Beyond Mencius and Xunzi: A Third Approach to Confucianism
Journal of Chinese Humanities
After Confucius died, his disciples formed the Eight Confucian Factions [rujia ba pai 儒家八派]. The most influential among them were the moral idealist school of Mencius 孟子, which proposed the doctrine of heart-mind and human nature [xinxing 心性], and the political idealist school of Xunzi 荀子, which posited a political interpretation of Confucianism. The Mencian approach emphasized the ethics of Confucianism, whereas the Xunzian approach focused on the political application of Confucianism. Their
... spective weaknesses have become evident in the present. It is hoped that we can overcome their shortcomings by integrating them and formulating a new approach to modern Confucianism that uses their advantages. However, modern Confucianism had made important contributions not only in its synthesis of Mencian and Xunzian thought but, more importantly, as it carries on the approach advocated by Dong Zhongshu 董仲舒. This involves not only examining the political applications of a particular kind of scholarship on the Chunqiu gongyang zhuan 春秋公羊傳 [The Gongyang Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals] developed by Dong known as Gongyang scholarship [gongyang xue 公羊學] but also integrating the internal principles and politics of Confucianism. In theory, it requires an integration of the strengths of various schools to achieve a Confucian ideological system that embraces the Hundred Schools of Thought [zhuzi baijia 諸子百家]. In practice, it entails actual political application taken from a melting pot of the theoretical and political ambitions of Confucianism that is superior to the form of Confucianism that originated in the pre-Qin period [221 BCE] and other schools of thought and their successors.