Mencius’ Aesthetics and Its Position

in Frontiers of Philosophy in China
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Mencius’ aesthetics unfolded around the ideal personality in his mind. Such an ideal personality belonged to a great man who was sublime, practical and honorable, and it was presented as the beauty of magnificence or the beauty of masculinity. Mencius put forward many propositions such as “the completed goodness that is brightly displayed is called greatness,” nourishing “one’s grand qi 气 (the great morale personality),” “only after a man is a sage can he completely suits himself to his own form,” “the saints only apprehended before me that of which my mind approves along with other men,” being “conscious of sincerity on self-examination,” and flowing “abroad, above and beneath, like that of Heaven and Earth,” all of which described an ideal personality through the course of its formation and its psychological experience. As a prominent school before the Qin dynasty, Mencius’ aesthetics greatly developed the Confucian teaching of “internal sage.” It shared many similarities with Zhuangzi’s thought and was also an aesthetic mode opposed to the latter. Both kinds of aesthetics were prominent: Mencius’ teaching was like imposingly towering and muscularly overflowing majestic mountains; Zhuangzi’s thought was like gracefully flowing water with an air of femininity. In real life though, Mencius’ teaching has greater practical significance in addressing the unbearable lightness of being, a disease of modernity.

Mencius’ Aesthetics and Its Position

in Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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