Why does Mencius think so highly of a person who does what Shun does?  I have read Mencius (Penguin Classics) and am confused of why Shun gets the respect!  especially with respect...

Why does Mencius think so highly of a person who does what Shun does?

 

I have read Mencius (Penguin Classics) and am confused of why Shun gets the respect!  especially with respect to obligations to one's family, or the society over which one rules?

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maadhav19 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a little puzzling. Just to be clear, since there are several mentions of Shun in Mencius, are you referring to the pasages in Ch. 5 where he is weeping in the fields and has not informed his parents he has married?

It seems that the dilemma here is between respecting his parents' wishes and acting on his own wishes. Shun is offered a government post that comes with great responsibility: he desires it, but his parents are against it. And he honors his parents wishes. Then in not informing his parents of his marriage: he knows they wish him to be happy, and he knows they may object to his marriage. So to fulfill their desire for his happiness without having to disobey their wish he not marry, he does not inform them he is marrying. It seems Mencius is trying to say that to be respectful of one's parents, one must not only do as they say, but find out what they really seem to want. Shun is in the dilemma of having parents who disapprove of all he does, so he pursues a course that lives up to the ideal what righteous parents would want for their son. I guess you can look at it this way: he acts as though his parents were nobler than they were, and this is a greater act of respect for them than simply being obedient.

 

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