Yangism (Chinese :楊朱學派; pinyin :Yángzhūxuépài) was a philosophical school founded by Yang Zhu, existent during the Warring States period (475 BCE – 221 BCE), that believed that human actions are and should be based on self-interest. The school has been described by sinologists as an early form of psychological and ethical egoism. The main focus of the Yangists was on the concept of xing, or human nature, a term later incorporated by Mencius into Confucianism. No documents directly authored by the Yangists have been discovered yet, and all that is known of the school comes from the comments of rival philosophers, specifically in the Chinese texts Huainanzi , Lüshi Chunqiu , Mengzi , and possibly the Liezi and Zhuangzi . The philosopher Mencius claimed that Yangism once rivaled Confucianism and Mohism, although the veracity of this claim remains controversial among sinologists. Because Yangism had largely faded into obscurity by the time that Sima Qian compiled his Shiji, the school was not included as one of the Hundred Schools of Thought.
Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.
Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.
Yang Zhu, also known as Yang Zi or Yangzi, was a Chinese philosopher during the Warring States period. An early ethical egoist alternative to Mohist and Confucian thought, Yang Zhu's surviving ideas appear primarily in the Chinese texts Huainanzi, Lüshi Chunqiu, Mengzi, and possibly the Liezi and Zhuangzi.
"What Yang Zhu was for was self. If by plucking one hair he might benefit the whole world, he would not do it."
Yangism has been described as a form of psychological and ethical egoism.The Yangist philosophers believed in the importance of maintaining self-interest through "keeping one's nature intact, protecting one's uniqueness, and not letting the body be tied by other things." Disagreeing with the Confucian virtues of li (propriety), ren (humaneness), and yi (righteousness) and the Legalist virtue of fa (law), the Yangists saw wei wo, or "everything for myself," as the only virtue necessary for self-cultivation. Individual pleasure is considered desirable, like in hedonism, but not at the expense of the health of individual. The Yangists saw individual well-being as the prime purpose of life, and considered anything that hindered that well-being immoral and unnecessary.
Ethical egoism is the normative ethical position that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest. It differs from psychological egoism, which claims that people can only act in their self-interest. Ethical egoism also differs from rational egoism, which holds that it is rational to act in one's self-interest. Ethical egoism holds, therefore, that actions whose consequences will benefit the doer can be considered ethical in this sense.
Li is a classical Chinese word which is commonly used in Chinese philosophy, particularly within Confucianism. Li does not encompass a definitive object but rather a somewhat abstract idea and, as such, is translated in a number of different ways. Wing-tsit Chan explains that li originally meant "a religious sacrifice," but has come to mean ceremony, ritual, decorum, rules of propriety, good form, good custom, etc., and has even been equated with Natural law."
Ren is the Confucian virtue denoting the good feeling a virtuous human experiences when being altruistic. Ren is exemplified by a normal adult's protective feelings for children. It is considered the outward expression of Confucian ideals.
The main focus of the Yangists was on the concept of xing, or human nature,a term later incorporated by Mencius into Confucianism. The xing, according to sinologist A. C. Graham, is a person's "proper course of development" in life. Individuals can only rationally care for their own xing, and should not naively have to support the xing of other people, even if it means opposing the emperor. In this sense, Yangism is a "direct attack" on Confucianism, by implying that the power of the emperor, defended in Confucianism, is baseless and destructive, and that state intervention is morally flawed.
Mencius or Mengzi was a Chinese philosopher who has often been described as the "second Sage", that is after only Confucius himself.
Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is described as tradition, a philosophy, a religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, a way of governing, or simply a way of life. Confucianism developed from what was later called the Hundred Schools of Thought from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius, who considered himself a recodifier and retransmitter of the theology and values inherited from the Shang and Zhou dynasties. In the Han dynasty, Confucian approaches edged out the "proto-Taoist" Huang–Lao as the official ideology, while the emperors mixed both with the realist techniques of Legalism.
Angus Charles Graham was a Welsh scholar and Sinologist who was Professor of Classical Chinese at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
The Confucian philosopher Mencius depicts Yangism as the direct opposite of Mohism, while Mohism promotes the idea of universal love and impartial caring, the Yangists acted only "for themselves," rejecting the altruism of Mohism.He criticized the Yangists as selfish, ignoring the duty of serving the public and caring only for personal concerns. Mencius saw Confucianism as the "Middle Way" between Mohism and Yangism.
Altruism is an ethical doctrine that holds that the moral value of an individual's actions depend solely on the impact on other individuals, regardless of the consequences on the individual itself. James Fieser states the altruist dictum as: "An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone except the agent." Auguste Comte's version of altruism calls for living for the sake of others. One who holds to either of these ethics is known as an "altruist."
Mohism or Moism was an ancient Chinese philosophy of logic, rational thought and science developed by the academic scholars who studied under the ancient Chinese philosopher Mozi and embodied in an eponymous book: the Mozi. It evolved at about the same time as Confucianism, Taoism and Legalism, and was one of the four main philosophic schools from around 770–221 BC. During that time, Mohism was seen as a major rival to Confucianism. Although its influence endured, Mohism all but disappeared as an independent school of thought.
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Mencius incorporated the Yangist concept of xing into his own philosophy. Some sinologists have argued that Yangism influenced Taoism, and can be seen as a "precursor" to later Taoist beliefs.
Taoism, or Daoism, is a religious or philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao. The Tao is a fundamental idea in most Chinese philosophical schools; in Taoism, however, it denotes the principle that is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. Taoism differs from Confucianism by not emphasizing rigid rituals and social order, but is similar in the sense that it is a teaching about the various disciplines for achieving "perfection" by becoming one with the unplanned rhythms of the universe called "the way" or "dao". Taoist ethics vary depending on the particular school, but in general tend to emphasize wu wei, "naturalness", simplicity, spontaneity, and the Three Treasures: 慈 "compassion", 儉 "frugality", and 不敢為天下先 "humility".
Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments. Although much of Chinese philosophy begins in the Warring States period, elements of Chinese philosophy have existed for several thousand years; some can be found in the Yi Jing, an ancient compendium of divination, which dates back to at least 672 BCE. It was during the Warring States era that what Sima Tan termed the major philosophical schools of China: Confucianism, Legalism, and Daoism, arose, along with philosophies that later fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Mohism, Chinese Naturalism, and the Logicians.
Confucius was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history.
Mozi, original name Mo Di (墨翟), was a Chinese philosopher during the Hundred Schools of Thought period. A book named after him, the Mozi, contains material ascribed to him and his followers.
The Hundred Schools of Thought were philosophies and schools that flourished from the 6th century to 221 B.C. during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period of ancient China.
Neo-Confucianism is a moral, ethical, and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (772–841) in the Tang Dynasty, and became prominent during the Song and Ming dynasties.
For the Celtic F.C. footballer, see Zheng Zhi
Wang Shouren, courtesy name Bo'an, was a Chinese idealist Neo-Confucian philosopher, official, educationist, calligraphist and general during the Ming dynasty. After Zhu Xi, he is commonly regarded as the most important Neo-Confucian thinker, with interpretations of Confucianism that denied the rationalist dualism of the orthodox philosophy of Zhu Xi. Wang was known as Yangming Xiansheng and/or Yangming Zi in literary circles: both mean "Master Yangming".
Zhou Dunyi was a Song dynasty Chinese Neo-Confucian philosopher and cosmologist born during the Song Dynasty. He conceptualized the Neo-Confucian cosmology of the day, explaining the relationship between human conduct and universal forces. In this way, he emphasizes that humans can master their qi in order to accord with nature. He was a major influence to Zhu Xi, who was the architect of Neo-Confucianism. Zhou Dunyi was mainly concerned with Taiji and Wuji, the yin and yang, and the wu xing. He is also venerated and credited in Taoism as the first philosopher to popularize the concept of the taijitu or "yin-yang symbol".
Lu Jiuyuan, or Lu Xiangshan, was a Chinese scholar and philosopher who founded the school of the universal mind, the second most influential Neo-Confucian school. He was a contemporary and the main rival of Zhu Xi.
Philip J. Ivanhoe is an historian of Chinese thought, particularly of Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism. He is a professor at the City University of Hong Kong. Ivanhoe is perhaps best known for two claims: that Neo-Confucian philosophers such as Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming have systematically misinterpreted earlier Confucians such as Confucius, himself, and Mengzi; and that Confucianism may usefully be understood as a version of virtue ethics.
Itō Jinsai, who also went by the pen name Keisai, was a Japanese Confucian philosopher and educator. He is considered to be one of the most influential Confucian scholars of seventeenth century Japan, and the Tokugawa period (1600–1868) generally, his teachings flourishing especially in Kyoto and the Kansai area through the final years of the Tokugawa shogunate.
The Mencius is a collection of anecdotes and conversations of the Confucian thinker and philosopher Mencius on topics in moral and political philosophy, often between Mencius and the rulers of the various Warring States. Mencius was a disciple of one of the students of Zisi, a grandson of Confucius, and the Mencius records his travels and audiences with the various rulers of the Warring States period, his students, and his other contemporaries. A number of linguistic and textual clues suggest that the text was not written by Mencius himself but by his disciples, probably during the late 4th century BC.
Agriculturalism, also known as the School of Agrarianism, the School of Agronomists, the School of Tillers, and in Chinese as the Nongjia (農家/农家), was an early agrarian Chinese philosophy that advocated peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism, and was arguably the world's first Communist and Socialist movement that believed in a Classless society. The Agriculturalists believed that Chinese society should be modeled around that of the early sage king Shennong, a folk hero who was portrayed in Chinese literature as "working in the fields, along with everyone else, and consulting with everyone else when any decision had to be reached." They encouraged farming and agriculture and taught farming and cultivation techniques, as they believed that agricultural development was the key to a stable and prosperous society.
Edo Neo-Confucianism, known in Japanese as Shushi-Gaku, refers to the schools of Neo-Confucian philosophy that developed in Japan during the Edo period. Neo-Confucianism reached Japan during the Kamakura period. The philosophy can be characterized as humanistic and rationalistic, with the belief that the universe could be understood through human reason, and that it was up to man to create a harmonious relationship between the universe and the individual. The 17th-century Tokugawa shogunate adopted Neo-Confucianism as the principle of controlling people and Confucian philosophy took hold. Neo-Confucians such as Hayashi Razan and Arai Hakuseki were instrumental in the formulation of Japan's dominant early modern political philosophy.
Mohist consequentialism, also known as state consequentialism, is a consequentialist ethical theory which evaluates the moral worth of an action based on how it contributes to the basic goods of a state, through social order, material wealth, and population growth. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Mohist consequentialism, dating back to the 5th century BC, is the "world's earliest form of consequentialism, a remarkably sophisticated version based on a plurality of intrinsic goods taken as constitutive of human welfare". The term state consequentialism has also been applied to the political philosophy of the Confucian philosopher Xunzi.
"Yangzhu's own way has been described as psychological egoism (humans are in fact motivated only by self-interest), ethical egoism (humans should do only what is in their own self-interest), or primativism (humans should only do what is in the interest of themselves and their immediate family
"there is little evidence that Yangist teachings were influential during Mencius's time, and this has led some scholars to suggest that Mencius exaggerated the movement's influence
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) combines an online encyclopedia of philosophy with peer-reviewed publication of original papers in philosophy, freely accessible to Internet users. It is maintained by Stanford University. Each entry is written and maintained by an expert in the field, including professors from many academic institutions worldwide. Authors contributing to the encyclopedia give Stanford University the permission to publish the articles, but retain the copyright to those articles.