Mozi - Chinese Philosopher

Mozi, which means "Master Mo", began a Chinese school of philosophy called Moism. His personal name was Di (Ti). After studying under disciples of Confucius, he broke away and founded his own school of philosophy. During the era of the Hundred Schools of Philosophy Moism was a significant challenger to both Confucianism and Daoism (Taoism).

Mozi and his disciples are the authors of a book of 71 chapters (18 are missing), the Mozi, that explain their views. They can be summarized under three categories: universal love, utilitarianism, and pacifism, or opposition to offensive warfare.

Mozi taught that heaven was an active force in human lives and would punish humans for persisting in evil. He therefore urged people to follow heaven by practicing universal love.

He said: "The way of universal love is to regard the country of others as one’s own, the family of others as one’s own, the persons of others as one’s self. When feudal lords love one another there will be no more war ... When individuals love one another there will be no more mutual injury ... When all the people of the world love one another, then the strong will not overpower the weak, the many will not oppress the few, the wealthy will not mock the poor ... the cunning will not deceive the simple."

Moists also emphasized utilitarianism, the rejection of all activities and expenses that do not contribute to the welfare of the people. Moists took strong issue with Confucians who taught the importance of all forms of ritual and music and mocked Confucian insistence that children formally mourn the death of their parents as a waste of time and resources that could be better used in feeding and caring for the living.

They also condemned Confucians as pompous elitists who would only take up government positions that suited them. They moreover taught that thought should be consistent with action, that leaders obey the will of heaven and the people obey their leaders.

The third major point of Moism concerned warfare. Mozi lived in an era when interstate wars were intensifying. He denounced aggressive warfare as the greatest crime against heaven but justified the right of self-defense. Thus Moists became experts in defensive tactics and made their help available to any state threatened by aggression.

The story goes that Mozi once walked for 10 days and nights on a peace mission, binding his sore feet but not resting. When he failed to persuade the aggressor he would hurry to warn the potential victim. Many folk tales survived of Robin Hood–like acts of Moists in the cause of justice.

Mozi and his followers were idealists and militant do-gooders. They criticized Confucians for being traditionalists and for their graded approach to relationships and responsibilities. In time Confucianism became the mainstream Chinese philosophy, while Moism was abandoned.