Mengzi and Hume on Extending Virtue

Philosophy East and West 66 (2):475-487 (2016)

Gordon B. Mower
Brigham Young University
The classical Chinese philosopher Mengzi shares the idea with David Hume that virtue and vice are dispositions of character that arise from original qualities of the mind. Mengzi is guardedly optimistic that these original qualities can be extended to become fully formed virtues, while Hume is guardedly skeptical about this same enterprise. Yet these two thinkers have something to share with each other. In this essay I will use illustrations from Mengzi to sketch out an interpretation of extending original moral qualities into the virtue of benevolence. I will chart two developmental stages on the pathway to fully developed benevolence, and I will attempt to superimpose Hume’s account of the passions and his double..
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DOI 10.1353/pew.2016.0044
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