biographical name


Mencius, detail, ink and colour on silk; in the National Palace Museum, Taipei—Courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

(born c. 372—died c. 289 BC) Chinese philosopher. The book Mencius contains statements on innate human goodness, a topic warmly debated by followers of Confucius up to modern times. That the four principles (si duan)—the feelings of commiseration, shame, courtesy, and right and wrong—are all inborn in humans was a self-evident truth to Mencius; the four principles, when properly cultivated, will develop into the four cardinal virtues of ren (benevolence), righteousness, decorum, and wisdom. His development of orthodox Confucianism earned him the title “second sage.”

Variants of MENCIUS

Mencius Chinese Mengzi or Meng-tzu orig. Meng K'o

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on Mencius, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up Mencius? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.