September 21

Monday, September 21, 2020
Plenary – Chapel

Mengzi and Meso-Level PWOL

Mengzi (Master Meng) is one of the greatest early Confucian thinkers, famous both for advocating that the people’s well-being is the most important political goal, and for his argument that our individual natures have a built-in tendency toward goodness. In this class we will explore the way that Mengzi sought to teach his theoretical ideas through engagement with political leaders of his day. This is kind of philosophical practice lies in between (and connects up) the micro-level of analysis (about individual selves) and the macro-level of analysis (about the cosmos and reality itself); we will refer to this in-between practice as “meso-level philosophy.”

  • Understand the historical context for early Confucianism, know who Mengzi is, and understand the nature of the Mengzi text
  • Grasp the differences among micro-, meso-, and macro-level philosophy
  • Reflect on the ways that socio-political engagement may be important to becoming a better person or living a good life

Before Class

  • If you have no background knowledge of early China, watch the first 11:47 of the above video
  • There are also two readings! See “Read This” on the next tab ⟹
  • Try sketching out the argument in Mengzi 1A1. What is the main conclusion? What premises lead to this conclusion? You do not need to turn this in prior to class.

After Class