In the Shadow of the Decay. The Philosophy of History of Mencius and Xunzi
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AbstractThe aim of my paper is to analyze the debate between Mencius and Xunzi from the
perspective of their views on the nature of the historical process. The Mencian approach
embraces not only elaboration on the doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven, resulting in
a cyclical vision of history, but also strong idealization of the past. I will show that ren
(benevolence), treated as a historical principle, could link two dimensions of his historical
thinking: the moral and ontological. Xunzi rejected the possibility of the intervention of
Heaven in history, however, his theory of rituals and belief in moral use of history made
his philosophy of history much more conservative, embalming the idealization of the past.
In short, I will look for the main common points and differences between these two major
figures of Confucianism regarding their views on history, attempting to answer which
beliefs could constitute a unique Confucian philosophy of history.
Asian Studies V (XXI), 1 (2017), pp. 147–171