Mencius’ Concept of Rulership

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Mencius is one of the most famous philosophers in Chinese history. He lived at a time when wars and conflicts in China were very common. Different kingdoms waged war against each other for the expansion of their own territory. Rebellion was also common as the subjects made attempts to topple their abusive and cruel ruler. In view of the importance of managing states and winning wars for expanding the territory of rulers, heads of states consulted known philosophers and intellectuals like Mencius whose wisdom proved to be vital in their rule. This essay seeks to discuss Mencius’ concept of ruler-ship and what to the mind of Mencius constitutes the best and most effective ruler. Initially, Mencius separates society into two classes of…show more content…
He said “It is a case of people’s weakness rather than their willing compliance where force is used to subjugate them. But it is with happiness with their hearts and a sincere willingness to comply where virtue is used to win them over. This was the way in which seventy disciples submitted to Confucius.” (Meng-Tszu) If rulers lead their people with an iron fist then the ruler will not win the loyalty and love of the people An excellent ruler has humility and kindness. This means that he has pity on his followers and he cannot bear to see the suffering of his own people. He makes every effort to make the lives of the people better through effective governance and service. An excellent ruler is always concerned about the welfare of his people and mindful of what is best for them. An effective leader is not ruthless, cunning or deceiving. An excellent ruler does not need to be feared in order to be obeyed by his ruler. He does not punish his people simply because he wants to punish them. Whenever it is necessary to punish individuals who committed a crime due caution should be applied so that the criminal is punished only to the extent necessary to redress the crime he committed. Mencius thought that punishment is essentially ineffective in regulating human behavior. Rather, what is more effective is the ruler’s good example to his people. Mencius said “When one by force subdues men, they do not submit to him in heart. They

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