Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

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

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

"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."

"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."

"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"

"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'."

"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."

"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."

"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.”"

"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."

"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)."

"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."

"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."

"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. "

"[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. "

"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)"

"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."

"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."

"A generous man striving forwards never loses his goal."

"A man came by Mo Tzu?s school. Mo Tzu said, ?Why not come and study?? The reply was, ?No one in my family is learned.? Mo Tzu said, ?So what? Would a lover of beauty say ?No one in my family loves it, so I will not either?? Would a man who desired wealth and honors say ?No one in my family desires them, so I will not either?? ?When it comes to a love of beauty or desire for wealth and honors, people go ahead regardless of others. And righteousness is the greatest thing in the world. So why should one follow others in doing it??"

"A person will naturally follow the right way when under good influence. Thus, capable/skillful rulers are meticulous in their selection of people, but might be less careful in attending to/presiding-over the administration. But those who are incapable/lacking skill may wear out their body and deplete their energy, tax their mind and overextend their thought, yet have their states become more vulnerable and their selves be more humiliates. It?s not like the six princes [who came under bad influences and encountered calamities] did not care about their states or lives. It?s just that they did not properly understand the importance of things. And their notion of the importance of things was distorted by their bad influences."

"All states in the world, large or small, are cities of Heaven, and all people, young or old, honourable or humble, are its subjects; for they all graze oxen and sheep, feed dogs and pigs, and prepare clean wine and cakes to sacrifice to Heaven. Does this not mean that Heaven claims all and accepts offerings from all? Since Heaven does claim all and accepts offerings from all, what then can make us say that it does not desire men to love and benefit one another? Hence those who love and benefit others Heaven will bless. Those who hate and harm others Heaven will curse, for it is said that he who murders the innocent will be visited by misfortune. How else can we explain the fact that men, murdering each other, will be cursed by Heaven? Thus we are certain that Heaven desires to have men love and benefit one another and abominates to have them hate and harm one another"

"A state may face the onslaught of the Seven Perils. What are these Seven Perils? They are: 1. The palace and its chambers undergo renovations while the four walls of a fortress and its surrounding defensive trenches can hardly withstand the attack of enemies. 2. None of your neighbors comes to the rescue while enemies invade your territory. 3. Valuable human resources are used on useless projects and unworthy people are rewarded. 4. The officials are only concerned about protecting their jobs and income; scholars without posts are only concerned about establishing circles of influences. Meanwhile, a ruler amends laws to deter his ministers from voicing their opinions. 5. The ruler overestimates his own cleverness and fails to question the progress of administrative affairs. He takes no precautions because he assumes everything is in order. 6. Trusted ministers betray his trust while loyal ministers are cast aside. 7. Reserves and food crops are insufficient to feed the people, and ministers are incapable of shouldering government responsibilities. Rewards cannot make the people happy and punishments cannot keep them in awe. If a government runs into these Seven Perils, the state will certainly meet its demise. If a fortress runs into these Seven Perils, the city within the four walls will certainly fall into the hands of the enemy. Wherever these Seven Perils dwell there will be disasters."

"As he was talking to Ch?eng Tzu, Mo Tzu cited Confucius. Ch?eng Tzu remarked, ?You condemn Confucianism?so why did you just cite Confucius??"

"Fruit thieves are condemned by the people and punished by the government. Why? Because they act un-benevolently and harm others for their own benefit. Pig, chicken, and dog thieves are considered are considered even more unrighteous. Why? Because they act even more un-benevolently and do even more harm to others. Horse and cow thieves are considered even more unrighteous. Why? Because they act even more un-benevolently and do even more harm to others. Murderers who rob their victims are considered even more unrighteous. Why? Because they act even more un-benevolently and do even more harm to others. The world?s gentlemen know enough to condemn such acts and label them as unrighteous. Yet, when it comes to the more serious transgression of offensive warfare against other states, people do not know enough to condemn such an act. In fact, they praise it and call it righteous? Suppose someone called a little bit of black ?black,? and a lot of black ?white.? We would conclude that he did not properly differentiate between white and black. Suppose someone called a little bit of bitter, and a lot of bitter sweet. We would conclude that he did not properly differentiate between sweet and bitter. Yet when an atrocity is committed and a state is attacked, people do not know enough to condemn it. Instead, they praise it."

"Honoring the worthy is the basis of good government."

"He who obeys the will of Heaven, loving all men universally and working for their benefit, will surely win reward."

"I have said previously that it is the business of the benevolent man to try to promote what is beneficial to the world and to eliminate what is harmful. Now I have demonstrated that universality is the source of all the great benefits in the world and partiality is the source of all the great harm."

"If everyone in the world will love universally; states not attacking one another; houses not disturbing one another; thieves and robbers becoming extinct; emperor and ministers, fathers and sons, all being affectionate and filial -- if all this comes to pass the world will be orderly. Therefore, how can the wise man who has charge of governing the empire fail to restrain hate and encourage love? So, when there is universal love in the world it will be orderly, and when there is mutual hate in the world it will be disorderly."

"If I do what Heaven desires, then Heaven will do what I desire."

"If a ruler wanted to kill his cow or sheep but was unable to do it, he would most certainly find a skillful butcher; and if he wanted a piece of clothing but was unable to make it, he would most certainly find a skilful tailor. For these tasks, a ruler would not employ relatives, low-merit wealthy men, or the good-looking, if he clearly knows they are incapable? And if a ruler had an ill horse but was unable to cure it, he would most certainly find an experienced veterinarian; or if he had a tight bow he was unable to draw, he would most certainly find a skillful workman. For these, a ruler would not employ relatives, low-merit wealthy men, or the good-looking, if he clearly knows they were incapable? But when it comes to matters pertaining to the state, everything changes. The ruler?s relatives, low-merit wealthy men, and the good-looking are all promoted."

"If people regarded other people?s states as in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own state to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself."

"If one does not preserve the learned in a state he will be injuring the state; if one is not zealous (to recommend) the virtuous upon seeing one, he will be neglecting the ruler. Enthusiasm is to be shown only to the virtuous, and plans for the country are only to be shared with the learned. Few are those, who, neglecting the virtuous and slighting the learned, could still maintain the existence of their countries."

"If there is no mutual love between people, a mutual hatred will arise."

"If we could only make all the people in the world believe that the ghosts and spirits have the power to reward the worthy and punish the wicked, then how could there be any disorder in the world?"

"If the rulers sincerely desire the empire to be wealthy and dislike to have it poor, desire to have it orderly and dislike to have it chaotic, they should bring about universal love and mutual aid. This is the way of the sage-kings and the way to order for the world, and it should not be neglected."

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

"It is things such as great states attacking small states, great families wreaking havoc on lesser families, the strong robbing the weak the many doing violence to the few, the clever deceiving the ignorant, and the noble acting arrogantly towards the humble."

"Mind is understanding of the essence of things."

"If we should classify one by one all those who hate others and injure others, should we find them to be universal in love or partial? Of course we should say they are partial. Now, since partiality against one another is the cause of the major calamities in the empire, then partiality is wrong."

"Mo Tzu said to Lo Hua Li, ?I have heard you are brave [or: admire bravery].? The latter said, ?Yes. When I hear there is a brave man somewhere, I always go and kill him.? Mo Tzu said, ?The entire world promotes what it likes and destroys what it hates; but when you hear of a brave man somewhere, you must go and kill him. This is not admiration for bravery, but hate of it.?"

"Kung Meng Tzu said, ?You believe a three-year mourning is wrong?so your three-day mourning is also wrong.? Mo Tzu said, ?You support three-year mourning and condemn three-day mourning. This is like a naked person condemning the person who lifts up his garment as indecent."

"Mo Tzu was mad at [his disciple] Keng Chu Tzu. Keng Chu Tzu said, ?Aren?t I better than others?? Mo Tzu said, ?Imagine I am going to T?ai Hang [Mountain], and a horse or ox will pull my cart?which one would you urge?? Keng Shu Tzu said, ?I would urge the horse.? Mo Tzu asked, ?And why would you urge the horse?? Keng Chu Tzu said, ?Because the horse is [more] capable.? Mo Tzu said, ?I also think you are [more] capable.?"

"Mo Tzu said, ?This has to do with what is right and cannot be altered. A bird will fly high after becoming aware there is danger of heat and drought, and a fish will swim low after becoming aware there is danger of heat and drought. In such circumstances, even Yu and T?ang?s judgment would follow. Should I never cite Confucius??"

"Now Heaven desires life and hates death, desires wealth and hates poverty, desires order and hates disorder. So I know that Heaven desires righteousness and hates unrighteousness."

"Mo Tzu?s follower Meng Shan, praising Prince Tzu Lu, said, ?Formerly, during Po Kung?s revolt, Prince Tzu Lu was held captive. Axes were at his waist, and spears pointed towards his heart. Po Kung told him, ?Be Lord and live, or refuse and die.? Prince Tzu Lu said, ?That is an insult to me! You killed my parents, and are now trying to bait me with Ch?u State. If not righteous to do so, I would not even accept the entire Empire, let alone Ch?u State.? And so, he refused [and was executed]. Wasn?t Prince Tzu Lu magnanimous?? Mo Tzu said, ?His decision was by all means difficult, but not so much magnanimous. If he felt that the Lord had gone astray from the Way, shouldn?t he have taken the position and run the government? If he felt Po Kung was unrighteous, shouldn?t he have accepted the Lordship, executed Po Kung, and then the Lordship to the Lord? Thus I say that his decision was by all means difficult, but not so much magnanimous.?"

"Now, as to universal love and mutual aid, they are beneficial and easy beyond a doubt. It seems to me that the only trouble is that there is no superior who encourages it. If there is a superior who encourages it, promoting it with rewards and commendations, threatening its reverse with punishments, I feel people will tend toward universal love and mutual aid like fire tending upward and water downwards ? it will be unpreventable in the world."

"One of the cause of distress to a state is when those who are trusted are not loyal, and those who are loyal are not trusted."