KEY CONCEPTS

TERMBASES

Liangzhi (Conscience)

Humans are born with innate conscience and the ability to know and act upon it. The term liangzhi (良知) was first used by Mencius(372?-289 BC), who believed that what man knew by instinct was liangzhi (knowledge of goodness). The term includes ren (仁), i.e. love for one’s parents and yi (义), i.e. respect for one’s elder brothers. The concept is an important component of Mencius’ belief in the innate goodness of human nature. The Ming-dynasty philosopher Wang Yangming(1472-1529) raised the idea of “attaining liangzhi.” He extended the Mencius’ liangzhi to mean the principles of heaven, maintaining that all things under heaven and their laws were covered by liangzhi. With liangzhi being extended to its fullest (through self-cultivation and moral practice), it is possible to know and put in practice all moral truths.

【CITATIONS】

What is known without thinking is the innate knowledge of goodness.

Principles of heaven and conscience are the same in essence.

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