Next Article in Journal
Agricultural Grain Markets in the COVID-19 Crisis, Insights from a GVAR Model
Next Article in Special Issue
Micro-Level CSR as a New Organizational Value for Social Sustainability Formation: A Study of Healthcare Sector in GCC Region
Previous Article in Journal
The Transformative Impacts of Green Finance Governance on Construction-Related CO2 Emissions
Previous Article in Special Issue
Going Deeper into the S of ESG: A Relational Approach to the Definition of Social Responsibility
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:

The Philosophical Thought of Confucius and Mencius, and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind

Department of Philosophy, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian 116024, China
Institute of Contemporary Chinese Marxism, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
Department of Philosophy, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
School of Marxism, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China
Heilongjiang Province Think Tank for Ecological Civilization Construction and Green Development, Harbin 150040, China
Research Centre, Future University in Egypt, New Cairo 11835, Egypt
College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Sejong University, 98 Gunja-Dong, Gwanjin-Gu, Seoul 143-747, Korea
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2022, 14(16), 9854;
Original submission received: 22 June 2022 / Revised: 26 July 2022 / Accepted: 27 July 2022 / Published: 10 August 2022


The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind seeks to mitigate the world’s current challenges, and to create a more sustainable future through better global governance. Some of the philosophical arguments of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind, and its foundations, which this article traces, are grounded in the philosophical teachings of Confucius and Mencius. The five pillars of Confucianism are benevolence (Ren), righteousness (Yi), propriety (Li), wisdom (Zhi) and fidelity (Xin). The five pillars have their equivalents in the philosophy of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind: benevolence has its equivalents in multilateral and bilateral agreements; righteousness shows justice; propriety’s equivalents are international standards and regulations; wisdom is the problem-solving dialogues; and trustworthiness is equated to international organizations that safeguard global integrity. The Confucian principle of harmony is congruent with the objective of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind, of creating a world of harmony, peace and cooperation. The Golden Rule has been observed in the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind, through its insistence on reciprocal bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Mencius’ philosophical contribution to the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind is in his theory of human nature, where humaneness is seen as developmental—as would be the community built by the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind. Mencius’ principle of governance is congruent with the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind’s insistence on responsible governance. These congruences and similarities, between the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind and the philosophies of Confucius and Mencius, point to the foundations for the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind.

1. Introduction

Today’s world is facing escalating challenges, which contemporary forms of global governance are struggling to address. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is worth considering in this scenario, as it can be taken, not only as a tool for diplomacy, but also as a deep philosophical notion which has a timeless impact. On the one hand, it carefully considers all the challenging questions being faced by the modern community; on the other hand, it also proposes a deliberate answer to these challenges. It is worth considering ideas, for instance, such as the concepts of harmony in diversity, sharing of prosperity, the universality of human need and destiny, benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and fidelity. These can be applied to solving the problems faced by the globalized world. To put it concisely, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept should prove to be a positive contribution to creating a more sustainable future through better governance, as it holds future promise.
Confucianism is one of the earliest philosophical schools of thought to have originated in China, dating back to the Zhou dynasty. The father of this school of thought is Confucius, and it is from his concepts that Mencius, his student, built his philosophy. Confucianism is the leading moral philosophy of China and other eastern countries, such as Japan, Vietnam and Korea. Confucian ethics posit the framework for engagement between individuals and their society, and the world they live in. Apart from being a moral philosophy, it is also a political ideology, a school of thought, and a way of life.
Five virtues are associated with Confucianism: the first is benevolence (Ren); the second is righteousness (Yi); the third is propriety (Li); the fourth is wisdom (Zhi); and the fifth is fidelity (Xin). Derivatives of these virtues place character at the center of the way of life. According to Chang [1] any individual who was to be a leader in Ancient Chinese society was expected to exhibit the above five traits. Governing officials were expected to lead by example, and it was believed that the virtuosity of leaders would enable their subjects to be virtuous as well. Governing officials were held to a higher moral standard than the average citizens, acting as if they were ministers or parents over their subjects. At one point, Confucius told Tsze-kung, one of his students that “the requisites of government are that there be sufficiency of food, the sufficiency of military equipment, and the confidence of people in their ruler” [1].

2. The Philosophical Thought of Confucius, and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind

There is a close connection between the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept and the philosophical tenets of Confucius, which is explored in this research. The main objective of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is to craft partnerships that will develop win–win situations among partners, and a future shared among the partners [2]. Similarly, Confucius is a moral philosophy that permeates the political field and social life. Both philosophies focus on the creation of a better society. Another point of congruence is that both the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind and Confucianism have ethical principles [2]. The ethical principles of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind include justice, inclusivity and respect, while the moral principles underpinning Confucianism are benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and fidelity [3]. These congruencies form the basis of this research, and are used to trace the foundation of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind in Confucianism.

2.1. Confucian Virtues and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind Concept

The tenets of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind are based on moral grounds, which have equivalents in each of the five virtues of Confucianism.
Benevolence is kindness without expecting anything in return. Confucius defined benevolence as “wishing to establish the self while seeking also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged self, while seeking also to enlarge others” [4]. This is also echoed in Analects 6:30, which states “a person of Ren (benevolence), wishing to establish himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be prominent, seeks also to make others prominent”. The innate nature of benevolence is exemplified by Confucius when he says “Benevolence is not far off, and for those seek it, has already found it” and, further, he asserted that “Benevolence is the characteristic element of humanity” [5,6]. Zhang [7], asserts that Ren is the central aspect of Confucianism, and that it represents the highest moral ideal of Confucianism. According to Zhang [7], possessing humanity is not a definitive representation of Ren, which also encompasses love and care. It is through Ren that all other virtues are perfected [8].
The correlation with the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is that both urge us to ensure that we make the lives of other people better by spreading love and respect. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept postulates that no nation can flourish in isolation, and that each nation needs the input of other nations to flourish and to deal with global challenges, such as global warming and cyber threats [9]. This postulation is consistent with Analects 6:30, which asserts that the prosperity of an individual is only possible with the prosperity of other people. As such, every nation is in a relationship with other nations. According to Zhao [10], the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept seeks to foster peace and partnership, in order to engender common prosperity. This goal is a product of the application of love and care, which are subsets of benevolence. According to Guo [11], say that the art of achieving Ren is to think of others in terms of what is immanent in our selves, which is definitive of the shared future.
Righteousness is a disposition to do what is right. The equivalence of righteousness is justice [12]. One needs to develop insights and intuition, to safeguard the greater good through the application of virtues. To apply righteousness and its equivalent—which is justice—absolute awareness of situations precedes judgments and decisions. Confucius affirms the importance of righteousness by saying “If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nations. When there is order in the nations, there will be peace in the world” [13].
The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is related to righteousness, in that they both view singular conduct as being transitive to national and global prosperity. Confucian righteousness holds that the moral conduct of each individual dictates the moral conduct of the larger world [12]. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept holds that it is only through individual nations working together through bilateral and multilateral partnerships that there will be common prosperity in the world [14]. This will happen when each nation acts righteously, safeguarding the interests of the self and of other nations, which is the essence of justice. The conduct of individuals is the foundation for the operating institutions, which in turn define nationhood and, consequently, the nature of the world order. As righteousness is an element of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, so it is used to reach the end goal, which is an idealized global partnership that is marked by justice.
Fidelity advocates for actions that have integrity and are honest. Confucius said that “Fidelity is superior to strength, ability to flatter, or eloquence” [15]. The statement implies that the attitude of other people towards an individual is based on how trustworthy they are, but not on what the individual says or portrays. Confucius intended this principle to iterate that people ought to develop being trustworthy, and to trust others as well, by acting with integrity and honesty in their relations with other people.
The virtue of trust is related the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept in that it is an integral part of engagement with other partners. Building partnerships and developing working frameworks are at the heart of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind. In the institution of these partnerships, countries need to trust each other, and commit to honoring the bilateral and multilateral agreements that are made [9]. Furthermore, building trust will facilitate the assignment of responsibilities to different nations, enabling the harmonious execution of joint ventures. Confucius said “If the people do not find the ruler trustworthy, the nation will not stand” [15]. This also applies to international engagements and partnerships. If there is a lack of trust among the nations, there will not be any meaningful multilateral agreements and partnerships. As such, the virtue of fidelity is an operating framework for the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept.
Propriety is the state of conformity to the acceptable standards that exist within the society [16]. According to Confucius, character cannot be developed if no propriety is exercised. Propriety shapes public–government partnership, by developing loyalty and respect for the leadership of the country [16]. The pathways that lead to the superstructure of society should focus on propriety, justice, rule of law and equality [17]. Development policies that exclude propriety and essential components of the quality of life will cause overwhelming environmental, social and cultural devastation [18]. Furthermore, propriety demands that those who are superior should exercise respect and consideration. Confucius exemplifies this relationship when he says “a prince should employ his minister according to the rules of propriety; ministers should serve their prince with loyalty” (Analects, 3:19). The implication is that the respect and the kindness shown are reciprocal.
The relationship between propriety and the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is that propriety is the catalyst that compels countries to enter into partnership. The attribute of propriety demands that one does what is right in the society. Through the application of propriety, different countries will come together, and formulate strategies and partnerships that safeguard the shared future of mankind [16]. A more positive future for the global community can only be realized if we rethink the strategies and objectives currently championed by our most powerful policymakers [19]. Actions such as helping the poor, and giving support where needed, are a reflection of propriety. As such, loyalty to the basic tenets of humanity is a core calling in propriety, which should motivate nations to partake in the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind.
Wisdom is the possession of discernment as to the virtuous thing to do [20]. This requires an individual to have the relevant knowledge and experiences that build the spirit of discernment. Confucius, in Analects 12.22, states that “Wisdom allows a gentleman to discern crooked and straight behavior in others” [21,22]. The basic principles of wisdom, according to Confucius, are understanding what others want, what they need, and what is the right thing to do in specific situations. Gaining wisdom requires that an individual learns from reading, interacting with other people, and evaluating different cases and engagements. There is a need to practice wisdom on a day-to-day basis, in order to increase and manifest it.
Wisdom and the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept form a partnership, in that wisdom allows dispensation of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, with justice. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept accords the same status to all countries, whether big or small, and this is an element of justice [23]. However, justice demands that countries that have more capabilities be more proactive in helping nations that are in a state of penury. According to the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, all countries should be treated as equals, whether big or small, enjoying equal rights, recognition and respect. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind advocates the strengthening of international organizations that are globally recognized. The United Nations is one such organization, and its General Assembly and Security Council are governed by global representatives. Through multilateral consultation, United Nations resolutions are governed by wisdom, and they can dispense peace among countries through wisdom. Such international organizations should pass more resolutions that are governed by wisdom, to ensure peaceful global coexistence. Through the application of wisdom, rich countries should aid poor countries—not through grants and tokens, but through empirical changes such as trade reforms, investing in structural growth, investing in inclusive growth, and stopping the exploitation of the poor countries’ resources by wealthy countries.

2.2. The Confucian Principle of Harmony in Diversity, and the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind Concept

Social harmony and the cultivation of the self are two of the critical pillars of Confucianism [24]. Harmony is achieved as a social contract between all people in a society; accordingly, humaneness is a definitive attribute for relationships between people, and it is stamped by harmony [25]. According to Yao [26], the fabric of society is woven in the moral grounds within which it operates. Social harmony, along the lines of Confucianism, is a derivative of humanity. In addition, social harmony is attained at an individual level through systematic and consistent cultivation of ethics. An effort to achieve social harmony requires that there be both the cultivation of mutual relationships and self-cultivation, both of which should be based on humanity (Ren) [25].
The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is related to harmony, in that it is a social contract that is made between different nations, with a commitment to work together for shared prosperity. This social contract between nations across the globe is meant to foster social harmony throughout the world, eliminating unhealthy competition and the ‘cold war’ mentality [9]. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept seeks to harmonize world governance into a single community. Furthermore, it seeks to democratize international relations, eliminating power interests and hegemony. These are the same goals that are sought in Confucianism, to attain a community of harmony.
In Confucianism, social harmony is attained through self-cultivation of individuals, so that they act in an ethical way and, consequently, the whole nation becomes ethical, governed by ethical individuals. In Confucianism, self-cultivation is the genesis of a fulfilling life and the achievement of harmony, which in return builds lasting peace and shared prosperity [25]. According to Gong [27], the human spirit should start with the self, then extend to relationships with other people, and then extend to nature. When one cultivates the self, one will have a better interaction with other people [25]. Confucius’ understanding of the world is that, for world harmony to be achieved, the self must first be harmonious through cultivation, which will enable harmony to transfer to the individual’s society, and then to the whole world. Furthermore, it is through the cultivation of the self that individuals attain their humanity. One critical point made by [25] is that Confucianism identifies humanity as the center of the universe, emphasizing that humanity is demonstrably the sustaining force of the universe. According to Confucius, human nature is intrinsically good, and people are born with the ability to determine what is right from what is wrong [21,22]. Humans accept the good and criticize the bad, and this forms the moral fabric of humanity. Paul argues that a properly human conception of our humanity, our identities as both individuals and members of communities, and our role as good citizens, is essential for establishing the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind [28]. If everyone was to act humanely, then there would be harmony in the world: this will be possible for everyone if they allow humanity to take precedence over individual will.
In a similar sense, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept calls for nations to act ethically and, as each nation act in an ethical manner, so the whole world will become ethical, and consequently will be governed in an ethical manner [29]. Individual nations can also exercise self-cultivation, just as Confucius insists that nations have to exercise self-cultivation. Self-cultivation in a nation can start with the self-cultivation of individuals or the self-cultivation of institutions within the nation. Self-cultivation, using an ethical framework, will lead to these individuals or institutions instituting open policies, and seeking to have a global outlook. When nations and global leaders who have self-cultivated come together, it will become possible to build the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind.
According to Confucius, the world should seek to create harmony within its diversity, rather than trying to create uniformity without harmony. Berthel [30] says that Confucius understood the importance of diversity, and advocated for its expansion as an ingredient for building societal harmony. In Analects 3:23, Confucius says that “the exemplary person harmonizes without being an echo.” In this anecdote, Confucius was implying that the perfect individual brings about harmony without necessarily trying to imitate others, but rather by standing out. Confucius also advocated liberal education, to bolster individual and societal understanding of its multi-faceted nature [30]. The local citizenry is on the decline, and national politics are also becoming less significant. Furthermore, Berthel says that Confucian ideas of harmony provide an approach to traversing the new world order, through the multi-lateral engagement of different communities, to promote global diversity, which is both beautiful and rich. The flaw of Western countries is that they seek diversity domestically, while trying to dominate the world. As such, the goal of developing harmony is not realized, as the West does not seek uniformity among nations, but rather to be the dominant factor. Civilizations should stop seeking uniformity, but rather seek to coexist in their diversity, by eliminating supremacy battles and cultural rivalries.
The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is consistent with the diversity agenda of Confucius, in that it is also a proponent of diversity at a global level. In reference to culture, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept asserts that there should be respect for different cultures, and that global governance should facilitate cultural exchange among the different cultures in the world [29]. Furthermore, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept discourages the trampling of some cultures by others, as this limits the diversity of civilization. Confucianism advocates for harmony without uniformity. The world is becoming increasingly diversified; the number of overseas students is increasing; international trade is on the rise; and the world is becoming a global village [31]. As such, it is impossible to separate cultural diversity from the world as it is. According to the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, the world should embrace diversity as it is, and use it as a tool for building a more harmonious planet.

2.3. The Golden Rule and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind

The phrase “Do to others as you would do to yourself” is termed the Golden Rule. Confucianism acknowledges that all people share humaneness, and have the capacity to act in a humane way [11]. A complete human being in Confucianism can connect well with other human beings [25]. And to be able to connect with others well, one has to be able to act with humanity towards others, and to respect their dignity, being careful to observe what is written in Analects 2:2, which says “What you would not wish done to you, then do not do it to others, because in the world with-in the four seas, all men are his brothers”. People are mandated to love other people, and to treat them in the same manner as one does in acting favorably towards oneself [22]. This is because their existence is dependent on the degree of humanization of other people.
In the Confucian classic written by Legge [6], there is an exposition of the idealized community of individuals seeking to preside over governance in the ancient Confucian world. Such individuals had to first advance their knowledge of life, and to cultivate sincerity in their thoughts. The musings of their hearts had to be sincere, and they had to have cultivated harmonious functionality in their families. Furthermore, Legge says that these individuals had to have cordial propriety within the community they served, before seeking to serve wider governance agencies, or preside over kingdoms. The logic is that if an individual is well-cultivated, they will have a good relationship with their families, and cordial relationships in the community and, consequently, they will have the necessary attributes to foster harmonious relationships in the kingdom.
The spirit of the Golden Rule is also encompassed in the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept. The Golden Rule insists on the benevolence of individuals and the reciprocal benevolence of the recipients. Similarly, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept insists on bilateral and multilateral agreements, so that a harmonious social fabric is woven in an organized society, which acts in solidarity [25]. These kinds of agreements are based on shared benefits between the parties that are involved. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept emphasizes that no single individual can advance singularly, but rather that growth is interconnected and, as such, mutual growth must be sought. Lasting harmony and sustainable prosperity can only be realized when there is a commitment to reciprocal relationships [32]. The nature of the partnerships forged across the world is an indicator of conformity to the Confucian Golden Rule. These interactions are manifested through social regulations and codes of ethics. Decisions that are made by individual countries have far-reaching consequences on the larger world. As such, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is conducive to forging strong partnerships when there is a clear demarcation of roles in society, which in return creates a sense of responsibility and solidarity among the members of the community, leading to a harmony that is forged in the community, as efficacy becomes realized in social work. Therefore, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept follows the Golden Rule in its efforts to create meaningful partnerships.
One of the more contradictory concepts that seems to undermine the spirit of societal cultivation is freedom. However, Confucianism modulates the application of freedom in society, by emphasizing that it has to exist within the boundaries of social relations [33]. Individual freedom does not exist in isolation, but exists in an amalgam of other freedoms, some held by other individuals, and others held by institutions. The confluence of more than two freedoms gives rise to sociality, marked by the disappearance of individual freedoms. The new identity classes freedom as ‘we’, eliminating personal pronouns and perceptions.
Just as Confucianism seeks to avoid the misuse of freedom, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept also places a regulation on freedom, through the function of responsibility, recognizing that freedom has to take cognizance of the collectiveness of the society, together with its expansive diversity. This mandate extends to all countries, as well as the institutions that govern the society, and it culminates in what Confucius terms the Great Harmony [34]. The problem with the world is that the essence of life is based on material possessions. Spiritual needs are seen as peripheral needs, and as a bonus of social life. Confucianism sees spirituality as a critical element of creating meaning and overcoming secularism. To develop Confucianism, it is important to advocate for self-development and emotional development. Actions such as knowing the self, self-respect and respect for others, and being honorable, are potent in the development of spirituality, and engaging in spirituality [35]. They are also critical in the establishment of cultural connections between people. These aspects of spiritual and cultural connection are also part of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, as they are components of a free and harmonious society. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind recognizes that, as much as countries should maintain their sovereignty, there should be open dialogues and consensus, in making decisions that affect the larger global community [9]. It is therefore evident that the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept seeks to facilitate the Golden Rule by ensuring that there is collective accountability for decisions that affect the larger global community.

3. The Philosophical Thought of Mencius, and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind

The principles of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind have some similarities with the philosophical thought of Mencius. The intersection of the two philosophical beliefs is on the issues of governance and the application of virtue. Mencius lived in the “Warring States Period”, which occurred in the period 475-221 BC [36]. His primary concern was the way leaders governed, which is reflected in his work, as it revolved around the issues of governance. Similarly, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind is primarily concerned with improving global governance, to create a better future for humanity.

3.1. The Philosophical Teachings of Mencius, and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind

Mencius’ theory states that all humans tend to do what is good. According to him, human beings have a natural affinity for Confucian virtues—which are benevolence, righteousness, wisdom and propriety. Mencius argued that this nature can be developed through a knowledge-based learning process coupled with self-discipline. For example, compassion is a subset of benevolence. According to Mencius, humans are not born with a fully developed virtuous inclination. Mencius posits that humans develop their humanity, through enlarging and filling their hearts with benevolent inclinations [37]. By filling the heart with benevolent inclinations, individuals will have unlimited reservoirs for doing good. An individual who has realigned their cognitive self and their behavioral conduct towards benevolence will extend this inclination towards all other paradigms that are applicable [37]. This is through the concept of extension, which helps an individual to see the similarity in situations, and extrapolates humaneness.
The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept has some similarities to Mencius’ teaching, in that both philosophies point to conscious-based solution-seeking. In Mencius’ teaching, all people must continually attain more knowledge, so that they will attain benevolent qualities that will activate their natural, innate tendency to do good [37], while the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept advocates multilateral engagement. Multilateral engagements are related to Mencius’ teaching, in that they are also based on the knowledge of the inherent mutual benefits to be accrued by the participant nations. Multilateral engagements lead to reciprocal benefits and solutions, to be found as a result of working together, and to benevolent relationships between nations, for the greater good of the citizenry of those nations [14]. Bilateral and multilateral engagements should be carefully drafted, so that they lead to a net benefit for all the parties that are involved. Mencius also identified the extension of knowledge as another way of building the capacity for goodness. The extension of knowledge and thought processes, as perceived by Mencius, has its equivalent in the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, which is marked by international engagements and dialogue to find solutions to world problems [9]. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept advocates for the use of international organizations, such as the United Nations, to address the challenges that the world is facing [38]. The United Nations and other international organizations employ research-based knowledge to gain an understanding of world challenges, before they apply certain mechanisms to dealing with such challenges.
Another philosophical similarity between the philosophy of Mencius and the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, is that they both advocate the use of deliberate efforts to ameliorate certain states of affairs. According to Mencius, the conditions necessary for the extension of humanity in society are having ethical knowledge, making individual efforts, and ensuring the availability of basic needs [39]. Mencius’ logic is that if people are well-fed and comfortable, but do not have proper knowledge, they will be no better than animals. To achieve the idealized community of humanity, considerable efforts are required to overcome the weakness of the heart in times of adversity. Similarly, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept advocates for the world to push back against nations that seek to exploit other nations, and those that seek world dominance [40]. Both frameworks insist that the ideal community of humanity cannot be achieved naturally, but that there has to be some level of effort that is applied.

3.2. Mencius’ Humane Principles and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind

Mencius’ humane principles intersect with the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept through his theory of human nature. The theory states that all people have an innate natural drive to act virtuously and to do good. Mencius once said “All human beings have a mind that cannot bear to see the sufferings of others”. He affirmed this by giving an analogy of a child that falls into a well. He reasoned that everyone would express his/her shock, no matter who he/she was [41]. As such, compassion and pity are two of the principal attributes of Mencius’ humaneness. This position is supported by [42], who reaffirms that Mencius’ humaneness is rooted in moral behavior that one adapts.
Similarly, the concept that the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind relies on is anchored in ethical principles: justice, inclusivity and respect [2]. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind highlights the need to tackle the problems facing people across the world. These problems include hunger, disease and poverty. Tackling these issues would alleviate the suffering of millions of people around the globe, and so such actions would correspond to Mencius’ humaneness. According to Norden [43], highlighted other attributes necessary for the development of humaneness: understanding compliance and acting modestly. Furthermore, Norden highlighted the possession of aversion and indignity as elements of humaneness. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind advocates justice through international organizations such as the United Nations. The application of justice by international organizations requires evaluating issues from a humane perspective.
The other point of correspondence between Mencius’ humaneness and the concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind is the aspect of self-cultivation. Mencius says that if individuals cultivate humaneness and virtues, to overcome the weakness of the heart, then over time they will become sage, and overflow with humaneness [44]. Mencius said that human behavior is inconsistent, due to conflicting volitions which may hamper virtuous conduct. If people fill their hearts, and continuously cultivate virtue, they will consciously act humanely. Similarly, prosperity in the world is sporadic, and should be shared, in a world that is facing new challenges day in, day out. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept seeks to ensure an even distribution of humaneness, through institutions such as the United Nations, which safeguards and applies humaneness across the world, non-selectively [29]. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept insists that there should be continuous dialogue and inquiry, to define the rules of engagement between nations, in an international organization, at multilateral and bilateral levels [29]. Mencius’ concept of humaneness leads toward the cultivation of virtue, while the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept leads toward continuous dialogue, making the two concepts congruous.

3.3. Mencius’ Ethics of Governance, and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind

According to Dy [45], Mencius holds that the state has a mandate to provide security to its citizenry, providing for their basic needs, and ensuring that the subjects have faith in their leadership. Mencius claims that, for these ends to be achieved, nations must avoid unjustified wars, institute programs that cater to the economic welfare of their people, and ensure that there is dispensation of justice [45]. According to Mencius, an action should not be judged on whether it will bring any benefit to an individual or a nation. Mencius says that actions should be judged on the merit of whether they are morally upright or not upright. Mencius identifies that the outer structure of the government has to be crafted through the use of good laws, the implementation of wise policies, and rituals that reinforce humanity in leadership [45]. The inner structures are constituents of the inner motivations of the rules and, according to Mencius, the supreme motivations should be benevolence and righteousness.
The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is related to these ethics of governance, in that they both advocate the cessation of hostilities and the use of alternative approaches to the resolution of conflicts, and to advance humanity. The underpinning of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, in this regard, can be found in the 2011 White Paper [40], which argues that the international community should reject cold-war and real-war mentalities [40]. Furthermore, the 2011 White Paper says that countries need to find ways of engagement that will ensure that there is mutual benefit. This postulation is the equivalent of the Mencius proposition that governing bodies have a mandate to provide for their citizens. Therefore, the two principles underpin the need to advance humanity by the government.
The other similarity between Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept and Mencius, is that both advocate for governance that tends towards socialism. Mencius advocates for the provision of the basic needs to the people by their rulers, and for the division of labor, which is an element of socialism. One of Mencius’ quotes on the division of labor is that “Some labour with their minds, and some labour with their strength. Those who labour with their minds govern others; those who labour with their strength are governed by others. Those who are governed by others support them: those who govern others are supported by them. This is a principle universally recognized” [46]. Further, Mencius advocated for communal land divisions and the assignment of communal responsibilities. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept advocates for global governance which is guided by shared values and mandates. One such advocacy is the Paris Accord, which is aimed at conservation. This accord places the responsibility on countries to reduce the amount of carbon that is emitted by each of the countries [47]. After a close evaluation of such accords, it is evident that they are based on socialist ideals of shared responsibility. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept also advocates joint activities, such as space exploration instead of the space race, which also echoes socialism.

4. Conclusions

Confucius and Mencius are two of the most influential philosophers in Chinese history. The five major tenets of Confucius—which are benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and fidelity—have a close association with the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is associated with benevolence; it advocates multilateral arrangements that insist on reciprocal actions between nations. The association between the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept and righteousness is that they both advocate justice in the dispensation of governance. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is congruent with propriety in its insistence that nations should do what is the right thing to do. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept intersects with wisdom in its advocating dialogue and research to gain the relevant knowledge for solving problems. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept aims to develop harmony through multilateral and bilateral social contracts between nations, and to advance the Golden Rule through ensuring the accountability of nations. Mencius’ humane principles are applied by the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, in that it advocates for the first world nations to help the developing nations. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept advocates continuous dialogue, just as Mencius’ tenet of righteousness advocates continuous knowledge acquisition. In addition, Mencius’ governance principle is congruent with the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept’s insistence on responsible governance. Owing to the similarities, and the congruence between the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept and the principles of both Confucius and Mencius, it can be seen that the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is an adaptation of both philosophical teachings.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, U.K., H.W. and Z.C.; methodology, U.K., H.W. and Z.C.; validation, U.K., H.W., Z.C., A.B., A.M. and H.H.; formal analysis, U.K., H.W., A.B., A.M. and H.H.; investigation, U.K., H.W. and A.B.; resources, H.W.; data curation, U.K., Z.C., A.B., A.M. and H.H.; writing—original draft preparation, U.K. and H.W.; writing—review and editing, Z.C., A.B., A.M. and H.H.; visualization, H.W., A.M. and H.H.; supervision, H.W.; project administration, H.W., A.M. and H.H.; funding acquisition, A.M. and H.H. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.


The authors acknowledge Dalian University of Technology for providing a research facility.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


  1. Chang, W.; Nathan, M. Inside Chinas Legal System; Chandos Publishing: Oxford, UK, 2013. [Google Scholar]
  2. Xi, J. Working Together to Forge a New Partnership of Win-win Cooperation and Create a Community of a Shared Future for Mankind. English Version. 2015. Available online: (accessed on 20 January 2022).
  3. Chen, L. The basic character of the virtue theory of Mencius philosophy and its significance in classical Confucianism. Front. Philos. China 2013, 8, 4–21. [Google Scholar]
  4. Confucius. The Analects of Confucius in Plain and Simple English: BookCaps Study Guide; BookCaps Study Guides; Golgotha Press: Anaheim, CA, USA, 2012. [Google Scholar]
  5. Legge, J., Translator; The Works of Mencius; Dover Books: New York, NY, USA, 1970.
  6. Legge, J. The Chinese Classics: Vol. 1: Confucian Analects, the Great Learning, and the Doctrine of the Mean; Trübner & Co.: London, UK, 1861. [Google Scholar]
  7. Zhang, Q. Humanity or benevolence? The interpretation of Confucian Ren and its modern implications. In Human Dignity in Classical Chinese Philosophy; Springer: Cham, Switzerland, 2016; pp. 45–99. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  8. Gier, N.F. Confucius, Gandhi and the aesthetics of virtue. Asian Philos. 2001, 11, 41–54. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  9. Liang, H.; Zhang, Y. Global governance: The connotation of a community with a shared future for mankind in Belt and Road architecture. In The Theoretical System of Belt and Road Initiative; Springer: Cham, Switzerland, 2019; pp. 31–34. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  10. Zhao, R. Literature review on Community of a Shared Future for mankind thought. Party Gov. Forum 2018, 399, 56. [Google Scholar]
  11. Guo, Q.; Cui, T. The Values of Confucian Benevolence and the Universality of the Confucian Way of Extending Love. Front. Philos. China 2012, 7, 20–54. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  12. Woods, P.R.; Lamond, D.A. What would Confucius do?—Confucian ethics and self-regulation in management. J. Bus. Ethics 2011, 102, 669–683. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  13. Guo, Q. Zhongguo Ruxue Zhi Jingshen [The Spirit of Chinese: Confucian Benevolence and Confucian Way of Extending Love]; Fudan University Press: Shanghai, China, 2009. (In Chinese) [Google Scholar]
  14. Akbaruddin, S. Beijing Likes to Talk about “Community of Shared Future of Mankind”. What Exactly Does It Mean? 2020. Available online: (accessed on 17 November 2021).
  15. Henderson, J.B. The original Analects: Sayings of Confucius and his successors; A new translation and commentary by E. Bruce Brooks and A. Taeko Brooks. By E. Bruce Brooks and A. Taeko Brooks. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998. X, 342 pp. J. Asian Stud. 1999, 58, 791–793. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  16. Hwang, K. The deep structure of Confucianism: A social psychological approach. Asian Philos. 2001, 11, 179–204. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  17. Levinas, E. Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence; Springer Science & Business Media: Berlin/Heidelberg, Germany, 1981. [Google Scholar]
  18. Pilon, A. Values and the Public Arena: An Ecosystem Approach for the Environment, Education and Public Policies. 2021. Available online: (accessed on 23 July 2022).
  19. Darvay, D. Emmanuel Levinas: Ethics, Justice, and the Human Beyond Being. Genre 2004, 37, 546–550. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  20. Yao, X. Joy, wisdom and virtue—The Confucian paradigm of good life. J. Chin. Philos. 2018, 45, 222–232. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  21. Tsai, C.C. The Analects of Confucius; Version 2.2; Eno, R., Translator; Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ, USA, 2015; Chapter XII. [Google Scholar]
  22. Tsai, C.C. The Analects; Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ, USA, 2018; pp. 45–192. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  23. Nathan, A.J.; Zhang, B. ‘A shared future for mankind’: Rhetoric and reality in Chinese foreign policy under Xi Jinping. J. Contemp. China 2021, 31, 57–71. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  24. Majlis Agama Khonghucu, S.J.; Drijarkara, N.; Aiken, H.D. Si Shu (Kitab Yang Empat), Kitab Suci Agama Khonghucu, Majelis Tinggi Agama Khonghucu; Matakin: Jakarta, Indonesia, 2012. [Google Scholar]
  25. Rekowski, C. Harmony and Diversity: Confucian and Daoist Discourses on Learning in Ancient China. Undergrad. Rev. 2007, 3, 86–90. [Google Scholar]
  26. Yao, X. An Introduction to Confucianism; Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK, 2005. [Google Scholar]
  27. Dafei, G. Confucius Humanitarinist Ideas and the Contemporary International Community, in Confucianism and The Modernization of China; Krieger, S., Trauzettel, R., Eds.; v. Hase & Koehler Verlang: Mainz, Germany, 1991. [Google Scholar]
  28. Ricoeur, P. Memory, History, Forgetting; University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL, USA, 2006; ISBN 978-0-226-71342-7. [Google Scholar]
  29. Zhao, X. In pursuit of a Community of a Shared Future: China’s global activism in perspective. China Q. Int. Strateg. Stud. 2018, 4, 23–37. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  30. Berthel, K. Creating Harmony from Diversity: What Confucianism Reveals about the True Value of Liberal Education for the 21st Century. ASIA Netw. Exch. J. Asian Stud. Lib. Arts 2017, 24, 6–26. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  31. Farrell, P.L. Investing in staff for student retention. In The NEA 2009 Almanac of Higher Education; National Education Association: Washington, DC, USA, 2010; p. 85. [Google Scholar]
  32. Mullis, E. Ritualized exchange: A consideration of Confucian reciprocity. Asian Philos. 2008, 18, 35–50. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  33. Li, C. The Confucian conception of freedom. Philos. East West 2014, 64, 902–919. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  34. Li, C. The philosophy of harmony in classical Confucianism. Philos. Compass 2008, 3, 423–435. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  35. de Bary, T.; Bloom, I. Sources of Chinese Tradition, 2nd ed.; Columbia University Press/Asia for Educators: New York, NY, USA, 1999; Volume 1, p. 129. [Google Scholar]
  36. Liu, G.; Niu, X. Community of a Shared Future for mankind thoughts’ inheritance and development based on Marxism world history theory. J. Fujian Party Sch. 2019, 4, 31–37. [Google Scholar]
  37. Tan, C. Mencius’ extension of moral feelings: Implications for cosmopolitan education. Ethics Educ. 2018, 14, 70–83. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  38. Xu, F.; Su, J. Shaping “A Community of a Shared Future for mankind”: New elements of General Assembly resolution 72/250 on further practical measures for the PAROS. Space Policy 2018, 44–45, 57–62. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  39. Bryan, V.N. Mencius (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). 2020. Available online: (accessed on 21 November 2021).
  40. White Paper. The 2011 White Paper on China’s Peaceful Development. Available online: (accessed on 1 January 2022).
  41. Bai, T. A Mencian version of limited democracy. Res. Publica 2008, 14, 19–34. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  42. Geoffrey, X. Human Nature—Good or Evil? An Evaluation of the Debate in Early Chinese Philosophy. 2019. Available online: (accessed on 20 June 2022).
  43. Norden, V.; Bryan, W. Virtue Ethics and Consequentialism in Early Chinese Philosophy; Cambridge University Press: New York, NY, USA, 2007. [Google Scholar]
  44. Ames, T. The Mencian conception of Ren Xing: Does it mean ‘human nature’? In Chinese Texts and Philosophical Contexts: Essays Dedicated to Angus C. Graham; Open Court: La Salle, IL, USA, 1991; pp. 143–175. [Google Scholar]
  45. Dy, M.B. Rethinking Mencius on the ethics of governance. Eco-ethica 2015, 4, 153–160. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  46. Mencius. The Chinese Classics. 1861; p. 269. Available online: (accessed on 25 November 2021).
  47. Horowitz, C.A. Paris Agreement. Int. Leg. Mater. 2016, 55, 740–755. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Khan, U.; Wang, H.; Cui, Z.; Begum, A.; Mohamed, A.; Han, H. The Philosophical Thought of Confucius and Mencius, and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind. Sustainability 2022, 14, 9854.

AMA Style

Khan U, Wang H, Cui Z, Begum A, Mohamed A, Han H. The Philosophical Thought of Confucius and Mencius, and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind. Sustainability. 2022; 14(16):9854.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Khan, Uzma, Huili Wang, Zhongliang Cui, Abida Begum, Abdullah Mohamed, and Heesup Han. 2022. "The Philosophical Thought of Confucius and Mencius, and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind" Sustainability 14, no. 16: 9854.

Note that from the first issue of 2016, this journal uses article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop