Mencius on Evildoers: A Comparative Study of Ethics

Vol. 48 No.4  12/2018


Mencius on Evildoers: A Comparative Study of Ethics


Chen Shih-chen









Key words

evildoer, moral order, self-decision, induced cause, imputed cause


In this article, I explore how the Mencius explains the concept of evil as a choice between the original mind and the body. Mencius’ conception of self serves as the subjective foundation of free will and therefore justifies the freedom of human decision in ethics. The concept of freedom has always been seen as western in origin, but through the comparative analysis presented here, it becomes evident that it is implied in the notion of the human self in the Mencius. I argue that in the philosophies of St. Augustine (354-430) and I. Kant (1724-1804), the foundation of evil is involved in the concept of the human self and that free will is a precondition for evildoing because of a reversed view of moral order. According to this analysis, the concept of humans as evildoers can be explained according to the text of the Mencius as the free will to choose between the original mind as self-valuation and the human body as self-devaluation. People identified as evil in the text relinquish their inner moral compass and willfully allow their corporeal body to control their behavior.


Author: Chen Shih-chen
Genre: Article