In the Shadow of the Decay. The Philosophy of History of Mencius and Xunzi

  • Dawid ROGACZ Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań
Keywords: Confucianism, Mencius, Xunzi, philosophy of history, Mandate of Heaven, idealization


The aim of my paper is to analyze the debate between Mencius and Xunzi from the perspective of their views on the nature of the historical process. The Mencian approach embraces not only elaboration on the doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven, resulting in a cyclical vision of history, but also strong idealization of the past. I will show that ren (benevolence), treated as a historical principle, could link two dimensions of his historical thinking: the moral and ontological. Xunzi rejected the possibility of the intervention of Heaven in history, however, his theory of rituals and belief in moral use of history made his philosophy of history much more conservative, embalming the idealization of the past. In short, I will look for the main common points and differences between these two major figures of Confucianism regarding their views on history, attempting to answer which beliefs could constitute a unique Confucian philosophy of history.

Author Biography

Dawid ROGACZ, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań

Institute of Philosophy, Department of Social and Political Philosophy

Principal Investigator of National Science Centre Grant "Chinese Philosophy of History"

Researcher in European Research Council Grant "Narrative Modes of Historical Discourse in Asia"


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Classical Pre-Qin Philosophy: Comparative and Analytical Perspectives