Please wait a minute...
Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436

ISSN 1673-355X(Online)

CN 11-5743/B

Postal Subscription Code 80-983

Front Phil Chin    2009, Vol. 4 Issue (1) : 13-37     DOI: 10.1007/s11466-009-0002-9
research-article |
Destiny and heavenly ordinances: Two perspectives on the relationship between Heaven and human beings in Confucianism
DING Weixiang()
Department of Philosophy, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710062, China
Download: PDF(536 KB)   HTML
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks

As a pair of important categories in traditional Chinese culture, “ming 命 (destiny or decrees)” and “tian ming 天命 (heavenly ordinances)” mainly refer to the constraints placed on human beings. Both originated from “ling 令 (decrees),” which evolved from “wang ling 王令 (royal decrees)” into “tian ling 天令 (heavenly decrees),” and then became “ming” from a throne because of the decisive role of “heavenly decrees” over a throne. “Ming” and “tian ming” have different definitions: “Ming” represented the limits Heaven placed on the natural lives of human beings and was an objective force that men could not direct, but was embodied in human beings as their “destiny”; “Tian ming” reflected the moral ideals of human beings in their self-identification; It originated in man but had to be verified by Heaven, and it was therefore the true ordinance that Heaven placed on human beings. “Ming” and “tian ming” are two perspectives on the traditional relationship between Heaven and human beings, and at the same time Confucians and Daoists placed different emphasis on them.

Keywords ming      tian ming      Confucians      relationship between Heaven and human beings      dual perspective     
Corresponding Authors: DING Weixiang,   
Issue Date: 05 March 2009
URL:     OR
[1] TAN Mingran. Wang Fuzhi’s Interpretation of Spirit/Shen in His Annotation on the Zhuangzi[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(2): 239-254.
[2] Elisa Sabattini. The Physiology of Xin (Heart) in Chinese Political Argumentation: The Western Han Dynasty and the Pre-Imperial Legacy[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(1): 58-74.
[3] BAO Yongling. Water, Plant, Light, and Mirror: On the Root Metaphors of the Heart-Mind in Wang Yangming’s Thought[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(1): 95-112.
[4] WEN Haiming,, CHEN Deming. “Confucian Cultural Fallacy” in the 20th Century Chinese Enlightenment Movement[J]. Front Phil Chin, 2013, 8(2): 199-214.
[5] PENG Chuanhua. A New Discourse on Xunzi’s Philosophy of Language[J]. Front Phil Chin, 2011, 6(2): 193-216.
[6] DING Weixiang. Taking on Proper Appearance and Putting It into Practice: Two Different Systems of Effort in Song and Ming Neo-Confucianism[J]. Front Phil Chin, 2010, 5(3): 326-351.
[7] LI Youguang , . The True or the Artificial: Theories on Human Nature before Mencius and Xunzi—Based on “Sheng is from Ming, and Ming is from Tian”[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2010, 5(1): 31-50.
[8] HU Zhihong. The obscuration and rediscovery of the original Confucian thought of moral politics: Deciphering work on the Guodian, Shangbo and the transmitted versions of Ziyi[J]. Front Phil Chin, 2008, 3(4): 535-557.
[9] CAO Feng. A return to intellectual history: A new approach to pre-Qin discourse on name[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2008, 3(2): 213-228.
[10] WU Zhongwei. The mind as the essence of words: A linguistic philosophical analysis of the classifi cation teaching of Yongming Yanshou[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2007, 2(3): 336-344.
Full text