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.
Slavery, properly so called, is the establishment of a right which gives to one man such a power over another as renders him absolute master of his life and fortune. The state of slavery is in its own nature bad. It is neither useful to the master nor to the slave; not to the slave, because he can do nothing through a motive of virtue; nor to the master, because by having an unlimited authority over his slaves he insensibly accustoms himself to the want of all moral virtues, and thence becomes fierce, hasty, severe, choleric, voluptuous, and cruel. ... where it is of the utmost importance that human nature should not be debased or dispirited, there ought to be no slavery. In democracies, where they are all upon equality; and in aristocracies, where the laws ought to use their utmost endeavors to procure as great an equality as the nature of the government will permit, slavery is contrary to the spirit of the constitution: it only contributes to give a power and luxury to the citizens which they ought not to have.
In all the wild orgy of wastefulness and luxury with which the nineteenth century reaches its close, the gilded youth has been surely the worst symptom.
But side by side with these customs, necessary to the life of societies and the preservation of the race, other desires, other passions, and therefore other habits and customs, are evolved in human association. The desire to dominate others and impose one's own will upon them; the desire to seize upon the products of the labor of a neighboring tribe; the desire to surround oneself with comforts without producing anything, while slaves provide their master with the means of procuring every sort of pleasure and luxury — these selfish, personal desires give rise to another current of habits and customs.
Negative thinking is always expensive -- dragging us down mentally, emotionally, and physically -- hence I refer to any indulgence in it as a luxury... You can't afford the luxury of a negative thought.
Wealth is the parent of luxury and indolence, and poverty of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.
I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves -- this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts -- possessions, outward success, luxury -- have always seemed to me contemptible.
It would be impossible to get through the kind of life that I have known without accumulating a vast unused stockpile of rage. Retaliation, though, was a luxury I could never afford. On the physical level I was too feeble. On any other I was not rich enough. I never dared to be rude to anyone. I never knew that I might not need him later. Long after fantasies of sexual excess had ceased to torment me, my imagination was inflamed by lurid day-dreams of having my revenge on the world.
We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life. All that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.
Yet it had been delicious to touch her grandfather's robe. It was as different from ordinary material as something sung from something spoken. In a way she liked her grandfather. Once she had seen children crawling under a circus-tent so that they could see the elephant, and she would have done that to see her grandfather; and what she like in him was the upside-downness of him, as this inverted luxury which gave him an everyday possession--for she supposed this robe was just a dressing gown--which was uniquely exquisite...
If we want to postulate a deity capable of engineering all the organized complexity in the world, either instantaneously or by guiding evolution, that deity must have been vastly complex in the first place. The creationist, whether a naive Bible-thumper or an educated bishop, simply postulates an already existing being of prodigious intelligence and complexity. If we are going to allow ourselves the luxury of postulating organized complexity without offering an explanation, we might as well make a job of it and simply postulate the existence of life as we know it!
I cannot leave it; I must stay under the old tree in the midst of the long grass, the luxury of the leaves, and the song in the very air. I seem as if I could feel all the glowing life the sunshine gives and the south wind calls to being. The endless grass, the endless leaves, the immense strength of the oak expanding, the unalloyed joy of finch and blackbird; from them all I receive a little. Each gives me something of the pure joy they gather for themselves... The exceeding beauty of the earth, in her splendor of life, yields a new thought with every petal. The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only hours when we really live... These are the only hours that are not wasted -- these hours that absorb the soul and fill it with beauty. This is real life, and all else is illusion, or mere endurance. Does this reverie of flowers and waterfall and song form an ideal, a human ideal, in the mind? It does; much the same ideal that Phidias sculptured of man and woman filled with a godlike sense of the violet fields of Greece, beautiful beyond thought, calm as my turtle-dove before the lurid lightning of the unknown. To be beautiful and to be calm, without mental fear, is the ideal of nature. If I cannot achieve it, at least I can think it.
It is written in God's word, and in all the history of the race, that nations, if they live at all, live not by felicity of position, or soil, or climate, and not by abundance of material good, but by the living word of the living God.—The commandments of God are the bread of life for the nations.
The stream of Time, which is continually washing the dissoluble fabrics of other poets, passes without injury by the adamant of Shakespeare.
You can't be in politics unless you can walk in a room and know in a minute who's for you and who's against you.
The living together for three long, rainy days in the country has done more to dispel love than all the perfidies in love that have ever been committed.
Some men, in truth, live that they may eat, as the irrational creatures, “whose life is their belly, and nothing else.” But the Instructor enjoins us to eat that we may live. For neither is food our business, nor is pleasure our aim; but both are on account of our life here, which the Word is training up to immortality. Wherefore also there is discrimination to be employed in reference to food. And it is to be simple, truly plain, suiting precisely simple and artless children—as ministering to life, not to luxury. And the life to which it conduces consists of two things—health and strength; to which plainness of fare is most suitable, being conducive both to digestion and lightness of body, from which come growth, and health, and right strength, not strength that is wrong or dangerous and wretched, as is that of athletes produced by compulsory feeding. We must therefore reject different varieties, which engender various mischiefs, such as a depraved habit of body and disorders of the stomach, the taste being vitiated by an unhappy art—that of cookery, and the useless art of making pastry. For people dare to call by the name of food their dabbling in luxuries, which glides into mischievous pleasures. Antiphanes, the Delian physician, said that this variety of viands was the one cause of disease; there being people who dislike the truth, and through various absurd notions abjure moderation of diet, and put themselves to a world of trouble to procure dainties from beyond seas.
The man of genius is he and he alone who finds such joy in his art that he will work at it come hell or high water.
There is what I call the American idea. I so name it, because it seems to me to lie at the basis of all our truly original, distinctive, and American institutions. It is itself a complex idea, composed of three subordinate and more simple ideas, namely: The idea that all men have unalienable rights; that in respect thereof, all men are created equal; and that government is to be established and sustained for the purpose of giving every man an opportunity for the enjoyment and development of all these unalienable rights. This idea demands, as the proximate organization thereof, a democracy, that is, a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people; of course, a government after the principles of eternal justice, the unchanging law of God; for shortness' sake, I will call it the idea of Freedom.
We must remember not to judge any public servant by any one act, and especially should we beware of attacking the men who are merely the occasions and not the causes of disaster.