Destiny or Decision

Revealing the Change of the Concept of Ming命 and Its Pedagogical Implications


  • Jia Liu
  • Yueling Chen


Ming命; contextual meaning; pedagogical implication; transition


In Chinese philosophy, scholars have been discussing a long-standing and unresolved matter (Fan, 2019; Lupke, 2005; Wu, 2009), namely Ming命. Ming, often translated as life, fate, or command, was initially understood as orders and arrangements from heaven (Fan, 2019). However, since the Kongzi (Confucius) period, the focus of Ming命 has shifted to people themselves and how they should live their lives. Furthermore, Ming命 has been recognized by people as human life as well as the survival of one’s life journey. In the contemporary age, the concept of Ming命 has shifted again. It ensures that people, instead of the predetermined power of nature and its kind, have most of the ability to decide how to live their lives. The study of Ming命 has thus become one of the essential philosophical fields for Chinese and international thinkers, and academic researchers, to explore the question of heaven and human existence. In this paper, the analysis of four texts throughout Chinese history will serve as a simple reflective example of the difficulties of interpretation, revealing the evolving meaning of the concept and its pedagogical implications.