Mo Tzu

Mo Tzu

 

(Mo Ti). Born 479 B.C.; died 400 B.C. Ancient Chinese philosopher and political figure; founder of Moism.

Mo Tzu may have been a high official in the Sung kingdom. He and his followers reflected the interests of the free lower strata of Chinese society: farmers, artisans, and merchants. The Moists opposed Confucianism, which justified the unshakable domination of the hereditary aristocracy. The views of Mo Tzu and his disciples were collected in the book Mo Tzu, whose final version dates from the late third and early second centuriesB.C.

The central idea in the teachings of Mo Tzu and his disciples is an appeal for the establishment of relations among men based on the principles of “universal love and mutual benefit.” In contrast to the Confucian division of society into “inferior” and “superior” men, “rulers” and “ruled,” Moist teachings represented an attempt to justify ethically the idea of human equality and reflected an attempt to bring the broad strata of the population into the country’s political life.

The idea of “universal love and mutual benefit” underlies the other principles of Mo Tzu’s teaching: “respect wisdom,” “respect unity,” “oppose violence,” and “practice thrift.” To substantiate the principle of “universal love” and make it a cosmic law, Mo Tzu employed traditional Chinese beliefs in heaven and spirits; but this did not prevent him from opposing Confucian views about the existence of a “heavenly fate.”

Mo Tzu was the first Chinese philosopher to propose the category of cause (ku), principles of classifying knowledge (lei), and three criteria for determining the truthfulness of knowledge —its consistency with what people have seen or heard, its conformity with what benefits people, and its compatibility with ancient books. Later Moists expanded the classification of knowledge to include its source and nature and developed a system of logical categories that was comprehensive and consistent for its time.

SOURCES

“Mo-tzu hsien ku.” In Chutzu chi-ch’eng (Collection of Works of Ancient Thinkers), vol. 4. Peking, 1957.
“Mo-tszy.” In Drevnekitaiskaia filosofiia, vol. 1. Moscow, 1972.
Mo Tzu: Basic Writings. Translated by B. Watson. New York, 1963.

REFERENCES

Titarenko, M. L. “Mo-tszy i rannie moisty o protsesse poznaniia.” Voprosy filosofii, 1964, no. 11.
Titarenko, M. L. “Sotsial’no-politicheskie idei Mo-tszy i shkoly motszia rannego perioda.” Nauchnye doklady vysshei shkoly: Filosofskie nauki, 1965, no. 6.
Yang Hing-Shung. “Teoriia poznaniia moistov.” Voprosy filosofii, 1956, no. 1.
Holth, S. Micius. Shanghai, 1935.

M. L. TITARENKO

References in periodicals archive ?
In opposition to Confucius's yearning for traditional hierarchies and to the more meritocratic schemes of post-Confucian thinkers like Mo Tzu, Han Fei Tzu proposed a state organized around a system of laws so all-embracing and correct that it required no elites at all to administer, nor even a very active monarch--wu-wei enthroned, or, to recast it in terms of a somewhat later thinker, the state withered away.
Classical Chinese philosophy enjoyed its most fruitful development during the "Hundred Schools" period; Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist traditions have sparred throughout the centuries with one another and with competing paradigms offered by thinkers such as Mo Tzu, Han Fei Tzu, Wang Ch'ung, and Wang Fu-chih.
While there do exist descriptions supporting this portrait, especially in the partisan attacks of the Mo Tzu, the evidence for such quirky behavior is rather thin.