Following up on our previous discussion, we go further into the collected teachings of this early Confucian (aka Ruhist) from the late 4th century BCE. What’s the best way to be a virtuous person and hence (on the ancient Chinese view, contra someone like Machiavelli) an effective leader?
We review and elaborate Mengzi’s moral psychology, which is based on humaneness that grows initially out of love of family but is then developed into civic responsibility. How easy is it to be virtuous on this view? Do we need a certain level of material comfort to avoid tending toward corruption? What other environmental factors or techniques are relevant to realizing our potential to be virtuous?
We talk about the difference between ancient Chinese and Greek/Western political philosophy: Among the Warring States philosophers, there’s no question about what the best form of government is; they don’t consider anything aside from having a single leader. Still, they differ a lot in terms of what the responsibilities, and so self-imposed restrictions, bear on the leader, and Mengzi (perhaps following Mozi) was revolutionary is explicitly stating that the point of the state is to serve the people.
Finally, we consider Mengzi’s take on destiny, which we can read as his response to Mozi, who argued that the Confucians’ embrace of destiny made them inactive.