2. The Second Sage and
the First Emperor

It may come as a surprise to many to learn that in terms of personal persuasive power and overall influence on China's traditional statecraft, Mencius may have been more prominent than Confucius, even though he is known to have studied under a disciple of the Great Master's grandson and subsequently has been honored as the "Second Sage" by Chinese emperors and scholars. In his delightful book Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China, Arthur Waley chose Mencius to represent the Confucian school vis-à- vis the Taoists and the Legalists.

We have no accurate dates for Mencius' life; but we know that he flourished in 300 B.C., more than 700 years after the Zhou dynasty was established, which is mentioned in passing in the last chapter of the book The Discources of Mencius. His birthplace in today's Shandong Province is some 700 miles east of Xi'an.

Mencius lived in one of the most unstable periods of Chinese history: during the waning days of the Zhou dynasty, the ruling house fell


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China, a Macro History


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