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The Way of Heart: Mencius' Understanding of Justice II  

2010-02-03 12:05:19|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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A Genealogical Account of the Meanings of Yi

Both the Chinese word yi and the Greek word dikē implicate the order of a certain hierarchical governing structure that instigates and maintains the unity and harmony of pluralistic elements in a political community. But in contrast to the abstract and absolute power of law and reason ingrained in the ancient Greek path of justice, the ancient Chinese understanding of justice, as evidenced by the root meanings of the Chinese word yi, is characterized by a unique emphasis on human affection and the dignity of the individual. With constant attention to the congruity and complementarity between binary opposites, between yin and yang, the early Confucian teaching represented and recuperated a primordial Chinese way of justice that, in the very enactment of the hierarchical structure necessary for the function of a political order, softened and reconciled the repulsive conflict and tension between social dichotomies. It promised a harmony and a coalescence of different individuals in a society that does not rely primarily on the authoritative commands of a rational governing structure, but on the love and compassion of the human heart.

One of the main purposes of this essay is to reveal and explicate this priority of human affection and individuality in the early Confucian way of justice, which achieves its full development and articulation in the book of Mencius. For Mencius, justice is one of the most important virtues, the consummation of one's moral character. Humaneness and justice name the beginning and the end of moral self-cultivation. It is only when we "settle ourselves in humaneness and follow the path of justice" ( The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客)25 that we can discover the way of the human being,26 the truth (dao)27 of human living upon the earth.

Scholarly investigations into the meanings and origins of justice in Mencius or in early Chinese thinking in general remain few and far between. Some leading contemporary scholars, taking their points of departure from Western philosophical categories, [End Page 322] have interpreted yi as a "universal and total principle which applies to every particular case of judging the worthiness or unworthiness of an action,"28 "an ethical attribute of a person," "a quality of actions,"29 or a "personal disclosure of significance" that is "coextensive with the process of self-realization"30 in the sense of "person making."31 Granted, these interpretations point to different aspects of yi that are comparable with Western conceptions of justice and the human subject. The aim of this study, however, is to recall and recover a line of early Confucian thought that has been largely overlooked under the presumed supremacy of Western metaphysics—a line of interpretation that may contain considerable disparities with prevalent scholarly opinions.

But how can this interpretation, which may not meet the immediate approval of the philosophical community, be justified? What kind of authority and authenticity does it possess in order to override the other prevailing interpretations? Apart from a coherent and consistent narrative and a compilation of textual evidence that I will present shortly, which may not go undisputed, I have nothing to offer except for an earnest heart and a clear conscience. I dare not, therefore, claim any authenticity or authority. Even the "correctness" or "accuracy" of my interpretation may well be called into question. If Derrida is "right" about writing, then my interpretation, the very practice of my writing as interpreting, cannot dominate its subject matter absolutely. It inevitably involves letting myself "be governed by the system" of a language,32 namely modern English, with which I do not even have a native familiarity. What my writing and interpretation can achieve, at best, it seems, is merely a supplement to the original Confucian text—one of its many "substitutive significations which could only come forth in a chain of differential references, the ‘real' supervening, and being added only while taking on meaning from a trace and from an invocation of the supplement."33 My intention, if we can resort to the analogy of musical performance in this context, is not to establish an authentic or authoritative version of playing that would bring the hermeneutical practice to a conclusive closure. The hope, rather, is to set it free from the hermeneutical violence of "orthodox" interpretations, to shelter and inspire an infinite process of engagement with the text through incisive adventure into its elusive origins, and thus to revitalize the life of the ancient text by incessantly exploring and disclosing new junctures of enactment.

Presumably, the recovery of the meanings of an ancient text is only possible when we attend deferentially to the manner in which the language of a text speaks, when we listen patiently and carefully to the invocation of the word that addresses us. As a prelude to my interpretation of Mencius, therefore, I will devote the rest of this section to a genealogical account of the meanings of the Chinese word yi. The tentative goal of this study is to demonstrate the priority of individual dignity and interpersonal affinity in the genealogy of the meanings of yi and to illuminate their foundational roles for the early Chinese understanding of justice.

The Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Chinese Language includes the following major significations of yi: "the dignity and majesty of the self, the demeanor of the self, what is appropriate, right, custom, law, rule of decorum, justice, reason or principle, a path or way, judgment or to judge, to gather, join, or bring something into [End Page 323] harmony with [other things], interests or profits, bestowing of favor and charity, and the meanings of classics."34 Contemporary Chinese and Western scholars have not reached any final consensus on the etymological origin of yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, or its relation to a number of important homonymous cognates such as The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, and The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客. Apparently, a systematic investigation into the meanings and origin of yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 requires a separate project.35 In what follows, I will try to work out a path toward a possible unity of some of the most important meanings of yi by taking Xu Shen's gloss in his famous Shuo Wen as a guide.

Xu Shen defines yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 as "the weiyiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 of the self," which I translate as "the dignity, majesty, or respectable countenance of the self." The Chinese phrase weiyi involves some ambiguities that must be clarified first. In the early Chinese classics, weiyi can denote specific rules of decorum,36 which does not fit into this context. The literal sense of weiyi is simply "respectable countenance or demeanor." We can acquire a deep insight into the multiple connotations of this phrase by looking into the meanings of its two constitutive characters weiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 and yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, respectively. The original meaning of weiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 is the same as weiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, meaning awe, anxiety, fright, or awe-inspiring, awesome, frightening. These two cognates are often used interchangeably in early Chinese texts.37 The feeling of awe and anxiety belong to the attitude of reverence (jingThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客), which plays a central role in the origin of early Confucian thinking.38 The Book of Decorum takes as the most important reverence the reverence for the self, that is, the reverence for one's body (shenThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客).39 For the early Chinese, indeed, what is awe-inspiring lies primarily in one's solemn countenance and deportment. The character weiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, accordingly, has already the meaning of weiyiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, that is, one's respectable countenance and demeanor.40 Remarkably, the character yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 is a cognate of yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, which actually stands for yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 in the earliest writings. The primary meaning of yi The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 can be identified as "to imitate, to emulate, to follow suit," or "what can be taken as the paradigm, standard, or model" that one emulates, such as the awesome appearances (biaoThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客) of certain human and natural beings. The secondary meanings of yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, in turn, include not only "customs, norms, rules of decorum," but also weiyi, that is, "one's dignified bearing or appearance."41

Both wei and yi, thus, carry already the meaning of weiyi. While the character wei stresses the solemnity and majesty of one's posture and countenance, the character yi has its emphasis in the good, right, and appropriate bearing and appearance that set an example for others. The formation of the idiom weiyi reminds us of the structure of such conjoined English-language twins as heart and soul, part and parcel, and hustle and bustle. As for what defines the original meaning of yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 and what grounds the early Confucian moral practice of weiyi and its various manifestations, explanations abound in the early Chinese classics. Confucius takes one's confident self-composure (weiyi) as the highest kind of decorum that is beyond precise explanation.42 A verse in the Book of Poetry summons the king to be "reverent and prudent about his dignified demeanor (weiyi), as it is a paradigm for the people."43 A line in the poem "Chexia" compares the virtues and deeds of the ancients to high mountains that one looks up to and broad ways that one follows.44 Although there is no direct reference to weiyi in this context, the implication of such dignified character [End Page 324] and bearing seems to speak for itself. In Zuo's Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals, we find a meticulous elaboration on the social importance of weiyi and its specific manifestations—awe-inspiring bearing, laudable contribution, deliberate movement, respectable countenance, exemplary deed, pleasing voice, graceful performance, elegant speech, and so on.45

Xu Shen's definition of yi The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 in terms of weiyi, that is, the dignity and respectable countenance and demeanor of the self, agrees well with the configuration of the character for yi. In his annotation on Xu's definition, Duan Yucai takes the formation of the character as an instance of an associative compound (huiyi The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客).Yi is composed of two other characters, yang The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 (goat, sheep) and wo The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 (I, self). The primary meaning of yi, as indicated by the image projected by its character, is the same as that of wo, the human self. Duan elaborates: "The dignity and respectable countenance (weiyi) rise out of one's self.… Yi refers to the self."46 The sense of dignity and majesty, on the other hand, stems from the other constitutive character yang. With the component yang, yi "shares the same meaning as shan The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 (good, auspicious) and mei The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 (beautiful)."47 The Chinese characters for good (shan The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客), just (yi The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客), and beautiful (mei The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客) all share the same component yang The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, which means "goat or sheep." In ancient China, goats and sheep were considered among the best animals for sacrifice in ritual ceremonies (liThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客). The proper use of the sacrificial animal invites the blessing of the gods. It brings the human and the divine, the earth and sky (tian The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客) together in a harmonious concurrence. Only when humans elicit and preserve the jointure48 of the fourfold with reverence and prudence, would they attain the dignity and majesty of their self and open up a way of living (yi The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客)49 that is at once auspicious, good, just, and beautiful.50

It is clear that the original meaning of yi lies in the individual human self. Now let us trace the development of its meanings from the dignity of the individual to the norm of a society by investigating its usage in various early Chinese texts. Mo Zi claimed that in the very beginning of human history, when there was no political leadership or government, everyone had his own yi, that is, his own special dignity and respectable demeanor.51 If we recall that one of the oldest meanings of yi is "path or way,"52 then it can be said that in the earliest society, everyone had his or her own way of attaining and expressing dignity and nobility. But when all affirmed their own yi and refuted the yi of others, everyone ended up contradicting each other. As a result, "the world became as chaotic as the world of birds and beasts." In Mo Zi's view, the only solution to this kind of anarchy was to elect a sagacious leader who was capable of unifying all of the different approaches to individual dignity and nobility: "So, they elected one who was virtuous, wise, and eloquent to be the king and asked him to bring the different ways in the world into unity."53 Mo Zi's political teachings, such as the reduction of ritual formalities, the universal and equal love for all people in a society, and the sponsorship of a common faith in religious authority, are all oriented toward the subordination of society to a universal political order and structure on the basis of the established authority of political leaders.

This political ideal, which borders on a kind of utilitarianism, engendered little sympathy among early Confucians like Xun Zi. In a stern rebuke, Xun Zi accused Mo [End Page 325] Zi of "admiring efficiency and utility, overstressing thrift and ritual simplicity, and ignoring social distinctions."54 But at least in regard to the difference between humans and animals, Xun Zi seemed to concur with Mo Zi that humans are superior and nobler because of their ability to form a community with a unified order and structure: "How can humans live in a community? By virtue of division. How can division be performed? By virtue of justice (yi). So, division with justice leads to harmony; harmony leads to the unity of the community."55

Yi, remarkably, carries the verbal sense of "to decide, to divide, to regulate, to adjudicate." The Shiming defines the purpose of yi as "to divide and regulate things and events so as to make them accord with one other."56Yi means to decide and allocate an appropriate (yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客) position for each individual in accord with her personality and capability so as to bring the whole community into a state of order and harmony. Only in a harmonious and unified community where all individuals know their appropriate positions would these individuals be able to discover and attain their genuine dignity and nobility. Yi, therefore, has the essential meaning of "appropriate, suitable, proper, and right." As to what kind of division and regulation is "appropriate" for the peace and harmony of a community, opinions differ. For the early Confucians at least, the answer lay in the rule of decorum, which is also a rule of reason. Mencius compared the rule of decorum (liThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客) to the entrance to the way of justice (yi).57 Xun Zi took this metaphor and coupled the character li and yi together; decorum and justice (liyiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客), according to Xun Zi, "is the beginning of order and harmony."58 The essence of the rule of decorum and justice lies in liThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, reason or principle.59 As that which determines the appropriate organization of a harmonious community, yi also conveys the idea of "custom," "reason," "principle," and derivatively the idea of "norm" or "law."

The development of the meaning of yi from the dignity of an individual to the laws and principles for a whole society reminds us of the genealogy of another word, liThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, whose original meaning is "to carve a piece of uncut jade into a refined jade article," to sculpt it into a work of art. As a verb, li has the meaning of "to cut, to divide, to analyze different things in accord with their particular features and lineaments." As a noun, accordingly, li refers to "the different features and lineaments of individual things."60 "Everything in the world has its own particular li."61 As the division and regulation of different things is often performed according to certain rules and principles, li also acquires the meaning of "rule," "principle," "law,"62 or "to be in the proper order in accord with certain norms and principles."63 When used to indicate the proper order of human society, the meaning of li agrees with that of liThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, the rule of decorum. In ancient Chinese texts the meanings of liThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, liThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, and yi indeed often overlap. But, strictly speaking, while the concept of liThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 involves the general organization of all beings on the basis of proper reason and principle, the concept of yi refers specifically to order and harmony in the community by virtue of the rules of decorum.64

The Greek word dikē stems from the divine ideal of justice that stipulates the universal law of human existence. It refers primarily to the quality of justice in a state in which the government resembles the rational order of the cosmos. Only in a derivative [End Page 326] sense does such justice describe the virtue of individuals who are capable of performing fixed and definite duties regulated by the state. The early Chinese understanding of yi, in comparison, does not "presuppose" a determinate divine ideal of justice, which is then imposed upon the human community as an overarching rational order or structure. While the Greek dikē is focused on the universal order of the cosmos and the state, the starting point of the early Chinese understanding of justice (yi) is the individual and the dignity of the self. The senses of norm, principle, and law remain derivative and secondary. The center of gravity of early Chinese life, unlike that of Greek life, was not confined to the polis, to the nation-state, established in accord with the divine order of the cosmos or the universal law of nature. Nor were early Confucians preoccupied with any determinate set of orders or norms whose enforcement would guarantee a secure path toward the peace and prosperity of their living upon the earth. Rather, their political ambition lay in achieving a great harmony (datongThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客) in the whole "world." However narrow the early Chinese conception of the "world" may appear today, it was their unremitting aspiration to bring all people under the sky into a peaceful and prosperous family that would shelter and foster the growth of every individual toward their own dignity.65

In the light of this thinking, the true dignity of the self is only realized with the peace and harmony of the historical community to which one belongs. And as a family, a community does not obtain its order and harmony through the enjoining power of certain social or divine authorities, but through love and care among different individuals, such as the benevolence of the father and the filial devotion of the son, and the kindness of the older brother and the respect of the younger brother.66

According to Duan's Commentary on the Shuo Wen, humaneness (ren) refers to the love of (other) persons, while yi refers to the dignity of the self. Therefore, "humaneness must involve others, and justice (yi) must be a decision made from one's own heart."67 The origin of justice, which involves primarily the dignity of the self, lies in the human heart, which decides what is appropriate in every concrete human situation. It summons up care and reverence for one's passing life upon the earth as well as love and compassion for other human beings. It is through the humane love of others that one may finally achieve the dignity of the self. The ground of justice, as the Book of Decorum says, is "humaneness"68—the humane love of others. But for early Confucians, one did not love one's neighbor because of the mandate of heaven or the universal cosmogonic principle. Rather, the love of other human beings emerged out of one's daily contacts and communications with them as flesh-and-blood individuals; it stemmed from the familiarity with and respect for their dignified appearance and personality. Only through such genuine love and friendship, only when different individuals are capable of opening themselves to and being affected (gantongThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客)69 by one another, will the conjunction of different individuals in a community really take place. The ultimate ground of a peaceful and harmonious community is not the sacred power of some divine or societal authority, but the genuine care and reverence among individual persons within the community. The root of justice lies in the sensus communis of the human heart. [End Page 327]

Justice as the Sensus Communis of the Heart

In its original sense, the word yi refers to the dignity, the respectable countenance and bearing of the individual, which manifests itself when an auspicious, poetical human life is taking place at the jointure of heaven and earth, the human and the divine. For the early Chinese, human beings "are the truth (deThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, spiritual power, virtue, nature, aletheia)70 of heaven and earth; they emerge out of the intercourse of yin and yang, the convergence of spirits and gods, and the blooming animus of the five elements of nature."71 The senses of norm, principle, or law remain derivative and secondary. The early Chinese understanding of justice, accordingly, has little to do with the fixation and enforcement of an overpowering governing structure with which every individual must comply. For Mencius and other early Confucian thinkers, the great harmony of the world could not be achieved through the "imposition" of a normative structure or order, but rather by fostering gentle love and friendship among individual members of a community.72 The ground of justice is humaneness, ren, the humane love that arises from the "human heart." The germ of humaneness, as Mencius elaborates, is "the sense (xin The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, heart) of commiseration,"73 which only manifests itself when people have sincere respect and sympathy for the person and the humanity of one another. Humaneness and justice are "not something external imposed upon me; they belong to my most innate self."74 Humaneness and justice are innate in the self because they originate in the human heart. The root of justice as the principle of social division and organization is "the sensus communis of the heart." Human beings are capable of living in a just and harmonious community because human beings, in their open and affectionate comportment with other human and natural beings, are able to install and preserve a poetical way of human living at the jointure of the world's fourfold union, because human beings are the "heart of sky and earth."75

By identifying the ground of justice in the sensus communis of the heart, in the hearts of the people, it would appear that Mencius restored priority to human affection, and this is reflected in the origins of the meanings of yi, which will be elaborated in the last section below. The word yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 has a cognate, yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, which in contemporary Chinese means primarily "amity," "friendship," and "rapport." In early Chinese writings, The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 and The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 are often used interchangeably in the sense of "to divide and regulate things and events, to make them appropriate," or the "reason" or "principle" of such divisions and decisions. According to Duan Yucai's Commentary on the Shuo Wen, the conventional usage of his day takes yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客) to mean amity and friendship, a usage that Duan designates as vulgar and unorthodox.76 As the exact origin of this meaning and its relation to the two cognates remain uncertain, the vulgar, folk usage may well offer some important clues. It seems that the sense of amity and friendship may initially have belonged to both characters, with The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 becoming dominant in later usage.

That yi The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 carries also the meanings of "amity," "friendship," and "rapport" seems to have escaped the attention of most early and contemporary Chinese scholars. The Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Chinese Language identifies yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 only as a [End Page 328] cognate of yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, without elaborating on how their meanings overlap. For those who keep their eyes open, however, the instances of the use of yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 in the sense of "amity" or "friendship" are many. The Zhuang Zi relates a common understanding of the meanings of humaneness and justice (renyiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客) in the words of Confucius: "to sustain happy and harmonious relations with others at heart and to have selfless love for all individuals: such is the affection … [characterized by] humaneness and justice."77 The primary meanings of humaneness and justice, accordingly, have little to do with norms or principles; instead they involve affection: genuine amity and friendship with other human beings in the same community—an affection that brings happiness to all. In ancient Chinese texts, yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 is often coupled with en The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 (favor, kindness, grace, love, affection) or qingThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 (affection, emotion, love, feeling, favor) to describe amicable relations between superiors and subordinates, older and younger brothers, husbands and wives, and young men and women in love.78 The poem "Flowering Almond" in the Book of Poetry, for example, takes the blooming oriental bush cherry as a metaphor for the shining love and respect (enyiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客) between two brothers.79 According to a dialogue in "The Principle of Government" in the ShuoyuanThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客, "the way (dao) of ordering a state and the path (of justice) (yi The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客/ The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客) in employing the people" consist in nothing but "loving the people."80 We can see that although the sense of amity and friendship might not be the most original meaning of yi, the evidence for its presence is abundant and compelling.

Bangu's "Youtongfu" alludes to a famous expression in the Mencius—"give up one's life for the sake of justice (yiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客)"—but changes the character The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客 to The Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客.81 Confucius says that "men with ambition for justice and humaneness will never compromise humaneness for the sake of their lives, but may well sacrifice themselves for the accomplishment of humaneness."82 To sacrifice oneself for the accomplishment of humaneness and to give up one's life for the sake of justice spell out two aspects of the same aspiration to attain one's true dignity through sincere and devoted relationships with other human beings. Although we should not restrict the meanings of these two expressions to "to die for the sake of friendship," such an implication is well established in their common usage. For ancient Chinese, to sacrifice one's life for one's friends was a highly esteemed act. The love and compassion between two individuals constitutes the foundation of peace and harmony in the entire community, for it is only within the latter that an individual might attain true dignity and nobility.

In his History, Sima Qian recounts the lively story of Yu Rang, which well illustrates the essence of dignified bearing. In this story, Count Zhi, who had seized the sovereign of the state of Jin and who had treated Yu Rang with great honor and favor, was defeated and killed by Viscount Xiang of Zhao. Xiang hated Zhi so much that he had Zhi's head painted and made into a drinking instrument. Deeply offended, Yu Rang swore to avenge Zhi's death: "a noble person will die for those who recognize and appreciate his personality and ability." Not hesitating to transform his appearance into that of a lowly servant, Yu attempted to assassinate Xiang twice but was captured each time. Admiring him as a man of great justice and dignity (xiangzi da yi zhiThe Way of Heart: Mencius Understanding of Justice II - demosthenes - demosthenes的博客), however, Xiang released Yu the first time and then agreed to have [End Page 329] his own coat be stabbed by Yu before executing him the second time. Yu drew his sword, jumped up, and attacked the coat three times, saying, "I can now requite Count Zhi's kindness in the nether world!" He then took his own life with his sword. "On that day, having heard about his death, all people of integrity and ambition in the state of Zhao shed tears for him."83

The story of Yu's resolve to sacrifice himself for those who recognized and appreciated his personal attributes and abilities is as admirable as it is heartrending. But for early Chinese thinkers, such loyalty and devotion to friendship illustrates only a lower kind of dignity and justice; they are the germs of yi, not its highest exemplification. Humaneness and justice—let us recall the line in the Zhuang Zi—originate in the selfless love that brings all individuals in the community into a happy and peaceful harmony. Mencius spells out the path toward such selfless love as the "extension" of one's love emanating from the sense of compassion one has for one's family members, friends, a newborn baby in mortal danger, or an innocent ox shivering before sacrifice:

Respect the old in your family so that you may respect the old in the family of others, care for the young in your family so that you may care for the young in the family of others; you can have the world in the palm of your hand.… Therefore, extending your love and kindness, you have enough to preserve the whole land within four seas; not extending your love and kindness, you have nothing that can preserve your own wife and children.84

Justice, for Mencius, is the "sensus communis of the heart." It brings peace and harmony to the community of a historical people as it strikes love and happiness into their hearts. The highest personification of justice belongs to those sages who are capable of rising above their personal likes and dislikes and discovering and disclosing the sensus communis of the hearts of the people. The highest example of the affection associated with humaneness and justice is the opening of one's heart to the joys and sorrows of the people, the associating of one's own joys and sorrows with what pleases and concerns the people. When one rejoices at the joys of the people, "the people also rejoice at his joy; when one cares for the concerns of the people, the people also care for his concerns. It has never been the case that one bases his joys and cares on the joys and cares of the people without attaining the kingship of the whole world."85 Only a sage who discovers and attunes himself to the sensus communis of the hearts of the people is able to reach the true kingship of the whole world: "There is a way to win the world: win the people, and you will win the world. There is a way to win the people: win their hearts, and you will win the people."86 The highest dignity and justice, therefore, lie in the care and reverence for the people.

In discovering the sensus communis of the heart one also realizes the deepest and truest nature of one's self: "He who brings out his heart to the full knows his nature; he who knows his nature knows heaven!"87 The mandate of heaven, which in its silent and unpredictable way determines one's original nature, does not embody itself in the supreme norms and principles of divine authority, but in the hearts [End Page 330] of the people. For heaven "sees through the eyes of the people; heaven hears through the ears of the people."88 It is by attuning one's heart to the joys and concerns of the people that one may understand the inscrutable ways of heaven and attain the highest level of dignity of the self as one embarks on the most auspicious path toward human living between sky and earth that is at same time just, good, and beautiful.

It is clear that for Mencius both humaneness and justice are expressed internally rather than externally. My respect for the old both at home and abroad, for example, which for Mencius constitutes a major expression of justice, does not stem from their "external" quality of advanced age, but from the moral decision of the human heart.89 The ground of justice that is expressed in the respect shown to an elder is not the external rule of decorum, nor the privileged social position the elder holds, but sincere love and reverence for the being of others originating in one's heart of hearts. Humaneness and justice "are not something external imposed upon me; they belong to my most innate self."90

But here we must not confuse the internal as mere intention, good will, or some innate good quality. The internal refers to the origin of humaneness and justice in the human heart that is the root of compassionate relations and open comportment with human and natural beings in the world. The origin of justice lies in the sense of commiseration with other human beings, with their common destiny as they pass through this earthly dwelling place. It stems from the veneration for the dignity and individuality of the self and others that impels one toward prudent deliberation and decision about what is right and proper in every concrete human situation.

Remarkably, a judicial decision requires more than what Chung-ying Cheng describes as the simple "application" of a universal and total principle to every particular case concerning the worthiness or unworthiness of an action.91 Justice, yi, as Hall and Ames rightly argue, "cannot be a principle in any of the classical Western senses of that term.… Yi has normative force without itself actually constituting a norm."92 For Mencius and other early Confucian thinkers, indeed, the ground of justice expressed by the rules of decorum has little to do with metaphysical norms and principles. Rather, it originates in the love and affinity between different individuals, in the common aesthetic feelings of the human heart that bring these individuals together in a peaceful and harmonious community. The rules of decorum regulate and order the activities of human society not because they carry any sacred authority in and of themselves, but because by placing every individual at the right position in accord with her personal attributes and abilities, these rules and norms let all individuals grow within a peaceful and harmonious community. The function of decorum, as Sima Qian says, is "to cultivate."93 The rules of decorum foster and nourish love and respect among different individuals so that order may be established in a community within which every individual can cultivate in herself the dignity and nobility of her being.

The common ground for the construction of human society in accord with the rules of decorum, therefore, is not the categorical imperatives of either divine or social authority, or the authority of reason, but the common aesthetic feelings, the feelings [End Page 331] of pleasure brought about by the happiness and affinity felt by people living in harmony with each other. Thus, with rules of decorum distinguishing and dividing different individuals in different social positions, it is through music that all individuals in a community attain the greatest concord and happiness. "The rules of decorum are the order of heaven and earth; music is the harmony of heaven and earth."94 And just as one can never produce musical rhythms by mechanically following the beat of a metronome, no harmony in society is achieved through the enforcement of a preestablished order and structure. Harmony in music emanates from the heart of a player who has genuine understanding and sympathy for the feeling and emotion inherent in the music. Concord and happiness in a society, likewise, are only achieved when everyone is attentive to the way they live their lives as they care for one another with empathy and compassion—with an affection for each other that is characterized by humaneness and justice.

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