Mencius' Biographical Brief

Mencius, or Meng Tzu (372-289 BC), was one of the greatest philosophers in China. Known as Master Meng the Second Sage, he was unquestionably the most famous Confucian after Confucius himself.

Mencius was born in the State of Chou, located in what is now the Shantung Province in Eastern China. Like Confucius, Mencius was only three years old when his father died. The responsibilities of young Mencius’ upbringing fell on his mother alone. His mother paid special attention to his education. She changed their residence three times in order to avoid bad influence from the neighborhood on her son. When she found out that young Mencius ditched school, she broke her loom to show him that his learning effort should not be interrupted. Sine then, Mencius began to study hard. As a result, he became a sage, shaping Chinese culture and philosophy for over two thousand years. The contributions of Mencius’ mother to his success is praiseworthy. When his mother died, Mencius took a leave of absence for three years from his official job in the State of Chi to mourn his mother’s death.

Mencius was born about 100 years after Confucius passed away. With eagerness to follow the footsteps of Confucius as a sage, he became a disciple of Tze Sze, the grandson of Confucius and the author of The Doctrine of the Mean. Like Confucius, Mencius spent most of his life traveling around China to offer advice to the kings of feudal courts. However, regardless of his efforts, he was unsuccessful in making any changes in the governments.

At that time, most of the rulers in China were indulged in physical pleasure and territory expansion. They had no patience for slow changes by applying Mencius’ theories on government. Even though he was treated with respect and rewarded substantially, his advice was not accepted. Therefore, Mencius retreated to private life with focus on education. He died at the age of 84.