Professor Magagna mentioned a child fallen into a well and how people would
react. Mencius’ point on this illustration is that this is simply a human responsibility
that all human beings would give. What he does not believe, however, is that
morality is something that is externally imposed on people, or that moral life
or moral value can simply be made universal to all human beings.
In one part of the Mencius, Mencius is discussing with the followers on
argument about where moral roots of human beings come from, and the argument
that is given to him by a Moist, someone who believes in universal love or
care. He says that making people moral is difficult. It is like carving willow
wood to turn it from misshapen to something usable. Mencius was horrified with
this idea, and argues that if you treat people in a way you treat willow wood,
you will actually mutilate the wood, which means you would mutilate the human
nature. For Mencius, the moral come from within us. It is something we were
given with at birth. That is what must be developed. Not an external moral code
that is imposed on people against their will and from this comes the great divergence
in East Asian thought, the Confucianism.
Another way of understanding this which is applicable to any other moralism
or any other religion is cost of commitment.