The “nature” in “the theory of benevolent human nature” of Mencius has the meaning derived from “destiny as the nature, following the nature as Tao” from “Doctrine of the Mean.” The word “benevolent” has the meaning of “humanity,” “righteous,” “ritual,” and “wisdom” from the doctrine of virtue” and self cultivation” derived from “Great Learning.” The meaning of “virtue” is exampled from the doctrine of the ancient kings. How to practice the possibility of “benevolent human nature” in the “state of life”? Practice virtue and self cultivation are the process. With “discuss nature with heart” and “discuss nature with life,” the meaning and the characteristic of “nature” are different. From ancient time to date, there are still many disagreements to the interpretation of “human nature.” Why there is no unified explanation in the disputes result from the disagreement? How to determine the different standards lie behind the problems that the focus of the discussion is different? The key points of what can solve the contemporary difficulties, and how to respond and adjusts when facing the changes in the society are the determination requirement and standard of this article. With this in mind, this article discusses the Study of Mencius and revert the motif and method of Mencius with the modern dispute in the theory of human nature of Mencius.
Looking at the historic background of Mencius, from the academic origin to the viewpoints of the modern time, the culture background of Zhou Dynasty is being reflected. However, people have different opinions as to the culture system of Zhou Dynasty. Mr. Kuo Mo-Ru thought that the political society of Zhou Dynasty was the “slave system,” while Mr. Du Zheng-Sheng considered it as the “state culture.” Mr. Tang Jun-I and Mr. Mo Zhong-Shan determined it as the “feudalism.” With different opinions on the political society of Zhou Dynasty, the meaning and value of “human” would have been changed and differed. How should we interpret the “nature” in “the benevolent nature?” Of course it would have differentiations. In the interpretation of the modern differentiations, the “human nature has innate tendency toward benevolent” proposed by Mr. Fu Pei-Rong, and the question to “human nature has innate tendency toward benevolent” of Mr. Lee Ming-Hui and Mr. Lin An-Wu are the major dispute in interpretation. Furthermore, what is the origin of “vice?” This is the question to be cleared before discussing the dispute between “human nature has innate tendency toward benevolent” and “human nature is born benevolent.” Is the question of “vice” formed under the premise of “diverse ration and spirit” or “the combination of ration and spirit?” “Heart and nature are united,” “the doctrine of heaven and life are connected,” and “understand the heart and nature is to understand heaven.” In the book of “Mencius,” “the combination of heaven and human” is the basic of “the theory of heart” and the system of “moral thinking.” Whether it is “human nature has innate tendency toward benevolent” or “human nature is born benevolent,” it is the interpretation system under the recognition of “the combination of heaven and human.” However, the “moral issues” interpreted under the system of “the combination of heaven and human” have also intrigued many disputes. First of all, are “Great Learning” and “The Doctrine of the Mean” the literature of Han Dynasty or Warring State Period? Secondly, the “moral issue” in the book of “Mencius” has appeared with “heaven” many times. The “diversity of righteous and life” proposed by Mr. Lao Si-Guang excludes “heaven” from “moral issue” that “heaven” has nothing to do with “moral issue.” The “subjectivity of moral” and the “combination of righteous and life” by Mr. Tang Jun-I has great “opposition” with the motto of Chinese philosophy of “the combination of heaven and human” when speaking of the “heart” of “connection feeling.” The meaning of “opposition” is still to be confirmed and studied.