Mencius and Laozi on Good Governance Comparison Essay

Mencius and Laozi on Good Governance
A comparison of the philosophies of Mencius and Laozi with respect to their ideals of good government and political rule.
# 146720 | 1,641 words | 1 source | MLA | 2011 | US

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The paper examines Laozi and Mencius' divergent viewpoints on effective governance and the role of rulers. The paper explains how while Laozi emphasized a spiritual and restrained approach to governance, aligned with the natural movement of the Way, Mencius differed with a much more radical perspective based on active participation by the population. The paper highlights how despite their differences, both masters share a similar condemnation of war and sought the best solution to bring about a more peaceful society. The paper also points out that both Mencius and Laozi's texts are equally applicable today for our political leaders.

From the Paper:

"Mencius employs certain liberal views, at least for his time, of a ruler because of his unique philosophy of conditional governance. In an era of turbulence and bloodshed, Mencius attempts to diagnose the problem and present a novel solution. He highlights the significance of each citizen and proposed that it is acceptable to dethrone and even assassinate an unjust ruler because of the violation of the Mandate of Heaven. This is most poignantly exemplified in a passage about the King Zhou of Shang: Mencius wryly comments "I have merely heard of killing a villain Zhou, but I have not heard of murdering him as a ruler." In essence, a ruler ceases to have kingly authority when he fails to live up to his obligations and thus, deserves to be overthrown. Such an ideology is remarkably radical, considering the implications of what Mencius is advocating. Whereas Confucius emphasizes deference to superiors, Mencius suggests that it would be perfectly acceptable to challenge authority in certain circumstances. In Mencius' mind, a ruler must justify his position by ruling honorably before he can expect loyalty from the people; in essence, the king is actually subordinate to the people, which is quite a revolutionary concept."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Ivanhoe, Philip and Bryan Van Norden. Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 2001.

Cite this Comparison Essay:

APA Format

Mencius and Laozi on Good Governance (2011, January 14) Retrieved January 25, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Mencius and Laozi on Good Governance" 14 January 2011. Web. 25 January. 2021. <>