By Lee H. Yearley
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Additional info for Mencius and Aquinas: Theories of Virtue and Conceptions of Courage
The following chapters will contain lengthy investigations of their theories of virtue and their ideas about the virtue of courage. The stature and influence of each thinker, as well as their cultural and temporal distance from us, is great enough to require comment on how we can best approach them. Mencius's (Meng Tzu) ideas appear in a book called the Mencius, a collection of both sayings by Mencius and reports of discussions that involve him or his followers. The Chinese in the text, although often strikingly powerful or beautiful, also is sometimes cryptic; interpretations and translations of some passages can differ markedly.
Mencius's primary focus usually is on acts, however; he speaks, for example, of what righteousness cannot do and what benevolence cannot bear. Aversion also ranges over many phenomena; it can arise from what people feel toward sights, sounds, contemplated acts, and even states of character.
The other kind falls under Page 37 what we call etiquette or, more accurately, reasonable and humane learned conventions; for instance, the appropriate ways to respond to people at a formal gathering. Moreover, both exemplify learned, conventional behavior that manifests distinctly human activities rather than just instinctive reactions. A person observes these rules as an expression of reverence for people, their roles, and even the social organism that they embody and help preserve. This leads Mencius to claim that particular social forms are necessary if full human flourishing is to occur, and such a claim is bound to raise questions.
Mencius and Aquinas: Theories of Virtue and Conceptions of Courage by Lee H. Yearley