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Wang Shouren’s heartwarming theory about human nature

Posted July. 28, 2021 07:45,   

Updated July. 28, 2021 07:45


There are ideas that shine especially bright against the current backdrop of darkness and despair. The thoughts of Wang Shouren, a philosopher during the Ming dynasty and the founder of Yangmingism, are a case in point. His absolute trust in human nature is especially brightening.

Wang Shouren starts with a story about humans. According to him, the reason why we are scared, worried, and take pity on a drowning child is that we become one with the child. It refers to the inborn ability to empathize with others. He pushes his theory furthermore. We feel unbearable when we hear birds mourning and see animals being dragged to a slaughterhouse because we become one with the birds or animals. It is possible since we are also animals as they are.

This is not the end. He says when we take pity on cut grass or trees and want to save them we become one with the grass or trees. Listening to his theory brings up a feeling that we have such emotions of sympathy in ourselves. His thoughts reached the climax as they focus on non-living objects. When we feel sorry for broken roofing tiles or rocks, we become one with them. In the end, we become one with every being in the world that is dying, cut, or broken. All humans are truly born to be this kind, he claims.

It is the most heartwarming and optimistic view of the world. The theories of hospitability and the other in the West pale in comparison to the theory in the East during the Renaissance that says we become one with not only other humans but also animals, birds, trees, and even broken roofing tiles and rocks. It may sound exaggerated and excessive but when thinking of the ecosystem destroyed by human-centered lifestyles it should feel like a type of remedy, rather than exaggeration.