Mo Tzu

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


“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.


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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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