such a belief. In 2B13, what Mengzi is expressing is not his resentment against Heaven, but rather displeasure over the social disorder. At the same time, he is showing his pleasure at his virtues themselves or their potential good results. His displeasure and pleasure are compatible, since their intentional objects are not identical.

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References found in this work

Ethics.William Frankena - 1967 - Philosophy of Science 34 (1):74-74.
Freedom and Resentment and Other Essays.P. F. Strawson - 1976 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 9 (3):185-188.
Confucian Heaven: Moral Economy and Contingency.Back Youngsun - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8 (1):51--77.
Resenting Heaven in the Mencius: An Extended Footnote to Mencius 2B13.Daryl Ooi - 2021 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 20 (2):207-229.

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