Nicholaos Jones
University of Alabama, Huntsville
Mengzi 孟子 6A2 contains the famous water analogy for the innate goodness of human nature. Some evaluate Mengzi’s reasoning as strong and sophisticated; others, as weak or sophistical. I urge for more nuance in our evaluation. Mengzi’s reasoning fares poorly when judged by contemporary standards of analogical strength. However, if we evaluate the analogy as an instance of correlative thinking within a yin-yang 陰陽 cosmology, his reasoning fares well. That cosmology provides good reason to assert that water tends to flow downward, not because of available empirical evidence, but because water correlates to yin and yin correlates to naturally downward motion. Substantiating these contentions also gives occasion to better understand the nature of correlative reasoning in classical Chinese philosophy.
Keywords Analogy  Correlation  Gaozi 告子  Human nature  Mengzi 孟子  Yin-Yang 陰陽
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Reprint years 2016
DOI 10.1007/s11712-016-9487-9
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References found in this work BETA

Logic.Wesley C. Salmon - 1977 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 42 (1):107-108.
Yin-Yang and the Nature of Correlative Thinking.A. C. Graham - 1988 - Philosophy East and West 38 (2):203-207.
Metaphor and Meaning in Early China.Edward Slingerland - 2011 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (1):1-30.

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