Mozi (c. 470-390BC) lived in China during the Hundred
Schools of Thought of the Spring
and Autumn Period (770-476BC) and the Warring
States Period. He founded the school of Mohism and argued strongly against
Confucianism and Daoism. The school did not survive the Qin
Dynasty (221-206BC), and throughout both traditional and modern Chinese eras
was viewed largely in historical terms rather than as a school of thought that
was actively being developed.
Mozi idealized the Xia
Dynasty (about 21st-16th century BC), and advocated judging ideas and
objects through the human senses, by their utility and their antiquity. Mozi
denounced offensive warfare, extravagant funerals, and music, and tried to
replace Chinese family and clan structure with the concept of "impartial caring"
or "universal love". In this, he argued directly against Confucians who had
argued that it was natural and correct for people to care about different people
in different degrees. Mozi, by contrast, argued that one should care for all
people equally, a notion that philosophers in other schools found absurd, as it
would imply no special amount of care or duty towards one's parents and family.
He favored frugality, denouncing music and ceremony as extravagant, and
advocated increasing the power of the state through early marriage and a system
of rewards and punishments.
Mozi also held a belief in the power of ghosts and spirits, although he is
often thought to have only worshipped them pragmatically. That is, he thought
that heaven, tian, should be respected because failing to do so would subject
one to punishment. In this regard, Mozi favoured a style of government which
imitated his conception of heaven.
The Mozi is the name of the philosophical text compiled by Mohists from