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What is Mohism?

What is Mohism?

🕔28.Dec 2014

I have been reading a bit about Mohism and its founder Mozi. At first, there were many aspects of Mohism that I found to be positive. After reading about it more in depth, there are some aspects I disagree with. Mohism is a Chinese philosophy developed around 2,500 years ago. Mohism has many aspects to it, I will briefly cover the basics. Like I said, I agree with some aspects and disagree with others. It boils down to I find it interesting at best, especially since it was a controversial philosophy for its time period.

MoziTo start off, Mozi, a Chinese philosopher alive around 400 B.C., was quite a clever man who thought outside of the box. He started off in a lower-middle class and worked his way up to be an influential philosopher and promoter of peace. Texts from the time talk about how he poured his life into being compassionate and that he worked for the good of all people. He would travel from warring state to state in order to try and promote peace. His beliefs were later turned into the belief system of Mohism.

Mohism focuses on “impartial care”. Basically the belief is that an individual should show compassion equally to everyone. From your family to a stranger on the street, an individual should show equal compassion to everyone. This disagrees with competing philosophies at the time such as Confucianism where an individual was to show more compassion to those close to them. Mozi thought that there was not a lack of compassion in the world, rather he thought that compassion was not impartial enough.

Mozi and his followers disagreed with the fatalistic mindset of people, or the belief in fate. It was thought that consequences were a result of actions and not just a supernatural force. I think this a great belief to have, especially in a time period such as this, where fate was widely accepted. I think that people can make conscious decisions and are not bound by what fate dictates. Every action has a reaction.

Another aspect of Mohism is that governmental positions and responsibilities should not be given to relatives of rulers. A society functions best when those best suited for a position get the position, rather than a relative of a ruler who is incapable of holding a position. It was thought that a society would be destroyed if a ruler appointed untalented people to positions. This aspect of Mohism really is common sense to me. That is why it is much less common today to see governments appointing relatives to important positions.

Mohism did believe in supernatural forces. A divine force, Tian, was basically thought of as spirits that knew of sins and therefore would punish those responsible. While this encouraged morality, I find very little evidence for it and therefore is one of the aspects I disagree with. Mohists thinkers of the time tended to be wary of atheistic thinkers.
One last aspect of Mohism I want to touch on is the Mohist view of society. Mozi thought that when a society functioned together, waste and inefficiencies could be reduced. When everyone acts on their interests, conflicts arise. I find this an interesting point because it is basically saying that to function best, society must be a community. I think that many of the world’s problems could be solved today by having a stronger community. Problems could be solved much quicker and more efficiently by working together.

While there are good points of Mohist teachings, there are also a few problematic thinking errors to me. One of the best aspects I find in Mohism is the belief in society working together. Like I said, great things could be accomplished today still if society worked together instead of in competition. Countries, corporations, and even individuals would all be better off trying to better each other rather than competing. What do you all think? Leave a comment below on your opinion and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

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