Mencius and Early Chinese Political Thought

Yuri Pines*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores Mencius’s political ideas, particularly his views of the ruler, the men-of-service (or intellectuals, shi 士), and the commoners. It highlights intrinsic tensions in Mencius’s thought, e.g. between his avowed commitment to the monarchic order (in which the intellectuals like himself should act as the ruler’s servitors) and his staunch belief that intellectuals are morally superior to the rulers and should act as their teachers. Another tension was between Mencius’s insistence on the commoners’ primary importance for the polity and his equally strong opposition to their participation in political life. Tensions and frustrations aside, Mencius succeeded to position himself as the most devoted leader of the Warring States-period men-of-service. This ensured him the lasting role as a source of inspiration for the imperial literati.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationDao Companions to Chinese Philosophy
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NameDao Companions to Chinese Philosophy
ISSN (Print)2211-0275
ISSN (Electronic)2542-8780

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


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