Mozi (/ˈmoʊˈtsiː/; Chinese: 墨子; pinyin: Mòzǐ;
Wade–Giles: Mo Tzu /ˈmoʊˈtsuː/; Latinized as Micius
/ˈmɪsiəs/; c. 468 – c. 391 BC), original name Mo Di
(墨翟), was a Chinese philosopher during the Hundred Schools of
Thought period (early Warring States period). A book named after him,
the Mozi, contains material ascribed to him and his followers.
Born in what is now Tengzhou,
Shandong Province, he founded the school
Mohism that argued strongly against
Confucianism and Taoism. His
philosophy emphasized self-restraint, self-reflection and authenticity
rather than obedience to ritual. During the Warring States period,
Mohism was actively developed and practiced in many states but fell
out of favour when the legalist
Qin dynasty came to power. During that
period, many Mohist classics are by many believed to have been ruined
when the emperor
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang supposedly carried out the burning of
books and burying of scholars. The importance of
Confucianism became the dominant school of thought
during the Han Dynasty, until mostly disappearing by the middle of the
Western Han dynasty.
Mozi is known by children throughout
Chinese culture by way of the
Thousand Character Classic, which records that he was saddened when he
saw dyeing of pure white silk, which embodied his conception of
austerity (simplicity, chastity). For the modern juvenile audience of
Chinese speakers, the image of his school and its founder were
popularized by the animated TV series The Legend of Qin.
3 Works and influence
Mohism and science
5 Contemporary use in technology
6 See also
7.2 Works cited
8 Further reading
9 External links
Mozi was born in Lu (seen toward the north, with a small coastline
along the Yellow Sea) and spent some time as a government minister in
Song (a landlocked state to the south of Lu)
Most historians believe that
Mozi was a member of the lower artisan
class who managed to climb his way to an official post. It is known,
however, that his parents were not affectionate towards him and showed
him very little love.
Mozi was a native of the State of Lu (today's
Shandong Province), although for a time he served as a
minister in the State of Song. Like Confucius,
Mozi was known to
have maintained a school for those who desired to become officials
serving in the different ruling courts of the Warring States.
Mozi was a carpenter and was extremely skilled in creating devices,
designing everything from mechanical birds to wheeled, mobile "cloud
ladders" used to besiege city walls (see Lu Ban). Though he did not
hold a high official position,
Mozi was sought out by various rulers
as an expert on fortification. He was schooled in
Confucianism in his
early years, but he viewed
Confucianism as being too fatalistic and
emphasizing too much on elaborate celebrations and funerals which he
felt were detrimental to the livelihood and productivity of common
people. He managed to attract a large following during his lifetime
which rivaled that of Confucius. His followers—mostly technicians
and craftspeople—were organized in a disciplined order that studied
both Mozi's philosophical and technical writings.
According to some accounts of the popular understanding of
Mozi at the
time, he had been hailed by many as the greatest hero to come from
Henan. His passion was said to be for the good of the people, without
concern for personal gain or even for his own life or death. His
tireless contribution to society was praised by many, including
Confucius' disciple Mencius.
Mencius wrote in Jinxin (Chinese:
孟子盡心; pinyin: Mengzi Jinxin) that
Mozi believed in love for
all mankind. As long as something benefits mankind,
Mozi will pursue
it even if it means hurting his head or his feet. Zhang Tai Yan said
that in terms of moral virtue, even
Laozi cannot compare
Mozi travelled from one crisis zone to another throughout the ravaged
landscape of the Warring States, trying to dissuade rulers from their
plans of conquest. According to the chapter "Gongshu" in Mozi, he once
walked for ten days to the
State of Chu
State of Chu in order to forestall an
attack on the State of Song. At the Chu court,
Mozi engaged in nine
simulated war games with Gongshu Ban, the chief military strategist of
Chu, and overturned each one of his stratagems. When Gongshu Ban
threatened him with death,
Mozi informed the king that his disciples
had already trained the soldiers of Song in his fortification methods,
so it would be useless to kill him. The Chu king was forced to call
off the war. On the way back, however, the soldiers of Song, not
recognizing him, would not allow
Mozi to enter their city, and he had
to spend a night freezing in the rain. After this episode, he also
State of Qi
State of Qi from attacking the State of Lu. He taught that
defense of a city does not depend only on fortification, weaponry and
food supply; it is also important to keep talented people close by and
to put trust in them.
The Mohists were experts at building fortifications and sieges
Mozi's moral teachings emphasized self-reflection and authenticity
rather than obedience to ritual. He observed that we often learn about
the world through adversity ("Embracing Scholars" in Mozi). By
reflecting on one's own successes and failures, one attains true
self-knowledge rather than mere conformity to ritual ("Refining Self"
Mozi exhorted people to lead a life of asceticism and
self-restraint, renouncing both material and spiritual extravagance.
Mozi idealized the
Xia Dynasty and the ancients of
Chinese mythology, but he criticized the Confucian belief that modern
life should be patterned on the ways of the ancients. After all, he
pointed out, what we think of as "ancient" was actually innovative in
its time, and thus should not be used to hinder present-day innovation
("Against Confucianism, Part 3" in the Mozi). Though
Mozi did not
believe that history necessarily progresses, as did
Han Fei Zi, he
shared the latter's critique of fate (命, mìng).
Mozi believed that
people were capable of changing their circumstances and directing
their own lives. They could do this by applying their senses to
observing the world, judging objects and events by their causes, their
functions, and their historical bases. ("Against Fate, Part 3") This
was the "three-prong method"
Mozi recommended for testing the truth or
falsehood of statements. His students later expanded on this to form
the School of Names.
Mozi tried to replace what he considered to be the long-entrenched
Chinese over-attachment to family and clan structures with the concept
of "impartial caring" or "universal love" (兼愛, jiān ài). In
this, he argued directly against Confucians who had argued that it was
natural and correct for people to care about different people in
different degrees. Mozi, in contrast, argued that people in principle
should care for all people equally, a notion that philosophers in
other schools found absurd, as they interpreted this notion as
implying no special amount of care or duty towards one's parents and
Overlooked by those critics, however, is a passage in the chapter on
"Self-Cultivation" which states, "When people near-by are not
befriended, there is no use endeavoring to attract those at a
distance." This point is also precisely articulated by a Mohist in a
Mencius (in the Mencius), where the Mohist argues in
relation to carrying out universal love, that "We begin with what is
near." Also, in the first chapter of the writings of
Mozi on universal
Mozi argues that the best way of being filial to one’s parents
is to be filial to the parents of others. The foundational principle
is that benevolence, as well as malevolence, is requited, and that one
will be treated by others as one treats others.
Mozi quotes a popular
passage from the Book of Odes to bring home this point: "When one
throws to me a peach, I return to him a plum." One’s parents will be
treated by others as one treats the parents of others. In pursuing
this line of argument,
Mozi was directly appealing to the idea of
enlightened self-interest in social relations. Also of note is the
Mozi differentiated between "intention" and "actuality",
thereby placing a central importance on the will to love, even though
in practice it may very well be impossible to bring benefit to
Mozi argued that benevolence comes to human beings "as
naturally as fire turns upward or water turns downward", provided that
persons in positions of authority illustrate benevolence in their own
lives. In differentiating between the ideas of "universal" (jian) and
Mozi said that "universal" comes from
righteousness while "differential" entails human effort. Furthermore,
Mozi’s basic argument concerning universal love asserts that
universal love is supremely practical, and this argument was directed
against those who objected that such love could not be put into
Mozi also held a belief in the power of ghosts and spirits, although
he is often thought to have only worshipped them pragmatically. In
fact, in his discussion on ghosts and spirits, he remarks that even if
they did not exist, communal gatherings for the sake of making
sacrificial offering would play a role in strengthening social bonds.
Mozi the will of Heaven (天, tiān) was that people
should love one another, and that mutual love by all would bring
benefit to all. Therefore, it was in everyone's interest that they
love others "as they love themselves." Heaven should be respected
because failing to do so would subject one to punishment. For Mozi,
Heaven was not the "amoral", mystical nature of the Taoists. Rather,
it was a benevolent, moral force that rewarded good and punished evil.
Similar in some ways to the Abrahamic religions,
Mozi believed that
all living things live in a realm ruled by Heaven, and Heaven has a
will which is independent from and higher than the will of man. Thus
he writes that "Universal love is the Way of Heaven," since "Heaven
nourishes and sustains all life without regard to status." ("Laws and
Customs" in Mozi) Mozi's ideal of government, which advocated a
meritocracy based on talent rather than background, also followed his
idea of Heaven.
Mozi opposed to Confucian "Destiny" thought,
class differences and other ideas.
Mozi put forward to promote
people's victory, things in the subjective attitude to life, encourage
people to work hard to change their fate and inequality in the world.
In Confucius's opinion, a person's life and death, wealth and poverty
are completely related to destiny and personal power can not be
Main article: Mohist consequentialism
What is the purpose of houses? It is to protect us from the wind and
cold of winter, the heat and rain of summer, and to keep out robbers
and thieves. Once these ends have been secured, that is all. Whatever
does not contribute to these ends should be eliminated.
Mozi (5th century BC) Ch 20
Mencius was one of several critics of Mozi, in
part because his philosophy lacked filial piety
Mohist ethics are considered a form of consequentialism, sometimes
called state consequentialism. Mohist ethics evaluates the moral
worth of an action based on how it contributes to the stability of a
state, through social order, material wealth, and population
growth. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Mohist
consequentialism, dating back to the 5th century BC, is the "world's
earliest form of consequentialism, a remarkably sophisticated version
based on a plurality of intrinsic goods taken as constitutive of human
Unlike utilitarianism, which views pleasure as a moral good, "the
basic goods in Mohist consequentialist thinking are ... order,
material wealth, and increase in population". During Mozi's era,
war and famines were common, and population growth was seen as a moral
necessity for a harmonious society.
Mozi opposed wars because they
wasted life and resources while interfering with the fair distribution
of wealth, yet he recognized the need for strong urban defenses so he
could maintain the harmonious society he desired. The "material
Mohist consequentialism refers to basic needs like shelter
and clothing, and the "order" of
Mohist consequentialism refers to
Mozi's stance against warfare and violence, which he viewed as
pointless and a threat to social stability. Stanford sinologist
David Shepherd Nivison, in The Cambridge History of Ancient China,
writes that the moral goods of
Mohism "are interrelated: more basic
wealth, then more reproduction; more people, then more production and
wealth ... if people have plenty, they would be good, filial, kind,
and so on unproblematically". In contrast to Jeremy Bentham, Mozi
did not believe that individual happiness was important; the
consequences of the state outweigh the consequences of individual
Mozi tended to evaluate actions based on whether they provide benefit
to the people, which he measured in terms of an enlarged population
(states were sparsely populated in his day), a prosperous economy, and
social order. Like other consequentialist theories,
Mozi thought that
actions should be measured by the way they contribute to the "greatest
societal good for what we have agreed to in a social contract". With
Mozi denounced things as diverse as offensive warfare,
expensive funerals, and even music and dance, which he saw as serving
no useful purpose.
Mozi did not object to music in principle—"It's
not that I don't like the sound of the drum" ("Against Music")—but
only because of the heavy tax burden such activities placed on
commoners and also due to the fact that officials tended to indulge in
them at the expense of their duties.
Works and influence
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A page from the Mozi
"Mozi" is also the name of the philosophical text compiled by Mohists
from Mozi's thought. This text originally consisted of 71 chapters.
During the Han dynasty
Confucianism dominated China. As
against Confucianism, the text "Mozi" was neglected. During the Song
dynasty, only 61 chapters were left. Today, we have only 53 chapters
through which we attempt to understand this school of thought, as
compiled by Sun Yirang. Because
Mohism disappeared as a living
tradition from China, its texts were not well maintained, and many
chapters are missing or in a corrupted state. For example, of the
three chapters "Against Confucianism", only one remains.
The collection of texts from "Mozi" is a rich source of insight into
early Chinese dynastic history and culture. Much of Mozi's arguments
are supported by the historical claims of even earlier records. His
conversations with other renowned philosophers of that era are also
recorded. From them, we can distinguish
Mohism from other schools of
thought more clearly.
Mohism was suppressed under the Qin and died out completely under the
Han, which made
Confucianism the official doctrine. However, many of
its ideas were dissolved into the mainstream of Chinese thought, since
both Confucians such as Xunzi and
Taoists such as Zhuangzi expressed
sympathy with Mozi's concerns. The influence of
Mozi is still visible
in many Han works written hundreds of years later. In modern times,
Mohism was given a fresh analysis.
Sun Yat-Sen used "universal love"
as one of the foundations for his idea of Chinese democracy. More
recently, Chinese scholars under
Communism have tried to rehabilitate
Mozi as a "philosopher of the people", highlighting his
rational-empirical approach to the world as well as his "proletarian"
Some views claim that Mozi's philosophy was at once more advanced and
less so than that of Confucius. His concept of "universal love"
embraced a broader idea of human community than that of the
Confucians, but he was less tolerant than
Confucius in his
condemnation of all that is not directly "useful," neglecting the
humanizing functions of art and music. Zhuangzi, who criticized both
the Confucians and the Mohists, had this in mind in his parables on
the "usefulness of the useless". Of course, this insistence on
usefulness comes from a time when war and famine were widespread and
could well have made all the royal pageantry look frivolous.
However, others would say the above view is not entirely accurate, and
that in fact "universal love" (博愛), as well as "the world as a
commonwealth shared by all" (天下為公) advocated by Sun Yat-Sen
are Confucian ideas. "Universal love" (博愛, Boai) in
Confucianism is a little different from Mozi's "universal love"
(兼愛, Jian'ai): in
Confucianism it tends to emphasize it as
naturally befitting human relations, while in Mozi's ideas it tends to
be community oriented and non-differentiated according to individual.
Some modern-day supporters for
Mozi (as well as Communism) make the
Mohism and modern
Communism share a lot in terms of ideals
for community life. Others would claim that
Mohism shares more with
the central ideas of Christianity, especially in terms of the idea of
"universal love" (in Greek, "agape"), the "Golden Rule", and the
relation of humanity to the supernatural realm.
Mohism and science
According to Joseph Needham,
Mozi (collected writings of those in the
tradition of Mozi, some of which might have been by
contains the following sentence: 'The cessation of motion is due to
the opposing force... If there is no opposing force... the motion will
never stop. This is as true as that an ox is not a horse.' which, he
claims, is a precursor to Newton's first law of motion.
contains speculations in optics and mechanics that are similarly
strikingly original, although their ideas were not taken up by later
Chinese philosophers. The Mohist tradition is also highly unusual in
Chinese thought in that it devoted time to developing principles of
Contemporary use in technology
In 2016, a joint Austrian-Chinese initiative between the experimental
physics groups of
Anton Zeilinger and former graduate student Jian-Wei
Pan known as
Quantum Experiments at Space Scale
Quantum Experiments at Space Scale launched a quantum
communications satellite nicknamed “Micius” or “Mozi,” in
homage to the philosopher's writings on optics.
The June 16, 2017, issue of Science reports a new quantum entanglement
distance record of 1203 km between the satellite and bases in
Lijiang, Yunnan and Delingha, Qinghai, increasing transmission
efficiency over prior fiber optics experiments by more than an order
of magnitude. The group subsequently established a new
world-distance record for free-space quantum teleportation.
The two groups demonstrated the first-ever quantum secured
intercontinental satellite video call between Austria and China on
September 29, 2017.
A Battle of Wits – a historical film based around Mohism
History of geometry
List of people on stamps of the People's Republic of China
Fa, an influential concept elaborated by Mozi
^ "Mo-Zi". Collins English Dictionary.
^ "Mozi". Collins English Dictionary.
^ Hansen, Chad (1992). A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought: A
Philosophical Interpretation. Oxford University Press. p. 394.
ISBN 0-19-506729-0. There was a fleeting movement to introduce
use of Micius for Mozi, whose bones no doubt relaxed when the movement
^ Fraser, Chris (2002). "Mohism". "The Stanford Encyclopedia of
^ Needham & Wang 1956 165.
^ Needham & Wang 1956 165–184.
^ Cui, Dahua (2009-09-01). "Rational awareness of the ultimate in
human life — The Confucian concept of "destiny"". Frontiers of
Philosophy in China. 4 (3): 309–321. doi:10.1007/s11466-009-0020-7.
^ a b Van Norden, Bryan W. (2011). Introduction to Classical Chinese
Philosophy. Hackett Publishing. p. 52.
^ a b Ivanhoe, P.J.; Van Norden, Bryan William (2005). Readings in
classical Chinese philosophy. Hackett Publishing. p. 60.
ISBN 978-0-87220-780-6. "he advocated a form of state
consequentialism, which sought to maximize three basic goods: the
wealth, order, and population of the state
^ Fraser, Chris, "Mohism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
Edward N. Zalta.
^ a b c Loewe, Michael; Shaughnessy, Edward L. (2011). The Cambridge
History of Ancient China. Cambridge University Press. p. 761.
^ Tignor, Robert; Adelman, Jeremy; Brown, Peter; Elman, Benjamin; Liu,
Xinru; Pittman, Holly; Shaw, Brent. Worlds Together Worlds Apart
Volume One: Beginnings Through the 15th Century (Fourth ed.). W.W.
Norton. p. 167. ISBN 9780393922080.
^ Han Yu: "Universal love" (博愛, Boai) means Ren (Humanity)
^ "Mozu". New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2016-06-02.
^ "China launches world's first quantum science satellite -
physicsworld.com". physicsworld.com. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
^ "Micius Quantum Communication Satellite - Aerospace Technology".
Aerospace Technology. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
^ "China launches quantum satellite". BBC News. 2016-08-16. Retrieved
^ Science 16 Jun 2017: Vol. 356, Issue 6343, pp. 1140-1144 DOI:
^ "China is Paving the Way to Quantum Internet". Futurism. 2017-08-28.
^ Mandelbaum, Ryan F. "Scientists Just Made the First Super-Secure
Quantum Video Call". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
^ "AUSTRIAN AND CHINESE ACADEMIES OF SCIENCES SUCCESSFULLY CONDUCTED
FIRST INTER-CONTINENTAL QUANTUM VIDEO CALL". Retrieved
Quantum teleportation breakthrough earns Pan Jianwei's team China's
top science award". South China Morning Post. Retrieved
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Chinese Texts – A Bibliographical Guide. Berkeley:
Society for the
Study of Early China & Institute of East Asian Studies, University
of California Berkeley. pp. 336–41.
ISBN 1-55729-043-1. CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list
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Mozi 墨子". In Knechtges, David R.;
Chang, Taiping. Ancient and Early Medieval Chinese Literature: A
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Confucian concept of “destiny”. Frontiers of
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Chris Fraser, The
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Jane Geaney, “A Critique of A. C. Graham's Reconstruction of the
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Angus C. Graham, Disputers of the TAO: Philosophical Argument in
Ancient China (Open Court 1993). ISBN 0-8126-9087-7
—. Later Mohist Logic,
Ethics and Science by A. C. Graham, (1978,
reprinted 2004) The Chinese University Press, Hong Kong. 700 pages.
Chad Hansen, "Mozi: Language Utilitarianism: The Structure of Ethics
in Classical China," The Journal of Chinese
Philosophy 16 (1989)
—. A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought. (New York: Oxford University
Kung-chuan Hsiao. A History of Chinese Political Thought. In: Volume
One: From the Beginnings to the Sixth Century A.D.. Princeton
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Ralf Moritz, Die Philosophie im alten China. Deutscher Verlag der
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Peter J. Opitz, Der Weg des Himmels: Zum Geist und zur Gestalt des
politischen Denkens im klassischen China. Fink, München 1999,
Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer, (ed.), Mo Ti: Von der Liebe des Himmels zu
den Menschen. Diederichs, München 1992, ISBN 3-424-01029-4.
—. Mo Ti: Solidarität und allgemeine Menschenliebe. Diederichs,
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Schools of Thought
Chinese Marxist Philosophy
School of Diplomacy
School of Names
School of Naturalists
See also: Hundred Schools of Thought
Jiān ài: Universal Love
Lĭ: Ritual propriety
Mìng: Mandate or fate
Tiān: Divine force
Wú wéi: Nonaction
Xiào: Filial piety
Xin: Disposition or intuition
Xing: Human nature
Yīnyáng: Interdependent opposites
Zhèngmíng: Rectification of names
Zhì: Intention or will; Wisdom or cleverness
Zìrán: Self-so or natural
Ethics (Role ethics
Ethics of care
Good and evil
Suffering or Pain
Augustine of Hippo
Georg W. F. Hegel
John Stuart Mill
G. E. Moore
J. L. Mackie
G. E. M. Anscombe
R. M. Hare
Robert Merrihew Adams
Ethics of eating meat
Ethics of technology
Ethics in religion
History of ethics
Philosophy of law
Social and political philosophy
Feminist political theory
Mandate of Heaven
Philosophy and economics
Philosophy of education
Philosophy of history
Philosophy of love
Philosophy of sex
Philosophy of social science
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In Islamic tradition
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In Quranic exegesis
Saduq, Masduq, and Shalum
Zechariah, son of Berechiah
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