New Persian translation of Mencius published

November 3, 2021 - 18:39

TEHRAN – A new Persian translation of the Mencius, the Confucian text named for its author that earned the title ya sheng (“second sage”) for the 4th-century-BCE philosopher, has been published in Persian.

Ehsan Doostmohammadi has rendered the book released by the Tehran-based major publisher Qoqnus.

Several Persian translations of the book have previously been published in Iran. The latest one translated by Giti Vaziri was released in 2011.  

The book records the doings and sayings of the author and contains statements on the innate goodness of human nature. It also addresses the proper concerns of government and maintains that the welfare of the common people should come before every other consideration.

It is a collection of conversations, anecdotes and a series of genuine and imagined interviews by the Confucian philosopher, Mencius.

The book is one of the Chinese Thirteen Classics, and explores Mencius’ views on the topics of moral and political philosophy, often as a dialogue with the ideas presented by Confucianism. 

The interviews and conversations are depicted as being either between Mencius and the various rulers of the Warring States period, or with his students and other contemporaries. 

The book documents Mencius’ travel across the states, and his philosophical conversations and debates with those he meets on his journey. 

A number of scholars suggest that the text was not written by Mencius himself, but rather by his disciples. The text is believed to have been written during the late 4th century BC.

Though the book was not generally recognized as a classic until the 12th century, a doctoral chair was established as early as the 2nd century BCE to teach the Mencius. 

When Zhu Xi, a great Neo-Confucian philosopher, published the Mencius together with three other Confucian texts in 1190, he created the classic known as Si shu (“Four Books”).

Mencius’ core ideas on education and human nature were largely shaped during the Warring States period (c. 770–221 BC). 

The period marks the transition of China’s system of slavery to that of feudalism, one that expanded the accessibility of culture and education to various sectors of society. 

It was during this time that Mencius was able to access and further develop the philosophical doctrines of Confucius. 

The creation of the Mencius, serves as a further elaboration on the Confucian school of thought called “subjective idealism”. 

Through this work, Mencius developed the theory of natural goodness (xingshan) that asserts that all people have intrinsic cardinal virtues, and that these virtues are developed in the same way that knowledge is cultivated.

Photo: Front cover of the Persian translation of the Mencius. 

MMS/YAW

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