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. /// 摘要 "命" 与 "天命" 是传统文化中的-对重要范畴,主要指人所受到的限制。 二者都起源 "令", 由 "王令" "而" 天令又因 "天令" 对王权的决定作用从 而成为王权之 "命" 。"命" 与 "天命" 有不同规定 "命" 体现着天对人之自然 生命的限制,表现的是人所无法驾驭的客观力量,但落实于人并表现为人之 "命" ; "天命" 体现的则是人之自我确认的道德理想,其虽然出于人却又必须证之于天, 所以是天之真正的命于人者。命与天命,既体现了传统天人关系的双重视角,同时 也是儒道两家不同探索侧重的一个基本分野。.
Keywords ming   relationship between Heaven and human beings   tian ming   Confucians   dual perspective
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