This study examines how Mencius has been understood, focusing on Ito Jinsai’s The Ancient Meaning of Mencius. In addition to The Ancient Meaning of Mencius, Ito Jinsai, the pioneer of the Kogaku (“Study of Antiquity”) philosophical movement, wrote The Meaning of Words in the Analects and Mencius which describes the main concepts of The Analects and Mencius. There are the descriptions of Mencius also in Questions From Children (Dōjimon), which is composed of dialogues for students.
Ito Jinsai proposes a method based on publicity in The Ancient Meaning of Mencius. The reading of Mencius by Ito strongly reveals the political aspect along with the position of human beings and moral ethics. This publicness is based on the mutuality of the public. Making it with the public is a way of publicness. The ‘human’ presented by Ito through the Mencius is ‘human’ to practice the method of publicness. In this regard, the ‘human’ predicted by Ito is ‘public human’ because it is the main purpose of realizing the ‘public’. What Ito asked for from the magistrate was to provide a place for living for individuals, which shows that Ito reads Mencius in terms of politics and economy.