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Compare and contrast, whether Zhu Xi followed Mencius’ benevolent governing, and how Zhu Xi breathed Legist “刑治” into Confucianism “仁政” theory?

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Compare and contrast, whether Zhu Xi followed Mencius’ benevolent governing, and how Zhu Xi breathed Legist “刑治” into Confucianism “仁政” theory?

Benevolent governing was the core idea of Mencius and Zhu Xi’s political thought. Although they lived in different time periods in different situations, they had similarity in the ideal model of “仁政” and faith of “以民为本”, which indicated their common objectives. However, there existed some differences in basis and instruments of applying benevolent governing. To compare and contrast, we can know more about the model and function of benevolent governing from Mencius and Zhu Xi, in which, how Zhu Xi developed Mencius theory and added some Legist “刑治” to make some improvements.


“仁政论” is the key of Mencius’ political thought, and “民为贵,社稷次之,君为轻 —— 《孟子-尽心下》” is a good generalization of it. The thinking origin and culture basis of “仁政论” is from Confucius’ benevolence; “仁政论” is the success and development of benevolence. Therefore, benevolent governing is the basic indicator to politics and philosophy of Confucianism, which is also adopted by rulers as moral standard to administrate a good government. Since the theory was emerged, it was canonized by many great Confucians in past dynasties. Especially, “二程 and Zhu Xi”, the Neo-Confucianism of Song Dynasty, they also regarded the benevolent governing as their core political thoughts, making “仁政论” a doctrine from strategy of managing state affairs.


Zhu Xi was one of the most famous Confucian scholars, who lived 1000 years later than Mencius. They lived in different ages, but had similar recognition of benevolent governing from two aspects. First of all, they both regarded “王道政治” as ideal model of benevolent governing. Mencius advocated “王道政治”. He praised “王” as supreme political ideal, but depreciated “霸”. About “王” and “霸”, Mencius argued, “以力假仁者霸,霸必有大国;以德行仁者王,王不待大—《孟子-公孙丑上》”. The “王” Mencius mentioned, is “以德行仁” to make people convinced, the result is “心悦诚服”; on the other hand, “霸” is using power to make people pressed, the result is ...

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    Compare and contrast, whether Zhu Xi followed Mencius’ benevolent governing, and how Zhu Xi breathed Legist “刑治” into Confucianism “仁政” theory?