Mencius and Masculinities: Dynamics of Power, Morality, and Maternal Thinking
In this innovative work, Joanne D. Birdwhistell presents the first gender analysis of the Mencius, a central text in the Chinese philosophical tradition. Mencian philosophy, particularly its ideas about the processes by which a man could develop into a cultivated gentleman, was important to the political thought of China’s long imperial order. Through close textual readings, Birdwhistell offers a new interpretation of core Mencian ideas about the heart and the self-cultivation of the great man. She argues that the concept of masculinity advocated by the Mencius is derived, although without acknowledgment, from maternal practices and thinking—through processes of appropriation, inversion, and transformation. She illustrates that even though maternal practices and thinking are an invisible dimension of Mencian thought, they are constantly present in the text through their transcoding with agricultural practices and thinking.
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Questions Issues and Perspectives
2 Text As Cultural Landscape
3 Against Shen Nongs Agrarian Masculinity
4 Against King Huis SelfCentered Masculinity
Dynamics References and Practices
6 Ruling As Son and Younger Brother
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actions appropriate associated behave benevolence and rightness benevolent government benevolent ruler Chapter characteristics Chen child Chinese Chinese philosophy cius compassion concepts concern Confucian Confucian-Mencian Confucius cultivation cultural discussion distinctions Duke of Zhou duties elite empire farming father and mother female gendered behavior feminine filial piety five relations form of masculinity fraternal deference gentleman heart ideal implicitly important inferior inhumane ruler junzi kinds of behavior King Hui King Wen king’s linked male behavior man’s masculine behavior maternal behavior maternal practices Mencian thought Mencius claims moral behavior moral feelings Mozi nourish older brothers ontology parents passage patriarchal people’s perspective philosophical political qinqin recognized refers ritual ruler and minister ruling sage shame social-political specific superior teaching tion transformation transgendering true king virtues wife women xiao xing Xu Xing Xunzi yinyang young younger brother Zengzi Zhou dynasty Zhu Xi Zhuangzi