Was Mencius is a utilitarian?
Absolutely! The foundation underlying most of his philosophies are related to his sense of naturalism, he attributes human nature to man¡¯s natural tendency to feel sympathy, compassion and the like; he feels that the emotions are natural and should not be suppressed but should be controlled or directed towards the good; he further states that natural human desires like that for happiness, plentiful food to eat and sex should not be suppressed but should serve as a guide for those who govern the people, the people have the same desires and should be ruled accordingly to insure their basic desires are fulfilled, which will in turn keep morale high in the kingdom. Each and every one of these philosophies being rooted in a rational, natural sense of logic have the common result of creating both a more benevolent ruler, a greater amount of content among the subjects and contribute to the well-being of the state, they are therefore, very utilitarian in nature,
Further evidence of his utilitarian nature can be seen in his view towards such policies as improved education, land reform and economic strategies which were all aimed at creating an idyllic state in which no one suffered from want. His defense of the rulers who did not grow their own food as it would interfere with their ruling of the state was further testimony of his practical nature. All in all, he was a step above many of the other philosophers in that he did not strive for unattainable, and impractical goals, like Mo Tzu¡¯s universal love, but kept his philosophy grounded in reality and not only talked of theory, but proposed courses of action that were feasible and quite practical, making him quite the utilitarian!
2. Explain Hsun Tzu, as opposed to Plato, on the philosophy of language.
Plato believed in an absolute or ideal model of everything, if one were to see a dog, it would be identified as a dog by it¡¯s relation to the absolute dog or by it¡¯s dogness. The same would apply to beauty and something would only be beautiful if it possessed some sense of an absolute beauty. Hsun Tzu on the other hand did not believe in these absolutes but seemed to feel that each person has his own concept of what each article is, a dog is so because it is somehow related to his mental picture of what constitutes a dog, beauty too is only present if it corresponds to the individual¡¯s mental image of what beauty is. Hsun Tzu seemed to imply that these mental images of a dog or beauty are developed as part of the learning process and are individually developed as opposed to Plato¡¯s image of universals. It would also appear that Hsun Tzu thinks the names for these objects do not come from any absolutes or from a divine source but are merely sounds representing various objects and are good if they can create a mental picture of the object without confusion.