Organic virtue: Reading mencius with Rousseau

Asian Philosophy 18 (1):83 – 104 (2008)
Both Rousseau and Mencius espouse a process-oriented morality that is attuned to nature. Rousseau maintains that human beings exit the realm of nature as soon as the process of civilization begins, necessitating the need for morality. Because he views the 'natural' human being as the pre-social and independent protohuman, the attempt to recapture the lost harmony of the state of nature will always fall short and the process of becoming moral is an endless task. Mencius, however, views nature as a dynamic process suggesting that morality demands a conscious participation in and extension of nature's rhythms. Artifice and nature are not as sharply demarcated as in the thought of Rousseau because morality is the particularly human way of integrating into the cosmos, by extending and channelling the flow of qi
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DOI 10.1080/09552360701880578
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