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The Ten Core Theses of Mohism

The Ten Core Theses of Mohism

Chapters 8-10, 芒鈧揈levating the Worthy芒鈧?(shangxian), argue that the policy of elevating worthy and capable people to office in government whatever their social origin is a fundamental principle of good governance.  The proper implementation of such a policy requires that the rulers attract the talented to service by the conferring of honor, the reward of wealth and the delegation of responsibility (and thus power). On the other hand, the rulers芒鈧劉 practice of appointing kinsmen and favorites to office without regard to their abilities is condemned.

Chapters 11-13, 芒鈧揈xalting Unity芒鈧?(shangtong), contain a state-of-nature argument on the basis of which it is concluded that a unified conception of what is morally right (yi) consistently enforced by a hierarchy of rulers and leaders is a necessary condition for social and political order. The thesis applies to the world community as a whole, conceived as a single moral-political hierarchy with the common people at the bottom, the feudal princes in the middle, and the emperor at the summit, above whom is Heaven itself.

Chapters 14-16, 芒鈧揑mpartial Concern芒鈧?(jian芒鈧劉ai), argue that the cause of the world芒鈧劉s troubles lies in people芒鈧劉s tendency to act out of a greater regard for their own welfare than that of others, and that of associates over that of strangers, with the consequence that they often have no qualms about benefiting themselves or their own associates at the expense of others. The conclusion is that people ought to be concerned for the welfare of others without making distinctions between self, associates and strangers.

Chapters 17-19, 芒鈧揂gainst Military Aggression芒鈧?(feigong), condemn military aggression as both unprofitable (even for the aggressors) and immoral. Version C introduces a distinction between justified and unjustified warfare, claiming that the former was waged by the righteous ancient sage rulers to overthrow evil tyrants.

Chapters 20-21 (22 is listed as 芒鈧搈issing芒鈧?, 芒鈧揊rugality in Expenditures芒鈧?(jieyong), argue that good governance requires thrift in the ruler芒鈧劉s expenditures. Useless luxuries are condemned. The chapters also argue for the clear priority of functionality over form in the making of various human artifacts (clothing, buildings, armor and weapons, boats and other vehicles).

Chapter 25 (23-24 are listed as 芒鈧搈issing芒鈧?, 芒鈧揊rugality in Funerals芒鈧?(jiezang), has the same theme as 芒鈧揊rugality in Expenditures,芒鈧?but applies it to the specific case of funeral rituals. The aristocratic practices of elaborate funerals and prolonged mourning are condemned as 芒鈧搉ot morally right芒鈧?(buyi) because they are not only useless to solving the world芒鈧劉s problems, but add to the people芒鈧劉s burdens.  Here, the Mohists target practices beloved by their Confucian contemporaries, for whom the maintenance of harmonious moral order in society is best accomplished through strict fidelity to ritual codes.

Chapters 26-28, 芒鈧揌eaven芒鈧劉s Will芒鈧?(Tianzhi), argue that the will of Heaven (Tian) 芒鈧€?portrayed as if it is a personal deity and providential agent who rewards the good and punishes the wicked 芒鈧€?is the criterion of what is morally right.  Here again, the Mohists contrast themselves with the Confucians, who regard Heaven as a moral but mysterious force that does not intervene directly in human affairs.

Chapter 31 (29-30 are listed as 芒鈧搈issing芒鈧?, 芒鈧揈lucidating the Spirits芒鈧?(minggui), claims that a loss of belief in the existence, power and providential character of spirits 芒鈧€?supernatural agents of Tian tasked with enforcing its sanctions 芒鈧€?has led to widespread immorality and social and political chaos. The chapter consists of an exchange with certain skeptics, whom Mozi answers with arguments purporting to prove that providential spirits exist, but also that widespread belief in their existence brings great social and political benefit.

Chapter 32 (33-34 are listed as 芒鈧搈issing芒鈧?, 芒鈧揂gainst Music芒鈧?(feiyue), condemns the musical displays of the aristocracy as immoralon the same basis according to which elaborate funerals and prolonged mourning are condemned in 芒鈧揊rugality in Funerals.芒鈧?nbsp; Just as in that chapter, here again the Mohists attack practices that are particularly dear to their Confucian rivals, who believe that music, if properly performed according to ancient canons, can play a vital role in the regulation of moral order and the cultivation of virtue.

Chapters 35-37, 芒鈧揂gainst Fatalism芒鈧?(feiming), argue against the doctrine of fatalism (the thesis that human wisdom and effort have no effect on the outcomes of human endeavor) as pernicious and harmful in that widespread belief in it will lead to indolence and chaos. The chapters also contain crucial discussions on the general conditions or criteria (traditionally called the 芒鈧揟hree Tests of Doctrine芒鈧? that must be met by any doctrine if it is to be considered sound.

 
   
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