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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.[1] The main focus of the Yangists was on the concept of xing, or human nature,[1] 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.[2] The philosopher "Mencius claimed that Yangism once rivaled "Confucianism and "Mohism, although the veracity of this claim remains controversial among sinologists.[3] 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.

Contents

Philosophy[edit]

"What Yang Zhu was for was self. If by plucking one hair he might benefit the whole world, he would not do it."[4]

— "Mencius on "Yang Zhu, "Mengzi (4th century BC)

Yangism has been described as a form of psychological and "ethical egoism.[1] 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."[5] 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.[6] Individual pleasure is considered desirable, like in "hedonism, but not at the expense of the health of individual.[7] The Yangists saw individual well-being as the prime purpose of life, and considered anything that hindered that well-being immoral and unnecessary.[7]

The main focus of the Yangists was on the concept of xing, or human nature,[1] 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.[5] 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.[5]

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.[8] He criticized the Yangists as selfish, ignoring the duty of serving the public and caring only for personal concerns.[7] Mencius saw Confucianism as the ""Middle Way" between "Mohism and Yangism.[3]

Influence on later beliefs[edit]

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.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Ivanhoe, P.J.; Van Norden, Bryan William (2005). "Yangism". Readings in classical Chinese philosophy. "Hackett Publishing. p. 369. "ISBN "978-0-87220-780-6. "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 
  2. ^ Shun, Kwong-loi (2000). Mencius and Early Chinese Thought. "Stanford University Press. pp. 40–41. "ISBN "978-0-8047-4017-3. 
  3. ^ a b Shun, Kwong-loi (2000). Mencius and Early Chinese Thought. "Stanford University Press. p. 36. "ISBN "978-0-8047-4017-3. "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 
  4. ^ "Graham, Angus Charles (1981). Chuang-tzǔ: The Seven Inner Chapters and other writings from the book Chuang-tzǔ. "Allen & Unwin. p. 223. "ISBN "978-0-04-299010-1. 
  5. ^ a b c Stalnaker, Aaron (2006). Overcoming our evil: human nature and spiritual exercises in Xunzi and Augustine. "Georgetown University Press. p. 57. "ISBN "978-1-58901-094-9. 
  6. ^ Senghaas, Dieter (2002). The clash within civilizations: coming to terms with cultural conflicts. "Psychology Press. p. 33. "ISBN "978-0-415-26228-6. 
  7. ^ a b c d Bontekoe, Ronald; Deutsch, Eliot (1999). A companion to world philosophies. "Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 142–143. "ISBN "978-0-631-21327-7. 
  8. ^ Ivanhoe, P.J.; Van Norden, Bryan William (2005). Readings in classical Chinese philosophy. "Hackett Publishing. p. 153. "ISBN "978-0-87220-780-6. 

External links[edit]

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