Destiny and heavenly ordinances: Two perspectives on the relationship between heaven and human beings in confucianism
Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (1):13-37 (2009)
|Abstract||As a pair of important categories in traditional Chinese culture, “ ming 命 (destiny or decrees)” and “ tian ming 天命 (heavenly ordinances)” mainly refer to the constraints placed on human beings. Both originated from “ ling 令 (decrees),” which evolved from “ wang ling 王令 (royal decrees)” into “ tian ling 天令 (heavenly decrees),” and then became “ ming ” from a throne because of the decisive role of “heavenly decrees” over a throne. “ Ming ” and “ tian ming ” have different definitions: “ Ming ” represented the limits Heaven placed on the natural lives of human beings and was an objective force that men could not direct, but was embodied in human beings as their “destiny”; “ Tian ming ” reflected the moral ideals of human beings in their self-identification; It originated in man but had to be verified by Heaven, and it was therefore the true ordinance that Heaven placed on human beings. “ Ming ” and “ tian ming ” are two perspectives on the traditional relationship between Heaven and human beings, and at the same time Confucians and Daoists placed different emphasis on them.|
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