良知 – Chinese philosophy and culture

liángzhī 良知

Liangzhi (Conscience)

人天生所具有的道德本性与道德上的认识和实践能力。“良知”一词最初由孟子提出,认为人不加思虑便能知道的便是“良知”。“良知”的具体内容包括亲爱其父母、尊敬其兄长。而亲爱父母是仁,尊敬兄长是义。“良知”说是孟子性善论的重要内容。明代的王守仁提出“致良知”,进一步发展了孟子的“良知”说。他认为,“良知”就是天理,一切事物及其规律都包含在“良知”之中。将“良知”扩充到底,即能达到对一切道德真理的认识和实践。

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, 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 Shouren 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.

引例 Citations:

◎所不虑而知者,良知也。(《孟子·尽心上》)

(人所不加思虑便能知晓的,就是良知。)

What is known without thinking is the innate knowledge of goodness. (Mencius)

◎天理即是良知。(《传习录》卷下)

(天理就是良知。)

Principles of heaven and conscience are the same in essence. (Records of Great Learning)

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