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The idea of “Heaven and Human” in ancient China and the environmental ethics, with comments on Wang Yangming’s “Ren of the Unity between Heaven and Earth”

International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)

No.2, 2020

 

The idea of “Heaven and Human” in ancient China and the environmental ethics, with comments on Wang Yangming’s “Ren of the Unity between Heaven and Earth”

(Abstract)

 

Haiyan Zhang

 

Ancient Chinese had such ideas as “there is a unity among all the things between the Heaven and Earth” (tiandi wanwu yiti), “there are same ways and ethics between Heaven and Human” (tianren tongdao hede), “there are interactions between Heaven and Human” (tianren hugan hudong), “Nature’s nurture should be applauded” (zan tiandi zhi huayu), “be benevolent to people and love nature” (renmin er aiwu), and “human is the most precious in the world” (tiandi zhijian ren wei gui). The “Ren (benevolence) of the Unity between Heaven and Earth” (tiandi yiti zhi ren), a doctrine of Wang Yangming, a Confucianist in the Ming Dynasty, was the development of the earlier ideas. The traditional ideas with some elements of environmental ethics, look plain, but sound a bit novel today. They reveal some eternal truths for the humankind in the perspective of the East, and may be inspirational in the adjustments in the tensions and disorders between human and nature.