If a man love others, and no responsive attachment is shown to him, let him turn inwards and examine his own benevolence. If he is trying to rule others, and his government is unsuccessful, let him turn inwards and examine his wisdom. If he treats others politely, and they do not return his politeness, let him turn inwards and examine his own feeling of respect. When we do not, by what we do, realize what we desire, we must turn inwards, and examine ourselves in every point. When a man’s person is correct, the whole kingdom will turn to him with recognition and submission. It is said in the Book of Poetry, “Be always studious to be in harmony with the ordinances of God/ And you will obtain much happiness.”
– from The Works of Mencius
Mencius (372-289 BC) was a Chinese philosopher and named the “Second Sage,” since he was considered the wisest of the Chinese thinkers after Confucius. He developed Confucian thought by expounding on the origins and character of human nature. Mencius asserted that human nature was innately good and only society’s influence caused bad moral character, and that, through moral education, man can rediscover his goodness. Because of the official status given to Confucianism, many of Mencius’s works are still extant.