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Mencius (Penguin Classics) Revised ed. Edition
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Irene Bloom is a sensitive and well-trained scholar. Her translation of Mencius, one of the most influential philosophical works ever written in China, marks an important step forward for Asian and Confucian studies.(Harold D. Roth, professor of religious and East Asian studies and director, Contemplative Studies Initiative, Brown University)
Irene Bloom's book is an exemplification of the best Sinological scholarship. Its interpretive brilliance will be a source of inspiration for years to come.(Tu Weiming, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Peking University, and senior research fellow, Harvard University)
While Mencius may be generally more 'accessible' when compared with other classical Chinese texts, as P. J. Ivanhoe observes, it is still a challenge to capture in translation the flavor of its fine prose and the force of its arguments. This, I think, is precisely what Bloom sets out to do, and we are richly rewarded for her effort. Her translation is eminently reliable and has a graceful directness and simplicity. Ivanhoe's introduction helpfully highlights key ethical, political, and religious views and relates them to relevant contemporary philosophical debates. This book will be widely used and consulted by scholars.(Alan K. L. Chan, National University of Singapore)
A tremendous accomplishment that crowns Bloom's exemplary career.... Essential.(Choice)
Accurate and very fluid; in addition to their other strengths, Bloom and Ivanhoe are both gifted writers of English(Journal of Chinese Studies 1900-01-00) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A sophisticated and critically rich translation of the most eloquent book in the Confucian canon.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Mencius is most famous for his claim that human nature is good. He illustrates this by asking us to imagine a person who suddenly sees a child about to fall into a well. Anyone, Mencius claims, would have a feeling of alarm and compassion at this sight. This feeling is a manifestation of our innate tendency toward benevolence. Mencius is aware that, despite having this innate tendency toward virtue, most people fail to act in a benevolent manner. But he claims that this is due to bad environmental factors, as well as a failure to cultivate one's "sprouts" of virtue. (Lau translates "sprout" as "germ," a minor infelicity.)
Lau's _Mencius_ is probably the best complete translation of this work in English. It also includes extensive supporting material: an interpretive introduction, a glossary, and appendices on events in the life of Mencius, early traditions about Mencius, the text of the _Mencius_, ancient history as understood by Mencius, and Mencius's method of argumentation.
James Legge also did a complete translation, _The Works of Mencius_, which is a little dated (it was completed in the late 19th century), but it is still a good translation, and includes the Chinese text, along with extensive notes. I did a partial translation of the _Mencius_ for _Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy_.
One of the key features of Mencius that separates him from Confucius is the book of Mencius has a lot of philosophical argument and rhetoric that is quite sophisticated from a cursory reading (with Confucius, much of the sophistication is apparent only if you know the text EXTREMELY well). Mencius was a keen maker of illustrations in arguments. This is the book that contains the famous argument taht human nature is fundamentally good because a person seeing a child on the edge of a well about to fall in will initially be compelled to run and save the child.
Basically, there was a sort of split in the interpretation of Confucianism. Xunzi believed that humans are essentially evil (or at least selfish) and therefore it is necessary to have ren (benevolence), li (ritual/propriety) and fa (law) to enable them to develop themselves and overcome their base urges. Mencius went the other way, considering people essentially good (as can be seen in the well example). He would see evil as a result of corruption by society, and ren and li as tools to enable one to develop their true nature. From reading his work though, I think he was far from naive and he certainly did not have an idyllic view of humanity. Rather, Xunzi and Mencius seemed to be advocating the same kind of philosophy and there is not actually that much difference between them.Read more ›
Even as a reader approaching his thinking for the first time, I was able to get quite a bit from reading the seven books. They were thought-provoking and crisp. I was interested in the notions of morality and good as treated in his analogies. This point is the famous difference between Confucius and Mencius and alone makes this book valuable reading.
The Penguin edition may well be the best available translation and I am sure that the essays at the beginning and end are useful for more knowledgeable scholars. Unfortunately, as a reader largely unfamiliar with his life and work (beyond knowing his role as a student of Confucius) these essays assumed a level of knowledge beyond that which I actually possessed. It would have been helpful for me if the introduction had been more concerned with basic context setting.
The appendices bound with the book contain essays on dating events in the life of Mencius, early traditions about Mencius, textual notes, history as depicted in the text, and the use of analogy as argument.
After the thinking I do get an idea. It is amazing what is conveyed in a few words. There is no attempt to set forth an ordered set of ideas. What I understand are thoughts that form a point of view. That is what I mean by inscrutable.
Mencius is not nearly as minimalist as the Analects. He tells short tales with a moral. To that extent he is easier to understand. The same ideas appear with different emphasis in tales. The writing does not present a clear direct system of ideas, such as Aristotle. My interpretation may be much different than yours.
I enjoyed Mencius. I felt it was worth while and gave me insight into Chinese thought. It must be remembered that he is second only to Confucius in Confucian thought.
What worked for me was to read slowly and take notes. I had to invest a great deal of time in reading what is a short book. I still feel I need to read some type of treatise to get a better understanding of the philosophy of Mencius. Reading Mencius first gives the basis to build a greater understanding of Chinese philosophy and the Chinese point of view.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mencius is a great read and a total classic. The book is a collection of proses, thoughts and stories intended to teach lessons for the reader. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Rachel
Before reading this book, my knowledge of Confucian beliefs or the Confucian classics was greatly lacking, and reading Mencius seemed to be a quite engaging and interesting way to... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Seth
Mencius is very famous in China, and everyone knows who he is. Everyone interested in Chinese philosophy should read his works. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Heathathon
Men and women go through their lives asking themselves “What is the right thing to do?”, and trying to live good lives. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Paul Haspel
When you search for the D.C. Lau translation, this book comes up. Bought the wrong book. When compared to the D.C. Read morePublished 9 months ago by kgianola
If there was a way to award 0 stars, I would. From a deceptive page that claims to sell a paperback edition of the D.C. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jim Howard
Mencius was a great Confucian scholar who lived a century after his mentor, from 372 BC to 289 BC. Mencius built his philosophy on one aspect of Confucius’ thinking: rulers should... Read morePublished 10 months ago by John Engelman
Maybe it was just me but I found the book to be a little on the boring side. Perhaps another read would change my mind.Published 11 months ago by Greg