Mozi or Mo-tze, Mocius or Mo-tzu, original name Mo Di, aka Master Mo

Mozi or Mo-tze, Mocius or Mo-tzu, original name Mo Di, aka Master Mo
c. 470 B.C.
c. 391 B.C.

Chinese Philosopher, founder of Mohist School, moral teachings emphasized self-reflection and authenticity rather than obedience to ritual in contrast to Confucius. He observed that we often learn about the world through adversity

Author Quotes

In prosperous conditions, the worthy must be promoted. In un-prosperous conditions, the worthy must be promoted.

The purpose of the magnanimous is to be found in procuring benefits for the world and eliminating its calamities. ? Mutual attacks among states, mutual usurpation among houses, mutual injuries among individuals; the lack of grace and loyalty between ruler and ruled, the lack of affection and filial piety between father and son, the lack of harmony between elder and younger brothers ? these are the major calamities in the world.

When we try to develop and procure benefits for the world with universal love as our standard, then attentive ears and keen eyes will respond in service to one another, then limbs will be strengthened to work for one another, and those who know the Tao will untiringly instruct others. Thus the old and those who have neither wife nor children will have the support and supply to spend their old age with, and the young and weak and orphans will have the care and admonition to grow up in. When universal love is adopted as the standard, then such are the consequent benefits. It is incomprehensible, then, why people should object to universal love when they hear it.

When silent, ponder; when speaking, teach others; when acting, perform work. Alternate between these three and you surely will be a sage. You must eliminate joy, anger, pleasure, sorrow, affection, [and aversion] and apply humanity (ren) and right (yi). Devote your hands, feet, mouth, nose, and ears to the pursuit of right, and you surely will be a sage.

Now the kings, dukes, nobles, officers, and gentlemen of the world, if within they really desire to follow the dao (way), benefit the people, and fundamentally examine the root of what is humane (ren) and right (yi), then they cannot fail to follow Heaven's intention. Following Heaven's intention is the fa (model) of right (yi)

[paraphrase] Of the three goods, the Mohists' concept of “order” (zhi) calls for special attention. This is a complex good comprising a variety of conditions the Mohists probably regard as constitutive of the good social life. From passages in which the Mohists characterize zhi (order) and its opposite, luan (disorder, turmoil), we find that the elements of “order” include at least four sorts of conditions.

All levels of society conform to unified moral standards, and incentives and disincentives based on these standards are administered fairly by virtuous leaders, as described in Mohist political theory.
Peace and social harmony prevail, characterized negatively as the absence of crime, deceit, harassment, injury, conflict, and military aggression.
Members of society manifest virtues constitutive of the proper performance of their relational social roles as ruler or subject, father or son, and elder or younger brother. Order obtains only when the ruler is benevolent, his subjects are loyal, fathers are kind, sons are filial, and elder and younger brothers display brotherly love and respect. (Like much ancient thought, Mohism has a sexist bias, and with few exceptions the texts disregard the social roles of women.)
Community members habitually engage in reciprocal assistance and charity, sharing information, labor, education, and surplus goods and aiding the destitute and unfortunate.
In summary, “benefit to the world” is a general conception of welfare comprising social harmony and public security; economic prosperity and a thriving population and family; reciprocal cooperation among neighbors and charity for the needy; and good social relations, manifested in the exercise of virtues corresponding to the fundamental social roles.

Could it be that, supposing we follow their statements, adopt their plan, and have lavish funerals and lengthy mourning, this can really enrich the poor, multiply the few, secure those in danger, and order what is in disorder? Then this is humane (ren), right (yi), and the task of the filial son, and in planning for others, one cannot but encourage it. The humane will promote it throughout the world, establish it and make the people praise it, and never abandon it.
Or could it be that, supposing we follow their statements, adopt their plan, and have lavish funerals and lengthy mourning, this can not really enrich the poor, multiply the few, secure those in danger, and order what is in disorder? Then this is not humane, not right, and not the task of the filial son, and in planning for others, one cannot but discourage it. The humane will seek to eliminate it from the world, abandon it and make people condemn it, and never perform it.

Thus the village head was the most humane (ren) man in the village. The village head issued an order to the people of the village, stating: “Hearing of good and not good, you amust report it to the district head. What the district head deems right (shi), all must deem right; what the district head deems not (fei), all must deem not. Discard your bad statements and learn the good statements of the district head; discard your bad conduct and learn the good conduct of the district head. Then how could the district be disorderly? Examine what it is that puts the district in order (zhi): It's that the district head is able to unify the morality (yi) of the district, thus the district is in order.

The government officials in place, the Son of Heaven issued an order to the people of the world, saying: “Hearing of good and bad, in all cases report it to those above you. What those above deem right (shi), all must deem right; what they deem not (fei), all must deem not. If those above commit an error, then criticize them; if those below do good, then recommend them. Conform upward and do not ally together below. This is what those above will reward and those below will praise.

It was understood that the world was in disorder because the people lacked political leaders to unify the world's morality. So the most worthy, wise, and intelligent man in the world was selected, established as the Son of Heaven, and commissioned to unify the world's morality (yi).

Our Master Mozi stated, In antiquity when people first arose, before there were punishments and government, probably the saying was, “People have different moralities (yi).” Thus for one person, there was one morality; for two people, two moralities; for ten people, ten moralities — the more people, the more things they called “moral.” Thus people deemed their own morality right and on that basis deemed others' morality wrong, and so in interaction they deemed each other wrong. Thus, within the family, fathers and sons, elder and younger brothers resented each other and split up, unable to get along harmoniously. The people of the world all injured each other with water, fire, and poison. It reached the point that, having surplus strength, they were unable to work for each other; they would let surplus resources rot rather than share them and conceal good dao (ways) rather than teach them. The disorder (luan) in the world was like that among the birds and beasts.

So then what will be acceptable to take as a model for order? Thus he said, Nothing is like modeling oneself on Heaven. Heaven's conduct is expansive and impartial; its gifts are generous and demand no repayment; its brightness endures without fading. Thus the sage kings model themselves on it.

So then what will be acceptable to take as a model (fa) for order (zhi)? How would it be for everyone to model themselves on their parents? Those in the world who are parents are many, but those who are ren (humane, good) are few; if everyone models themselves on their parents, this is modeling not-ren. Modeling not-ren — it's not acceptable to take that as a model.

Those in the world who perform any task cannot work without models (fa) and standards. To work without models and standards, yet complete their task successfully — no one can do it. Even officers serving as generals or ministers, they all have models; even the hundred artisans performing their tasks, they too all have models. The hundred artisans form squares with the L-square, circles with the compass, straight edges with the string, vertical lines with the plumb line, [even surfaces with the level]. Whether skilled artisans or unskilled, all take these five as models. The skilled can conform to them exactly; as to the unskilled, though they cannot conform to them exactly, if they follow them in performing their tasks, they still surpass what they can do on their own. So the hundred artisans in performing their tasks all have models to measure by.

The Ten Mohist Doctrines [paraphrase] As their movement developed, the Mohists came to present themselves as offering a collection of ten key doctrines, divided into five pairs. The ten doctrines correspond to the titles of the ten triads, the ten sets of three essays that form the core of the Mozi. Although the essays in each triad differ in detail, the gist of each doctrine may be briefly summarized as follows.

“Elevating the Worthy” and “Conforming Upward.” The purpose of government is to achieve a stable social, economic, and political order (zhi, pronounced “jr”) by promulgating a unified conception of morality (yi). This task of moral education is to be carried out by encouraging everyone to “conform upward” to the good example set by social and political superiors and by rewarding those who do so and punishing those who do not. Government is to be structured as a centralized, bureaucratic state led by a virtuous monarch and managed by a hierarchy of appointed officials. Appointments are to be made on the basis of competence and moral merit, without regard for candidates' social status or origins.
“Inclusive Care” and “Rejecting Aggression.” To achieve social order and exemplify the key virtue of ren (humanity, goodwill), people must inclusively care for each other, having as much concern for others' lives, families, and communities as for their own, and in their relations with others seek to benefit them. Military aggression is wrong for the same reasons that theft, robbery, and murder are: it harms others in pursuit of selfish benefit, while ultimately failing to benefit Heaven, the spirits, or society as a whole.
“Thrift in Utilization” and “Thrift in Funerals.” To benefit society and care for the welfare of the people, wasteful luxury and useless expenditures must be eliminated. Seeking always to bring wealth to the people and order to society, the ren (humane) person avoids wasting resources on extravagant funerals and prolonged mourning (which were the custom in ancient China).
“Heaven's Intention” and “Elucidating Ghosts.” Heaven is the noblest, wisest moral agent, so its intention is a reliable, objective standard of what is morally right (yi) and must be respected. Heaven rewards those who obey its intention and punishes those who defy it, hence people should strive to be humane and do what is right. Social and moral order (zhi) can be advanced by encouraging belief in ghosts and spirits who reward the good and punish the wicked.
“Rejecting Music” and “Rejecting Fatalism.” The humane (ren) person opposes the extravagant musical entertainment and other luxuries enjoyed by rulers and high officials, because these waste resources that could otherwise be used for feeding and clothing the common people. Fatalism is not ren, because by teaching that our lot in life is predestined and human effort is useless, it interferes with the pursuit of economic wealth, a large population, and social order (three primary goods that the humane person desires for society). Fatalism fails to meet a series of justificatory criteria and so must be rejected.

If the state is in disorder, then expound “elevating the worthy” and “conforming upward”; if the state is poor, then expound “thrift in utilization” and “thrift in funerals”; if the state overindulges in musical entertainment, then expound “rejecting music” and “rejecting fate”; if the state is dissolute and indecorous, expound “respecting Heaven” and “serving ghosts”; if the state is devoted to aggression and intimidation, then expound “inclusive care” and “rejecting aggression.”

The task of the benevolent person is surely to strive to promote benefit, and to eliminate harm, throughout the world. . . . It is impartiality that produces the greatest benefit to the whole world! Thus, Mozi says 'impartiality is good'.

To kill one man is to be guilty of a capital crime, to kill ten
men is to increase the guilt ten-fold, to kill a hundred men is
to increase it a hundred-fold. This the rulers of the earth all
recognize and yet when it comes to the greatest crime—waging
war on another state—they praise it!
It is clear they do not know it is wrong, for they record
such deeds to be handed down to posterity; if they knew they
were wrong, why should they wish to record them and have
them handed down to posterity?
If a man on seeing a little black were to say it is black, but
on seeing a lot of black were to say it were white, it would be
clear that such a man could not distinguish between black and white.
Or if he were to taste a few bitter things were to pronounce
them sweet, clearly he would be incapable of distinguishing
between sweetness and bitterness. So those who recognize a
small crime as such, but do not recognize the wickedness of the
greatest crime of all—the waging of war on another state–but
actually praise it—cannot distinguish between right and wrong.
So as to right or wrong, the rulers of the world are in confusion.

Wishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons

If the fact that ghosts and spirits reward the worthy and punish the evil can be made a cornerstone of policy in the state and impressed upon the common people, it will provide a means to bring order to the state and benefit to the people.

A people only become unmanageable when one tries to lead them with a violent love…. Bit if one approaches them with trust and takes them by the hand, if one lures them forward with riches and drives them from behind with just punishment… there will not be a single one who will not adapt himself to the ruler.

The origin is the lack of mutual love… All the disorders of the world have this cause and this alone.

Universal love… means that one makes no distinction between the state of others and one’s own; none between the houses of other and one’s own; none between the other person and oneself.

Author Picture
First Name
Mozi or Mo-tze, Mocius or Mo-tzu, original name Mo Di, aka Master Mo
Birth Date
c. 470 B.C.
Death Date
c. 391 B.C.

Chinese Philosopher, founder of Mohist School, moral teachings emphasized self-reflection and authenticity rather than obedience to ritual in contrast to Confucius. He observed that we often learn about the world through adversity