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Mohism (Moism) 墨家. I.1 The Life of Mozi. Nothing is known about his Mo Ti 墨翟 , or Master Mo, the founder of the Moist school. The text, Mozi , is complied by his disciples. It was believed that Mozi lived some time between the death of Confucius (479B.C.) and the birth of Mencius (372 B.C.)

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Mohism (Moism) 墨家

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Mohism (Moism)墨家

I.1 The Life of Mozi

  • Nothing is known about his Mo Ti墨翟, or Master Mo, the founder of the Moist school.

  • The text, Mozi, is complied by his disciples.

  • It was believed that Mozi lived some time between the death of Confucius (479B.C.) and the birth of Mencius (372 B.C.)

  • He probably studied under the Confucian School, for he quoted frequently from the Book of Poetry詩經 and the Book of Documents書經.

  • He served as a high minister in the state of Song宋, which is small and weak, for some time.

I.1 The Life of Mozi

  • Like Confucius and Mencius, Mozi probably traveled a great deal, attempting to gain a hearing for his teachings.

  • He acted according to his philosophical teachings.

  • Mozi was anxious to spread his doctrine of universal love兼愛and persuade the rulers to stop their incessant attacks upon each other.

I.2 The Book: The Mozi

  • 53 chapters: some of them were incomplete.

  • Important chapters: on political and ethical ideas of Mozi himself.

I.3 The Teachings of Mozi

  • The Mohists believed that warfare and attacks could be stopped not only by preaching sermons on universal love, but by strengthening the defense of vulnerable states so as to diminish the chances of a profitable victory for aggressors.

  • They hastened to aid the weak states, and in time became experts on methods of warfare. They practiced what they preached.

  • They formed close-knit, disciplined bands, headed by an “elder” whose word was law, and when death drew near, selected his successor from the group. They act according to their teachings.

I.3 The Teachings of Mozi

  • Many chapters in the Mozi are criticizing Confucianism:

  • Against Music非樂

  • Moderation in Expenditure節用

  • Moderation in Funerals節葬

  • The Will of Tian天志

  • Explaining Ghosts明鬼

  • Against Fatalism非命

  • Against Confucians非儒

  • Universal Love兼愛

I.3 The Teachings of Mozi

  • They took a far sterner and less compromising attitude toward the ruling class than any other philosophical school.

  • They condemned the lifestyle of the aristocracy because such pastimes taxed the wealth and energy of the common people and added nothing to the material welfare of the nation.

I.3.1 The Teachings of Mozi: Moderation in Expenditure節用

  • (M ch.20) “The purpose of making clothes is to keep out the cold in winter and the heat in summer… The purpose of building house is to keep out the wind and cold in winter and the heat and rain in summer, and to provide protection against thieves… The purpose of armor, shields, and the various kinds of weapons is to provide protection against rebels and bandits... The purpose of making boats and carts is to provide a means of getting about on land and on rivers… In making of these five things, nothing is done that does not contribute to their usefulness…

  • “其為衣裘何,以為冬以圉寒,夏以圉暑…其為宮室何,以為冬以圉寒,夏以圉暑,有盜賊加固者…其為甲盾五兵何,以為以圉寇亂盜賊…其為舟吏何,以為車以行陵陸,舟以行川公…凡其為此物也,無不加用而為者…”

I.3.1 The Teachings of Mozi: Moderation in Expenditure節用

  • (M ch.20) “If one can persuade the rulers to give up their passion for collecting jewels, birds, beasts, dogs, and horses, and to increase the amount of clothing, houses, armor, shields, weapons, boats, and carts, then it is easy enough to double the number of these articles… Therefore Mozi said: To do away with needless expenditure is the way of the sage kings and the source of great benefit to the world.”

  • “有去大人之好聚珠玉鳥獸犬馬,以益衣裳宮室甲盾五兵舟車之數,於數倍乎…故墨子曰:去無用之費,聖王之道,天下之大利也.”

I.3.2 The Teachings of Mozi: Moderation in Funerals節葬

  • Against the importance of elaborate funerals in Confucianism

  • (M ch.25) “In my opinion, if, by following the principles and adopting the instruction of those who advocate elaborate funerals and lengthy mourning one can actually enrich the poor, increase the population, bring stability and order to the state, then such principles are in accordance with ren and yi and are the duty of a filial son…Thus we see that in elaborate funerals much wealth is buried, while lengthy mourning prevents people from going about their activities for long periods of time. If the wealth and goods that have already been produced are to be bundled up and buried in the ground, and the means of future production are to be prohibited for long periods of time, and one still hopes in this way to enrich a state , then it is like prohibiting planting and still hoping for a harvest. One could never acquire wealth that way!”

I.3.2 The Teachings of Mozi: Moderation in Funerals節葬

  • (M ch.25) “厚葬久喪,實可以富貧眾寡定危治亂乎?此仁也義也,孝子之事也…細計厚葬為多埋賦之財者也.計久喪為久禁從事者也.財以成者,扶而埋之,後得生孝,而久禁之.以此求富,此譬猶禁耕而求穫也,富之說無可得焉.”

I.3.3 The Teachings of Mozi: Against Music非樂

  • Against the importance of music in Confucianism

  • (M ch.32) “There are three things the people worry about: that when they are hungry they will have no food, when they are cold they will have no clothing, and when they are weary they will have no rest. There are the three great worries of the people. Now let us try sounding the great bells, striking the rolling drums, strumming the zithers, blowing the pipes, and waving the shields and axes in the war dance. Does this do anything to provide food and clothing for the people? I hardly think so...”

I.3.3 The Teachings of Mozi: Against Music非樂

  • “民有三患:飢者不得食,寒者不得衣,勞者不得息.三者民之巨患也.然即當為之撞巨鐘,擊鳴鼓,彈琴瑟,吹竽笙,而揚干戚,民衣食之財將安可得乎.即我以為未必然也…”

  • For the Moists, the only common people who deserved consideration were the farmers.

  • However, they failed to notice the benefit with such pastimes provided for merchants, artisans and servants.

I.3.4 The Teachings of Mozi: Against Offensive Warfare非攻

  • Mozi denounced offensive warfare for the same reasons, because it was a burden and an expense to the people, and provide little in the way of material benefit.

  • (M ch. 19) “(The rulers and feudal lords of today) all set about to examine the relative merits of their soldiers, who are their teeth and claws, arrange their boat and chariot forces, and then, clad in strong armor and bearing sharp weapons, they set off to attack some innocent state…When a state which delights in aggressive warfare raises an army, it must have several hundred high officials, several thousand regular officers, and a hundred thousand soldiers, before it can set out. The time required for the expenditure will be severalyears at the longest, several months at the least.

I.3.4 The Teachings of Mozi: Against Offensive Warfare非攻

  • “During that time, the leaders will have no time to attend to affairs of government, the officials no time to manage their departments of state, the farmers no time to sow or reap, the women no time to spin or weave. So in this case too the state will lose its fighting men and the common people will be forced to abandon their occupations...”

  • “(今王公大人,天下諸候)必皆差論其爪牙之士,皆列其舟吏之卒伍,於此為堅甲利兵,以往攻伐無罪之國…今不嘗觀其說好攻伐之國,若使中興師,君子庶人也,必且數千,徒倍十萬,然後足以師而動矣.久者數歲,速者數月.是上不暇聽治,士不暇治其官府.農夫不暇稼穡,婦人不暇紡績織紝.則是國家失卒,而百姓易務也…”

I.3.5 The Teachings of Mozi: Against Fatalism非命

-They attacked fatalistic thinking because they wanted men to believe that wealth and good fortune came only in response to virtuous deeds.

I.3.6 Mozi’s Way of Argumentation

  • In the chapter, “Against Fatalism”, Mozi lists 3 “tests” or criteria which are to be used to determine the validity of any theory:

  • 1. its origin, by which he means whether or not it conforms with what we know of the practices of the sage kings of antiquity.

  • 2. its validity, i.e., whether or not it conforms with what we know from the evidence of the senses.

I.3.6 Mozi’s Way of Argumentation

  • 3. its applicability, i.e., whether, when put into practice, it will bring benefit to the state and the people.

  • Though Mozi does not apply all three in every case, there are the principal criteria upon which he bases his arguments.

I.3.6 An Analysis of Mozi’s First Criteria, “origin”

  • Difficulty in accepting the first criteria.

  • We are skeptical “of what history proves.” Besides, what Mozi cites to prove his arguments is often legend and myth.

  • What history cited to prove: so many disparate and even contradictory assertions.

I.3.6 An Analysis of Mozi’s First Criteria , “origin”

  • In Mozi’s days, the majority of educated Chinese accepted without question the following:

  • 1. At certain periods in the past, enlightened rulers had appear in China to order the nation and raise Chinese society to a level of peace, prosperity.

  • 2. Through the records in the Book of Poetry and Book of Documents, how these rulers had acted and why.

I.3.6 An Analysis of Mozi’s First Criteria , “origin”

  • The appeal to the example of antiquity, which Mozi often used to clinch his argument, carried enormous weight in his day and continued to do so in Chinese philosophy down to the present century.

I.3.6 An Analysis of Mozi’s Second Criteria, “validity”

  • The appeal to the evidence of the senses

  • E.g. he argues for the existence of ghosts and spirits on the basis of the fact that so many people have reportedly seen and heard them.

I.3.6 An Analysis of Mozi’s Third Criteria, “applicability”

  • Practicability, needs no comment, since it is as vital as a part of argumentative writing today as it was in Mozi’s time.

I.3.7 Mozi’s Other Teachings: “Honoring the worthy”尚賢 (ch.8):

  • The duty of rulers: to seek out men of wisdom and virtue and employ them in their governments.

  • By Mozi’s time, the right of certain aristocratic families to maintain hereditary possession of ministerial posts had already been challenged.

  • Many rulers chose wise men from the common people.

I.3.7. “Honoring the worthy”:

  • No other philosophical school could be expected to take exception to this principle, except perhaps the Daoists and farmer-recluses, who professed not to be interested in acquiring government posts anyway.

  • Mozi is the first to give clear and unequivocal expression to this ideal, which became common in later Chinese political thought.

  • Character and ability rather than birth alone make the man was very much stated by Confucius.

I.3.8. “Identifying with one’s Superior”尚同(ch.11)

  • A strong strain of authoritarianism in early Chinese philosophy.

  • Independence of thought and action, for the lower classes at least, is a rarely expressed concept in the works of the period.

  • The only exception: ‘The Master said, “The Three Army can be deprived of their commander, but there is no way a common man can be deprived of his purpose.”’ (Analects 9.26)

I.3.8. “Identifying with one’s Superior”

  • The Daoists talk much of freedom of thought and action, but it is a freedom which ignores the social order, not one functions effectively within it.

  • The concept of the hierarchical social order itself, the neat pyramid of classes and functionaries topped by the “Son of Heaven/ Son of Tian,” (which was a personal God): an ideal that apparently no thinker dreamed of challenging.

I.3.8. “Identifying with one’s Superior”

  • When Mozi urges that each group in society must accept its standards of judgment and take orders from the group above it, he is expressing an assumption common to Mo-ists, Confucians, and later Legalists alike.

  • Advice could, and should flow freely upward the hierarchy.

  • But decisions, in normal times at least, come only from above.

I.3.8. “Identifying with one’s Superior”

  • Each individual and group in society, if he goes morally awry, may thus be checked and corrected by the group above.

  • Chinese society did not always function in this way, which explains why Mozi spent so much time expounding this ideal.

I.3.8. “Identifying with one’s Superior”

  • Qn: What happen if the top person goes awry?

  • The Confucians believed that in that case, the normal process may be reversed and a new leader may rise up from the lower rank and replace the wicked person, for the latter has disqualified himself for the position by his misrule.

  • The new leader is able to rule because of his virtue, which wins for him both the support of society and Tian.

I.3.8. “Identifying with one’s Superior”

  • Qn: What happen if the top person goes awry?

  • Mozi recognizes the same process, but pays less attention to the leader himself, who is only an agent of divine retribution, than to the power directing the process, the supernatural power of Tian and the spirits.

I.3.9. Mozi’s Religious Views

  • For Mozi, natural spirits and the ghosts of the dead does exist.

  • Such gods have the power to punish /reward any individual for his deeds.

  • Hearing the hierarchy of the supernatural world, Mozi envisions a deity called God: the Lord on High上帝, who creates all beings, love all beings, and desires their welfare.

I.3.9. Mozi’s Religious Views

  • Mozi’s religious views is not novel at all; they are striking only as a reaffirmation of traditional religious beliefs (e.g. in Shang Dynasty).

  • In the Book of Poetry & the Book of Documents: such views are everywhere.

  • The mass of early historical legends abounds in stories of spirits who returned from the land of the dead to take personal revenge upon their enemies.

I.3.9. Mozi’s Religious Views

  • However, the very insistence with which Mozi proclaims these religious beliefs indicates that such views had lost, at least for the ruling class.

  • For instance, the Zhou people do not have such a personal deity; the Confucians recognized and encouraged this trend toward skepticism and agnosticism, worked to revitalized the old religious rites by imbuing them with new interpretations (with the ideas like ren, yi)

  • Mozi attacked the Confucian trend and attempted to drag men back to the simple, pietistic, and fear-ridden faith of antiquity.

I.3.9. Mozi’s Religious Views

  • For only such a faith, could men be frightened into abandoning their evil ways and persuaded to love and benefit one another as Tian desired them to.

  • (M ch.31) “If we could only make all the people in the world believe that the ghosts and spirits have the power to reward the worthy and punish the wicked, then how could there be any disorder in the world?”

I.3.9. Mozi’s Religious Views:ch.31 Explaining Ghosts明鬼

  • (M. ch.31) “The way to determine whether something exists or not is to find out whether people actually know from the evidence of their own ears and eyes whether it exists, and us this as a standard. If someone has actually seen it and heard it, then we must assume that it exists… If from antiquity to today, from the beginning of mankind to the present, there have been people who have seen ghostlike and spiritlike beings and heard their voices, then how can we say they do not exist?...

I.3.9. Mozi’s Religious Views:ch.31 Explaining Ghosts明鬼

  • “Therefore Mozi said: Even in deep valleys, the broad forests, the dark and distant places where no one lives, you must not fail to act with sincerity, for the ghosts and spirits will see you even there!”

  • “是與天下之所以察知有與無之道者,必以眾之耳目之實知有與亡為儀者也,請惑聞之見之,則必以為有…自古以及今,生民以來者,亦有嘗見鬼神之物,聞鬼神之聲,則鬼神何謂無乎?”

I.3.10. “Universal Love”兼愛

  • Mozi’s most famous and original contributions to Chinese thought.

  • Confucianism: relational love, starting with the family.

  • Mozi: men should actually love the members of other families and states in the same way that they love the members of their own family and state, for all are equally the creatures and people of God.

  • A noble and original ideal

I.3.10. “Universal Love”

  • (M ch.16) “When we inquire into the causes of various harms (at the present time), what do we find has produced them?... They come rather from hating others and trying to injure them. And when we set out to classify and describe those men who hate and injure others, shall we say that their actions are motivated by universality or partiality? Surely we must answer by partiality, and it is this partiality in their dealings with one another that gives rise to all the great harms in the world. Therefore we know that partiality is wrong…Therefore, Mozi said: Partiality should be replaced by universality…

I.3.10. “Universal Love”

  • “If men were to regard the states of others as they regard their own, then who would raise up his state to attack the state of another?... If men were to regard the families of others as they regard their own, then who would raise up his family to overthrow that of another?... Now when states and cities do not attack and make war on each other and families and individuals do not overthrow or injure on one another… Surely it is a benefit.”

I.3.10. “Universal Love”兼愛

  • “姑嘗本原若眾害之所自生.必曰,從惡人賊人生.分冬乎天下惡人與賊人者,兼與別與?即必曰,別也.然即之交別者,果生天下之大害者也,是故別非也…故子墨子曰:兼以易別…藉為人之國若為其國,夫誰獨舉其國以攻入之國者哉.為彼者由為己也,為人之家若為其家.夫誰獨舉其家以亂人之家者哉.為彼猶為己也…即必曰:天下之利也…”

I.3.10. An Imaginary Dialogue with Mozi: on Universal Love

  • Qn: What good is the doctrine of universal love?

  • An: It will bring the greatest benefit to the largest number of people.

  • Qn: Can it be put into practice?

  • An: Yes, this is proved by the fact that it was actually practiced by the sage king of antiquity.

  • Qn: How is it to be put into practice?

  • An: The rulers can be persuaded of its usefulness, and they in turn will enforce it among the people by laws and coercion.

I.3.10. “Universal Love”

  • Mozi defends this doctrine in exactly the same uninspired way in which he defends every other doctrine he preaches—by appeal to material , to authoritarianism, and to the dubious account of an ancient golden age.

  • Maybe he felt that only such practical arguments could mask the idealism of the doctrine.

  • The arguments delimit and qualify the ideals to such an extent that they end by dragging them down to cautious utilitarianism.

I.3.11 Against Confucians非儒

  • (M. ch.39) “(Confucian) code of rites says: “Mourning for a father or mother should last three years; for a wife or eldest son, three years; for a paternal uncle, brother, or younger son, one year; and for other close relatives, five months.” Now if the length of the mourning period is determined by the degree of kinship, then close relatives should be mourned for a long period and distant relative for a short one. Yet the Confucians mourn the same length of time for a wife or eldest son as for a father or mother…

I.3.11 Against Confucians

  • “And in the length of the mourning period is determined by the degree of honor due, then this means that the wife and eldest son are honored the same as the father and mother, while paternal uncles and brothers are placed on the same level as younger sons. What could be more perverse than this?...

  • “When a Confucian takes a wife, he goes to fetch her in person. Wearing a formal black robe, he acts as his own coachman, holding the reins and handing her the cord by which to pull herself up into the carriage, as though he were escorting an honored parent…

I.3.11 Against Confucians

  • “The wedding ceremonies are conducted with as much solemnity as the sacrifices to the ancestors. High and low are turned upside down, and parents are disregarded and scorned. Parents are brought down to the level of the wife and the wife is exalted at the expense of service to the parents. How could such conduct be called filial? …

  • “The Confucians say: ‘One takes a wife in order that she may aid in the sacrifices to the ancestors, and the son who is born of the union will in time become responsible for maintaining the ancestral temple. Therefore the wife and son are highly regarded.’ But we reply that this is false and misleading…

I.3.11 Against Confucians

  • “A man’s uncles and older brothers may maintain the temple of the ancestors for many years, and yet when they die the Confucian will mourn for them only one year. The wives of his brother may aid in the sacrifices to the ancestors, and yet when they die he will not mourn for them at all. It is obvious, therefore, that the Confucians do not mourn three years for wives and eldest sons because wives and eldest sons maintain or aid in the sacrifices…

I.3.11 Against Confucians

  • “Such concern for one’s wife and son is a troublesome involvement, and in addition the Confucians try to pretend that it is for the sake of their parents. In order to favor those whom they feel the most partiality for, they slight those whom they should respect the most. Is this not the height of perversity?....”

I.4.1 The Rise of Moism

  • According to Mencius 6.9, “The words of Yang Zhu and Mo Ti fill the Empire. The teachings current in the Empire are those of either the school of Yang or the school of Mo. Yang advocates everyone for himself, which amounts to a denial of one’s prince; Mo advocates love without discrimination, which amounts to a denial of one’s father. To ignore one’s father on the one hand, and one’s prince on the other, is to be no different from the beasts.”

    • 楊朱,墨翟之言盈天下.天下之言不歸楊,則歸墨.楊氏為我,是無君也;墨氏兼愛,是無父也.無君無父,是禽獸也.

I.4.1 The Rise of Moism

  • Yang Zhu: “Every-man-for-himself doctrine.”

  • “Even if I can benefit the whole world by picking out one of my hair, I will not do it.”

    • 楊朱: “拔一毛以利天下不為”

I.4.2 The Decline of Moism

  • Works of the 3th century B.C. suggest that Mo-ism at this period stood side by side with Confucianism as one of the most important philosophical schools of the time.

  • Yet, from the 2th century B.C. on, after the unification of the empire under the Chin秦 and later the Han Dynasties漢, we do not hear much of the Moist school.

I.4.2 The Decline of Moism

  • 1. Mencius, who later became a classic of orthodox Confucianism, commented heavily on the prevalence of Moist ideas.

  • 2. In the centuries following Mozi’s death, technological progress in agriculture and industry and the growth of trade made the life of the upper class far more affluent than it had been in his days, and the upper class would not Mozi’s sermons on frugality and plain living.

I.4.2 The Decline of Moism

  • 3. The common people held fast to the old beliefs and the ideas of retribution of the spirits. But educated people rejected or radically reinterpreted the ancient legends and religious beliefs that Mozi had affirmed.

  • 4. The utilitarianism with which Mozi supported his doctrines was inadequate for an entire system of moral philosophy.

I.4.2 The Decline of Moism

  • The author of a later chapter of the Zhuangzi commenting upon the Mohist philosophy: “no singing in life, no mourning in death,”生不歌,死无服remarks, “It causes the people to be anxious, to be sorrowful, and its ways are hard to follow “(Zhuangzi, ch 10, “Tian-jia”天下)

  • This was how most men of later centuries felt about the superstitious and puritanical elements of Mozi’s teachings.

I.4.2 The Decline of Moism

  • What remained, his emphasis upon selecting and promoting worthy men to office, upon the welfare of the people, was compatible and almost identical with traditional Confucianism, and could therefore be easily absorbed in the Confucian school.

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