Category Archives: Presentation

Mengzi: Exploring the Negative Impact of Vision

In my presentation, I believe I have asked about what Mengzi would say about a sociopath’s nature. I believe Mengzi would have said that they are born with an innate goodness, but are incapable of developing it for they have a difficulty of differentiating between right and wrong. In my opinion (and Mengzi would probably agree), I believe a sociopath’s difficulty to cultivate his or her innate goodness may be due the environment he or she is situated in and witnesses in his or her everyday life. Hence, in the case of a sociopath, Mengzi’s idea of vision being a useful tool for cultivating our innate goodness and extending it to others would be refuted; the case proves that vision can also play as an obstacle to one’s development in their benevolent nature. Although I feel like I’m making it start to appear that Mengzi only indicated vision as useful instrument that would support our benevolent nature, I believe that there were certain areas in the book in which he negatively characterized vision. In Mengzi’s kitchen example, I’m certain that Mengzi illustrated vision as a tool that can stump the growth of one’s benevolent nature. In Book 1A, Mengzi compared the king’s growth in benevolence to “gentlemen [that] keep their distance from the kitchen” (1A7.8). Metaphorically speaking, the act of avoiding “the kitchen” can be seen as an action of distancing yourself from an environment that negatively impacts your innate goodness by slowing its expansion. Thus, by “staying away from the kitchen”, a person would be able to cultivate the growth of his or her benevolent nature or extend it to others. Hence, this example may have likely portrayed sight as a tool that would not only propel the development of one’s innate goodness, but that it can also delay its progress or stunt its growth by evoking a non-benevolent nature. If we were to associate the word “kitchen” with images of animal corpses, and dead plants, it would become easier for us to relate a kitchen to Mengzi’s unidealistic environment for the association of the word kitchen with dead organisms generate negative connotations such as death or destruction. Unlike the sight of the ox stimulating the growth of King Xuan’s benevolent nature, the sight of the kitchen (or witnessing an environment Mengzi would regard as a danger to the growth of our innate goodness) would be the obstacle to a person’s journey of leading a virtuous life. Hence, I believe that Mengzi demonstrated sight carrying another ability other than generating compassion: that it can be used to disintegrate the development one’s benevolent nature.