Mencius was also a great representative of the Confucianism. Born some one hundred years later than Confucius in the state of Zou in today’s Shandong province, he was considered the second-greatest Confucian philosopher, or the “Second Sage”.
Mencius continued the ethical teachings of Confucius by stressing the innate goodness of human nature. He believed, however, that original human goodness can become depraved through one’s own destructive effort or through contact with an evil environment. The problem of moral cultivation is therefore to preserve or at least to restore the goodness that is one’s birthright.
Mencius further developed Confucianism and emphasized humanness, or benevolence, righteousness, propriety and knowledge as the four basic composition of moral code. Of the four, he especially stressed the concept of benevolence, for he believed if every member of society treated other people with benevolence, the stable and order of the society would have a guarantee.
In political thought, Meng-zi opposed rule by force and tyranny, but supported rule by a single person, the sovereign. He advocated the hierarchy system, advocating people should obey their rulers the way they obey their parents, meanwhile, he thinks the rulers should also be benevolent to his people.
Mencius is sometimes considered one of the early advocates of democracy, for he advanced the idea of the people’s supremacy in the state. In the hierarchy of importance, the people came first and the sovereign last, for the sovereign’s power was justified purely in order to ensure that the people lived in peace and comfort.
Having developed his ideas, and finding himself living at a time of disruption and political fragmentation, he travelled round the various states in the attempt to influence their rulers. But he was largely unsuccessful in his endeavor, though his thought exerted great influence over the political, cultural and moral thinking of later societies. He therefore withdrew from public life, and spent his remaining years working, with his disciples, on the records of his travels and his teachings in the form of dialogues, which they arranged and edited into the Meng-zi, or Book of Mencius. This eventually became one of the Confucian Four Books.