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The Mozi as an Evolving Text

The titles published in this series are listed at brill.com/hct


Studies in the
History of Chinese Texts
Edited by
Martin Kern, Princeton University
Robert E. Hegel, Washington University, St. Louis
Ding Xiang Warner, Cornell University
VOLUME 4
The Mozi as an Evolving Text
Different Voices in Early Chinese Thought
Edited by
Carine Defoort and Nicolas Standaert
LEIDENBOSTON
2013
Cover illustration: The Chinese text on the cover is from Tang Yaochen (16th century),
Mozi , Ming woodblock edition from 1553 repr. in Mozi daquan , eds. Ren Jiyu
and Li Guangxing , Beijing: Beijing tushuguan chubanshe, 2004, vol. 3, 131.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The Mozi as an evolving text : different voices in early Chinese thought / edited by Carine Defoort
and Nicolas Standaert.
pages cm. (Studies in the history of Chinese texts ; volume 4)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-90-04-23434-5 (hardback : alk. paper) ISBN 978-90-04-24620-1 (e-book) 1. Mo, Di,
fl. 400 B.C. Mozi. I. Defoort, Carine, 1961 author, editor of compilation. II. Standaert, N., author,
editor of compilation.
B128.M8M627 2013
181.115dc23
2013000783
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ISSN 1877-9425
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Dedicated to Watanabe Takashi, Angus Graham, and Roman Malek,
inspiring Mozi scholars
CONTENTS
Introduction: Different Voices in the Mozi: Studies of an
Evolving Text .............................................................................................. 1
Carine Defoort and Nicolas Standaert
1. Are the Three Jian Ai Chapters about Universal Love? ............. 35
Carine Defoort
2. How to End Wars with Words: Three Argumentative Strategies
by Mozi and His Followers..................................................................... 69
Paul van Els
3. Mozi 31: Explaining Ghosts, Again ....................................................... 95
Roel Sterckx
4. Mozis Remaking of Ancient Authority .............................................. 143
Miranda Brown
5. The Ethics of the Mohist Dialogues .................................................... 175
Chris Fraser
6. From Elevate the Worthy to Intimacy with Officers in
the Mozi ....................................................................................................... 205
Hui-chieh Loy
7. Heaven as a Standard .............................................................................. 237
Nicolas Standaert
Bibliography ..................................................................................................... 271
References to the Mozi .................................................................................. 281
Subject Index .................................................................................................... 287
INTRODUCTION: DIFFERENT VOICES IN THE MOZI:
STUDIES OF AN EVOLVING TEXT
Carine Defoort and Nicolas Standaert
: , ,
, , ,
.
Master Mozi said: Since I was not alive when the
[sages] lived, I have not personally heard their voices
or seen their faces. It is because of what they wrote on
bamboo and silk, carved in metal and stone, engraved
on plates and bowls, and passed on to their descen-
dants, that I know it.
Mozi 16: 28/2929/1
Mo Di (ca. 479381 BCE) claims to know that the ancient sages were
caring and compassionate even though he has not personally heard their
voices or seen their faces. Fortunately for him, their writings were pre-
served on bamboo and silk, metal and stone, or plates and bowls. So he
could use their authority to promote his own novel ideas among the ruling
elite of his day. He himself, however, was not so lucky: the book named
after him was not carved in metal or stone, and it fared less well than the
sages writings. The Mozi , a book of seventy-one units,1 was seriously
neglected in the course of Chinese history partly due to its perceived low
literary value and uninteresting content. This agelong neglect has caused
such serious textual corruption and interpretive difficulties that even con-
temporary scholars are often reluctant to tackle this text. Nevertheless,
the authors of the current volume have chosen this voluminous source of
Mohist thoughtor, at least, its best-preserved partsas their topic.
Written over a period of some two hundred years (roughly in the fourth
and third centuries BCE) and possibly put into its current shape during
the Han dynasty, the Mozi appears to have been largely forgotten until its
1Only fifty-three pian (units, chapters) are extant. But the fact that a Mozi version in
seventy-one pian was listed in Hanshu 30.1738, has led to the belief that it originally had
seventy-one chapters. For the textual history of the text, see Maeder, Some Observations
on the Composition of the Core Chapters of the Mozi, 2934.
2 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
inclusion in the Daozang (Daoist canon) published in 1447.2 Despite
some emerging attention from the Ming dynasty onward, serious interest
in Mozi began only with the textual studies of the Qing dynastymore
specifically, those studies conducted by scholars such as Bi Yuan
(17301797), Wang Niansun (17441832), Wang Yinzhi
(17661834), Yu Yue (18211907), and Sun Yirang (1848
1908).3 Missionary interest emerged with James Legge (1861) and Ernst
Faber (1877)4 in the nineteenth century and was followed in the twentieth
and twenty-first centuries by Japanese,5 Chinese, and Western scholarship
and translation. The first Western translation, almost complete, was in
German, by Alfred Forke (1922).6 Important partial English translations
were made by Mei Yi-pao (1929),7 Burton Watson (1963),8 Angus
C. Graham (1978),9 and Philip Ivanhoe and Bryan Van Norden;10 most
recently, a complete translation by Ian Johnston (2010) has appeared.11
Even though the Mozi is still not a hot topic in academic research, there
has been an increasing interest during the last decades: there have been
studies on Mohist thought or philosophy, on the social and geographi-
2In this edition, which forms the basis of the presently transmitted version, eighteen
out of the seventy-one chapters were already missing. For the four earliest extant Ming
editions and their supposed Song source, see Durrant, An Examination of Textual and
Grammatical Problems in Mo Tzu, 6368.
3For an overview of Mohist studies, see Zheng Jiewen, Ershi shiji Moxue yanjiushi. This
study does not mention any Japanese or Western Mozi research. Li Quanxing, Ershi shiji
Mozi yanjiu lunzhu suoyin 20 also includes Japanese scholarship. For a brief overview of
different and more recent trends in Chinese Mozi research, see the preface to Defoort, Mo
Zi Research in the Peoples Republic of China.
4See Faber, Die Grundgedanken des alten chinesischen Socialismus. Legge translates
Mozis universal love writings and discusses their connection to Yang Zhu and Mencius
in his The Chinese Classics, vol. 2, 103126.
5See Hashimoto Sumiya, Riben de Mozi yanjiu gaiguan; Tan Jiajian, Mozi yanjiu,
appendix 3, 623644.
6See Forke, M Ti. Forkes translation of the Defense Chapters is rather a paraphrase.
For more on Forkes study and translation, see Maeder, Some Observations on the Com-
position of the Core Chapters of the Mozi, 3537.
7See Mei, The Ethical and Political Works of Motse. It was republished with the Chinese
original and a modern Chinese translation added under the title The Works of Motze. It
contains a complete translation of the Opening Chapters, Core Chapters, and Dialogues.
8See Watson, Mo-tzu, Basic Writings.
9For a study and translation of the Dialectical (or Logical) Chapters (4045) of the
Mozi, see Graham, Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science.
10Ivanhoe and Van Norden, Readings, 55109, is a partial translation of the Core
Chapters.
11See Johnston, The Mozi. For a longer list of Chinese and Western translations of
the Mozi, see ibid., lxxviiilxxxi. Johnston is preparing a new translation for the Penguin
series.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 3
cal provenance of Mo Di and his followers, on the nature and history of
the Mohist school or lineage (mojia ), on its division and perceived
demise by the end of the Warring States, on its contemporary relevance
for and influence (or lack thereof) on Chinese culture, and so forth. Some
research more narrowly concerns the book Mozi, asking questions about
its composition, history, textual corruption and reconstruction. The pres-
ent volume feeds into this last domain by focusing on the three most read-
able parts of the Mozi, namely the Opening Chapters (chapters 17), the
Core Chapters (chapters 837), and the Dialogues (chapters 4649/50).
With their focus on moral, political, and social matters, these three parts
are distinguished from two other parts that are generally identified as
being of a more technical nature: the Dialectical Chapters or Mohist
canon (4045)12 and the Defense or Military Chapters (5271).13
These two somewhat later parts are not discussed in this volume because
they are different in style, very technical in content, and bedeviled by tex-
tual corruption.14
Versions of the essays collected in this volume were originally presented
during workshops and seminars at the University of Leuven (Belgium),
where the Mozi has been a research topic for a decade. The discussions
and reflections during these scholarly meetings shaped the topic of the
current volume and, more specifically, its background hypothesis: despite
variations in content and approach, all contributors share an awareness
of the differences that can be found in the book Mozi, not only between
its major parts but also within the parts, the chapters, and the fragments.
Therefore, generalizing statements about the Mohists or Mohist thought
in general will often make way for the possibility of different voices in the
text and for more specific questions about evolutions or tensions within
the three parts of the Mozi identified above. It is not our intention to deny
12The Western opus magnum about the Dialectical Chapters is Graham, Later Mohist
Logic, Ethics, and Science. Although impressive in its achievement, this book is not always
very easy to consult. For a criticism of Graham, see Geaney, A Critique of A.C. Grahams
Reconstruction of the Neo-Mohist Canons. See also Johnston, Choosing the Greater and
Choosing the Lesser; and Johnston, The Mozi, 372373.
13Robin Yatess dissertation is probably the most complete source on these chapters:
The City under Siege: Technology and Organization as Seen in the Reconstructed Text
of the Military Chapters of the Mo Tzu (Harvard University, 1980). See also Yates, The
Mohists on Warfare; and Johnston, The Mozi, 732733.
14These two parts are tentatively dated around the late fourth and third centuries BCE.
See Graham, Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science, 337338; Johnston, The Mozi, xxxii
xxxiii; Fraser, Mohism, see Supplement to Mohism: Text and Authorship.
4 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
the often noticed and claimed unity of Mohist thought, but rather to com-
plement this generalizing reading with a more detailed account.
This interest in differences within the Mozi has, in turn, shaped three
basic methodological assumptions that are shared by the editors of this
volume and have to some extent influenced the contributions. First, we
keep a firm focus on the text rather than its context. To put it bluntly:
we think not so much of a master with disciples and opponents bringing
about a text, but rather of a text describing (and thereby creating) a mas-
ter, disciples, and opponents. When detecting information in the written
source about the lives, status, or provenance of its authors or its audience,
we refrain from making strong inferences about their historical existence.
Only when specific issues posed by matters of style, content, rhetoric, or
grammar make these matters relevant for our purposes do we occasion-
ally reflect on them. A second idea is that we attribute the differences in
the Core Chapters (and some other chapters) mainly to an evolution over
time and not to rivalry between opposing Mohist sects. We therefore offer
some suggestions about the chronological arrangement of several Core
Chapters. Our last leading thought concerns the titles of the Core Chap-
ters, which may have been added at a relatively late stage. We believe that
these titles may reflect the shape into which Mohism had evolved by the
end of the Warring States period. And we are convinced that they have
to a considerable degree influenced interpretations of early Mohism until
today. For a fresh interpretation of the text, it may be fruitful to read the
chapters while temporarily ignoring their titles.
Before presenting the various contributions of this volume, we briefly
outline these three guiding ideas that, for want of a better phrase, we call
basic assumptions.
First Basic Assumption: Focus on the Text
The received Mozi consists of 71 numbered units, conventionally called
chapters (or books, pian ), which were transmitted on fifteen rolls
( juan ). The label early Mozi usually refers to the Core Chapters
(837), which are believed to date from the early fourth until the early
third century BCE and to contain the original ideas of Master Mo and
his followers.15 They are often framed as Master Mozis responses to sup-
15Graham believed that they go back to the beginnings of the school and are not later
than 350 BCE. A. Taeko Brooks ranges the Core Chapters from ca. 390 to ca. 273 BCE.
Watanabe Takashi postulates a much longer time span for the evolution of the Core Chap-
introduction: different voices in the mozi 5
posed objections of opponents. Although only 23 out of these 30 chapters
are extant, the short description of a 71-pian Mozi preserved in the Book
of Han suggests that by the Han the core of Mozi had already assumed
its current shape, consisting of ten sets of three chapters each. Conse-
quently, these chapters have often been called Triplets or Triads. The
three chapters in each triplet carry the same title, and the ten titles are
believed to reflect the ten dogmas or theses of early Mohism.16 Even
though there has been disagreement about the translation of these titles
(some are discussed in the contributions to this volume), the general con-
tent of the core ideas is relatively clearly reflected by them.17 Throughout
this volume, we normally transliterate and translate the titles of the Trip-
lets as follows: Shang xian (Elevate the Worthy; chapters 810),
Shang tong (Conform Upward; 1113), Jian ai (Inclusive
Care; 1416), Fei gong (Against Military Aggression; 1719), Jie
yong (Moderation in Expenses; 20, 21, with 22 missing), Jie zang
(Moderation in Burials; 25, with 23 and 24 missing), Tian zhi
(Will of Heaven; 2628), Ming gui (Explaining Ghosts; 31, with 29
and 30 missing), Fei yue (Against Music; 32, with 33 and 34 miss-
ing), and Fei ming (Against Fatalism; 3537). The three chapters
within each triplet are distinguished as, respectively, shang (Upper),
zhong (Middle), and xia (Lower). Fei Ru (Against the Ru;
39, with 38 missing) is sometimes called a duplet or diad because it
was registered as two chapters and not as a triplet or triad. The status
of the sole extant Fei Ru as a Core Chapter is questionable, even though
its title and position in the corpus both suggest that it could be consid-
ered the eleventh dogma, containing Mohist criticism of the Ru
(the classicists, erudites, Confucians). Not only its exceptionally polemic
tone but also its composition, content, and grammar suggest that this
duplet postdates the Core Chapters and fits better with the Dialogues.18
ters, from the early fourth century to the end of the third century BCE. For more informa-
tion on these views, see below.
16Hanshu 30.1738. For more details on the textual history of the Mozi, see Maeder,
Some Observations on the Composition of the Core Chapters of the Mozi, 2934; and
Graham, Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science, 65.
17For a brief discussion of the Core Chapters and a summary of the discussions about
their titles, see Johnston, The Mozi, xxxivlxvi. We discuss the titles in more detail
below.
18For these and other reasons to exclude Fei Ru from the Core Chapters, see below
and Desmet, All Good Things Come in Threes, 224243; A. Taeko Brooks, The Mician
Ethical Chapters, 105106; and Ding Sixin, A Study on the Dating of the Mo Zi Dialogues
and the Mohist View of Ghosts and Spirits, 5152.
6 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
The Dialogues (4649/51) consist of anecdotes, sayings, and conversa-
tions between Mozi and his disciples or opponents. Slightly postdating or
perhaps partly overlapping with the Core Chapters, they are tentatively
attributed to the masters first generation of disciples and dated to the
middle of the fourth century BCE.19 Like the Core Chapters, they discuss
a mixture of moral, social, and political matters, but stylistically they
are framed as actual dialogues between Master Mozi and historical per-
sons. To have such a collection of sayings and wise responses of a master
postdating the relatively structured essays of the Core Chapters seems
to reverse the chronological evolution recognized in early Chinese texts.
The oldest-known texts are often a collation of rather fragmentary nota-
tions, such as wise enunciations of or (staged) dialogues with a master,
while somewhat structured statements resembling essays postdate them.20
Indeed, these Dialogue chapters have been called the Mohist Analects
and were perhaps modelled on the Lunyu .21 The first chapter, Geng
Zhu (Geng Zhu; 46), is named after a disciple of Mozi; Gui yi
(Valuing Morality; 47) mostly contains sayings attributed to Master
Mo; Gongmeng (Gongmeng; 48) is named after a Ru who opposes
Mohist views; and Lu wen (Lus Questions; 49) is a record of con-
versations with the ruler of Lu. Unlike these four chapters, Gongshu
(Gongshu Pan ; 50) is a long narrative about Mozi convincing the
king of Chu to call off an attack on Song. It is not always counted among
the Dialogues because of this stylistic difference as well as its military con-
tent, which is more in line with the Defense chapters (5271) immediately
following the Dialogues in the received Mozi. Since the content and the
title of chapter 51 are lost, we cannot determine its nature.
The last group of chapters that we discuss are the seven short mis-
cellaneous essays at the beginning of the book, which we call Opening
Chapters. They have also been labeled appendices, digests, epitomes,
19See Fraser, Mohism, see Supplement to Mohism: Text and Authorship. Ding Sixin,
A Study on the Dating of the Mo Zi Dialogues and the Mohist View of Ghosts and Spirits,
73 dates some of them in the Qin and Han dynasties.
20See, e.g., Fu Sinian, Zhanguo wenji zhong zhi pianshi shutiyige duan ji, 1721; and
Boltz, The Composite Nature of Early Chinese Texts.
21Some scholars believe that the Dialogues predate the Core Chapters and portray the
historical Mo Di in interaction with his actual disciples and rivals. For a recent recapitu-
lation of the arguments, see Zheng Jiewen, Zhongguo Mo xue tongshi, 4, 46. For an early
refutation of this view, see Durrant, A Consideration of Differences in the Grammar of the
Mo Tzu Essays and Dialogues, 255256; and, more recently, Ding Sixin, A Study on the
Dating of the Mo Zi Dialogues and the Mohist View of Ghosts and Spirits, 57, 73.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 7
or summaries.22 They contain a variety of topics, some in line with the
Core Chapters and others remarkably Ru in content. Their authenticity,
affiliation, and textual history have been a topic of debate. Chris Fraser
considers them probably the latest part of the corpus, and Taeko Brooks
tentatively dates them, in reverse order, from 270 to 250 BCE. She calls
them singlets, as distinguished from the triplets and duplet presented
above.23 Various scholars consider the first three Opening Chapters spuri-
ous and un-Mohist: these are Qin shi (Intimacy with Officers; 1), Xiu
shen (Cultivating the Self; 2), and Suo ran (What Has Been
Dyed; 3). Others believe that the last four chapters consist of fragments of
otherwise lost material: Fa yi (Standards and Norms; 4), Qi huan
(Seven Misfortunes; 5), Ci guo (Eschewing Faults; 6), and
San bian (Three Arguments; 7).24 The Opening Chapters belong to
the better-preserved and nontechnical parts of the Mozi, those that that
we discuss in this volume.
This volume certainly does not aim at providing a complete study of all
chapters included in these three parts but rather takes the Core Chapters,
Dialogues, and Opening Chapters as the scope in which all the contri-
butions fall. Following the chronological order that we attribute to the
chapters, the volume begins with three studies that focus on the Core
Chapters: one on the Jian ai triplet, by Carine Defoort; one on the Fei
gong triplet, by Paul van Els; and one on the sole remaining chapter of
the Ming gui triplet, by Roel Sterckx. The contribution on the author-
ity of the ancient sages by Miranda Brown mostly concerns all three
parts of the Mozi. The next study, by Chris Fraser, mainly discusses the
Dialogues. And the last two contributions, by Hui-chieh Loy and Nicolas
Standaert, each start from one Opening Chapter, namely Qin shi and
Fa yi, respectively.
Our focus on the book Mozi rather than on the reality hidden behind
it is not meant to deny that the parts, chapters, fragments, or paragraphs
22These labels are used by many scholars, such as Mei, Durrant, Graham, Maeder,
Lowe, and Johnston.
23Fraser, Mohism, see Supplement to Mohism: Text and Authorship; Brooks, The
Mician Ethical Chapters, 107, 117. There is a consensus on the relative lateness of the first
seven chapters. See, e.g., Wu Yujiang et al., Mozi gepian zhen wei kao, 10251026; and
Johnston, The Mozi, xxxii.
24Mei, The Works of Motze, 2, notes that the first three chapters are judged to be spuri-
ous almost unanimously by competent textual critics. Hu Shi, Zhongguo zhexueshi dagang,
133, believes that the seven Opening Chapters are all later forgeries: the first three are not
Mohist at all; the last four are constructed out of lost Mohist fragments. For an overview of
various Chinese views about these chapters, see Yang Yi, Mozi huanyuan, 1923, 21112.
8 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
have been written down by and for actual persons. But in the case of
the Mozi much has been said and little can be ascertained about these
Mohists.25 That is one reason why we refrain from speculating on the
historical identity of the persons behind the text, whether the authors/
editors or the audience. As for the authors/editors, we alternately ascribe
the views expressed in these chapters to Mozi (the master after whom
the book is named), the author(s) of this chapter, or sometimes the
Mohist(s). We thereby do not insist on the strong authorship of any of
these persons. On the contrary, like many other early Chinese sources,
the various chapters may well have been collected and (re)edited at vari-
ous times on the basis of older fragments circulating among a group of
like-minded people. The authors we have in mind are those scholar-
editors, or bricoleurs, who,26 for their own reasons, gave these various
chapters their current composite structure.27 Mozi himself was, of course,
not that author, but rather the authority to whom the writers referred.
In that sense, our Master Mozi was to some extent a creation
of the book to which he was expected to lend legitimation and inspira-
tion. Even though the text presents itself as created by persons (a master
and his disciples), these persons were also created by the text. As Mark
Lewis has argued, the text, the master, and the disciples were inextricably
bound together. Without the text there was no master and no disciples
(beyond the lives of the individuals involved); without the master there
was no authoritative text or transmitters of the text; without the disciples
the text was not written or transmitted.28 Besides this crucial triangle
of text-master-disciples, the audience was also both the cause and the
result of the book.

We tend to agree with Dan Robins that the opponents
staged in the Mozi defended customs and established privileges of the
25For a summary of reflections on the identity of Mo Di and his followers, see John-
ston, The Mozi, xviiixxv. For a careful attempt to distinguish between the Mohists as a
social group, Mohism as an intellectual orientation, and Mohist-inspired thinking, see
Brindley, The Perspicuity of Ghosts and Spirits and the Problem of Intellectual Affilia-
tions in Early China, 230234.
26For scholar-editor, see Boltz, The Composite Nature of Early Chinese Texts, 59; for
bricoleur, see Maeder, Some Observations on the Composition of the Core Chapters of
the Mozi, 8182. Judging from their novel ideas and relatively exclusive selection of tex-
tual fragments, the earliest Mozi authors/editors probably belonged to a relatively closed
group, the latest perhaps dating from the Han dynasty.
27For the composite structure of early Chinese texts as opposed to individual author-
ship of integral, structurally homogeneous texts, see Boltz, The Composite Nature of Early
Chinese Texts, 7071; and Maeder, Some Observations on the Composition of the Core
Chapters of the Mozi, 28, 82.
28Lewis, Writing and Authority, 58.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 9
ruling elite rather than theories of particular philosophical lineages or
schools.29 We also agree with him, against the conventional interpreta-
tion, that the opponents in the Mozi do not coincide with the Ru, who
are seldom mentioned in the book and never in the Core Chapters.30 The
opponentsanonymously staged in the Core Chapters and presented as
specific individuals in the Dialoguesplay an important role in bringing
up objections that are, of course, all convincingly refuted by the master.
Even though in these two parts of the Mozi the setting still exudes the
masters authority, this is gradually taken over by the increasingly subtle
argumentation that one would expect in a philosophical essay. This evo-
lution of increasing opposition and refutation can be perceived in these
chapters and will be discussed further on.
Second Basic Assumption: Evolution in the Core Chapters
Most studies of Mohist thought tend to consider the Core Chapters as
representative of Master Mos original ideas. They attribute to each trip-
let one consistent vision, such as the promotion of universal love or the
rejection of aggressive warfare, and therefore quote from any of the three
chapters to illustrate the relevant thesis or dogma.31 But those who focus
on the book Mozi have long been fascinated by the threefold structure
of the Core Chapters. Qing scholars started searching for explanations of
the differences within the Triplets: did the Upper (shang), Middle (zhong),
and Lower (xia) chapters represent three sets of lecture notes, different
branches within Mohism, or stages in its evolution? Yu Yue , Luan
Tiaofu , Fang Shouchu , Alfred Forke, Watanabe Takashi
, Stephen Durrant, Angus Graham, Taeko Brooks, Chris Fraser,
and Karen Desmet, among others, have identified consistent differences
among the Triplets on the basis of such things as particle use, vocabulary,
compounds, fixed formulas, rhetoric, style, references to authority, use of
29See Robins, The Moists and the Gentlemen of the World, 388389. If anything, the
Mohist insistence on using good reasons and objective criteria must have initiated the
(philosophical) debate rather than joined it.
30See ibid., 386. The Ru are explicitly attacked in Fei Ru (chapter 39) and to a lesser
extent in Gong Meng (chapter 48). Otherwise, they are not explicitly mentioned in the
Mozi.
31Zheng Jiewen considers the Core Chapters more mature and later than the Dia-
logues, and traces an evolution between the ten Triplets, but he never mentions any evo-
lution or difference within the triplets, nor does any Chinese author that he discusses in his
overview of Mozi research. See Zheng Jiewen, Zhongguo Mo xue tongshi, 124.
10 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
logic, and the intellectual, political, social, or technological content.32 The
following overview outlines the three steps in this debate that have most
guided our own reflections: the three-sects theory as presented by A. C.
Graham, the sequence theory as presented by Taeko Brooks, and the
alternative evolution theory defended long ago by Watanabe Takashi.33
The Three-Sects Theory
Inspired by Stephen Durrants study of the Mozi,34 A. C. Graham appor-
tioned each triplet (or triad) among three rival sects or factions, which he
labeled Purist, Compromising, and Reactionary. To reach this conclu-
sion, he first distinguished grammatical features and vocabulary in the
different chapters and then went on to look for differences in content. He
thus began by dividing most chapters into three groups, named Y, H, and
J after a special grammatical feature: the Y chapters cite Mozi after the
opening sentence with the formula zi Mozi yan yue instead
of (therefore called Y[an] chapters); the H chapters replace the
postverbal particle yu by hu when possible (therefore called H[u]
chapters); and the J chapters use the particle ran ( jan in Wade-Giles
transcription; therefore called J chapters) after citing an ancient source.
On the basis of their content, Graham argued that these chapter groups
were written by three competing sects into which Mohism is said to
have divided according to Han Feizi Xian xue (Eminent Learning]
chapter 50) and Zhuangzi Tianxia (The World; chapter 33): the
Y group was seen as defending the purest and most radical Mohist doc-
trine and as residing in the northern part of the realm; the H group, also
from the north, was somewhat more accommodating to political reali-
ties; and the J group, in the south, was the most accommodating to poli-
tics and therefore farthest removed from the original doctrine.35 Graham
32For an overview of various theories concerning the threefold nature of the Core
Chapters, see Durrant, A Consideration of Differences in the Grammar of the Mo Tzu
Essays and Dialogues, 253255; Yang Yi, Mozi huanyuan, 213215.
33These three are not the first nor the only scholars presenting such theories on Mozi,
but they represent three steps in our initial acquaintance with the debate. Other scholars,
mainly Chinese and Japanese, are mentioned in the notes. We refer to Karen Desmet, All
Good Things Come in Threes, 1771 for a fuller overview of the topic.
34See Durrant, An Examination of Textual and Grammatical Problems in Mo Tzu;
and Durrant, A Consideration of Differences in the Grammar of the Mo Tzu Essays and
Dialogues. The three-sects theory was first suggested by Yu Yue in his preface (Yu xu
) to Sun Yirangs Mozi jiangu.
35Graham, Divisions in Early Mohism Reflected in the Core Chapters of Mo-tzu, 1819.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 11
concluded: We can well understand why the Mohist sects disputed so
fiercely. It would seem to the Purist that out of eagerness for political
power the true teachings of Mo-tzu had been shamefully diluted by the
Compromisers and utterly betrayed by the Reactionary.36 Although these
labels could also be interpreted as reflecting an evolution, Graham saw
them rather as matching with roughly coexistent and rival sects each
using the dialect of their own region.37 Since three Core Chapters did not
fit this framework, he considered them later additions: either as digests
of the Mohist doctrine (14, Jian ai, shang; and 20, Jie yong, shang) or as
a dislocated manuscripts (fragment) (17, Fei gong, shang).38 His divi-
sion of the Core Chapters can be graphically represented as follows:39
Table 1.The Division of the Core Chapters according to Graham
Triplets Digests and
fragment
Y
Purist
H
Compromising
J
Reactionary
8 9 10
11 12 13
14 15 16
17 18 19
20 21 (22)
(23) (24) 25
26 27 28
(29) (30) 31
? ? 32 ?
39 35 36 37
Source: Graham, Mo Tzu, 336337.
Note: The chapters in parentheses are not extant.
36Graham, Disputers of the Tao, 53.
37Divisions in Early Mohism Reflected in the Core Chapters of Mo-tzu, 28, Graham
explicitly sets aside questions of dating.
38Graham thought that chapter 17 was mistakenly cut from the end of chapter 26,
where, according to him, it belonged. For more details, see ibid., 34. See also Maeder,
Some Observations on the Composition of the Core Chapters of the Mozi, 6975.
39This triplet is generally considered very corrupt. Graham used parts of chapters 35
and 36 to reconstruct the Y chapter of the Fei ming triplet, he added a piece of chapter
35 to chapter 37 to form the H chapter, and the J chapter is again a mixture of the original
chapters 35 and 36. See Graham, Divisions in Early Mohism Reflected in the Core Chapters
of Mo-tzu, 1216.
12 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
Although this three-sects theory has been very influential, especially
among Western scholars of early Chinese thought,40 most Mozi scholars
have recently abandoned it. As Qin Yanshi has pointed out, doc-
trinal disputes within the triplets are remarkably absent, which weakens
the hypothesis of fierce rivalry.41 Moreover, the opponents mentioned in
the Core Chapters do not seem to be other Mohists, not even other philos-
ophers or masters, but rather members of the ruling elite preserving and
defending their customs against Mohist attacks. However, the rejection of
the hypothesis of fierce disputes between rivals does not necessarily imply
the rejection of the possibility of a different regional provenance of some
chapters, while leaving open the possibility of temporal progress. Taeko
Brooks has taken these possibilitiesthe combination of regional varia-
tion and chronological sequenceinto account in her sequence theory.
The Sequence Theory
On the basis of Grahams work, Taeko Brooks has argued that the dif-
ferences within the Triplets may bear witness to a political, intellectual,
technological, and social evolution rather than to a division into three
competing sects. Based on formal features (e.g., initial attribution formu-
las, the use of past authority, the elite mentioned in the text, the reference
to written sources) and differences in content (e.g., opposition, refer-
ences to supernatural sanctions, populism, controversy, self-definition),
she argues that the Triplets are the result of successive revision and pro-
gressive accommodation to political realities within one and the same
school, moving from the state of Zheng to Wei and then to Song.42 She
concludes that those differences are plausible as developing over time,
as the Micians [Mohists] move from outside critics to inside members of
the system, philosophize it in their terms, make peace with its intrinsic
war aims, and cope with the increasingly harsh conditions which apply to
all who serve the state.43 The layers distinguished by Brooks in the Core
Chapters are presented in the following table and are tentatively dated
from 390 to 273 BCE:
40See, e.g., Schwartz, The World of Thought in Ancient China, 137138; Hansen, A Daoist
Theory of Chinese Thought, 99; Tong Shuye, Xian Qin qi zi sixiang yanjiu, 59.
41Qin Yanshi, Mozi yu Mojia xuepai, 23. See also Johnston, The Mozi, xxiv. The earli-
est rejection of the three-sects theory came from Luan Tiaofu, Mozi shu zhi chuanben
yuanliu yu pianshi cidi, 180.
42For speculation on the location of the Mohists, see A. Taeko Brooks, The Mician
Ethical Chapters, 116.
43A. Taeko Brooks, The Mician Ethical Chapters, 111.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 13
Table 2.Tentative Dates for the Core Chapters according to Taeko Brooks

390375 BCE
14
(386)
17
(390)
20
(382) [23]
(378)
374345 BCE 11
(372)
18
(362)
21
(367)
[24]
(357) 26
(352) [29]
(347)
342324 BCE
8
(338)
15
(342)
19
(326)
[22]
(334) 25
(330)
[30]
(324)
322317 BCE
9
(317)
12
(322) 32
(320) 35
(319)
310287 BCE 16
(310) 27
(302) 31
(298) [33]
(295) 37
(291)
282273 BCE
10
(275) 13
(273)
28
(282)
[34]
(277)
36
(280)
Source: Brooks, The Mician Ethical Chapters, 117.
Note: We exclude the Fei Ru duplet chapter and the Opening Chapters (or singlets), which Taeko Brooks
includes in her study of the ethical chapters of the Mozi. The chapters between square brackets are not
extant. The dates are given in parentheses.
14 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
Without subscribing to every claim and date presented by Taeko
Brooks, we retain three important conclusions from this table that con-
cern our interest in the book Mozi. First, Brooks supports the sequence
theory as opposed to Grahams three-sects theory to explain the differ-
ences between the three chapters within each triplet. Second, she does
away with Grahams suggestion that three short chapters were digests
or a manuscripts (fragment) later added to the book. We agree on
these two points. The third point is that Brooks mostly44 considers the
Upper-Middle-Lower sequence of the chapters as their actual chronologi-
cal order. Following the work of Watanabe Takashi, we take issue with
this point.
An Alternative Evolution Theory
The sequence theory developed by Brooks is in fact more recent than the
evolution established by the Japanese scholar Watanabe Takashi ,
who published his views on the Mohist Core Chapters as early as 1962.45
After a thorough study of the contents of all the Core Chapters together
and, especially, of the increasing sophistication of ideas and logic, he
fitted each chapter into a period and proposed a chronological order.
Very roughly, the evolution went as follows: in the early Warring States
period, the Mohist movement began with the promotion of jian ai and
fei gong; when the movement became more structured and the demands
for political advice increased, the Mohists came up with shang xian, jie
yong, jie zang, and fei yue. At the end of the Zhou dynasty, when their
movement was falling apart, the Mohists promoted shang tong, tian zhi,
ming gui, and fei ming. Watanabe Takashi does not give exact dates for
the chapters but suggests that the last chapter, Shang xian, zhong was
written by the end of the Warring States period or the beginning of the
Qin dynasty.46 On the basis of his analysis, Watanabe concludes that in
44All triplets are chronologically ordered Upper-Middle-Lower, except the (very cor-
rupt) Fei ming triplet, which is Upper-Lower-Middle.
45For the three periods that Watanabe Takashi distinguishes, see his Mozi sixiang, 4,
2650. He does not exclude regional differences between the chapters (e.g. the states of
Qi, Song, Chu, and Qin). For other early Japanese scholarship on the Core Chapters, see
Hashimoto Sumiya, Riben de Mozi yanjiu gaiguan, 259262, 264268.
46Watanabe Takashi Bokushi shohen no chosaku nendai, part 2, 3031 identifies a
fourth short and overlapping stage ending around 210 BCE, but he places that stage with
the third stage in the third period. For a more recent Japanese theory, dating all Core
Chapters between ca. 400 and ca. 250 BCE, see Yoshinaga Shinjir, Jian ai shi shenme,
585.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 15
Table 3.The Chronology and Evolution of the Core Chapters according to
Watanabe Takashi
Warring
States
Year
Early
period
400 BCE 14
17
Middle
period
380 BCE
350 BCE
8
15
16
18
19
20
21
Late
period
300 BCE
250 BCE
220 BCE
10
9
11
13
12
25
26
28
27
31
32
35
36
37
Note: The three triplets with a shang-xia-zhong sequence are underlined.
three tripletsShang xian, Shang tong, and Tian zhithe chrono-
logical order is Upper (shang)Lower (xia)Middle (zhong) and not the
traditional order of UpperMiddleLower.47 Table 3 presents an overview
of Watanabes results.
Again without subscribing to Watanabes actual dating of the various
chapters, we believe that his suggested evolution theory is superior to the
two previous theories: like Taeko Brooks, he considers Grahams digests
(chapters 14 and 20) and fragment (chapter 17) to be early Core Chap-
ters; and he presents an evolutionary picture, although one that differs in
the sequence of chapters within the Triplets. Moreover, this theory fits
well with some data from Grahams own analysis a few decades later: the
47When Forke, M Ti, 23, divided the Core Chapters into source (Quelle), followed by
elaboration (Erweiterung) and finally by paraphrase (Paraphrase), he also reversed the
order of these three triplets and of Fei ming.
16 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
chapters that Watanabe characterizes as written last in each triplet all
happen to coincide with Grahams H chapters. This suggests that what
Graham regarded as a regional characteristic might have been a (chrono-
logical and/or regional) sign of the last group of authors/editors of the
Triplets. Karen Desmets recent study of the use of compounds in the Core
Chapters confirms Watanabes hypothesis.48
These three theories by Graham, Brooks, and Watanabe Takashi, which
reflect the views of a larger community of Mozi scholars, generated our
second basic assumption: focusing on the Core Chapters, we believe that
they contain interesting differences that to some extent suggest an evolu-
tion of ideas in the order presented by Watanabe. The various contribu-
tors to this volume do not necessarily subscribe to this insight, but they
are all aware of it and consider its implications. The four most striking
developments that are traced throughout various papers of this volume
are the ever-increasing radicalization of ideas, a growing search for a theo-
retical foundation and consistency, a move from acts to motivation, and a
multiplicity of voices. In the Jian ai triplet, for instance, the demand to
inclusively care for everybody does not diminish its radical nature while
Mohists adapt to political realities; on the contrary, it is only slowly con-
ceived, and as it undergoes a conceptual evolution, it increasingly gains
force. An example of the second development is the ever-more-frequent
use of references to Heaven and ghosts, which occur relatively late in
various Core Chapters and provide the Mohist proposals with a respected
authority. Next, the move from actions to motivation is visible in the views
on ghosts and the type of behavior that they respond to: not only good
acts but also noble intentions. And finally, the Dialogues and Opening
Chapters, even more than the Core Chapters, convince us that there are
48See Desmet, The Growth of Compounds in the Core Chapters of the Mozi, 111117.
Her research also shows that all the H chapters (in Grahams terms) consistently contain
a higher ratio of different compounds, which confirms Watanabe Takashis conviction that
they form the latest group. These are always the Lower (xia) chapters except in the trip-
lets Shang xian, Shang tong, and Tian zhi, where the Middle (zhong) chapters belong
to the H group. If one focuses only on those compounds that are unique for one group
and hence are not shared throughout the Mozi, one finds that the H chapters contain
not only most compounds but also those that begin to occur only in relatively late War-
ring States texts. Chapters from the Y and J groups contain fewer exclusive compounds,
which moreover also occur in some older texts. These conclusions are inevitably tentative
because of the controversies on the nature of compounds as well as on the dates of early
Chinese sources.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 17
different and even inconsistent voices to be heard in this one book, both
on the side of the opponents and on that of the defenders.
Despite reflections on these and other possible differences within the
book Mozi, we also share a strong awareness of the fact that the book is
both less and more unified than presented in this volume. On the lesser
side, we believe that not only the book as a whole lacks unity, but so
do the various parts in which it has been conveniently divided, among
which are the Core Chapters, Dialogues, and Opening Chapters. Just as
we hear a variety of voices speaking in these parts, we also perceive a
variety of opponents and addressees: the ruling elite, some Ru, Mohist
adherents, and critical disciples. The vocabulary and values in the Mozi
that also commonly occur in many Warring States texts do not always dis-
tinguish the Mohist authors very clearly from other schools or lineages
either, even though they sometimes insist on their own interpretations of
treasured values such as ren and yi . But the strongest reminder of
the degree of disunity within the Mozi certainly comes from Erik Maeder,
who has traced differences between the paragraphs (ce ) of the same
chapter (pian ). The fact that some characteristics identified by Graham
with the H group are clustered in only some paragraphs of these chapters,
while other characteristics checked by Maeder are equally spread over the
chapters, suggests that the former belonged to older documents used by
the Mohist authors, while the latter might be from the final hand.49 For
such reasons and despite Maeders strong support for some of Grahams
conclusions, he also argues in favor of a complex temporal evolution of
the Core Chapters.50 Maeders study also makes us aware that the Mozi
(as probably many other ancient texts) is an evolving text consisting of
many layers, fragments, and lacunae, and that its authors were more edi-
torial compilers or inventive bricoleurs than the strong authors we tend
to expect behind a text.51
On the other hand, we also believe that there is more unity in the
book Mozi than we have tried to show in this volume. We therefore also
49Maeder, Some Observations on the Composition of the Core Chapters of the
Mozi, 4447. In the same article, Maeder also shows that there are remarkable similari-
ties between paragraphs in very different pian. This suggests the use of older texts by the
Mohist authors. See ibid., 7475, 8182.
50See ibid., 76. For Maeders strong support of Grahams three-sects theory and digest/
manuscripts (fragment) theory, see ibid., 3940, 5455, 75.
51Ibid., 8182. Postmodern theory has shown that even strong authors can be seen as
bricoleurs of existing quotes. The cut-and-paste habits of contemporary computer use have
made this characterization even more apt.
18 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
understand the general tendency to present Mohism as one consistent
vision, and each triplet as the expression of one dogma or thesis. First of
all, the differences between the chapters of each triplet are sometimes
rather small and only implicit; they are not explicitly emphasized as one
would expect from rivalling sects holding fierce debates. Second, there is
a principle of charity that expects the reader or listener, at least to some
extent, to make sense of the author or speaker and, hence, to distill a
coherent message despite apparent incoherence.52 We do not want to cas-
tigate other Mozi scholars for having done exactly that. A third reason to
attribute unity to the Mozi is the fact that it was ascribed to one particular
master, constructed as one text by the Han dynasty, and read as such in
the many centuries thereafter, at least when the text was available. Even
though the Mozi parts that we have focused upon may have been com-
posed on the basis of older written or oral sources, they do not appear
to be merely a reservoir of so-called textual building blocks, in William
Boltzs terms. Rather, they attest to an editorial process, which pre-
sumes a doctrinal or other similarly purposeful motivation.53 However
multivocal, loose, and corrupt the chapters sometimes are (or appear),
there clearly were people who identified with this composed text.54 By
preserving the three different versions of the Triplets under the labels
Upper, Middle, and Lower, the last of the Mohist authors/editors may
have given us an exceptional glimpse into the reworking of perhaps many
more early texts and into the efforts that a community put into weaving
the tapestry of their intellectual tradition.55 One final reason for attribut-
ing unity to the various triplets more specifically is their identical titles,
52The principle of charity, named as such in 19581959 by Neil Wilson and much dis-
cussed by philosophers, requires the reader or listener to interpret an authors or speakers
statements as rational, coherent, valid, and interesting. There has also been much discus-
sion about the possible disadvantages of such an attitude, especially over the boundaries
of times and cultures. See, e.g., Feldman, Charity.
53Boltz, The Composite Nature of Early Chinese Texts, 59.
54The perceptible looseness may also differ per chapter. For instance, although the
Middle and Lower chapters of the Jian ai triplet are relatively well structured, they give
the impression of having been constructed out of previously existing fragments more than
the Upper chapter does; the latter is a nicely constructed essay and probably just as much
composed as is a modern essay. See the essay by Carine Defoort in this volume.
55The exceptional threefold nature of the Core Chapters may result from the Han edi-
tors benign neglect, resulting in their failure to edit the Mozi into a unified text. It is
perhaps not irrelevant that in Hanshu 30.1738 the book is listed as the very last of the
Mohist writings, analogous with the collections of Daojia yan under Taoism, Za
yinyang under the Yin Yang lineage, and Fajia yan under Legalism.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 19
with each chapter of a triplet distinguished only by Upper, Middle, and
Lower. But who added those titles to the chapters, and when did they
do so? Tentative answers to these questions are discussed under the third
basic assumption made by the editors of this volume.
Third Basic Assumption: Temporary Suspension of the Titles
We should be cautious with expectations created not only by the modern
notions of book and author but also by titles. In his study of one
Xunzi chapter, Tian lun (About Heaven), Edward Machle warns
that its title may have created expectations that misled generations of
readers as to the real subject matter of the essay. Having removed the
title from its privileged position, Machle concludes that the discussions
in the essay are not chiefly about Tian, but about the conditions for suc-
cessful government, the full development of human possibilities, the lim-
its of human responsibility, moral discipline, the proper attitude toward
omens and sacrifices, the necessity of following Li, and the limitations of
some prominent philosophers. He therefore speculates that Xun Qing
would be quite surprised to see the title that has been given to the work,
and would reject it as a determiner of the essays interpretation.56 In a
similar vein, we first reflect on the presence and nature of the Core Chap-
ter titles before speculating about their emergence as slogans or mottos
representing Mohist thought.
Titles
Unlike Machle, we do not think of one particular person as the real author
who would have rejected later added titles. But we do believe that the
risk of titles misleading the reader haunts Mozi studies. In the case of the
Core Chapters, the risk is even greater, because early Mohism has been
identified almost literally with the titles of these ten Triplets. For example,
Mozi scholars have taken the Tian zhi triplet as containing the
masters original views about the will of Heaven. But could it be that when
the three chapters were first constructed, they lacked titles? For what it
is worth, the expression tian zhi hardly occurs in the triplet named
56Machle, Nature and Heaven in the Xunzi, 58. For Machles reflections on titles in
Xunzi, see ibid., 5758.
20 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
after it (only once in chapter 26 and once in 28, i.e., Tian zhi, shang and
Tian zhi, xia), and never in the rest of the book. Hence the question:
did the Mohist authors have an inkling of the importance that we now
attribute to these titles?
For learning about the importance and frequency of chapter titles, we
can take advantage of the many manuscripts discovered in the twentieth
century. We know from unearthed materials as well as from references
in Han sources that the current distinction between chapters and books
was very fluid in early China.57 Lin Qingyuan has divided early
writings preserved on wood, bamboo, and silk into different categories,
one consisting of texts or fragments about thought (sixiang ). Two
conclusions, about the dates and nature of their titles, may be relevant
for our research.
First, writings about thought only began carrying titles by the mid- or
late Warring States period. Warring States texts about thought often have
no titles and the formation of titles does not yet seem to have turned into
strict rules; but Han texts on thought often have titles and their formation
is full of change.58 Thus, unearthed manuscripts suggest that perhaps few
philosophical manuscripts from that period carried titles. Since no sub-
stansive part of the Mozi has hitherto been discovered in a tomb, there is
no specific information to be expected from that side.59 But it is possible
that the Core Chaptersthe oldest part of the bookat an early (perhaps
pre-final) stage did not carry any titles.
Second, Lins conclusion about the nature of these writings titles is that
they often reflect the general content of the text.60 The titles of the Mohist
Core Chapters indeed seem to refer to the general content and have also
been perceived as suchhence, for example, the established association
57Han sources discussing writings about thought tend to refer to (what we now know
as) chapter titles rather than to (what we now know as) book titles. See Yu Jiaxi, Muluxue
fahui, 200204.
58Lin Qingyuan, Jiandu boshu biaoti geshi yanjiu, 7. The category of title is also com-
plex: there is discussion of whether an expression is a title or merely a fragment heading.
See ibid., 69105.
59Some (mostly Chinese) scholars have identified the Shanghai manuscript Guishen
zhi ming (title added by contemporary editors) as Mohist. For doubts about
this identification, see Brindley, The Perspicuity of Ghosts and Spirits and the Problem
of Intellectual Affiliations in Early China, 218230; and the essay by Roel Sterckx in this
volume.
60See Lin Qingyuan, Jiandu boshu biaoti geshi yanjiu, 79, 4850. Three other types of
titles are created by (1) expressing the concrete object discussed in the texts, (2) repeating
the first keywords of the text, and (3) quoting the first unit of a series of items.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 21
of the Tian zhi chapters with Mohist views on the will of Heaven. But
when was this title chosen and why? Neither the expression tian zhi nor
tian zhi zhi is common in the triplet.61 Nor is the expression zun
tian (revere Heaven), a motto that seems to have represented Mohist
thought, as we will argue further on. An expression very similar to tian
zhi, namely tian yi , appears eleven times in the relevant triplet (ten
times in the Upper version and once in the Middle version) but was not
chosen as its title.62 And on top of all this, we have the strong impression,
as did Machle in the case of the Xunzis Tian lun, that these chapters do
not mainly discuss Heavens will but rather righteousness ( yi ). The
three Tian zhi chapters begin and end with the idea of yi; they plead
for a new understanding of righteousness and find a foundation for their
novel views in Heaven.
The absence of the expression tian zhi from the triplet (and even from
the whole received text), combined with a content that does not entirely
coincide with its title, suggests that the addition of titles may have hap-
pened at a relatively late stage, when the argument was already formed.
William Boltz has speculated with respect to early Chinese writings that
unedited, raw source material at some point was edited into a text
carrying an authorial, or at least editorial, voice. As an example, he sug-
gests that the untitled pre-Han Guodian fragments (now labeled Laozi
) might be an instance of the former, while the two Mawangdui man-
uscripts from the Han titled De jing (Classic of Power) and Dao jing
(Classic of the Way) might be of the latter type.63 The Mohist Core Chap-
ters, as we now have them, clearly belong to the latter type: they are rela-
tively well structured and do make a point, which reflects the presence
of some ideological motivation behind the construction of the text. But
61The combination tian zhi zhi never appears in chapters 26 and 27; it appears
only three times in chapter 28 and two times in chapter 49. It might be significant for
linguistic research that expressions noun + zhi + noun (see also tian zhi yi in the following
note) appear only in the Middle and Lower versions and never in the Upper version.
62Tian zhi yi never appears in chapter 26; it appears nine times in chapter
28 and twenty-four times in chapter 27. The Mohists may have invented a new concept
(tianyi ) to express Heavens will, since Heavens Mandate (tianming ) was prob-
ably too closely associated with fatalism (ming). The occurrences of yi in the Mozi are
most concentrated in this triplet (65 occurrences out of a total of 302).
63Boltz, The Composite Nature of Early Chinese Texts, 5861. These two titles are based
on the first keywords of each part and were added at the end of the manuscripts together
with the number of characters. De jing and Dao jing are good examples of titles that prob-
ably do not represent the content of the text, but that have almost without exception led to
such an interpretation, as if they formed a book about the Way and its Power.
22 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
the point that they make does not always coincide with their titles. We
therefore suspect that the Core Chapters may have been constructed in
various stages, with the addition of titles at a relatively late stage, possibly
in the Han.64 The addition shang, zhong, and xia to the titles of the Trip-
lets also suggests the influence of such editorial hands. If one accepts that
these individual chapters came into being at different times, as we do in
this volume, then some editor or team must have considered them one
unity and arranged them in the current redaction. In order to speculate
on the insertion of titles in the Core Chapters, we extend our exploration
to determine where and how often these phrases occur in the Mozi as a
whole (table 4).
Table 4.The Occurrence of the Core Chapter Titles in the Mozi
shang xian chapter 8 chapter 9 chapter 10 elsewhere
4 15 13 1
shang tong chapter 11 chapter 12 chapter 13 elsewhere
1
(5 )
13 [+1]
(2 )
14
(1 )
1 [+1]
(1 )
jian ai chapter 14 chapter 15 chapter 16 elsewhere
0 0 1 9 [+1]
fei gong chapter 17 chapter 18 chapter 19 elsewhere
1 0 1 [1]
jie yong chapter 20 chapter 21 elsewhere
0 1 1
jie zang chapter 25 elsewhere
0
(1 )
2
64Sun Yirang attributed the redaction of the Mozi to the imperial Han librarian Liu
Xiang (776 BCE), who was responsible for the order of the chapters and sections
in various works, such as Xunzi, Guanzi, and Zhan guo ce. In an edict of 26 BCE Emperor
Cheng Di ordered him to collate writings for the imperial library (Hanshu 10.310, 30.1701).
There is, however, no proof that Liu Xiang did this redaction or gave the titles to the
chapters of the Mozi. See Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu, 653. Many scholars seem to follow this
attribution. See e.g. Zheng Jiewen, Zhongguo Mo xue tongshi, 202, 252, 289.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 23
Table 4 (cont.)
tian zhi chapter 26 chapter 27 chapter 28 elsewhere
1 0 1 0
ming gui chapter 31 elsewhere
0 0
fei yue chapter 32 elsewhere
1 1
fei ming chapter 35 chapter 36 chapter 37 elsewhere
0 0 0 3
Note: Chapter titles are excluded from the count. Numbers between square brackets refer
to the occurrences of characters indicated in the Mozi zhuzi suoyin as being reconstructed.
Alternative characters are added in parentheses.
Table 4 reveals three remarkable facts. First, only the Shang xian and
Shang tong triplets display a clear correlation between the title and the
use of the expression in the chapters. In the others there is hardly any
correlation at all. Second, as we saw with the expression tian zhi, there is
remarkably little reference to these so-called central dogmas in the rest
of the book: most titles occur only once elsewhere in the Mozi, namely in
a fragment of chapter 49, Lu wen, that will be discussed further on.65 A
third remark is that the expression jian ai occurs slightly more often in the
rest of the Mozi, but hardly in the triplet named after it.
On the basis of table 4, we are led to conclude that the authors of the
Mozi were simply not aware of the ten dogmas of original Mohism or, at
least, that they failed to give them the importance that we now attribute
to them, except in Shang xian and Shang tong. For the eight other trip-
lets, the chapters themselves contain no strong clue as to why they carry
precisely the titles they do.66 Hence, we cannot exclude the possibility that
the chapters were arranged into their current shape by someone who had
65The expression jie zang occurs once in chapter 21, Jie yong, and the expression fei
ming occurs twice in chapter 45, Xiao qu (Choosing the Lesser).
66Perhaps the fact that the phrases making up the titles do not appear in the text of the
Triplets can to some extent be explained by the nature of titles of philosophical writings,
which are concise mottos as opposed to running text. E.g., while the expression ming gui
is totally absent from the received Mozi, the terms gui and ming are discussed in relation
to each other.
24 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
no idea that these expressions would come to represent Mozis thought
and that they would be added as titles. For that reason, we believe it is
worth trying to read these Core Chapters without the dominant influence
of their titles. Some advantages of this approach are that the reader carries
weaker expectations concerning the unity of the chapter, that there is also
more attention to the differences between the three chapters of a triplet,
that there is no (possibly misleading) presupposition about the content
of the chapter, and that one is more on the alert to the importance and
recurrence of other expressions in the chapter.
Mohist Mottos
But the existence of the titles shows that there must have been a moment
in the history of Mohism when the masters ideas were thought of in terms
of these relatively fixed expressions or mottos. One indication that the
extant titles functioned as such short slogans is perhaps the occurrence
of several fei X (against X) constructions: against military aggression
( fei gong), against music ( fei yue), against fatalism ( fei ming), and against
the Ru ( fei Ru).67 The use of fei as a transitive verb be against... cor-
responds to the characterization of the debates among masters in the late
Warring States as shi fei (pro and contra), but it occurs more in the
Mozi titles than in the running text.68 This seems to confirm their status
as mottos or slogans summarizing the content of the chapters.
There is also one piece of textual evidence that Mohist thought at some
point came to be closely identified with the ten expressions that now
function as the titles of the Core Chapters: it occurs in Lu wen ,
which records a conversation between Mozi and a disciple about what to
expound first when meeting the lords of the four quarters.
, ::
, , ; ,
, , ; ,
; , 69
67Three of these titles are from chapters that are usually thought to be among the lat-
est Core Chapters (Fei yue and Fei ming) or even to postdate them (Fei Ru). They may
represent the increasing severity of the Mohist ideology. Fei gong, however, is generally
considered an early triplet.
68About pro and contra or right versus wrong debates, see Graham, Disputers of the
Tao, 36, 167, 176177; and the essay by Chris Fraser in this volume.
69Gong and do not occur in the Daozang edition but are indicated as being
restored in the Mozi zhuzi suoyin. Hence, the oldest extant Mozi edition contains nine
(and not ten) dogmas.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 25
When our Master Mozi was traveling, Wei Yue asked: Having been granted
an audience with the lords of the four quarters, what would you expound
first? Our Master Mozi said, Whenever you enter a state, you must select
a task and work on it. If the state is in disorder, expound to them elevating
the worthy and conforming upward; if the state is impoverished, expound
moderation in expenditure and moderation in burial; if the state over-
indulges in musical entertainment, expound against music and against
fatalism; if the state is dissolute and indecorous, expound revering Heaven
and serving ghosts; if the state is devoted to aggression and intimidation,
expound inclusive care and against military aggression. Therefore, I say:
select a task and work on it. (49: 114/710)
This fragment tells us at least three things. First, in what sounds like a
summary of Mozis political doctrine, fei Ru () does not occur; this
provides further support for its rejection as a Core Chapter. The second
piece of information concerns the possible dates of the Core Chapter titles.
One cannot fail to notice that the political remedies ascribed here to Mozi
correspond almost exactly to the titles of the ten Core Chapters except for
the expressions zun tian (revere Heaven) and shi gui (serve
the ghosts), which appear as tian zhi and ming gui in the titles. Since this
is the only fragment in the extant corpus of pre-Qin texts listing these
ten slogans, it may have had some relationas cause or resultto the
creation of the titles. Chris Fraser dates the Dialogues around the middle
of the fourth century BCE, and Taeko Brooks dates this particular chapter
to 262 BCE.70 A third reflection inspired by this fragment is the question
whether the expressions zun tian and shi gui would have provided more
appropriate titles for the Tian zhi and Ming gui triplets. The slogan zun
tian occurs eight times in the Mozi but only once in the Will of Heaven
triplet (26: 43/11). It is always paired with shi gui (shen ), an expression
that occurs alone in three more instances but never in the extant Ming
gui chapter.71 Thus, from their occasional appearance in the book Mozi,
we might postulate that the alternative expressions zun tian and shi gui
70Fraser, Mohism, see Supplement to Mohism: Text and Authorship; A. Taeko
Brooks, The Mician Ethical Chapters, 115.
71In chapter 26, it occurs in the threefold statement about the ancient sage-kings: In
their work, they upward revered Heaven, in the middle served the ghosts, and downward
took care of men , , . In the other cases, the expression
is used (4: 5/1, 9: 12/22, 35: 59/78, 48: 107/27, 48: 111/7, 49: 111/23, and 49: 114/9).
26 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
were more widespread slogans in early Mohism than the actual chapter
titles, but they hardly occur in the two relevant triplets either.72
As several contributions to this volume show, many topics from the
Core Chapters are taken up in other parts of the Mozi. But, aside from this
fragment from Lu wen, there is little evidence of the emergence of the
Core Chapter titles from mottos or fixed expressions representing Mohist
thought.73 Table 4 shows that these expressions do not often occur in the
Mozi. Their appearance together in clusters is even rarer, except for the
unique fragment quoted above. There are three short and rather similar
clusters to be found in the Dialogues, which could attest to the emerging
association of Mohism with some key ideas or mottos: revering Heaven,
serving ghosts, and caring for others. In Gongmeng, for instance, Gong-
mengzi asks Mozi why Confucius was never made Son of Heaven
despite his broad knowledge of the classical heritage. Mozi explains that
knowledge is not enough: A wise person must revere Heaven and serve
the ghosts, care for others, and moderate expenditures. The combination
of these makes one wise ,
(48: 107/27). This answer clusters three slogans (zun tian and shi gui from
the list in chapter 49, not the actual titles), one title Jie yong,74 and per-
haps an echo of jian ai, namely ai ren . In the same chapter Mozi
explains that he does not mind being accused of a lack of humanity (bu
ren ) as long as he is acknowledged as revering Heaven, serving the
ghosts, and caring for others (48: 111/7). Here the master
explicitly endorses the two slogans mentioned above, again followed by a
possible echo of jian ai. A last fragment occurs in Lu wen, where the lord
of Lu asks for assistance against the attacks by Qi. Referring to the exem-
plary rulers of the past, Mozis advice is as follows: I wish that the lord
would, upward, revere Heaven and serve the ghosts and, downward, care
for and benefit the people ,.
He then continues with a longer list of concrete suggestions (49: 111/23).
Again, we have no more than the two slogans from the list in chapter 49,
followed by a general instruction to care for the people.
72It is striking that the ten mottos in this fragment, including zun tian and shi gui,
can be understood as verb + object constructions. This is not the case for the actual title
tian zhi.
73For more about these Mohist mottos, see Defoort, Do the Ten Mohist Theses Rep-
resent Mozis Thought?
74As the ICS edition of Mozi zhuzi suoyin indicates, the original edition (= Daozang)
had yong jie. Apparently, Bi Yuan corrected this mistake without leaving any comment.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 27
Even though the exact motto jian ai does not occur in these short clus-
ters, there is always a mention of caring. Taken together with the occa-
sional appearance of jian ai in the whole book (see table 4), and including
slightly variant expressions such as ai ren, jian xiang ai (care for
each other inclusively), and jian er ai (caring inclusively), it some-
what stands out among the ten early dogmas.75 Even in the Core Chap-
ters postdating the Jian ai triplet, the expression already occurs, usually
paired with the two slogans found in the Dialogues: revere Heaven and
serve the ghosts. In Shang xian, zhong, for instance, the author claims
that the sage-kings, when ordering everybody in the world, inclusively
cared for them all and hence benefited them, and also led all the peo-
ple of the world to elevate and revere Heaven and to serve the ghosts
, , ,
(9: 12/21). Therefore, they were rewarded and made Sons of Heaven. In
one Tian zhi chapter, the expression jian ai occurs no fewer than four
times (28: 48/4 [twice], 28: 48/8, 28: 48/15) and in another downward,
loving others complements the instruction to revere Heaven
above and serve the ghosts in the middle (26: 43/11).
Finally, in Fei ming, shang, Mozi talks about the sage-kings caring for
all the people mutually and benefiting each other in interaction (
, followed by the claim that they led these people
to thereby, revere Heaven and serve the ghosts above ,
(35: 59/9).76
Moving from the Core Chapters postdating the Jian ai triplet toward
the Dialogues, jian ai becomes even more explicitly identified as a spe-
cific Mohist ideal or slogan. Wumazi , for instance, confronts Mozi
with the following claim:
, ; , ,
?
75 occurs 13 [+1] times in the book (three times in chapter 14, five times in
chapter 15, twice [+1] in chapter 16, once in chapter 26, and twice in chapter 35);
occurs five times (twice in chapter 4, once in chapter 9, once in chapter 26, and once in
chapter 28); occurs twice (in chapter 27). See also Sato, The Idea to Rule
the World, 3840.
76Also, in Fa yi it is said that the sage-kings inclusively [cared for] all the people in
the world and led them to revere Heaven and serve the ghosts [],
(4: 5/1), with the character ai restored by Bi Yuan on the basis of the
meaning.
28 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
You inclusively care for everyone in the world but cannot quite be said to
benefit them; I do not care about everyone but cannot quite be said to hurt
them. Since neither of us has had any effect, why do you consider yourself
alone right and me wrong? (46: 100/2021)
In the same chapter Wumazi also tells Mozi that in one respect he dif-
fers from the master, [since] he is not able to inclusively care for others
, , explaining that he cares more for those who are
located more in his own vicinity (46: 102/24). Mozi, in one of the Dia-
logues, speaks about his sense of justice ( yi ) in terms of caring, which
constitutes his hooks and clamps; at the end of the day, they are far
superior to the hooks and clamps used in naval battles
(49: 115/1819).
We tentatively conclude that the titles of the Core Chapters postdate
the earliest construction of the chapters themselves and even most of
the received Mozi. In only two triplets, Shang xian and Shang tong,
did the authors probably finalize the text in full knowledge of their titles.
In the other Core Chapters it is difficult to understand why they would
have constructed a text (possibly from older fragments) or rewritten it
without making any reference to the slogan or motto that was chosen as
title. It is also striking that the rest of the Mozi hardly shows awareness of
these mottos, even of the expressions shang xian and shang tong. There
is, however, an emerging identification in the book of a Master Mozis
thought with fixed expressions or mottos. The oldest seems to have been
care (for all), joined by two expressionsrevering Heaven and serv-
ing ghostswhich for some reason were not chosen as chapter titles.
The unique fragment in Lu wen is the only testimony in Warring States
texts identifying Mozis core ideas with ten (or nine) mottos that are very
close to the current Core Chapter titles. But uncertainty about its date
leaves many hypotheses open.77 Other questions that remain unresolved
concern when these titles were added, why they were chosen (especially
in the case of Tian zhi and Ming gui, since alternatives were circulat-
ing), and how they relate to the threefold structure of the Triplets. As was
the case with the two previous basic assumptions, we do not claim to
have firmly proven an alternative view (there is not enough evidence to
do this), but we believe in the methodological value of approaching titles
77A. Taeko Brooks, The Mician Ethical Chapters, 115, believes that the triplet chap-
ters had been rounded off, and the Mician doctrines officially fixed at ten somewhat
before 262 BCE.
introduction: different voices in the mozi 29
critically. The point we want to get across is that disregarding the titles of
the Core Chapters (and probably of many other chapters of early Chinese
texts) is not only reasonable but also fruitful for a fresh interpretation of
the text. A title both leads and misleads the reader; it should not remain a
shackle by which all past and future interpretations are held captive.
Parts and Characteristics of this Volume
Most of the essays in this volume originated in presentations at the work-
shop The Many Faces of Mozi: A Synchronic and Diachronic Study of
Mohist Thought (Leuven, 2009);78 others were originally presented at the
workshop Argument and Persuasion in Ancient Chinese Texts (Leuven,
2005);79 and several of them were developed during monthly seminars
with colleagues from the Netherlands on the textual nature of the Mozi
(Leuven, 20022005).80 The three basic methodological assumptionsthe
focus on the text itself, understanding the differences among the chapters
as reflecting evolution over time rather than Mohist sectarian differences,
and the temporary disregard for the chapter titlesinformed the basis
of our selection. We have also asked the authors to rewrite their contri-
butions with these assumptions in mind. The seven studies are mostly
arranged in what we believe is the chronological order of the Mozi chap-
ters that they discuss.
Each of the first three essays focuses on one triplet. The first essay con-
centrates on the Jian ai (Inclusive Care) triplet (chapters 1416). Carine
Defoort asks the basic question: do these three chapters really concern
the topic of universal love or inclusive care? She discerns an ever-
increasing radicalization of moral demands in the triplet: first, caring for
oneself is rejected in favor of caring for each other in relationships of
78Three papers focusing on Mohist influence in late Zhou and Han were published
in Oriens Extremus 48 (2009): Nylan, Kongzi and Mozi, the Classicists (Ru ) and the
Mohists (Mo ) in Classical-Era Thinking; Sato, The Idea to Rule the World; and Gentz,
Mohist Traces in the Chunqiu fanlu. Two papers were published in Chinese: Guo, Ru Mo
liang jia zhi xiao, san nian zhi sang yu ai de qubie yu zhenglun; and Ding Sixin, Moyu
chengpian shidai kaozheng ji qi Mojia guishen guan yanjiu. They were both translated in
Contemporary Chinese Thought 42.4 (2011).
79Three papers on Mozi were published in Oriens Extremus 45 (20052006): Defoort,
The Growing Scope of Jian ; Loy, On a Gedankenexperiment in the Mozi Core Chap-
ters; and Desmet, The Growth of Compounds in the Core Chapters of the Mozi.
80The participants in these seminars were Carine Defoort, Karen Desmet, Dirk Meyer,
Nicolas Standaert, Karel van der Leeuw, and Paul van Els.
30 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
reciprocity (chapter 14); then the scope is gradually broadened from ones
familial or political in-group to include others, by inclusively caring for
each other and mutually benefiting each other jian xiang ai, jiao xiang li
, (chapter 15); finally, with the advice to replace exclusive-
ness with inclusiveness (chapter 16), the ideal of jian ai slowly emerges,
but its full-fledged promotion takes shape only later. Defoort then turns to
the somewhat later triplet the Will of Heaven (chapters 2628), in which
the expression jian ai occurs more often than in the chapters that have the
motto in their title. In this triplet the emergence of the model of Heaven
leads to an unconditional type of caring for everybody else, ultimately
without any expectation of reward. Defoort thus shows that one of the
core concepts attributed to Mohist thought underwent an evolution of
which only the beginning can be observed in the Jian ai triplet.
Another way of observing variation can be found in the Fei gong
(Against Military Aggression) triplet (chapters 1719), which is the topic
of the second essay in this volume. Instead of treating these three chap-
ters as one homogeneous unit, Paul van Els asks another basic question:
what are the differences between them? His starting point is that each
Fei gong chapter displays a remarkable conceptual coherence and clear
argumentation, which indicates that it forms a closed textual unit in the
eyes of whoever created its received version, be it Mozi, his followers, or
later editors. Then, van Els searches for conceptual differences between
the chapters and discerns three types of arguments against aggressive war-
fare. Chapter 17 approaches warfare from the angle of morality, which van
Els calls the moral argument. Chapter 18 is all about counting and cal-
culating, as it quantifies the costs and benefits of a military campaign: the
economic argument. Chapter 19 speaks of ghosts and spirits and repeat-
edly claims that warfare harms the interests of Heaven, which van Els
calls the religious argument. In sum, the analysis of these Core Chapters
shows that the Mohists did not uphold just one argument against military
aggression but instead actively pursued different lines of argumentation,
possibly to persuade different audiences.
The third study concentrates on Mozi 31, which is the only extant
chapter of the Ming gui (Explaining Ghosts) triplet and which is sup-
posed to represent the Mohist view on spirits. The basic question asked
by Roel Sterckx is whether there is one clear Mohist view on the issue.
Sterckx shows that the absence of two out of the possibly three original
chapters forming the Ming gui triplet does not prevent us from pictur-
ing a more polyphonic Mohist view of the spirit world. First, he under-
takes a close reading of units at the subchapter level, then he compares
introduction: different voices in the mozi 31
them with passages in the other Core Chapters and the Dialogues, and
finally he introduces a Chu bamboo-slip manuscript on ghosts and spir-
its that is now housed at the Shanghai Museum. Sterckxs analysis sug-
gests that Mohist views on spirits evolved or, at least, diversified across
the received Mozi text. Some Mohists, for instance, were skeptical about the
prescience of the spirit world, although that was a firm belief of Mozi.
The philosophical issue of the existence of ghosts and spirits, on the
one hand, and the more pragmatically inspired question of whether they
were capable of punishing and rewarding, on the other hand, were seen
as separate issues.
The fourth essay in this volume functions as a transition between the
discussion of the Core Chapters in the first three studies and the Dia-
logues and Opening Chapters in the last three. Its focus is the notion of
the exemplary past in the Core Chapters, a notion that was central to
the development of Chinese traditions of thought. Miranda Brown won-
ders what role the Mohists played in shaping it. Her starting point is the
observation that there are numerous appeals to ancient sages (sheng )
and sage-kings (sheng wang ) in the Mozi, while there is a paucity
of references to the compound sage-king in what she identifies as the
pre-Mohist corpus. She compares the vocabulary and rhetorical strate-
gies of the Mohist core with other early Chinese texts, while also pay-
ing attention to the differences between the various strata of the Mozi.
She concludes that the Mohist view of the ancient rulers differed from
that found in earlier works: while the early Mohists were not the first to
make appeals to past rulers, they nevertheless played a role in creating
the image of the Three Dynasties as a golden age with reference to a full
set of exemplary kings: Yao , Shun , Yu , Tang , KingWen ,
and King Wu . Such a vision, Brown argues, was motivated largely by
rhetorical necessity: invocations of the sage-kings bolstered, rather than
undermined, the Mohist attack on aristocratic traditions. The investiga-
tion of this idea of wise rulers within and without the Mozi reveals how
this central notion in the Chinese tradition was shaped by the Mohists.
While the next contribution concentrates on the Dialogues, it does not
leave the Core Chapters behind. Chris Frasers essay argues that the ethics
of the Dialogues is largely consistent with the middle and late stratum of
the Core Chapters, but that the Dialogues also developed new ethical ideas.
Tracing evolutions in Mohist thought, Fraser presents four important exten-
sions of older Mohist ethical ideas. First, the Dialogues further develop
the Mohist conception of morality as norms that can be promulgated
through statements or teachings and that lead to beneficial, self-consistent
32 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
consequences if constantly followed by all people. Second, they pres-
ent a series of views on moral worth that tie it to the agents character
and intentions. Third, they develop the Mohist view of moral motivation
and indicate how the Mohists might approach issues related to weakness
of will. And finally, they also set forth a more radical ideal of personal
sagehood. On the whole, Fraser concludes, the Dialogues present a more
demanding conception of the moral life than the Triplets do.
Later evolutions in Mohist thought can also be found in the Opening
Chapters, which are the subject of the last two studies in this volume,
again in connection with the Core Chapters. Hui-chieh Loy analyzes Qin
shi (Intimacy with Officers), which is the first chapter in the received
Mozi. It has often been considered either a mere appendix to the Core
Chapters, specifically, the Shang xian (Elevate the Worthy) triplet, or
even a non-Mohist essay. And although the ideas in this chapter are akin
to counsels found in Shang xian, questions remain as to how these chap-
ters relate to each other. Does Qin shi simply repeatbriefly or with
elaborationthe points made in one or more of the Shang xian chap-
ters? Or does it contradict, go beyond, or qualify the latter? By pointing
at various differences, Hui-chieh Loy argues that Qin shi improves upon
Shang xian in the sense that it provides a more sophisticated construc-
tion of the motivations that worthies have to enter government service.
If in Shang xian worthies are portrayed as motivated by a somewhat
mercenary pursuit of wealth, honor, and power, in Qin shi they are pre-
sented as acting from apparently nobler motivations.
The final essay in this book takes Fa yi (Standards and Norms) as
its starting point. Commonly presented as a summary of the Tian zhi
chapters, it portrays Heaven in close relation to the idea of a standard.
Which stage in Mohist thought does this chapter represent? What evolu-
tion is there in the Mozi concerning the relationship between tian and
fa? By analyzing the similarities and differences with the Core Chapters,
Nicolas Standaert argues that Fa yi may have been one point in an evolu-
tion of the Mohist doctrine, not necessarily the final one. In the course of
the book Mozi there is a growing need for certainty and for a foundation
of the core ideas. The analogy with artisan tools, such as the compass
and square, is an expression of this need. Consequently, the instruments
of the artisan are taken as a metaphor for the use of standards in human
behavior: the rather abstract fa (such as inclusive care of each other
and mutual benefit to each other) and the more concrete standards (such
as the ancient sage-kings) are all supposed to function in the same way:
introduction: different voices in the mozi 33
objectively, measurably, and infallibly. The ultimate standard is Heaven,
an idea that appears in Fa yi as well as in the late Core Chapters.
Despite the methodological connections and shared interest of these
seven contributions, they can also be read separately. This explains why
each essay contains some basic information that may appear repetitious
but allows the reader to freely determine the order of reading the contri-
butions. As for the Mozi text, though various editions have been consulted,
such as those by Sun Yirang and by Wu Yujiang , all fragments are
quoted using the Chinese text in D. C. Laus Mozi zhuzi suoyin
(A Concordance to the Mozi ).81 All references to Mozi fragments
are to this edition; the chapter number is given first, followed by a colon
and then the page number and line number separated by a slashfor
example, 16: 29/2. We have followed the editors reconstructions except
where indicated otherwise. When we count the number of times terms
appear in the Mozi, we explicitly indicate reconstructions marked by the
ICS editors. Although we have consulted one or more existing translations,
such as those by Mei Yi-pao (from 1929), Burton Watson (from 1963), and
Ian Johnston (from 2010), the translations are by the authors themselves
except where indicated otherwise. For other primary sources, the original
Chinese text is not quoted and we only refer to the chapter, except when
specific fragments are commonly recognized by a number (e.g., Lunyu, 1.2,
Laozi, 24, and Mengzi 3A9).
Acknowledgements
Like the chapters in the book Mozi, the studies in this volume went
through at least three different versions. At each stage different audiences
and opponents shaped the content and sharpened the arguments. The
first versions of most papers were submitted to the workshop The Many
Faces of Mozi: A Synchronic and Diachronic Study of Mohist Thought.
We are grateful to the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International
Scholarly Exchange for supporting this workshop as well as the publi-
cation of the papers in the present volume, and to the participants for
engaging in the debate and thereby forcing us to rethink our arguments.
Aside from the contributors to this volume, these participants included
81Mozi zhuzi suoyin , edited by D. C. Lau, ICS Ancient Chinese Texts
Concordance Series 41 (Hong Kong: Commercial Press, 2001).
34 carine defoort and nicolas standaert
Ding Sixin, Joachim Gentz, Guo Qiyong, Roman Malek, Michael Nylan,
Michael Puett, Sato Masayuki, Shun Kwong-loi, Hashimoto Sumiya, Mar-
tin Svensson, and Zeng Hantang. The second versions of the essays and
the introduction were discussed in two seminars that took place in Leuven
in the spring of 2010 and 2011. We thank Karen Desmet, Annick Gijsbers,
Burchard Mansvelt Beck, Paul van Els, Griet Vankeerberghen, and Sara
Vantournhout for their critical reading. The third version of the chapters
was submitted to the careful copyediting of Pamela J. Bruton. In addition
we thank Els Ameloot, Lee Ting-mien, and Lise Merken for their multiple
contributions in efficaciously finalizing the manuscript. We also thank
Martin Kern for his critical comments on the almost final manuscript.
Unlike the editors of Mozis Core Chapters, we decided not to publish the
three different versions of the various papers, a decision for which we are
sure the readers will thank us.
Support for the Mozi project at the University of Leuven was gener-
ously provided by FWO-Vlaanderen. We want to thank the contributors
of this volume for their stimulating papers and patient response to vari-
ous comments. And finally, we express our gratitude to all the old and
new friends we encountered through the study of the Mozi, above all
Watanabe Takashi, Angus Graham, and Roman Malek. They shared our
enthusiasm, shaped our arguments, caused evolution in our own think-
ing, and encouraged us to pursue the investigation of this important but
often neglected ancient master. We hope that this volume may further
stimulate the discovery of other voices and faces of master Mo.
ARE THE THREE JIAN AI CHAPTERS ABOUT UNIVERSAL LOVE?*
Carine Defoort
Jian ai , which has been variously translated as universal love,
impartial caring, concern for everyone, inclusive care, co-love,
and allumfassende Liebe,1 is more than just one among the ten central
dogmas of early Mohism: it is generally considered the heart of Mozis
thought, the very core of the so-called Core Chapters. Almost every expo-
sition of Mohist philosophy begins with a claim to the effect that jian
ai is the corner-stone of the system, Mozis core and quintessence, its
unifying principle of morality, the center of Mohism, the heart of their
ethics, a startling, original, and even revolutionary concept, generally
opposed to the Ru view of graded love.2 Hence the three consecutive
chapters titled Jian ai in the Mozi (chapters 14, 15, and 16) are considered
crucially important. The very simple question of this essay may therefore
be somewhat surprising: do these three chapters really concern the topic
of universal love? This question can be conveniently divided into two
stages: first, do they really discuss jian ai, as their titles suggest? And sec-
ond, does the Chinese expression mean universal love? By focusing on
the former question, this contribution reshapes the formulation and rel-
evance of the latter one.
Since the Mohist view on jian ai has always been illustrated with quota-
tions from the Jian ai triplet, the former question may come as a surprise.
In this essay I argue that these three Core Chapters do not yet discuss jian ai
but provide steps toward its formulation. This conviction makes the second
*This chapter is a further elaboration of the ideas presented in Defoort, The Growing
Scope of Jian .
1For a detailed discussion of the meaning of jian, see Schumacher, An Outline of the
Evolution of the Concept of Jian in Mohism, 312. See also Graham, Disputers of the
Tao, 41; and Johnston, The Mozi, xliiixliv. Sato, The Idea to Rule the World, 39, has
recently suggested translating jian ai as Kingly love for all. Even though jian ai is indeed
first of all (but not exclusively) meant for rulers, that does not warrant such an overly
specific translation of the expression.
2These quotes are, respectively, from Forke, M Ti, 82, about den Eckpfeiler des Sys-
tems; Tan Jiajian, Mozi yanjiu, 35; Graham, Disputers of the Tao, 41; Ding Weixiang, Mojia
jian ai guan de yanbian, 70; Fraser, Mohism; and Watson, Mo-tzu, Basic Writings, 10. See
also Zheng Jiewen, Zhongguo Mo xue tongshi, 14.
36 carine defoort
question somewhat irrelevant, at least in relation to this particular triplet,
since the expression jian ai occurs only once in the whole triplet and thus
needs no consistent translation there.3 But the terms jian and ai do occur
separately in all three chapters: ai in itself remains uncontested by oppo-
nents in the triplet and will be translated as care or caring, thereby
referring to actions (take care of) as well as feelings (care for).4 The term
jian, however, is new and contested almost as soon as it enters the argu-
ment. Considering its novelty and sensitivity, I shall translate it flexibly,
moving from inclusive toward impartial as jian gradually gains shape
throughout these three and some other Core Chapters. The evolution that
I will trace throughout these chapters could be the reflection of changing
responses to the criticism of opponents or the result of a radicalization in
the internal dynamics of early Mohist thought.
While not denying an important degree of similarity among chapters
14, 15, and 16 of the Mozi, I shall highlight the differences and thus concen-
trate on those views and arguments that are usually overlooked. I argue
that, strictly speaking, the three chapters do not focus on the concept of
jian ai and that the titles, which were added somewhat later, have steered
our reading in a particular direction. This essay thus starts by temporarily
ignoring the titles of the triplet (in the first two sections); then it works
its way through the three chapters separately (in the following three sec-
tions) and concludes with a tentative understanding of the concept of
jian ai (in the last section) as it appears in the Core Chapters of the Mozi.
To clarify the argument, a chart of the structure of the three chapters is
appended to this essay.
Beyond the Title Jian ai
One of the main reasons prompting almost all scholars to treat the three
Jian ai chapters as equal in philosophical content is their identical titles.5
3The earliest triplet where the expression jian ai occurs more often is the Will of
Heaven (chapters 2628). See below.
4Johnston, The Mozi, xliiixliv, agrees with James Legge, who, in 1861, did not know
how to render it better than by universal love. See Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 2, 104
n. 4. See also Lowe, Mo Tzus Religious Blueprint for a Chinese Utopia, 93.
5See, e.g., Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 2, 103126; Liang Qichao, Mozi xuean, 1526;
Tan Jiajian, Mozi yanjiu, 3558; Xue Bocheng, Mojia sixiang xintan, 1128; Qi Wen and Li
Guangxing, Mozi shi jiang, 278285; Fung, A History of Chinese Philosophy, 76105; Schwartz,
The World of Thought in Ancient China, 135172; and Han Lianqi, Xian Qin liang Han shi
are the three

jian ai

chapters about universal love? 37


We know, however, that titles in Warring States sources were usually added
later and not invented by their earliest author(s), let alone by the master
to whom the ideas were ascribed.6 The titles of the Core Chapters of the
Mozi are not derived from their first important words or from the main
concepts in the chapters; in fact, the mottos used as chapter titles often do
not appear in the chapters at all.7 In the whole Jian ai triplet, the expres-
sion jian ai occurs only once: in the last chapter (16: 29/2), in a reflection
on King Wens attitude as described in a quotation from the Grand Oath
.8 While it is not totally clear when and by whom the chapter titles
were chosen, or to what extent the editor determined the shape of the
current book, the titles seem designed to indicate the central tenet of the
different chapters of each triplet.9 They may have been added after or
around the formation of chapter 49, Lu wen (Lus Questions), in
which Mozis doctrines are described on the basis of ten expressions that
largely coincide with the titles of the Core Chapters.10
In an attempt to read the Mozi without being distracted by a later editors
choice of titles, I have provided the three Jian ai chapters with different
working titles on the basis of their content: Caring for Each Other (xiang
ai ) for chapter 14, Inclusively Caring for Each Other, Mutually Ben-
efiting Each Other ( jian xiang ai, jiao xiang li , ) for chap-
ter 15, and With Inclusiveness replace Exclusiveness ( jian yi yi bie
) for chapter 16. Only after the completion of these three chapters, I
argue, did the motto jian ai come to represent their thought. In this essay,
the three chapters are temporarily freed from their anachronistic title and
luncong, 298321. Some scholars, such as Lowe, Mo Tzus Religious Blueprint for a Chinese
Utopia, 92, 94, notice the differences but dismiss their relevance. The scholars mentioned
below in this essay are counterexamples to this general current.
6Since I do not know who these authors were, I will alternatingly attribute the words
to Mozi, the author(s), or the Mohist(s), without thereby trying to pinpoint the
person(s) behind the text.
7For more about the titles, see Yu Jiaxi, Muluxue fahui, 200204; and Lin Qingyuan,
Jiandu boshu biaoti geshi yanjiu, 79, 4850, discussed in the introduction of this volume.
8For an interpretation of this passage, see below.
9Graham presumes that the editors were Liu Xiang and Liu Xin of the
Han. See Graham, Divisions in Early Mohism, 17. This idea was proposed by Sun Yirang,
Mozi jiangu, 653.
10In a conversation between Mozi and Wei Yue (49: 114/810), Mozi advises shang xian
and shang tong to order a state, jie yong and jie zang to enrich the
state, fei yue and fei ming to prevent debauchery, zun tian and shi gui
(neither is the literal title of the respective triplet) to prevent wantonness, and jian
ai and fei gong to prevent military invasions. See also the introduction to the
present volume.
38 carine defoort
allowed to make their point separately, a point that does not totally coin-
cide with universal care but rather marks steps in that direction.11 I shall
show that an evolution of increasing radicalization in moral demands can
be traced from chapter 14, through chapters 15 and 16, and continuing in
the triplet Tian zhi (Will of Heaven; chapters 26, 27, and 28).12
Ding Weixiang is somewhat unique among Chinese schol-
ars for having highlighted the differences between the three chapters
and traced an evolution from chapters 14 to 16. However, his views are
radically opposite to what I shall try to establish. He believes that the
most original Mohist stance contained the challenging idea of universal
love ( jian ai), which amounted to a radical self-sacrifice for the benefit
of everyone and a strong opposition to other trends of thought such as
those of the Ru and Yang Zhu , known as the defender of individual-
ism or egoism (wei wo ). Later this ideal was tempered, according to
Ding, as Mohism became a school that adapted to current valueshence
the addition of reciprocity ( jian xiang ai ) and utilitarian motives
(li ). Other scholars who have noticed the differences between the three
Jian ai chapters also tend to interpret them in terms of compromise or
adaptation.13 I shall argue, however, that Mohism did not start off in a con-
frontational manneralthough some contemporaries may have found it
quite challengingbut became more specific and demanding over time.
As we shall see, the idea of self-sacrifice and unidirectional concern for
the weak and poor is absent from chapter 14 but most clearly present in
chapter 16, which is why, for this triplet at least, the evolution cannot be
characterized as one of compromise or dilution.
11For similar and other evolutions traced in the three Jian ai chapters, see Yoshinaga
Shinjir, Sengoku shisshi kenky, 7778, 106108; Fraser, Doctrinal Developments in MZ
1416; Schumacher, An Outline of the Evolution of the Concept of Jian in Mohism,
1219; and A. Taeko Brooks, Mwd 1416 Universal Love.
12Japanese scholars have indicated the link between the Inclusive Care and Will of
Heaven triplets. See e.g. Yoshinaga Shinjir, Sengoku shisshi kenky, 96, 106. Sakai Kazu-
taka, Makki Boku no kenai shis, 101105 further includes the Fa yi chapter.
13See Ding Weixiang, Mojia jian ai guan de yanbian. A. Taeko Brooks, The Mician
Ethical Chapters, 111, sees the Mohists as moving from outside critics to inside mem-
bers of the system..., mak[ing] peace with its intrinsic war aims, and cop[ing] with the
increasingly harsh conditions which apply to all who serve the state. See also Graham,
Divisions in Early Mohism, 24; Graham, Disputers of the Tao, 3536. Yoshinaga Shinjir,
Sengoku shisshi kenky, 7778, 106 sees Mozis own moral view translated in an ever more
political and utilitarian political strategy. Sakai Kazutaka, Makki Boku no kenai shis,
101105 traces an evolution from care toward benefit. Japanese scholarship has been
very attentive to differences and evolutions within the Triplets.
are the three

jian ai

chapters about universal love? 39


To present the three Jian ai chapters as different and consecutive
steps within one line of thought, I shall first summarize previous research
on the structure of the Triplet chapters, with an emphasis on the nature
of this particular triplet.
The Structure of the Jian ai Triplet
The threefold structure of the Mozis Core Chapters has long been a source
of speculation. From the Qing dynasty onward, scholars have identified
consistent differences among the Triplet chaptersnot necessarily along
the divisions shang, zhong, and xiaon the basis of variation in particle
use, vocabulary, fixed formulas, rhetoric, style, references to authority, use
of logic, or intellectual content. Two major lines of interpretation are the
three-sects theory versus the sequence/evolution theory.14
Angus C. Graham believed that the differences are best explained by
reference to three regionally distinguished, relatively contemporary, and
competing sects. On the basis of linguistic and philosophical differences,
he identified them as (1) the Purists in North China, who defended the
doctrine against rival thinkers, also called the Y group because of their
use of the particle yu ; (2) the Compromising, who were also from the
north but adapted the doctrine to the ideology of the state, also called
the H group because of their use of hu as postverbal particle instead
of yu ; (3) and, finally, the Reactionary in the south, who adapted
even more to the political situation, identified as the J group because of
their use of the particle ran (in Wade Giles jan) following the title of
a quoted source.
When applied to the Jian ai triplet, Grahams hypothesis of regional
diversity and doctrinal opposition boils down to the following picture:
chapter 15, or Jian ai, zhong, belongs to Y and defends the philoso-
phys theoretical purity against rival thinkers; chapter 16, or Jian ai, xia,
belongs to H and proposes a watered-down version that was acceptable
to the politicians in power.15 Because chapter 14, Jian ai, shang, does
not contain characteristics of J, nor does it further adapt the doctrine to
14See the introduction of the present volume. For an overview of various views, see
e.g. Desmet, The Growth of Compounds in the Core Chapters of the Mozi, 99104; and
Ding Sixin, A Study on the Dating of the Mo Zi Dialogues and the Mohist View of Ghosts
and Spirits, 3951.
15See Graham, Divisions in Early Mohism, 24.
40 carine defoort
(southern) political demands, it does not fit into the scheme. Its brevity,
its simplicity, and the absence of certain formulas suggest to Graham that
this chapter is a later digest of the Mohist doctrine of concern for every-
one, added by the editor in the place of an older, lost J chapter.16 The
explanation of the Core Chapters in terms of the three-sects theory has
been widely accepted, whether or not in the form defended by Graham.17
Other scholars before and after Angus Graham, such as Watanabe
Takashi , Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer, A. Taeko Brooks, Chris Fraser,
Yoshinaga Shinjir , and Ding Weixiang, explain the differ-
ences within the Triplets by postulating a chronological evolution rather
than synchronic alternative stances, but not necessarily along the origi-
nal order of the shang, zhong, and xia chapters. This evolution, which,
according to A. Taeko Brooks, took place from ca. 390 to ca. 273 BCE,
may later have been followed by a division of the Mohist school, but that
is irrelevant to the structure of the Triplets.18 Like Brooks, Fraser believes
that the three Jian ai chapters, in their traditional order, represent the
evolution of a relatively early and central idea in Mohism.19
This outline of the two current major views on the structure of the
Mohist Core Chapters in general and of the Jian ai triplet in particular,
suffices as a background for the interpretation of these three chapters pre-
sented below. Although the hypotheses of regional diversity and chrono-
logical evolution do not necessarily exclude each other, my reading of this
triplet in general supports the evolutionary interpretation and more spe-
cifically rejects Grahams two major claims concerning this triplet. First
I believe that chapter 14, Jian ai, shang, is probably not a later digest but
16See ibid., 2027; and Graham, Disputers of the Tao, 36. Graham, Divisions in Early
Mohism, 28, explicitly sets aside questions of dating; he focuses on particles, first quota-
tion formulas, introductory and concluding formulas, and only then looks at differences
in thought.
17See Graham, Disputers of the Tao, 51. A convinced follower of Grahams three-sects
theory is Maeder, Some Observations on the Composition of the Core Chapters of the
Mozi, 44, 47, 5455, 7576, 82. See also Schwartz, The World of Thought in Ancient China,
137138; Hansen, A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought, 99; Tong Shuye, Xian Qin qi zi sixiang
yanjiu, 59; Lewis, Writing and Authority, 59; Xinyi Mozi duben, 5.
18See A. Taeko Brooks, The Mician Ethical Chapters, 117. She dates chapter 14 to ca.
386 BCE, chapter 15 to ca. 342 BCE, and chapter 16 to ca. 310 BCE. Watanabe Takashi sees
the evolution of the Core Chapters as taking place over a much longer time span, from
the early fourth century BCE till the Qin dynasty. See Watanabe Takashi, Bokushi shohen
no chosaku nendai, part 2.
19See Fraser, Mohism, see Supplement. I agree with Watanabe Takashi in not respect-
ing the chronological order of the shang, zhong, and xia chapters in some Core Chapters.
See the introduction to the present volume.
are the three

jian ai

chapters about universal love? 41


an early step in the reasoning toward universal care. Second, the politi-
cally more compromising stance of chapter 16 as compared to chapter 15
is not the major difference between them. For this triplet at least, Gra-
hams labels of Purist and Compromising are not warranted.
As for the first point, others have argued that chapter 14 could very
well be the first, or original, of the three chapters, rather than a later
summary.20 There are indications of a gradual evolution from shang via
zhong to xia, at least in this triplet. Throughout the three chapters, the
argumentation becomes richer, the objections become more varied and
specific, and the answers become better supported by narratives, quota-
tions, theories, or analysis of technical concepts such as inclusive, uni-
versal ( jian ), exclusive, partial (bie ), distinguishing terms ( fen
ming ), right versus wrong (shi fei ), and category (lei ).
Although many of these and other characteristics are closely intercon-
nected, one could tentatively unravel them as different aspects of a pos-
sible evolution.
First, comparing the atmosphere in the consecutive chapters, one
notices diminishing optimism and growing impatience: chapter still
expresses confidence that order can be brought about by the sage who
follows the Mohist advice; chapter 15 voices concern about the current
situation; while chapter 16 complains about more and worse disasters
in the world. The growing impatience with opponents is reflected in the
increasing use of bi indicating the necessary or inevitable steps of
sound reasoning that, according to the author, one should make.21 A sec-
ond aspect of the evolution, analogous with the first, concerns the critics
who are mentioned: none in chapter 14; the scholarly gentlemen (once
, 15: 25/19, and once , 15: 26/14) in chapter 15; and
in chapter 16 the stubborn critics of jian in the world
(16: 27/28), those who have all heard of jian but reject it
(16: 29/15) and whose objections still dont stop (16: 28/12).
Third, and not surprisingly, the objections of these critics also increase
in number and seriousness. While none are reported in chapter 14,
20See, e.g., Fraser, Mohism, see Supplement; and A. Taeko Brooks, The Fragment
Theory of MZ 14, 17 and 20, 120.
21There is no occurrence of bi (must, necessarily) in chapter 14, thirteen occur-
rences in chapter 15, and twenty-seven in chapter 16. It occurs, not in the narratives or in
the quotations, but in the arguments, in which the point is made either that something
inevitably results from a certain cause or that a certain answer to a (didactic) question is
inevitably right (bi yue , in chapter 16). This increasing use of bi in the argumentation
may indicate development toward the later Mohist focus on argumentation.
42 carine defoort
those in chapter 15 question the applicability of jian. So do four out of
the five objections in chapter 16 (e.g., How could it be used?
, 16: 27/28). Mozi is said to reply impatiently that if it were not appli-
cable, even I would object to it , (16: 27/29).
One objection in chapter 16 goes so far as to question the very value of
inclusiveness, not just its applicability, by opposing it to the duties of
a filial (xiao ) son. Along with this growing opposition comes a fourth
and more complex evolution, namely in the increasing types of defense or
argumentation. The plain argument of chapter 14 is supported in chapter
15 by well-known stories and model figures (with one quotation) indicat-
ing the feasibility of the Mohist project; in chapter 16 the views are further
supported by five quotations from authoritative sources and explicitly
attributed to the exemplary figures mentioned in them. For example:
, .
Even what our Master Mozi calls inclusive is derived from the model of
Tang. (16: 29/1011)
A fifth aspect of the evolution could be called rhetorical: while chapter 14
is one piece of monologue, chapters 15 and 16 make use of didactic ques-
tions and answers, like a catechism in which purely hypothetical alterna-
tives are posed, reflections on good reasoning are presented, and technical
vocabulary is stipulated.
Admittedly, none of these characteristics, even when combined, is
totally conclusive in the rejection of Grahams theory, since the absence
in chapter 14 of seemingly later characteristics could be determined by the
style or decision of later authors. But this possibility, we will see, is much
further from being proven convincingly. Three more arguments in favor of
the evolution theory relate to the similarities and differences between the
three chapters. First, it is generally known that the three Jian ai chapters
share ideas, vocabulary, and sentences. Unique similarities exist between
chapters 14 and 15, on the one hand, and between chapters 15 and 16, on
the other, but there are almost none between chapters 14 and 16.22 This
strongly suggests that chapter 15 made use of some written or remem-
bered version of chapter 14, adding arguments and narratives to support
the central idea; and that chapter 16 did the same with chapter 15, again
22The sole exception is the use of the verb luan (to disrupt) in a parallel passage in
chapters 14 and 16, where chapter 15 uses cuan (to usurp). The latter also occurs in a
parallel passage in Tianzhi, shang, which in various other ways parallels chapter 15. See
Mozi 26: 43/26, 26: 43/28.
are the three

jian ai

chapters about universal love? 43


supplementing reflections, arguments, objections, and responses as the
authors found necessary in the context of their time. Thus, while further
elaborating upon each other, the chapters increased in length, each dou-
bling the previous one in number of characters.23 In Grahams alterna-
tive the later writer of chapter 14 would have made a summary of only
chapter 15 without any indication of knowing the content of the best-
developed arguments in the last chapter. A second indication of the
chronological priority of chapter 14 could be the fact that, while increas-
ing tension may have caused objections and responses to increase, some
arguments seem to have disappeared, perhaps because they were consid-
ered generally accepted and not disputed by opponents. For instance, the
first chapter argues at length that political chaos should be handled by the
sage just as a disease is treated by a doctor, namely through diagnosis and
remedy: like a doctor, the sage has to find the cause of chaos and suggest
a solution. This argument does not occur in chapter 15 or chapter 16, but
the medical analogy is taken for granted: it is simply used without any
explicit legitimation. If chapter 14 were a later summary of chapter 15 (and
perhaps of chapter 16), it would be difficult to explain why it starts out by
arguing a point that the other authors briefly apply and that nobody, as far
as we can tell, ever calls into question. And a third indication of the prior-
ity of chapter 14 is that the four cases of chaos mentioned in the first half
of this chapter appear in a reversed order not only at the end of the same
chapter but also in the whole of chapters 15 and 16. As will be illustrated
in the next section when discussing the argument of the chapter, these
differences suggest that a reversal, made for good reasons in chapter 14,
was retained throughout the two following chapters.24
The final argument in favor of the chronological priority of chapter 14
concerns the second point of disagreement with Graham, namely on the
characterization of the different chapters of the triplet. Connected with the
changing atmosphere, the critics and their criticism, the arguments and
23According to A. Taeko Brooks, Mwd 1416 Universal Love, 129130, chap-
ter 14 has 585 words, chapter 15 has 1,312 words, and chapter 16 has 2,716 words. This means
a progression at the ratio of 1:2:4.
24For more proof of this evolution, see Desmet, The Growth of Compounds in the
Core Chapters of the Mozi. Erik Maeder, in Some Observations on the Composition of
the Core Chapters of the Mozi, considers Grahams identification of some later Digests
as one of the most important results of Grahams work (39), and he also indicates: Atten-
tion to pattern is dominant in all three Digest chapters..., reaching its seeming perfec-
tion in chapter 14 (55). But he does not give any extra argument in relation to chapter 14,
neither for its status as a later digest nor for his more general claim that the basic unit of
the chapter is the paragraph.
44 carine defoort
rhetoric, there is a subtle evolution in the content of the three chapters,
which is not well captured in the labels later digest (chapter 14), Purist
(Y, chapter 15), and Compromising (H, chapter 16). Grahams arguments
in relation to this particular triplet are rather thin. As for chapter 14, he
believes that the central importance of universal love in Mohism makes
it incredible that ch. 14...can be one of the authoritative statements of
the doctrine, because it is short, lacks quotations as well as answers to
objections, has few parallels with chapters in the same triplet, and lacks
attributions to Mozi (except for one mention in the conclusion).25 As for
Grahams characterization of the two other chapters, his only and indi-
rect argument is that chapter 15 addresses rival thinkers who question
the doctrine of universal love, presumably the officers (shi ) or officer-
gentlemen (shi junzi ),26 while chapter 16 addresses princes and
men of state and hence is more political in nature. Graham does not
quote any example to support his case, but there is exactly one occur-
rence of kings, dukes, great men in the conclusion of chapter
16 (30/7). The more common opponents in chapter 16 are those among
the officers of the world who reject it [jian], and their criticism differs
from that in chapter 15 only in amplitude and philosophical subtlety, not
in political demands for conformity. Graham, moreover, admits that, at
least in the Jian ai triplet, there is no major difference in content: In the
next triplet, Chien ai, there is no evidence of compromise on the central
Mohist doctrine of universal love. The J chapter is missing, but Y and H,
as well as the digest ch. 14, all say explicitly that each should regard the
family of another as though it were his own.27 Hence, the content of the
Jian ai triplet does not support his labels. I have similar reservations
about characterizations of the triplet as revealing an increasing political
25Graham, Divisions in Early Mohism, 4. Stephen Durrant concluded, on the basis of
the use of grammatical particles, that either of the hypotheses (the three-sects theory
and chronological evolution) could be correct. See Durrant, An Examination of Textual
and Grammatical Problems in Mo-tzu, 172. For arguments in favor of the chronological
sequence 141516, see, e.g., Watanabe Takashi, Bokushi shohen no chosaku nendai, part
1, 49; Ding Weixiang, Mojia jian ai guan de yanbian, 7172; and Fraser, Mohism, see
Supplement.
26Graham, Divisions in Early Mohism, 20. He must have overlooked the shi junzi at
15: 26/14 when he argues that thinkers who oppose Mohism on the issues of universal
love...are never called officer gentlemen (19).
27Ibid., 24.
are the three

jian ai

chapters about universal love? 45


conformism28 and a gradual acceptance of war.29 All this indicates that, at
least for the Jian ai triplet, Grahams labelslater digest, Purist, and
Compromisingare not warranted.
My alternative characterization of the three chapters highlights their
views concerning the nature of caring. Nobody seems to deny that it is
good to love or care (ai). But the crucial question is: to whom should this
love or care be directed? Oneself, each other, specific others, or everyone?
And how specific should it be? The answer differs in the three Jian ai
chapters, which, I argue, can be seen as stages in the growing scope and
specificity of caring, reaching the ideal of inclusive or impartial care
only in the last chapter, where the expression jian ai occurs for the first
time. In this respect, what distinguishes chapter 16 from chapter 15 is not
an increased willingness to compromise but rather a further radicalization
of the moral stance. The evolution that will now be traced throughout the
triplet starts off with relatively vague reciprocal love within familiar rela-
tionships and moves toward specific and unidirectional concern of the
rich and strong for the poor and weak. More striking than the tendency
toward an ever-growing scope of ai, there is an increasing specification of
the moral stance: the attitude of caring in chapter 14 is specified in chap-
ter 15 as a double duty: feelings of concern (ai ) as well as beneficial acts
(li ). Thus, it is only in chapter 15 that the concept of benefit or profit
enters the scene in a positive sense.30 What exactly is counted as caring
becomes ever more specific in chapter 16.
Caring for Each Other (Chapter 14)
Unlike the two following chapters, chapter 14 lacks short statements attrib-
uted to Master Mozi in response to various critiques but instead consists
of one long reflection on political chaos and order. As suggested by its
28As argued by, e.g., Yoshinaga Shinjir, Jian ai shi shenme; and A. Taeko Brooks,
The Fragment Theory of MZ 14, 17 and 20, 120. There certainly is an increasing political
interest in the triplet, but nothing indicates that Mohists occupied positions at the court.
29As argued by, e.g., Graham, Divisions in Early Mohism, 1920, and, with more nuances,
by A. Taeko Brooks, Mwd 1416 Universal Love, 131.
30In chapter 17, li is also related to egoism and harming others in terms similar to those
in chapter 14 (, 17: 30/18). See also Fraser, Doctrinal Developments in MZ
1416; and the essay by Paul van Els in this volume. According to A. Taeko Brooks, The
Mician Ethical Chapters, 117, chapter 17 is the earliest Core Chapter, slightly predating
chapter 14.
46 carine defoort
conclusion, the whole chapter is someones specific interpretation of what
Master Mozi may have meant by his insistent entreaty to care for others:
,
Thus, the fact that our Master Mozi says that we must encourage people to
care for others is because of this. (14: 24/22)
Hence, the encouragement to care for others (ai ren ) may have
been the only original echo of the masters thought, if we consider the
sayings attributed to him in the two following chapters as didactic tools
rather than instances of actual speech. As Yoshinaga Shinjir has sug-
gested, the encouragement to simply care may very well represent the
earliest Mohist concern: if a master had explicitly pleaded for inclusive
care, and if that motto was already current, the author of the first Jian ai
chapter would not have failed to mention it.31 The Mohist starting point
of jian ai is probably care for others, a view that was also attributed to
Confucius in Lunyu (12.22):
:
Fan Chi asked about goodness. The master said: care for others.32
Why did Master Mozi, according to the author of this chapter, urge his
audience to care for others? In other words, what does the this of
the conclusion refer to? It refers to his own interpretation of this moral
imperative to care for others, arguing that someone who dedicates his
life to the noble cause of ordering the world has to diagnose the political
disease and subsequently suggest a remedy. Furthermore, the diagnosis,
which consists of the first half of his argument (from 14: 24/4 to 24/12),
is the failure to care for each other (xiang ai ) because people care
only for themselves (zi ai ); hence, they benefit themselves to the
detriment of others. The remedy, in the second half of the argument (from
14: 24/14 to 24/19), is that people are made to33 care for each other inclu-
sively ( jian xiang ai ), so that the causes of disorder are removed.
31See, e.g., Yoshinaga Shinjir, Sengoku shisshi kenky, 75, 78; and Yoshinaga Shinjir,
Jian ai shi shenme, 31.
32This may be a relatively late saying. I refrain from speculating about cause and effect
between Mohist and Confucian ideas. See ibid., on ren as a non-familial duty.
33Shi in the sense of order them to, make them, is a political initiative, which
is further developed in chapters 15 and 16. If we translate as suppose that, then what
follows is hypothetical thinking. A third possibility is that a mere hypothesis in chapter 14
was later interpreted as a political initiative.
are the three

jian ai

chapters about universal love? 47


According to the author, this is what the master meant when he encour-
aged his audience to care for others. The first step that chapter 14 makes
toward what will later be known as universal caring ( jian ai) is to widen
the scope of ones care for oneself by including others in relations of reci-
procity (xiang ). Jian enters only in the second half of the chapter: it is
neither stressed nor explained but broadens the scope from ones familial
or political in-group to include others in relations of mutual care.
This broadening of scope begins implicitly through the presentation of
four analogous cases of the diagnosis of disorder in the first part. At the
beginning the author seeks not to antagonize contemporaries, but rather
to convince them by showing that their rejection of certain types of self-
ish behavior logically ought to lead to a rejection of analogous cases of
care for oneself (zi ai ). He thus first describes a situation in which
there is a lack of respect on the part of the lower actors in dyadic and
hierarchical relations: of a son versus his father, a younger versus an older
brother, a minister versus his lord. Everyone, including the conservative
elite, would call these attitudes (which I label case 1) disorder (luan )
and hence would reject them. In a second step, the audience is invited
to also reject three other instances of egoism, namely of the father, the
older brother, and the ruler in relation to, respectively, the son, younger
brother, and minister (case 2). Thus far, most members of the elite would
have no problem sharing the Mohist concern. The third analogy concerns
the indisputably despicable behavior of thieves and murderers because
they, respectively, care only for their own houses and their own per-
sons (case 3). The fourth and last analogy condemns the top ministers
and lords, who, respectively, disrupt and attack each others families and
states out of concern for their own families and states (case 4). At this
point, we have reached the problem of political disorder that the sage is
eager to solve.
The reader is tempted to follow the author in his consecutive rejection
of these seemingly analogous cases of care for oneself, up to the rejec-
tion of top ministers (dafu ) and lords (zhuhou ) who fight for
their own families and states. I strongly suspect that this last point is what
the author wants to bring home: in the political remedy presented in the
second part of chapter 14 as well as in the two following chapters, the
order of these four types of disorder (luan ) is reversed and most atten-
tion is directed toward this fourth case of the diagnosis: the chaos gener-
ated by ministers and feudal lords. Unfilial sons (case 1), unloving fathers
(case 2), and thieves and murderers (case 3) were mainly brought into the
picture as commonly rejected egoists, just like, at least according to these
48 carine defoort
Mohists, these powerful aristocrats. But this last analogy was probably a
step that some contemporaries were not willing to take. Not that they
particularly favored war in itself, but they generally admired knights as
filial sons or loyal ministers for the honor and wealth that they acquired
for their ancestors, parents, and lords. A failure to do so was considered
a threat to the cornerstone of morality, namely the family or clan. In this
argument, however, the Mohist challenge forces conservative contempo-
raries to show where the analogy breaks down: since they reject the selfish
son, the unloving father, and the thief as caring for himself and failing to
care for each other, why not also repudiate the aristocratic ministers and
feudal lords who engage in war? If unable to counter the last step of this
reasoning, they are compelled to join the rejection of these aristocrats on
the basis of their rejection of the three analogous cases.
In the second part of chapter 14, the remedy to the chaos caused by ego-
ism is that we inclusively care for each other ( jian xiang ai), not only in
hierarchic familial and political relationships (cases 1 and 2) but also more
broadly in relation to strangers (case 3) and, most importantly, to other
families and states (case 4). It is worth noticing that in the final summary
of this remedy, the four cases are repeated in opposite order, with most
attention given to the two egoists of case 4: feudal lords and top minis-
ters attacking and disordering each others states and families, respectively
(14: 24/1819). As pointed out above, this reversal is preserved through-
out the two following chapters and reflects well the Mohist concern with
political chaos. Thus, in his argument for reciprocity in these four cases,
the author also builds in an explicit plea for broadening ones scope of
care and concern: jian. Precisely this aspect will be criticized by opponents
and defended by the Mohists in the two following chapters. Opponents
could have indicated a flaw in the argument, since the scope of caring is
inherently ambiguous: very often, egoism or care for oneself coincides
with altruism or care for others, such as when it benefits more than just
oneself, as the third case shows (a thief steals for the people of his own
house, not just for himself). While obviously rejecting the behavior of a
thief, opponents risk also rejecting as egoism an attitude that they would
under other circumstances (those of case 4) consider altruism: top minis-
ters and feudal lords who promote the benefit of their own states or fami-
lies are analogous not only with thieves and selfish sons but also with their
opposites, namely respectful sons in relation to their family. The ambiguity
of the scope of caring allows one to stress either one of the viewpoints.
In the Mozi there is obviously no space for this line of defense. The
content of chapter 15 shows, on the contrary, that Mohism evolved away
are the three

jian ai

chapters about universal love? 49


from conventional morality by further widening its scope of concern and
by increasingly insisting on concrete beneficial acts. As stated above, the
double fact that, first, only chapter 14 really takes pains to incite the audi-
ence in its diagnosis of political problems by initially giving priority to
family virtues and, second, that the focus on top ministers and feudal
lords in its second part is taken up by the two following chapters seems
to further support the chronological priority of chapter 14.
Inclusively Caring for Each Other, Mutually Benefiting Each Other
(Chapter 15)
Chapter 15 is double the length of chapter 14: about one-third consists of a
summary of the argument of chapter 14, including both the diagnosis and
the remedy; the remaining two-thirds formulate a defense of the Mohist
view in the face of two very similar criticisms. Only in that part of chapter 15
does the idea of jian enter the debate as an independent concept for
Mohists to defend in response to specific objections to the practicability
of inclusiveness. The expression jian ai has not yet appeared.
The introductory summary not only briefly contains the views of chap-
ter 14 but also includes some differences. The two main differences are the
addition of benefit and the increasing specificity of morality. First, the
moral duty of caring in chapter 14 is now divided into caring and ben-
efiting. The author of chapter 14 may have considered ai (caring) a matter
of both feeling (care for) and consequently acting (take care of ), the
latter apparently amounting to a rather passive attitude of not disturbing
or attacking others. The explicit splitting of the moral duty in chapter 15
somewhat moves ai to the realm of emotions or attitudes and separately
stresses the importance of beneficial acts. Benefit (li ), which was
exclusively related to egoism in the diagnosis of chapter 14,34 now posi-
tively joins the duty of caring in a moral tandemhence the insistent
promotion throughout chapter 15 of the method ( fa ) of inclusively
caring for each other, mutually benefiting each other.
The second major difference in the introductory summary of chapter 15
is the increased specificity about the scope of ones care and beneficial
34See also Watanabe Takashi, Bokushi shohen no chosaku nendai, part 1, 89, on this
new social dimension. I do not suggest that the authors of this chapter (and chapter 17)
thought exclusively negatively about benefit, but it was clearly not yet an umbrella term
covering all their core values, as Dan Robins puts it in Robins, Mohist Care, 61.
50 carine defoort
acts, although perhaps less in the case of benefiting than of caring.35 The
authors concern is more specific and goes far beyond hierarchical rela-
tions in which reciprocity conventionally dominates:
, , , , ,

If people in the world all fail to care for each other, the strong will inevi-
tably have power over the weak, the many will inevitably force the few,
the rich will inevitably insult the poor, the noble will inevitably be arrogant
toward the vulgar people, and the cunning will inevitably cheat those who
are simple of mind. (15: 25/67)
Despite the presence of jian in the expression inclusively care for each
other, the argument still largely runs in terms of caring for each other,
but inclusively represents the widening scope that explicitly encom-
passes the weak, the poor, the vulgar, and the simple of mind. These peo-
ple stand for those with whom the elite usually did not have a relationship
of reciprocity ( xiang).
Following this introduction, two objections in chapter 15 specifically
attack the scope of morality, namely inclusiveness. Now, for the first
time, this term is discussed separately as a concept (inclusiveness) and
not just mentioned as an adverb within a longer expression (inclusively).
The first objection is:
36
Admitted, inclusiveness is good indeed. But it is, nevertheless, the most
difficult thing in the world. (15: 25/21)
The second objection is very similar: it also admits that inclusiveness is a
worthy ideal and equally finds it something that cannot be put into prac-
tice (15: 26/14). Criticism of the Mohist view is remark-
ably mild in this chapter. I find none of the resentment and outrage that
James Legge reads in the opponents remarks.37 No critic rejects caring
35The double slogan of this chapter inclusively care for each other and mutually ben-
efit each other could suggest a difference between a very broad scope of ai ( jian xiang
ai ), as in the second part of chapter 14, and the mere reciprocity promoted for li
( jiao xiang li ).
36Sun Yirang interprets as , an unrealistic task . See Sun
Yirang, Mozi jiangu, 103104.
37Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 2, 120: The Essay [Legge treats the three chapters
as one essay] shows that it was resented as an outrage on the system of orthodox belief
during all the life-time of Mih and his immediate disciples. The rather mild objection to
jian also occurs in four of the five objections expressed in chapter 16.
are the three

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chapters about universal love? 51


or reciprocity, not even the value of benefit. What they do object to is
only inclusiveness, more specifically because of the apparent difficulties
it entails in practice.
According to the first response in chapter 15, the problem of these crit-
ics lies in a failure to understand:
,
The officer-gentlemen of the world really dont understand their benefit,
nor do they distinguish their motivation [or: the causes of their actions].
(15: 25/22)
Such a failure can be undone by explaining, arguing, and teaching, a duty
that the author takes to heart. The misapprehension of the critics con-
sists of two major aspects: shortsightedness and self-contradiction in their
motivation, at which the Mohist responses are consequently aimed.
As for the shortsightedness, the author sets out to show that reciprocity
also exists on a wider scope than only within conventional and hierarchi-
cal relations, as there obviously is between fathers and sons, elder and
younger brothers, ministers and lords:
, ; ,

38
Well, one who cares for others will inevitably as a consequence be cared
for by them; one who benefits others will inevitably as a consequence be
benefited by them. One who hates others will inevitably as a consequence
be hated by them; one who harms others will inevitably as a consequence
be harmed by them. What is difficult about this? It is only that the superiors
dont make it their policy and that officers dont make it their lifestyle. Thats
what it is. (15: 25/2425, see also 15: 26/1112)
The author thus assumes that a failure to see this broader reciprocity
makes people reluctant or even incapable of doing good to those with
whom they have no specific relation. Hence, these officer-gentlemen find
it very difficult to include strangers in their scope of caring. But if only they
recognized the benefit to be reaped from treating others well, they would
certainly incorporate inclusiveness in their policies and their behavior.
Second, the implicit contradiction in understanding their own motiva-
tion lies in the fact that these gentlemen reject inclusiveness as being
too difficult or impracticable while they are willing and able to do things
that are much more difficult than that:
38Following Xinyi Mozi duben, 95 n. 2; and Mozi jiaozhu, 162 n. 14.
52 carine defoort

As for attacking a city and fighting in the fields, offering ones life for a repu-
tation, these are things that people in the world consider difficult. But if the
lord finds pleasure in them, then masses of knights/officers are able to do
them. How much easier is it, compared to this, to care for each other inclu-
sively and to benefit each other mutually. (15: 25/2224)
If capable of these military feats, how much more should they be able
to inclusively care for each other and mutually benefit each other, an
imperative that is both easier (at least not as life threatening) and more
beneficial (because of the inevitable reciprocity of ones acts)? The author
refers to three stories that show how easy inclusiveness would be for sub-
jects if only they understood the great benefits of this moral imperative.
The stories describe cases in which ministers starve themselves, dress
shabbily, or give their lives for the sake of a reputation, simply because
this is what pleases their lord. These examples of fights and attacks do
not necessarily indicate a growing acceptance of warfare by Mohists but
illustrate a contradiction that they perceive in the elites code of behavior:
in arguments, the officer-gentlemen reject inclusiveness because of the
difficulties in practicing it; but in reality, they are very willing to under-
take acts that are much more difficult, life threatening, and harmful. The
second Mohist response of chapter 15 mainly refers to the feats of three
ancient model rulers, Yu , King Wen , and King Wu , and
their ability to practice inclusiveness or impartiality (15: 26/21,
15: 26/24, 15: 26/26).39
With Inclusiveness Replace Exclusiveness (Chapter 16)
Chapter 16, Jian ai, xia, again doubles the previous chapter in length.
The introductory summary of the argument, also consisting of a diagnosis
and remedy, now only occupies one-fifth of the chapter, while the objec-
39While the first response highlights the behavior of subjects, the second refers to the
lords and contains references to three sagely kings from antiquity who practiced jian: Yu
benefited people from all regions, including barbarians; King Wen helped the old, child-
less, and widowed; and King Wu selected workers impartially, taking the blame upon
himself whenever something went wrong. Their acts were supposed to help people learn
to practice jian themselves (15: 26/21, 15: 26/24, 15: 26/25). It is a striking indication of the
power of expectations that translators often add the word love to their translation after
( jian), sometimes between brackets, where there is no (ai) in the original text. See,
e.g., Johnston, The Mozi, 139, 143, 145; and Mei, The Works of Motze, 166, 170, 172.
are the three

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chapters about universal love? 53


tions and their responses occupy almost four-fifths. The two differences
pointed out about the summary in chapter 15the positive reference
to benefit and the wider scopeseem to be further developed here: the
social concern has increased, and inclusiveness is promoted from the
beginning of chapter 16 as an independent value. In chapter 16, the moral
value of caring is taken for granted, reciprocity ( jiao or xiang )
has become somewhat less dominant, and the focus lies on the scope of
care, namely inclusiveness ( jian ). Hence, my temporary title for this
chapter is jian yi yi bie (16: 27/14). A total stranger to the debate,
who reads only this chapter, might initially wonder in what respect one
has to be inclusive. Certainly not in hate and harm! The argumentation
seems to be based on the previous chapter(s) and simply assumes that we
are talking about caring.
The diagnosis has become more serious: chaos caused by attacking
states and disorderly families (case 4 in chapter 14) is the major cause of
harm in the world, as it was in chapter 15. This assessment is immediately
followed by examples of situations in which the strong, numerous, cun-
ning, and noble maltreat the weak, few, simple, and vulgar. Only then
are ungenerous rulers, disloyal ministers, unloving fathers, and disrespect-
ful sons mentioned.40 And finally, instances are added where common
people harm and hurt each other in various ways. The cause of all this
misery is the opposite of inclusiveness, namely bie , exclusion or
exclusiveness,41 which is said to be wrong (16: 27/13). The rem-
edy is its replacement by jian, the central topic of this chapter. In the argu-
ment below, caring and benefiting are not even explicitly mentioned:

42

Thus, our Master Mozi says: Replace exclusiveness with inclusiveness.


But what is the basis for replacing exclusiveness with inclusiveness? Well,
assume that people treat someone elses state as they treat their own state.
40A selection of cases 1 and 2 from chapter 14 is presented, but in a different order: in
chapter 14, the causes of disorder (case 1) mentioned first are ministers, sons, and younger
brothers, whereas in the chaos described in chapter 16, rulers are mentioned before min-
isters, and fathers before sons (16: 27/89).
41It is used as an adverb in the expression exclusively/partially hate each other
in chapter 26.
42Read as you as in the two following parallel lines.
54 carine defoort
Who would then mobilize his own state to attack someone elses state? They
would treat the others as they treat themselves. (16: 27/1416)43
If, thanks to the ideal of inclusiveness, people cared for others as much
as they did for themselves, one would have to conclude that this would
amount to benefit for the world (16: 27/18). More
specifically, elderly widowers without sons would be supported in their
old age, and orphans would be provided for so they could grow up (16:
27/2425).44 It seems that in a gradual evolution from chapters 14 to 16,
the Mohists expect people to show a moral concern for others, not just in
traditional relations, nor just in more and larger reciprocal connections,
but expanding to encompass all those who need helpan extremely
inclusive care, gradually tending toward impartiality or universality.
The major part of this chapter (almost four-fifths) consists of five objec-
tions and responses. The content of the objections and the order of their
appearance strongly suggest that they do not reflect a continuous reason-
ing but were collected from existing textual fragments.45 Four objections
(1, 2, 3, and 5) largely resemble those of the previous chapter. They are
remarkably positive toward the Mohist project: they find it good (shan
), humane (ren ), and right (yi ; this is the first appearance of the
important Mohist concept of right or righteous in the whole Jian ai
triplet!). But they too mainly doubt its practicability. The first two Mohist
responses are new: they consist of thought experiments, respectively
about officers (shi ) and lords ( jun ) who, in words and deeds, stand
for bie or for jian. The author argues that everybody without exception
would, in fact, prefer to deal with an inclusive officer or lord, even if, in
theory, one rejects the value of inclusiveness:
:
46

43This passage is followed in 16: 27/1617 by the same reasoning but with respect to
ones city du and then ones family jia .
44This is also said about the second model ruler in the second response of chapter 15
(26/22).
45The first and second responses go together, respectively arguing about the officer
(shi ) and the lord ( jun ). This separation was implicitly present in chapter 15 in the
sense that its first response refers to narratives about officers and its second response to
exemplary rulers. The third and fifth responses in chapter 16 are inspired by, respectively,
the second and first responses of chapter 15. Only the fourth objection makes a further
point.
46Read in the sense of fu go against. See Xinyi Mozi duben, 104 n. 8; and Mozi
jiaozhu, 185 n. 43.
are the three

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chapters about universal love? 55


I believe that facing this [choice], there are no stupid men or women in
the world: even those who reject inclusiveness would certainly depend on
the one who considers inclusiveness right. This is to reject inclusiveness in
words but to select it in ones choices, which is a contradiction between
words and deeds. I really dont understand why the officers of the world
reject inclusiveness once they have all learned about it. (16: 28/810; see
also 16: 28/2123)
This is how the two first responses in chapter 16 end, concerning the best
officer (response 1) and the best lord (response 2). The focus is inclu-
siveness or impartiality. The concept of care is absent but replaced in
both hypothetical cases by acts that are considered to be caring: feeding
the hungry, clothing the cold, supporting the sick, and burying the dead
(16: 27/3128/1, 16: 28/34, 16: 28/1516, and 16: 28/18). The argument, more-
over, illustrates well the further intellectual evolution of the Mohists: while
self-contradiction was implicitly criticized in the responses of chapter 15,
it has now become the major argument. By indicating the contradiction
between words and deeds, the author considers the objection refuted and
proceeds to the next objection.
The slogan from chapter 15, inclusively caring for each other, mutually
benefiting each other, appears in the response to the third objection. This
response, together with the fifth, closely resembles the two of the previ-
ous chapter, although they are now argued more profusely.47 The third
response (like the second in chapter 15) promotes the Mohist interpreta-
tion of inclusiveness through reference to ancient sages and kings, but
now explicitly supported by quotations from respectable sources: the Tai
shi (Grand Oath),48 Yu shi (Oath of Yu),49 Tang shuo
(Declaration of Tang),50 and Zhou shi (Odes of Zhou).51 It is here
that the sole use of the expression jian ai in the whole triplet appears;
it will be discussed in the following section. The fifth response contains
the three narratives (of the first response in chapter 15) in which subjects
prove to be able and willing to do much more difficult feats than what the
47The third response in chapter 16 further elaborates (using more quotations from clas-
sic sources) on the second response in chapter 15. The fifth response in chapter 16 largely
copies the three narratives (in different order) of the first response in chapter 15.
48This passage does not occur in the current Tai shi in the Shangshu.
49This title does not occur in the current Shangshu, but a similar passage occurs in Da
Yu mo. See Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 3, 6465.
50This passage does not occur in the current Shangshu, but the last lines contain simi-
larities with Tang gao; see ibid., 189190.
51This passage does not occur in the current Shijing, but the first two lines occur in the
Shangshu, Hongfan. See ibid., 331.
56 carine defoort
Mohists ask, as long as this pleases their lord. As in chapter 15, the contra-
diction between their willingness to offer their lives, on the one hand, and
their rejection of inclusiveness as something too difficult, on the other, is
implicitly present but not further elaborated.
The most interesting objection of chapter 16 is the fourth, because it
takes the argument a step further by showing the complexities of an ever-
increasing scope of caring: it is not mere egoism combined with a failure
to recognize reciprocity on a large scale that prevents the critics from
treating strangers well; it is the care that they owe above all to their own
parents. Only the critics of the fourth objection explicitly worry about the
practice of filial love:
52
Should we perhaps abandon our parents benefit and harm the practice of
filial love? (16: 29/17)
Their question resonates with more conventional or familial concerns and
the fear that the larger scope may endanger the smaller one.53 Chapter 14
started from a need for reciprocal caring within the conventional types
of hierarchy and only then broadened the scope, mainly asking people to
refrain from harmful acts; but chapter 16 clearly demands active care for
widows and orphans, the hungry, the cold, the sick, and even the dead.
But how can one take care of ones parents as a filial son when all these
othersometimes even oppositeduties claim moral priority? To offer
ones life for a reputation is not just a failure to understand ones own
benefit but also an act of respect and care for ones parents and ances-
tors. Reference to the reputation to be won in battle is one way in which
the elite defends the drive of their knights to engage in war.54 Thus, what
looks like harm to others (strangers) from one viewpoint can be benefit
for others (within ones family) from another viewpoint. To fight another
family is thus not unambiguously a harmful act, as the Mohists want us to
believe. Or, to put it in terms of the diagnosis in chapter 14, the knight who
fights another family for the reputation of his own family is analogous, not
with the unfilial son in case 1 but, on the contrary, with a filial son.
52Replacing the character zhong by , meaning to fit, accord with. See Mozi jiao-
zhu, 194 n. 104.
53The same concern seems to have motivated Ban Gus criticism of Mohism: They
extend the idea of inclusive care to the point that they dont know how to distinguish
between kin and stranger . See Hanshu 30.1738.
54See, e.g., Mozi 19: 33/2627.
are the three

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chapters about universal love? 57


The response of the Mohists to this objection is that moral acts in the
largest scope will inevitably be rewarded in the smaller scope, and not
just in relation to oneself (as was the case in chapter 15). Since a filial son
obviously also wants other people to be good to his parents, he must be
good to their parents and not harm them. Thus, serving ones own parents
ultimately amounts to caring for all other parents inclusively. This is how
truly filial sons reason:

Will others reward me by taking care of and benefiting my parents if I first


work hard at taking care of and benefiting their parents? Or will they reward
me by taking care of and benefiting my parents if I first work hard at hating
and hurting their parents? Certainly, they will reward me by taking care of
and benefiting my parents if I first work hard at taking care of and benefiting
their parents. (16: 29/1921)
This reasoning not only is a clear instance of common sense, according to
the author, but can also be founded on ancient sources that celebrate the
functioning of rewards or compensation (bao ).55 An ode of the Da ya
(Great Odes) makes exactly this point:

Every word gets its answer. Every good deed has its recompense.
You throw a peach to me, Ill reward you with a plum.56
This is saying that the one who cares for others will inevitably be cared for,
and who hates others will inevitably be hated. (16: 29/2324)
With this response to the concerns expressed by conservative opponents,
I conclude the analysis of the Jian ai triplet, leaving the single occur-
rence of the expression jian ai in the triplet to be discussed in the context
of its fuller elaboration in other Core Chapters. In the whole triplet, care
in itself is never an object of controversy, but only its scope and specific
content: the value of reciprocity (xiang) that was prominent in chapter 14
was slowly replaced by inclusiveness ( jian) from the middle of chapter 15
55On this concept, see Yang Lien-sheng, The Concept of Pao as a Basis for Social
Relations in China.
56These are two separate lines in Yi , Ode 256. See Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 4,
514515.
58 carine defoort
onward, and most explicitly so in chapter 16. The deep-rooted idea of reci-
procity has not disappeared but has become a part of the explicit argu-
ment in favor of impartiality: those who are not shortsighted realize that
being good to others will involve compensation for themselves (chapter 15)
and for their loved ones (chapter 16). But this is clearly not the final stage
of jian ai: its occurrence in chapter 16 as well as in other Core Chapters
illustrates the inherent dynamics of the Mohist idea: the new demand for
inclusive caring moves further on, almost leaving behind all reflections in
terms of reciprocity.
The Birth of Jian Ai
What was the steering force behind the above-traced evolution of jian in
these three and other Core Chapters of the Mozi? One could imagine that
Mohist thought evolved as a consequence of various types of criticism,
by gradually accommodating the critics. As noted above, Ding Weixiang
reads in the three Jian ai chapters an evolution of accommodation and
watering down of an originally quite radical doctrine. Yoshinaga Shinjir
traces an evolution from a moral vision in chapter 14 toward an increas-
ingly political and utilitarian stance in chapter 16.57 If we focus on those
objections that were quoted in the tripletadmittedly perhaps only an
unrepresentative portion of the actual critical voiceswe can detect a
minor and a major trend.
The minor and most critical trend is represented only by the fourth
objection in chapter 16, which concerns the duty of filial love or care for
ones kin (xiao ). Since a filial son must reciprocate the care that his par-
ents gave him, he cannot treat them merely like others to whom he owes
nothing. Even a theoretical understanding of the reciprocity that rules
the larger scope of ones relations cannot undo this priority. The growing
scope of jian that I have tried to describe is certainly not an accommoda-
tion to this objection. There are other records of attempts to counter the
criticism of traditionalists by nuancing the Mohist view.58 Such compro-
mises between the broad scope of jian and the conventional priority of
57Yoshinaga Shinjir, Jian ai shi shenme.
58Mozi 44 and Mengzi 3A5 are often understood as compromises of later Mohists
stressing the division ( fen ) of labor between ones feeling of caring for everybody and
the concrete implementation that starts with ones own relatives. For the Mohist canon,
see Graham, Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science, 249250. For Mencius, see Nivison,
Two Roots or One?, 740747; and Shun, Mencius Criticism of Mohism.
are the three

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chapters about universal love? 59


the familial scope, are more subtle and mature than the response in chap-
ter 16, which promises certain benefit for the parents of one who benefits
the parents of others. There are no indications of accommodation to fam-
ily values as a response to this or other objections, although the author
is remarkably respectful of conventional values and hierarchical roles
throughout the three chapters: not only in the beginning of chapter 14,
as a possible captatio benevolentiae of the audience, but also at the end of
chapter 16, where inclusiveness is ascribed to the gentleman ( junzi
) who works hard at being a wise ruler, a loyal minister, a loving father,
a caring son, a friendly elder brother, or a brotherly younger brother
(16: 30/79).59 Perhaps the Mohist departure from conventional morality
only began in this early triplet and is mirrored in the sequence of its three
chapters. Its thought has not yet reached the point of accommodation but
instead follows its inherent logic of demanding more equality and social
concern.
The major and milder trend of all other recorded objections in chap-
ters 15 and 16 is a combination of approval and doubt concerning the prac-
ticability of something as difficult as inclusiveness. This mixed criticism
of Mohism is also echoed in other early sources.60 Again, the response
is not a bit accommodating: first, the author points out that aristocrats
are capable of much more difficult feats if they are really motivated; and
second, he quotes authoritative sources concerning model rulers who
were all examples of jian and inspirations for Mozi. It is in such a context
that the expression jian ai occurs for the very first timein chapter 16s
response to the third objection.

The Great Oath says: King Wen was like sun and moon, spreading and
shining his light over the four quarters and the Western region.
This says that King Wens impartial caring for the world was broad and
great. He is being compared to how sun and moon are impartial in their
shining over the world. This is the inclusiveness of King Wen. Even what
59Dan Robins, Mohist Care, 6367 shows how role-governed relationships and parti-
ality for ones own family is compatible with the Mohist idea of inclusive care.
60See, e.g., Zhuangzi 33; and Shiji 130.
60 carine defoort
our Master Mozi called inclusive was taken from the example of King Wen.
(16: 29/13)61
The model of jian ai is an exemplary ruler who cares for the whole world
equally. He is compared to heavenly bodies, such as the sun and the
moon. The emergence of this model seems to mark a further growth in the
scope of inclusiveness, which does not result from a compromise with
objections but, on the contrary, follows an inherent and radicalizing urge
within Mohist thought. The ideal of jian ai in this passage and in some
other Core Chapters is one in which reciprocity is further stretched and
adapted, perhaps to the point of being abandoned: like Heaven, the sage
is able to care for others impartially without starting from a particular
center of concern and without expecting any reward in return, either for
himself or for his loved ones. The appearance of exemplary kings ruling
over All under Heaven (tianxia ) and their description in heavenly
terms indicate this further growth of the concept of jian. With the advent
of the model of Heaven, implicit in chapter 15 and for the first time explic-
itly related to jian ai in chapter 16, the ideal is no longer described as an
ever-growing inclusive extent of caring beginning with ones own per-
sonal and familial center of concern; rather, the ideal becomes a matter
of fundamental impartiality.
To trace this evolution further in the Core Chapters,62 we have to turn
to the somewhat later triplet Will of Heaven .63 Chapters 26, 27,
and 28 share ideas about the scope of caring and benefiting with the Jian
ai triplet, using expressions such as (the slogan of chap-
ter 15), inclusively care for everybody in the world , the
independent concepts jian and bie , and even the expression jian ai,
61The same description of King Wen occurs in chapter 15 (26/21), but without quoting
any source and without any interpretation in terms of jian ai.
62It is remarkable that the occurrences of jian (er) ai () in other Mozi chapters
are related to Heaven. See, e.g., 4: 4/2024 and 9: 12/1722. Chapters 4 and 35 speak of
, in similar terms. For more occurrences, see Sato, The Idea to Rule the
World, 3839.
63A. Taeko Brooks, The Mician Ethical Chapters, 117, dates chapter 26 to ca. 352 BCE,
which is slightly earlier than chapter 15 (ca. 342 BCE); chapters 27 (ca. 302 BCE) and 28
(ca. 282 BCE) are slightly later. According to Watanabe Takashi, Bokushi shohen no
chosaku nendai, part 1, 2731, the whole triplet (26, 28, 27) is much later (end of third
century). There is disagreement on the order of the two last chapters of the triplet but
agreement on the priority of chapter 26. For the evolution of jian ai in the Tian zhi triplet,
see also Sakai Kazutaka, Makki Boku no kenai shis, 101, 103105.
are the three

jian ai

chapters about universal love? 61


which occurs no fewer than four times in chapter 28.64 The fragments
in this triplet about caring and benefiting further illustrate the growing
scope of jian in two ways, both related to the idea of reciprocity. First, they
establish a reciprocity between Heaven and all human beings, as a new
way to motivate the inclusion of strangers in ones scope of caring. Sec-
ond, they further radicalize their moral stance to the extent that reciproc-
ity becomes a duty toward Heaven rather than something to be expected
from others. Here the obligation of inclusive caring is for the first time
explicitly identified as the will of Heaven (tian zhi yi ):

As for the officer-gentlemen of the world who want to do what is right, they
must follow the will of Heaven.
But what is the will of Heaven?
It is to impartially care for everybody in the world. (28: 48/14)65
We know that Heaven cares for everyone in the world because it has in all
times and all regions accepted offerings from all peoples, including the bar-
barians. The offerings made by men to Heaven seem to initiate a general
relation of reciprocity and cause Heavens positive response to everybody:
66

If it impartially accepts food from them,67 it must impartially care for them.
Compare it to the lords of Chu and Yue. Well, since the king of Chu is fed
by all those in the territory of Chu, he takes care of the people of Chu; since
the king of Yue is fed by all those in the territory of Yue, he takes care of the
64For other passages in common with the Jian ai triplet, see also the essay by Nicolas
Standaert in this volume.
65See also Mozi 28: 48/2324: to follow the will of Heaven is inclusiveness; to go
against the will of Heaven is exclusiveness. If inclusiveness determines the Way, it is gov-
ernment through justice. If exclusiveness determines the Way, it is government by force
; .
66Following Wang Yinzhi in reading jin shi as jin fu . See Sun Yirang, Mozi
jiangu, 211.
67Here as well as in a similar fragment in chapter 4, Johnston, The Mozi, 27, 267 trans-
lates shi as Heaven feeding them or providing food for them. I agree with Mei, The
Works of Motze, 30, 306, that it should be that Heaven accepts offering from them or is
fed by them.
62 carine defoort
people of Yue. Well, since Heaven is fed by everybody impartially, I know
that it takes care of everyone in the world impartially. (28: 48/68)68
Another indication of Heavens caring for everybody is the fact that it
punishes anyone who hurts others and it rewards those who are good to
others. The best proof is:

.
The impartial caring for and consequently benefiting of the world by the
sage-kings of antiquity, Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang, Wen, and Wu. (28: 48/1415)
Since they cared for those whom Heaven cared for and also benefited
them, they were rewarded by Heaven and became known as sagely kings.
But punishments were inflicted upon violent kings such as Jie, Zhou, You,
and Li, who hated the world and harmed it against the will of Heaven
(28: 48/1021).
Heaven is thus promoted as the foundation of jian ai: it meaningfully
relates to all humans, whether by accepting offerings or by compensating
human actions. The promise of a broad type of reciprocity among humans
that was gradually formulated as a response in the Jian ai triplet is now
strengthened or replaced by the promise of a reward to be expected from
a communicative Heaven,69 an idea that is almost totally absent from the
Jian ai triplet.70 The idea of a responding Heaven as it was inspired by
68Because jian xiang ai, jiao xiang li is now being paired with bie xiang wu, jiao xiang
zei, with both jian and bie used adverbally, Schumacher, An Outline of the Evolu-
tion of the Concept of Jian in Mohism, 19, 21, believes that chapter 26 precedes chapter
16, where both characters stand for independent and central concepts, namely inclusive-
ness (which is being promoted) and exclusiveness (which is being rejected). It is also
possible that the two opposite concepts were already established when chapter 26 was
written. Otherwise, it is difficult to understand why the author wrote exclusively hate
each other (bie (xiang) wu ()) instead of inclusively hate each other ( jian (xiang)
wu ()), which grammatically makes more sense (as it occurs in Mozi 4: 5/2 and 9:
12/26). It seems that the concept of jian was considered invariably good in chapter 28, as
it was in chapter 16 (see also Mozi 26: 43/8 and 26: 43/15), and hence was not considered
usable as an adverb of the verb hate. Since bie was rejected as the opposite of jian, it is
here used in connection with hate.
69In chapter 26, there is a unique passage in which the will of Heaven is twice literally
quoted () about those sagely kings who also cared for those people that Heaven
cared for, and about those violent kings who did not. See the essay by Nicolas Standaert
in this volume.
70The sole reference in the jian ai triplet to Heaven is in chapter 15 in relation to King
Wen, who is compared to the sun and moon (15: 26/22), as he is in the ode in chapter 16
quoted above.
are the three

jian ai

chapters about universal love? 63


ancient textual references71 and expanded to all human beings, may have
seemed a more reliable and respected foundation for the novel moral
principle. The same argument is developed in chapters 26 and 27,72 but
in the latter with explicit reference to repay or compensate (bao ).
Heaven is portrayed as such an endless source of bounty and welfare that
human beings should try to repay at least a minor fraction of its generos-
ity: it orders sun, moon, and stars, regulates the seasons, sends frost, rain,
and dew, grows grain and silk, provides us with hills and rivers, gathers
metal and wood, bestows on us birds and beasts, and so on. Hence, the
motivating force of reciprocity lies not only in Heavens promise of pun-
ishment or reward but also in our duty to respond appropriately to such
an enormous gift:

As for Heaven, it cares for everything in the world impartially, quickly ripens
all things to benefit them. Since even the tip of an autumn hair is made by
Heaven, and people get to benefit from it, it can be said to be really substan-
tial. Why then do they not compensate Heaven, and do they not realize how
bad and disastrous they are? This is why I say that the gentlemen under-
stand things on a small scale but not on a large scale. (27: 45/1719)
The author again resorts to analogical reasoning starting from generally
accepted virtues to make his point: If a son, a brother, or a minister behaves
badly toward his superior and benefactor, we do not hesitate to criticize
him. Why then, do the gentlemen fail to respond appropriately toward their
most obvious benefactor? If a son did not repay his loving father, who
expended all his energy benefiting this son, we would be utterly shocked.
Why then do we accept this ungrateful behavior toward Heaven that has
been going on since antiquity (27: 45/2529)? So, in the Tian zhi triplet,
jian ai not only becomes a recurrent expression and central topic but also
further evolves in the direction of impartiality. While the idea of reciproc-
ity is never totally abandoned, it proves unable to contain the ever-growing
moral demands of the Mohists and to support the absolute duty to care for
71About the image of Heaven in the Shi and Shu, see Standaert, The Fascinating God.
72See Mozi 26: 43/712, where it is said that whoever follows the will of Heaven
inclusively cares for each other and mutually benefits each other and inevitably will be
rewarded , as opposed to those who go against
the will of Heaven, exclusively hate each other and mutually hurt each other, and inevita-
bly will be punished . See also 27: 45/1646/25.
64 carine defoort
everybody without expecting anything in return. Although I have almost
consistently translated jian as inclusive in the Jian ai triplet, the imag-
ery of Heaven seems to inaugurate a new dimension of Mohist ethics that
can perhaps be characterized as impartiality or universality.73
Conclusion
The expression jian ai occurs more frequently in other sources than the
Mozi and in other Mohist chapters than the triplet named after it.74 Mas-
ter Mo himself and his earliest followerspossibly the authors or editors
of the Jian ai tripletmay not have realized that Mohist thought would
at some point become so firmly associated with this expression. I believe
that the identification of Mohism with the ideal of jian ai is to a large
extent the result of history, beginning around the time of Menciuss harsh
criticism of Mozi75 and enforced by modern scholars such as Liang Qichao
searching for indigenous sources of Chinese modernity.76 While
these two extremes on the historical scale strongly associated Mohism
with jian ai, the former negatively and the latter positively, the long period
between them is far less unanimous than recent reconstructions suggest.
Indeed, in the Han dynasty there was little explicit association of Mozi
with the idea of jian ai. The views of other masters and scholars are much
more complex but must await further research.77
73Chinese scholars writing from a Marxist background have argued that universality
cannot have been Mozis ideal since he was still living in a class society. See, e.g., Tong
Shuye, Xian Qin qi zi sixiang yanjiu, 7475.
74For a further elaboration, see Defoort, Do the Ten Mohist Theses Represent Mozis
Thought?; and Sato, The Idea to Rule the World, 5254.
75Mencius is exceptional among the early Chinese masters in criticizing Mozi mainly,
if not exclusively, for his idea of jian ai (Mengzi 3A5, 3B9, 7A26). Probably due to Menciuss
influence, Mozi was often associated with the promotion of jian ai in Chinese history. For
another view, see Sato, The Idea to Rule the World, 2931, who claims that the jianai
doctrine had been established by the time of Mencius because of (1) the occurrence of
jian in that book, (2) Satos early date for the Shanghai manuscript Guishen zhi ming,
and (3) Satos identification of jian with the historical Zisi.
76See Liang Qichao, Mozi xuean, 1516. He was inspired by Sun Yirang, who was, in
turn, inspired by the Qing scholar Zhang Huiyan (17611802), whose work was
edited by Sun Yirang. See Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu, 678. Many contemporary scholars agree
on the importance of jian ai in Mohist thought. See, e.g. Tong Shuye, Xian Qin qi zi sixiang
yanjiu, 73; Qi Wen and Li Guangxing, Mozi shi jiang, 37; Hu Zizong et al., Mozi sixiang
yanjiu, 279. Xue Bocheng, Mojia sixiang xintan, 1113, gives an overview of Chinese scholars
who agree that jian ai is the core of Mohism. For Qing views on jian ai, see Malek, Ver-
schmelzung der Horizonte, 286291.
77Some are positive about jian ai (e.g., Xunzi), or they criticize other aspects of Mohism
(also Xunzi); some explicitly associate jian ai with the Ru (e.g., Han Feizi 49 Wu du;
are the three

jian ai

chapters about universal love? 65


My analysis was focused on the question of whether the Mozis three
Jian ai chapters were really about universal love. Although jian and
ai gradually find each other and give birth to a radically novel idea, the
expression jian ai is virtually absent in this triplet. If we ignore later influ-
ences from other sources, including the chapter titles, we have to con-
clude that the idea of jian ai was hardly born in the triplet named after it.
By highlighting arguments about caring (ai ) and benefiting (li ),
hating (wu ), hurting (zei ), and harming (hai ), oneself
(zi ) and each other (xiang , jiao ), inclusively ( jian ) and
exclusively (bie ), I have tried to describe the evolution of this con-
cept from caring for oneself, to caring for each other in an ever wid-
ening scope, up to an unconditional type of caring for everybody, and
ultimately without any expectation of reward. The center of the debate
was never caring itself but its scope and specific content. The nature and
value of reciprocity changed in this evolution: since the conventional
type of reciprocity (of chapter 14) became a burden for the new focus on
jian, it was gradually replaced by an argued reciprocity among non-kin
(in chapters 15 and 16) and ultimately with Heaven. The emergence of
the model of Heaven in chapter 16 and in the Will of Heaven chapters
seems to coincide with the birth of the expression jian ai. This step not
merely motivates a wider moral concern for others but also radicalizes
it: Heaven responds to humans and also expects a response from them
in the form of an extremely impartial type of care for others, especially
those people who cannot always reciprocate. This seems to deal a final
blow to the idea of reciprocity: although Heaven was demanding in its
relation to humans and expected compensation for its goodness, it also
relinquished the idea of reciprocity by not wanting anything for itself. This
non-reciprocity thus set the new model of impartiality beyond the ever-
growing and increasingly specific inclusiveness. My analysis suggests that
even the short history of jian ai from its conception in chapter 14 till its
birth in the Tian zhi triplet yields grounds for a variety of translations
of the term. Later uses of the more mature expression, adopted by others
in praise or criticism, will probably bring forth new interpretations and
translations of the expression jian ai.
Zhuangzi 13 Tian dao; and various Han sources); others identify Mozi with jian (Lshi
chunqiu 17.7 Bu er; Shizi 1.10 Guang(ze)) or with fan ai (Zhuangzi 33 Tianxia).
See Defoort, Do the Ten Mohist Theses Represent Mozis Thought?; Nylan, Kongzi and
Mozi, 1, 18; and Sato, The Idea to Rule the World.
66 carine defoort
Appendix: Scheme of the Argument (with Working Titles)
(chap. 14)
(chap. 15)
(chap. 16)
Medical analogy
...
I. Diagnosis:
1
2
3
4
II. Remedy:
1, 2, 3, 4
Summarized: 4 4, 3,
1+2
Conclusion: Mozi

Introduction
I. Diagnosis + remedy
Harm in the world: 4
4, 3, 1 + 2
Its cause :
4 4, 3
4 4, 3, 1 + 2, and
more
Remedy
: 4 4, 3
4 4, 3, 1 + 2, and
more
II. First objection: is
but
Response:
A. Self-contradiction
in understanding
motivation for ones
acts ()
B. Failure to under-
stand benefit in large
scope ()
A. Narratives of
officers

B. Repeated
III. Second objection:
is but
Response:
against Taishan
analogy
model rulers were
Introduction
I. Diagnosis + remedy
Harm in the world:
4 4, 3, and more,
1 + 2, 3
Its cause:
Remedy: 4 ? 4
From remedy to
result:...and much
more
II. First objection: is
but ?
Response: in we all
prefer not ,
but in some reject
.
III. Second objection:
OK, but for ?
Response: in we all
prefer not ,
but in some reject
.
IV. Third objection:
is and but
?
Response:
against Taishan
analogy
model rulers were
(+ )
(+ )
(+ )
(+ )
are the three

jian ai

chapters about universal love? 67


Table (cont.)
(chap. 14)
(chap. 15)
(chap. 16)

(+)
Conclusion:

V. Fourth objection:
Response: benefit in
large scope for small
scope (+ : )
VI. Fifth objection:
Response: self-
contradiction

Conclusion:

HOW TO END WARS WITH WORDS: THREE ARGUMENTATIVE


STRATEGIES BY MOZI AND HIS FOLLOWERS*
Paul van Els

Those who steal buckles get to be punished;


those who steal states get to be feudal lords.
Zhuangzi
Mozi (fifth century BCE) and his followers were active in the socially
and politically tumultuous era in Chinese history that has come to be
known as the Warring States period (fifth to third centuries BCE). War-
fare naturally informs many aspects of their ideas and practices. From a
genuine concern for the well-being of the common people, whose lives
were endangered by the ongoing conflicts, they developed arguments
against military aggression between states, they presented these argu-
ments to belligerent heads of state, hoping to dissuade them from launch-
ing attacks, and they came to the rescue of weaker cities and states under
attack, offering their knowledge of defense tactics and weaponry. Our
main source for Mohist ideas and practices is the Mozi, in which warfare
*This essay was written under the financial support of a grant from the Netherlands
Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). It studies three chapters in the Mozi
that were probably, as Graham puts it (Disputers of the Tao, 35), written down from a com-
mon oral tradition which may or may not go back to the discourses of Mo-tzu [Mozi] him-
self. Their obscure provenance notwithstanding, I ascribe the views expressed in these
chapters to Mozi, because so does the Chinese text. In so doing, I do not suggest that
the views can be traced to a historical Mozi, nor do I want to bypass the complex textual
history of the Mozi. My motivation is merely aesthetic: Mozi argues is more pleasing to
the eye than those who created this Mozi passage argue, even if the latter reflects the
necessary historical prudence. Unless indicated otherwise, all translations in this essay
are my own. They are based on a Dutch translation of the three Mozi chapters that I made
in collaboration with Burchard Mansvelt Beck. When retranslating select passages into
English for this paper, I consulted the translations of Mei, The Ethical and Political Works
of Motse; Watson, Mo-tzu, Basic Writings; and Johnston, The Mozi. I am indebted to their
work but do not systematically indicate where my translations draw upon or deviate from
theirs. I presented earlier versions of this essay in Leiden, Bonn, and Oxford, and I am
thankful for all questions and comments received at those meetings. I am also grateful
to Katia Chirkova, Carine Defoort, Chris Fraser, Ting-mien Lee, Hui-chieh Loy, Nicolas
Standaert, Griet Vankeerberghen, and Sara Vantournhout, who read earlier versions of this
essay and provided insightful comments and suggestions.
70 paul van els
is a recurrent topic. To give a few examples: Three chapters, all titled Fei
gong (Against Military Aggression), fervidly condemn offensive war-
fare (Mozi 1719). Another chapter narrates how Mozi walked for ten days
and nights to dissuade the king of one state from attacking another state
(Mozi 50). And the final chapters of the book, with titles such as Bei ti
(Preparing against Ladders), give detail on the technical aspects
of city defense (Mozi 5271).1 This essay focuses on the three Against
Military Aggression chapters, that is, on the theoretical foundation rather
than the practical application of the Mohists military views.
Fei gong is known as one of the ten core doctrines of Mozi and his
group. In the received Mozi, these ten basic teachings are presented in the
so-called Triplet chapters, each triplet consisting of three distinct chap-
ters with both similarities and differences in wording and reasoning. As
one of the most prominent teachings of the Mohists, the against military
aggression doctrine features prominently in current publications on the
Mozi. Scholars often quote freely from one or more of the three chapters,
so as to present a coherent description of Mozis stance on warfare. Such
descriptions usually treat the three chapters as one homogeneous unit and
pay no attention to the differences between them.2 Other scholars focus
specifically on the differences between the three chapters, so as to explain
the extraordinary threefold structure of the ten Mohist core doctrines and
the complex relationship between the chapters in each triplet. One expla-
nation, the three-sects theory, holds that the Triplets were written by
three different groups of Mozis followers. Another explanation, currently
more popular, is the sequence theory, which sees a temporal develop-
ment between the chapters in each triplet. Both explanations rely mainly
(though not exclusively) on textual evidence: differences in wording,
grammatical patterns, and so on.3 Besides textual differences, however,
there are also notable conceptual differences within the Triplets. These
1For more on these chapters, see Yates, The Mohists on Warfare; or Johnstons trans-
lation, The Mozi, 731921.
2For examples, see Mei, Motse: The Neglected Rival of Confucius, 94102; or Geisser, Mo
Ti, 7779. More recently, Fu, Chinas Legalists, 30, sums up Mozis doctrine of nonaggres-
sion by simply saying that war does not bring any benefit but only impose[s] hardship
on the common people. Similarly, Nivison, The Classical Philosophical Writings, 763,
summarizes the three chapters in a couple of lines, glossing over any differences between
them, to present the Mohists as pacifists of a sort.
3In his study of grammatical features and differences in wording between the Core
Chapters, Graham, Divisions in Early Mohism, proposes the three-sects theory. In more
recent studies, others argue for a sequence theory instead: A. Taeko Brooks, The Mician
Ethical Chapters; A. Taeko Brooks, The Fragment Theory of MZ 14, 17 and 20; Fraser,
how to end wars with words 71
receive little attention in the literature. For example, only a handful of
scholars note that the three Fei gong chapters contain different argu-
ments and possibly address different audiences.4 Such important obser-
vations regarding the conceptual differences in the Fei gong triplet are
often made in a much broader Mozi context (such as an encyclopedia
entry on Mozis thought or the introduction to a translation of the Mozi).
In my view, these inspiring publications signal the need for a systematic
study of the different lines of argumentation in this triplet. This essay is
an attempt to meet this need.
My study of Mozi chapters 17, 18, and 19 proceeds from two preliminary
considerations:
1. I treat the three chapters as distinct textual units. This is not self-evident.
Words, phrases, and even entire passages in these chapters are corrupt,
and a few phrases or passages occur with minor differences in more than
one chapter. Moreover, it has been suggested (and persuasively refuted)
that Mozi 17 was originally part of another chapter, Mozi 26; and there
is evidence that Mozi 19 contains different layers, some written earlier
than others.5 These complexities notwithstanding, each of the three
chapters displays a remarkable conceptual coherence, a clear line of
argumentation, which indicates that the chapters form closed textual
units in the eyes of whoever created them, be they Mozi, his followers, or
later editors.
2. I discuss the three chapters in what the majority of scholars now con-
sider to be their chronological order: First Mozi 17, which is the oldest
chapter; then Mozi 18, which is somewhat younger; and finally Mozi
19, which is the youngest of the three.6 Notably, this sequential order,
Doctrinal Developments in the Mozi Jian ai Triad; Desmet, The Growth of
Compounds in the Core Chapters of the Mozi.
4For descriptions of different arguments in these chapters, see Lowe, Mo Tzus Reli-
gious Blueprint for a Chinese Utopia, 107115; A. Taeko Brooks. Mwd 1779 Against
War; Loy, Mozi (Mo-tzu) (c. 400s300s BCE); and Johnston, The Mozi, xlviixlix. Some
suggest that these chapters were written for different audiences: Brooks, MZ 1719; Fraser,
Is MZ 17 a Fragment of MZ 26?, 124; and Loy, Mozi (Mo-tzu) (c. 400s300s BCE).
5Mozi 17 does not start with the standard formula Our Master Mozi, says
(or ), which is one of the reasons why Graham, Divisions in Early Mohism,
34, argues that Mozi 17 was originally part of another chapter, Mozi 26. Fraser, Is MZ 17 a
Fragment of MZ 26?, 122123 persuasively refutes Grahams argument. For a textual analy-
sis of Mozi 19, showing different layers, see Desmet, All Good Things Come in Threes,
124146.
6This sequential order is quite plausible, if only because the three chapters in this
order display an increased use of grammatical compounds, which accords with broader
72 paul van els
however plausible, is not pertinent to my argument, for my primary
concern is not the historical relationship of these chapters but the con-
ceptual differences between them.
A quick glance at the three chapters shows striking differences. One cru-
cial difference is their usage of the term to attack (gong ).7 In Mozi 17,
the term occurs a mere three times. All three occurrences are in the verb-
object construction to attack a state (gong guo ). In Mozi 18, the
term occurs about two dozen times. Aside from a few occurrences in
verb-object constructions (such as to attack the state of Qi ), most
occurrences are in the noun phrase warfare marked by attack (gong
zhan ), military aggression or offensive warfare in a more natural
translation). This suggests that Mozi 18 condemns, not merely the practice
of one state attacking another state, but the conceptualized idea of offen-
sive warfare, possibly as distinct from other types of warfare. In Mozi 19,
the term likewise occurs nearly two dozen times. This chapter also argues
against offensive warfare, but the preferred terminology here is not war-
fare marked by attack (gong zhan ) (which occurs not even once),
but to attack and to strike (gong fa ). This shift in the choice of
terminology possibly suggests that the chapters were created by different
people, or different groups of people, who do not necessarily approach
warfare from exactly the same angle.
Not only do the three chapters differ in their usage of to attack, but
other recurrent terms likewise vary. Some keywords appear frequently in
one chapter but hardly or not at all in the other chapters, as this table
shows:8
linguistic trends of that period. (See Desmet, The Growth of Compounds in the Core
Chapters of the Mozi, on the value of such compounds as criteria for dating texts.) This
sequence also explains the increasing length of the chapters (17 shortest, 18 intermediate,
19 longest) and the amplified opposition to Mozis ideas (no opponents in chapter 17 to
fierce debate in chapter 19). And finally, the sequence explains the shift in the use of the
term to benefit (li ), from a negative, selfish benefit in Mozi 17 to a positive, altruistic
benefit in Mozi 19, a shift that is also witnessed in Mozi 1416, the Inclusive Care triplet
that is closely related to the Against Military Aggression triplet. (For more on the term to
profit/benefit, see Fraser, Doctrinal Developments in the Mozi Jianai Triad,
4; or Defoort, The Profit That Does Not Profit.).
7This term is also rendered as offensive warfare or military aggression in English.
8I noted these keywords in the course of translating the three chapters, for they appear
to stand out as terminology specific to each of these chapters. The table lists only the
absolute frequencies of the keywords. If we adjust these frequencies for the relative sizes
of the three chapters (roughly 1:3:5), the differences would be even more salient. Notably,
the frequency of the word to count (shu ) does not include its occurrences in the
how to end wars with words 73
Keywords Mozi 17 Mozi 18 Mozi 19
humaneness (ren ) 4 2
righteousness (yi ) 21 9
to harm others (kui ren ) 6
crime (zui ) 6 2
to calculate ( ji ) 5 1
to count (shu ) 8 4
countless (bu ke
sheng shu )
9 2
ghosts (gui ) 1 11
spirits (shen ) 1 9
Heaven (tian ) 25
These keywords are interesting for two reasons: (1) Their different frequen-
cies of occurrence are revealing. Keywords typical for Mozi 17 are absent
in Mozi 18, and vice versa, and Mozi 19 contains some keywords from both
Mozi 17 and Mozi 18 but also features keywords that do not appear in
the other two chapters. This possibly suggests that the first two chapters
were created independently of each other, and that the third chapter may
have been created with one or both of the other chapters in mind. (2) The
keywords within each chapter by and large belong to the same semantic
field. As such, the combination of keywords in each chapter appears to
represent one theme, or one topic of argumentation.
More specifically, Mozi 17 repeatedly speaks of humaneness and righ-
teousness, it worries about the harm done to people, and it labels war-
fare a crime. This suggests that the chapter approaches warfare from the
angle of what is morally right or wrong. I call this the moral argument.
Mozi 18 is all about counting and calculating, as it quantifies the costs
and benefits of a military campaign. I call this the economic argument.
Mozi 19 speaks of ghosts and spirits and repeatedly claims that warfare
harms the interests of Heaven. I call this the religious argument. In sum,
the keywords suggest that the Mohists did not uphold just one argument
against military aggression. Instead, they actively pursued different lines
of argumentation, possibly to persuade different audiences.
In the following sections I shall individually discuss each of the three
lines of argumentation, with extensive reference to the original text in
formulaic expression countless (bu ke sheng shu ), and the frequency of the
word Heaven (tian ) does not include its occurrences in the formula All under
Heaven (tianxia ), in this essay also translated as the world.
74 paul van els
translation. I explore what the argument in each of the three chapters
entails, to whom it may have been addressed, and how persuasive it is
from a modern academic perspective. To contextualize the three lines of
argumentation, I occasionally refer to other parts of the Mozi and to other
early Chinese politico-philosophical writings. In the final section, I give
examples of how these arguments were used in practice, at least accord-
ing to the anecdotes in the latter part of the received Mozi. My ultimate
goal is to show how the Mohists actively adapted their argumentative
strategies so as to find the best words to end wars.
The Moral Argument
The first of the three Fei gong chapters, Mozi 17, is a short essay that
criticizes unprovoked military offensives between states and specifically
targets the gentlemen of the world for rejoicing about such
practices. In this chapter, Mozi unilaterally expresses his views; opponents
are not given the opportunity to respond. In plain words and clear logic,
Mozi rejects military aggression as unethical, or even criminal. His rhe-
torical tour de force opens with a step-by-step argument that leads from
minor offenses to major felony and eventually to the inevitable conclu-
sion that warfare is the worst of all crimes:

Suppose you enter someones orchard and pick a peach or a plum. When
the people hear about it, they will condemn it. When the authorities catch
you, they will punish you. Why? Because you harm the other to benefit
yourself.
Now suppose you seize someones dog, pig, chicken, or piglet. This
unrighteous act is worse than picking a peach or a plum from someones
orchard. Why? Because you cause greater harm to the other. The greater
harm you cause to the other, the greater your lack of humaneness and the
graver your crime.
And now suppose you enter someones stable and seize a horse or an ox.
This unrighteous act is even worse than seizing someones dog, pig, chicken,
how to end wars with words 75
or piglet. Why? Because you cause greater harm to the other. The greater
harm you cause to the other, the greater your lack of humaneness and the
graver your crime.
And finally, suppose you kill an innocent man, strip him of his fur coat,
and appropriate his spear or sword. This unrighteous act is far worse than
entering someones stable and seizing a horse or an ox. Why? Because you
cause far greater harm to the other. The greater harm you cause to the other,
the greater your lack of humaneness and the graver your crime.
Up to this point, the gentlemen of the world know enough to condemn
such acts and brand them as unrighteous. Yet when it comes to the grav-
est act of attacking other states, they do not know enough to condemn it.
Instead, they applaud it and call it righteous. How can we say they know the
difference between righteous and unrighteous? (17: 30/1724)
This passage is immediately followed by a similar line of argumentation,
in which the crime of murder increases in gravity:
: ,
;

If you kill a man, you are branded as unrighteous and must pay for this
crime with your own life. Reasoning along these lines: if you kill ten people,
you are ten times as unrighteous and should pay for these crimes with ten
lives; and if you kill a hundred people, you are a hundred times as unrigh-
teous and should pay for these crimes with a hundred lives.
Up to this point, the gentlemen of the world know enough to condemn
such acts and brand them as unrighteous. Yet when it comes to the gravest
form of unrighteousness, attacking other states, they do not know enough to
condemn it. Instead, they applaud it and call it righteous. (17: 30/2628)
The first of these two passages opens with the observation that even minor
offenses, such as stealing fruit, are widely recognized as both reprehensi-
ble and punishable, because such offenses contravene the publics sense
of justice and breach the laws. Those who commit petty larceny enrich
themselves at the cost of others, which is why the people (zhong )
condemn the theft and the authorities (shang wei zheng zhe )
punish the thief. With both the people and the authorities on his side,
it is virtually impossible to disagree with the very foundation of Mozis
moral argument. Moreover, each new step in these two passages follows
seemingly logically from the preceding step: from fruit, to small animals,
to larger animals, and so on; from one person, to ten people, and so on.
This means that whoever agrees with the foundation of Mozis argument
must also accept the conclusion. That is, whoever rejects small crimes
76 paul van els
must also reject larger crimes and ultimately reject warfare as the worst
of all crimes.
Some of Mozis contemporaries nonetheless fail to follow his argument
all the way through. They do not take the ultimate step of rejecting war-
fare. Mozi accuses these people, whom he disdainfully refers to as the
gentlemen of the world, of applying double standards: they condemn
minor wrongdoings but support what he considers the gravest wrongdo-
ing of all. Such people are obviously confused in their moral judgment,
as Lowe notes.9
Who are these morally confused gentlemen of the world? Robins iden-
tifies them as men distinguished by their social and political power,
whose group includes rulers and other members of the nobility, though
probably many were not strictly noble.10 The ruling elites upheld views
and customs that Mozi and his followers, emerging from outside the elite
circles, criticized as unserviceable to the well-being of the common peo-
ple. Robins convincingly shows that the elites are the main opponents of
the Mohists, at least in the early stages of their movement. As such, the
elites also serve as the main addressees of Mozi 17. Clues in this chapter
help us determine more specifically who these men were and what it was
about them that bothered Mozi and his group. With a hint of sarcasm,
the chapter discusses the views of the gentlemen of the world on military
aggression:

They must truly fail to see how unrighteous it is, for they commit their words
to writing, so as to hand on to later generations. If they knew how unrigh-
teous it is, then how do we explain that they commit this kind of unrigh-
teousness to writing, so as to hand on to later generations? (17: 30/2829)
Evidently, while Mozi 17 condemns the unprovoked aggression between
states, more importantly it criticizes people who fail to condemn such
aggressionthat is, people who write about the glory of warfare and fail
to see the injustice of it. In all likelihood, the words committed to writ-
ing in this passage refer to the records kept by the elites about their deeds
and achievements, in which they note for posterity, presumably without
the slightest bit of guilt, how their clan fought and won wars. Hence, in
9Lowe, Mo Tzus Religious Blueprint for a Chinese Utopia, 109.
10Robins, The Moists and the Gentlemen of the World, 386.
how to end wars with words 77
my view, this chapter mainly argues against an elite culture that upholds
a self-sustaining rationale that justifies or even encourages war.
Mozis moral argument aims to counter the prevalent hawkish ratio-
nale by rejecting the commonly made distinction between crime and war.
He claims that war is no different from ordinary crime, only graver. This
is a novel idea in the context in which Mozi and his followers operated.
Many thinkers in those days, such as Confucius and Mencius, were critical
of warfare but they never branded it a crime. The idea is also revolution-
ary in that it puts the ruler on a par with his people. In Mozis view, moral
standards and criminal laws apply to both the people and their ruler, and
whoever breaches the law shall be punished. There are, however, two
problems with this argument.
The first problem is that while this chapter condemns the practice of
one state attacking another state, it does not explain what this means
nor does it distinguish between different possible motives for attacking.
This lack of precision, combined with the forceful tone of the argument,
easily leads to the impression that Mozi rejects all kinds of warfare, an
impression shared by some of his and some of our contemporaries.11 But
even without a definition of to attack, the parallel lines of argumenta-
tion in this chapter allow us to infer what is meant by the term. Similar to
entering someones premises to steal fruit or animals or taking someones
life to steal clothes or weapons, Mozi here speaks of entering someones
state and willfully sacrificing human lives for the purpose of gaining booty
or territory. In the first line of argumentation, Mozi explicitly condemns
the killing of an innocent person. The word innocent seems redundant
here, as one would normally find any robbery with murder reprehensible,
whether or not the victim has a clean slate. That Mozi explicitly criti-
cizes the killing of innocent people implies that he exclusively condemns
attacks on innocent states, that is, states led by rulers who pose no threat
to their own population or to the region. Notably, Mozi does not mention
defensive warfare or condemn wars against guilty states. In fact, I would
even argue that Mozi is not ill-disposed toward the latter. The opening
lines of Mozi 17 clearly state that authorities punish guilty people, such as
those who steal fruit. By extension, it seems that guilty rulers may likewise
be punished. Hence, the chapter can be said to contain implicit support
11For Mozis contemporaries, see the opponents mentioned in this chapter. For our
contemporaries, see, e.g., Fu, Chinas Legalists, 30, who straightforwardly labels Mozi an
active pacifist.
78 paul van els
for military action against rogue states, even when it explicitly brands any
other kind of military aggression as a crime.
The second and related problem is that Mozi accuses the ruling elites of
inappropriately distinguishing between crime, which they condemn, and
war, which they applaud. Mozi argues that stealing goods and attacking
states are essentially the same and merely differ in the degree of harm
inflicted upon others. But there may be a reason why people distinguish
between the two. Crime normally takes place within the context of one
state and can be handled by the judiciary system of that state. A mag-
istrate decides if someone should be punished for stealing fruit or not.
But who decides whether or not the attack on a state is justified? And
more importantly, who is capable of enforcing punishment if the attack
is decided to be unjustified? In cross-border conflicts, when the judiciary
systems of individual states fall short, there is need for a universal and
objective entity that is above both adversaries. In Mozis day, the Zhou
clan was no longer able to serve as arbiter. Conversely, the waning power
of their dynasty had given rise to the armed competition among subordi-
nate states that were vying to succeed the Zhou. While Mozi loathes the
hawkish rhetoric and endless battles that dominated his days, in Mozi 17
he does not identify a universal and objective judiciary entity that is capa-
ble of deciding whether an attack is a justifiable punishment of a rogue
state or a loathsome expedition for more goods or grounds. Without this
universal and objective judiciary body, Mozi can only appeal to the rul-
ing elites sense of humaneness and righteousness, in the hope that they
extend the moral standards that are effective in their state to their relation
with other states. Given the hawkish attitude that Mozi identifies among
the gentlemen of the world, this appeal probably yielded little result.
The Economic Argument
The second of the three Fei gong chapters, Mozi 18, is an essay of inter-
mediate size that includes counterarguments by those who resist Mozis
opposition to offensive warfare. These opponents are not named, nor are
they referred to as the gentlemen of the world. Instead, they are labeled
as those who put a pleasing faade upon military aggression (shi gong
zhan zhe ). It is unclear if these opponents were actual histori-
cal figures or fictional characters made up for rhetorical purposes by Mozi
and his followers. Either way, their counterarguments lead to heated dis-
cussion in this chapter.
how to end wars with words 79
The chapter opens and closes with quotations of ancient sayings. For
example: when the plan you made does not work, then observe the past
to know what is ahead and observe the visible to know what is hidden
(18: 31/910). One mans fault may
be another mans lesson, these sayings appear to say, as they encourage
people to learn from past mistakes. This emphasis on the past leads some
scholars to see the argument in this chapter as historical.12 The chapter is
indeed interspersed with historical anecdotes. Then again, so is the next
chapter (Mozi 19). Moreover, the function of the anecdotes in this chap-
ter is to illustrate a more fundamental idea, namely that warfare is an
extravagant waste of resources.
Chapter 18 does not address the morally confused elites (as does Mozi 17)
but specifically targets those who make plans for the state (as in the
ancient saying quoted above) and who are in a position to decide whether
or not to go to war. In trying to argue policy makers out of engaging in
warfare, this chapter does not mention abstract ethical notions such as
humaneness or righteousness, nor does it brand warfare a crime (as
does Mozi 17). Instead, it focuses on two very concrete aspects of war-
fare: gain and loss. The central message of the chapter is clear: in war,
the anticipated gain never outweighs the guaranteed loss. Because this
chapter is mainly concerned with a careful calculation of gain and loss,
I call this the economic argument. The word economic here refers to
the careful, efficient, and prudent management of the resources of a state.
One way to use these resources in a responsible manner and avoid unnec-
essary waste or expense, Mozi argues, is to stop wars.
Mozis economic argument comes in what I consider three subargu-
ments. He claims that in war (1) loss outweighs gain, (2) losers outnumber
winners, and (3) even winners eventually become losers. I now outline
each of these subarguments to show how they combine to form Mozis
economic argument.
Loss Outweighs Gain
In the first part of the chapter, Mozi suggests that the belligerent rulers
of his day are fixated on expected gain and conveniently overlook the
12Lowe, Mo Tzus Religious Blueprint for a Chinese Utopia, 109; Johnston, The Mozi,
xlviii.
80 paul van els
extensive costs of a military campaign. To counterbalance this one-sided
fixation, he offers a detailed quantification of the costs involved:

Now let us calculate the costs of a military expedition.13 Arrows, flags, tents,
armor, shields, sword hiltscountless quantities are taken on a campaign,
where they wear, tear, rust, and rot, never to return again. Spears, lances,
swords, poniards, chariots, cartscountless quantities are taken on a cam-
paign, where they break, burst, rust, and rot, never to return again. Oxen and
horsescountless quantities start out fat and come back lean, or perish and
do not return at all. Countless people will die because of the long journey or
the shortage of food supply. Countless people will fall ill and die on the way
because the encampments are unsafe, they do not eat and drink at proper
times, and appetite and satiation are poorly attuned to one another. Count-
less troops will be lost in large numbers or perish entirely. As a result, also
countless spirits will lose their worshipers. (18: 31/1217)
The wide range of the expenditure is impressive, and the listed costs
display an increasing value: materials > animals > humans > spirits. The
diverse materials required for a military campaign (weapons, vehicles,
tents) are extensive, but with enough financial resources, these goods can
be replaced. Animals are more costly, for they take time to breed and are
expensive to replace. Human lives, in Mozis eyes, are precious, and even
more so are their spirits. In the early Chinese worldview, the spirit of a sol-
dier who dies on the battlefield, far from home, cannot be worshiped and
turns into a hungry ghost, haunting the family and disrupting the cosmic
and social order. If possible, this should be prevented at all costs.
Mozi is obviously concerned with the effects of warfare on the popula-
tion, a concern to which those who put a pleasing faade upon military
aggression must be oblivious, for they attack other states irrespective of
the number of casualties. What, then, do they expect to gain? Mozi men-
tions two probable motives for warfare: fame and territory. He fumes at
the first motive, because when we calculate what they gain for them-
selves, it has no use whatsoever (18: 31/20).
13For military expedition, I follow Sun Yirang in reading instead of .
how to end wars with words 81
Given that fame does not bring the state any tangible gain, Mozi does not
waste another word on it. As for the second motive, he notes that the net
proceeds of an attack are always negative, since conquering even a single
walled fortification costs at least thousands of lives:

Suppose you laid siege to a city with inner walls measuring three miles and
outer walls measuring seven miles.14 If you were able to take this city by
attacking without the use of weapons and without shedding blood, it would
be okay. In reality, taking a city with inner walls measuring three miles and
outer walls measuring seven miles is possible only if the number of casual-
ties at best runs into the thousands, and in the worst case tens of thousands
die. (18: 31/2122)
The idea that sieges are pointless finds support in an unexpected source.
The Art of War (Bingfa ), the famous military-strategic text ascribed
to Sunzi , states that the worst policy of all is to besiege walled
cities .15 There is, however, one notable difference between the
military strategist and the political thinker. Whereas Sunzi criticizes sieges
as a military-strategic mistake, Mozi sees them as an economic error. He
argues that sacrificing people to gain territory is inherently illogical, for
territory is what rulers had in abundance, while people were in short
supply:

If you send your subordinates to certain death and aggravate disaster among
superiors and inferiors, with the sole purpose of capturing a town in ruins,
you waste what you so desperately need so that you may increase what you
already have in abundance. With policies such as these, you render a dis-
service to the state. (18: 31/2425)
In sum, these passages serve as a powerful reminder that any potential
benefits from a military campaign will not be great enough to offset the
various costs involved. This reminder is meant to dissuade warmongers,
whose picture of war is often too rosy, from going into battle. While Mozis
14These measurements may seem overly precise, but a similar city is described in Men-
cius 4.1. See Lau, Mencius, 85. This may have been a standard way of referring to a city of
a certain size.
15Giles, Sun Tzu on the Art of War, 18.
82 paul van els
cost-benefit analysis may seem solid, those who put a pleasing faade
upon military aggression do not throw in the towel just yet.
Losers Outnumber Winners
In the next part of the chapter, Mozis opponents mention four states
(Chu , Yue , Qi , Jin ) that started out small but increased both
their territory and their population through military campaigns. With
these examples, they challenge Mozis claim that an expansion of territory
necessarily entails a reduction in population. In his own typical way, Mozi
identifies their claim as a fallacy of converse accident, an unfair general-
ization (warfare is effective) based on a small number of examples:

Even if four or five states drew benefit from it, we would still call this an
ineffective method. Compare it with a doctor who treats people with an
illness. Suppose this doctor prescribes a uniform drug to all the sick in the
world. If ten thousand took it and only four or five drew benefit from it, we
would still call this an ineffective medicine. A filial son would not admin-
ister it to his parents, nor would a loyal subject administer it to his ruler.
Now, in ancient times the empire was divided into many small states. Some
existed long ago and are known only through stories. Some existed until
recently and perished in front of our eyes. Either way, countless states have
vanished due to military aggression. (18: 32/47)
For each triumphant state, Mozi argues, numerous weaker ones perished.
With a ratio of four or five to ten thousand, the chances of winning are
statistically minimal. Rulers who hold up the example of the historical suc-
cesses of Chu, Yue, Qi, and Jin while ignoring the numerous vanquished
states adopt a highly one-sided reading of history. The successes of these
few states are no guarantee for other states.
There are two problems with Mozis argumentation. First, the chance
of a triumphant attack may be minimal, but it is not nil. Although, statis-
tically speaking, rulers had better take note of the thousands of perished
states rather than focus on the handful of successful ones, the incentive
still exists to strive for the power and glory of the triumphant few. Second,
and more important, the argument would have worked if the thousands of
states had perished as aggressors. In actual fact, some of the smaller and
weaker states were annexed by larger and stronger ones. Hence, this argu-
how to end wars with words 83
ment could even be taken as an encouragement for states to grow large
and strong, so as to prevent annexation by other states. Not surprisingly,
Mozis opponents picked up on this flaw in his argumentation.
Even Winners Eventually Become Losers
In the final part of the chapter, Mozis opponents claim they can avoid the
sad fate of the vanquished states by making effective use of their popula-
tion, as allegedly did the few victorious states. Even this justification of
warfare cannot convince Mozi, because employing the people well is not
the same as treating them well, and good treatment of the masses is para-
doxically made impossible by successful warfare:

No matter how capable you are in employing the masses, are you as capable
as King Hel from the ancient state of Wu? King Hel drilled his troops
for seven years. Wearing armor and carrying weapons, they could march
a hundred miles a day before encamping for the night. He pitched a camp
at Zhulin, emerged from the narrow pass at Mingai, and fought a battle at
Boju. He subdued Chu and forced the states of Song and Lu to surrender.
Then his son, King Fuchai, succeeded to the throne and attacked the state
of Qi in the north. He pitched a camp on the Wen River, fought a battle at
Ailing, defeated Qi, and forced its soldiers to retreat to Mount Tai. In the
east he attacked the state of Yue. He led the army to cross the Three Rivers
and the Five Lakes and forced the soldiers of Yue to retreat to Kuaiji. All the
barbarian states were subdued. Yet when the war was over, he could not
find it in his heart to console the families of those who died in battle or to
distribute war booty among the people. He relied upon his might, exagger-
ated his achievements, and praised his intelligence, but he neglected drilling
his troops and had the Gusu Palace built, which was not completed even
in seven years. By then, the people of Wu were disheartened and divided.
Seeing the friction between superior and subordinates in Wu, King Gou-
jian from the neighboring state of Yue mobilized his army to take revenge.
They entered the city wall from the north, removed Fuchais royal boats, and
encircled his palace. Wu thereupon perished. (18: 32/1723)
This passage describes the transition from war to postwar peace, and the
psychology of the victor in this process. According to Mozi, no one is able
84 paul van els
to hold ones own when faced with the seductions of success. Rulers may
start out with the best intentions, but constant victories inevitably make
them fall victim to arrogance and greed, because power corrupts and
more power corrupts even more. For instance, the victorious ruler would
not want to manage his enlarged realm from a humble abode but would
desire an impressive palace that matches his newly acquired status. This
only widens the distance between ruler and masses, if only because the
latter are forced to slave at constructing the new palace.
In sum, according to Mozis economic argument, the negative payoff
of military aggression will necessarily be larger than the positive payoff.
The costs of a military offensive are high and the gains few, the chances
of losing are many and the chances of winning few, and even the most
victorious states eventually collapse. He therefore maintains that policy
makers who against all odds decide to go to war render a disservice to the
state. As it turns out, Mozi and his opponents in this chapter argue from
fundamentally different views on governance. His opponents believe that
people serve the ruler, while Mozi holds the opposite stance. Where his
opponents propose making effective use of the population for their own
benefit, Mozi wants them to distribute war booty among the people as a
means to win their hearts and minds and thereby strengthen the state.
But what ruler who attacks other states out of greed would be inclined
to do so?
The Religious Argument
The third of the three Fei gong chapters, Mozi 19, is a lengthy essay in
which Mozi again argues with opponents. These opponents are probably
comparable to the ones in the preceding chapter, but in chapter 19 they
are more verbosely referred to as rulers who delight in military aggres-
sion and put a pleasing faade upon their bellicose rhetoric so as to criti-
cize our Master Mozi , (19: 34/16).
This explicit description suggests that the antiwar rhetoric by Mozi and
his followers had gained a firm foothold and attracted the attention of
the ruling classes. As a result, the tone of the debate between Mozi and
opponents is fierce. The chapter opens with Mozis suggestion that his
opponents are utterly stupid:

how to end wars with words 85


When the people in the world praise something as good, what is their rea-
son? Do they praise it because it benefits Heaven on high, the spirits in the
middle realm, and the people below? Or do they praise it because it does
not benefit Heaven on high, the spirits in the middle realm, and the people
below? Even the lowest fool still understands that they praise it because it
benefits Heaven on high, the spirits in the middle realm, and the people
below. (19: 33/1215)
Those who fail to understand that military aggression harms the interests
of Heaven, spirits, and people, Mozi insinuates, surpass even the lowest
fool in stupidity. This is the first time in the Fei gong triplet that the
Heavenspiritspeople trinity is mentioned.16 How does this trinity work?
Taylor explains that in Mozis view Heaven is an active force; it is capable
of intervening in the world for the promulgation of its ways. Such inter-
vention takes the form of rewards and punishments. Those who abide by
the ways of Heaven are rewarded, and, in turn, those who reject Heaven
suffer punishment.17 In carrying out its retributive powers, Heaven is
assisted by spirits, who serve as intermediaries between Heaven on high
and the people on earth. We will see examples of how this works in the
course of this section. For now, suffice it to say that given the crucial role
of Heaven and the spirits in this chapters line of argumentation, I refer to
it as the religious argument.
Having pointed out the stupidity of his opponents, Mozi continues
by saying that the ancient sage-kings abided by the ways of Heaven. In
his version of the past, the sages ruled humanely and did not engage in
unprovoked military aggression:

Therefore, the wise men in ancient times, when outlining a policy for the
world, carefully contemplated whether it was righteous, and only then would
they implement it. This way, they could act with determination, meet the
needs of people far away and nearby, and bring benefit to Heaven, the spirits,
and the people. Such is the way of the wise! Hence, the humane men who
long ago possessed the world resolutely rejected any rhetoric of expanding the
realm. Instead, they united the world in harmony, and they brought together
16The trinity does occur in other Core Chapters, such as Mozi 10, 26, 27, and 28.
17Taylor, Religion and Utilitarianism, 340.
86 paul van els
all within the four seas. They led the people in serving and honoring the Lord
on high and the spirits and ghosts of mountains and rivers. The more benefit
they brought to the people, the greater their achievements. Heaven therefore
rewarded them, the spirits enriched them, and the people praised them. They
were honored with the rank of Son of Heaven, and all the worldly wealth
fell to them. They shared the same reputation as Heaven and Earth and are
remembered to this day. Such is the way of the ancient wise and the reason
why the early kings held possession of the whole world. (19: 33/1721)
The degenerate rulers of Mozis own time are in no way comparable to
the sages:

How different are the kings, nobles, and dignitaries, all the feudal lords of
today! They dispatch their best soldiers, arrange their boats and chariot
forces, and equip them with strong armor and sharp weapons to attack
innocent states. They cross the borders of those states, cutting down grain
fields, felling trees and woods, tearing down city walls, filling up ditches
and ponds, slaughtering cattle, setting ablaze the ancestral temples, mas-
sacring the people, exterminating the aged and the weak, and carrying off
treasures and valuables. They force their soldiers to move forward and fight
by saying: Bravest are those who are killed in action. Next are those who
kill many enemy combatants. Lowest are those who are wounded in battle.
And whoever leaves the ranks and flees will be executed without mercy! So
their soldiers are kept in fear. (19: 33/2327)
Mozi makes it perfectly clear that whoever indulges in attack and annex-
ation will never be revered as a sage-king. But his opponents deliver a
clever rejoinder. They acknowledge the existence of ancient sages and
even name three examples: Yu , founder of the Xia dynasty; Tang ,
founder of the Shang dynasty; and King Wu , founder of the Zhou
dynasty. They then cleverly observe that these distinguished kings, held
in esteem by Mozi too, founded their dynasties by attacking and ousting
the last rulers of the preceding dynasties. So why are these three heads
of state, in spite of their military offensives, still revered as sage-kings? In
what appears to be an irritated tone, Mozi replies:

You have not examined the nuances of my theories nor grasped the under-
lying reasoning. What these three kings did is not called to attack but to
punish. (19: 34/18)
how to end wars with words 87
Mozi apparently distinguishes between to attack (gong ) and to pun-
ish (zhu ). The former stands for assaults on innocent states, which
Heaven condemns; the latter, for punitive action against guilty states,
which Heaven conditionally supports, as we shall see.
Although Mozi criticizes his opponents for failing to understand the
distinction between offensive warfare and punitive warfare, in all
fairness he has not been clear about it. The distinction may have been
explained in his oral teachings, but the written records of these teachings
bear no witness to the fact. In the received Mozi, the usage of both terms
is unclear. The term to attack (gong ) is used in various ways, but its
precise meaning is not always clear. For instance, as I mentioned earlier,
Mozi 17 condemns the practice of states attacking other states, but it does
not explicitly distinguish between different possible motives for an attack,
leaving it up to the reader to figure out that unprovoked assaults moti-
vated by greed are meant here. The term to punish (zhu ) is not used
in any of the three Fei gong chapters until Mozi introduces it here. For
instance, when Mozi notes that authorities punish fruit thieves (Mozi 17),
he uses the word fa , not zhu . In fact, the latter word does not occur
very often in the Mozi, and when it does, it often simply means to pun-
ish without any reference to warfare.18 Notably, although Mozi blames
his opponents for not grasping the difference between offensive warfare
and punitive warfare, he himself does not systematically observe the
distinction. For instance, Mozi 49 encourages the practice of attacking
an unrighteous state (49: 113/27). Since this attack appears
to serve as a punishment for that states unrighteous behavior, by Mozis
own terminology the term to punish would have been preferred here.
In another example, Mozi 31 states that the exemplary ruler King Wu
attacked the Shang dynasty to punish the tyrannical ruler Zhou
(31: 52/23). Here the terms to attack and to punish are compat-
ible, not contrastive. Hence, Mozis criticism of his opponents may not
be entirely fair if he does not use the two terms consistently in his own
teachings.19
18The term to punish occurs several times in compounds such as punishments and
penalties (zhu fa ) or in phrases such as punishments by ghosts and spirits (gui
shen zhi zhu ). In fact, the only time when it has a clear military connotation
is in the phrase outward punishing (chu zhu , i.e. punishing other states), which is
contrasted to inward defending (nei shou , i.e. defending the homeland) in Mozi 9
and 12.
19It may be the case, as Hui-chieh Loy (personal communication) suggests, that pas-
sages in which the two terms are compatible date from a period when the Mohists had
not yet settled on to attack and to punish as technical terms with clearly demarcated
88 paul van els
The distinction that Mozi draws between offensive warfare and puni-
tive warfare derives from a worldview that he shares with his contempo-
raries, in which dynasties rule by virtue of the Mandate of Heaven (tian
ming ). Once a dynasty fails to secure the well-being of the popula-
tion and hence loses the right to govern, it has become guilty and may
be replaced by a new, humane administration. According to this wide-
spread belief, the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties were founded in this
way, after the alleged moral bankruptcy of the preceding dynasties. What
are the signs of moral bankruptcy? Mozi paints a clear picture. Take his
description of the dawn of the Shang dynasty, when the exemplary King
Tang dethrones the tyrant Jie:

...

In the case of King Jie of the Xia dynasty, Heaven sent down its direst com-
mand. Sun and moon failed to appear at the proper time, winter and sum-
mer came in confusion, all grains seared and died, ghosts wailed throughout
the land, and cranes shrieked for more than ten nights. Heaven then com-
missioned Tang in the Biao palace to receive the Grand Mandate that had
been given to the Xia....Only then did Tang dare to lead his troops to enter
the borders of the Xia realm, while a deity destroyed the fortifications of
the Xia with immeasurable force. Soon afterward, a spirit appeared and
reported to Tang: The Xia are in grave moral decay. Go and attack them.
I will make sure that you win, for I have my orders from Heaven! Heaven
then ordered Zhurong to send down fire on the northwestern corner of the
capital city of the Xia, so that Tang, who had received the defecting multi-
tudes of the tyrant Jie, could defeat the Xia. Tang then summoned all the
nobles to Bo and made clear to them the Mandate of Heaven, sending word
of it to all quarters of the world, and none of the feudal lords in the world
failed to do obeisance to him. This is how the sage-king Tang punished the
tyrant Jie. (19: 34/2335/1)20
meanings. In that case, the contrastive use of to attack versus to punish in this chapter
may well be prescriptive (i.e., enjoining people to use the terms in this new way) rather
than straightforwardly following the conventional meaning.
20The Chinese text of this passage is corrupt. It includes, for instance, a duplication of
some phrases. My translation follows most of Sun Yirangs suggestions.
how to end wars with words 89
In Mozis account of how the sage-kings rose to power, Heaven steers
the course of events. It assists soon-to-be kings in ousting tyrants who
besmirched its Mandate. In the Mohist worldview, rulers must follow
Heavens orders, for Heaven always commands what is beneficial to the
world.21 The people in the world are the primary concern for Heaven,
which encompasses all people irrespective of their origin and cares for
them without distinction or discrimination.22 This idea is made explicit
in the third of the Fei gong chapters, Mozi 19, which uses terms such
as Heavens men (tian zhi ren ) and Heavens subjects (tian
min ). This terminology, which places the ownership of people with
Heaven and not with individual rulers, enables Mozi to highlight the para-
doxical nature of warfare:

Now, if you deploy Heavens men to attack Heavens towns, thereby mas-
sacring Heavens subjects, driving out the spirits of their ancestors, over-
throwing their altars of the soil and grain, and slaughtering their sacrificial
animals, you bring no benefit to Heaven on high! (19: 33/2829)
If all the people in the world belong to Heaven, as Mozi claims, then war
implies that one group of Heavens subjects (the inhabitants of one state)
attacks another group of Heavens subjects (the inhabitants of another
state). Whichever state wins, Heaven always loses due to the casualties
on both sides. Therefore, in Mozis view, Heaven would always reject
offensive warfare and approve of punitive warfare only in exceptional
cases, when all other options would cause even more suffering (e.g., when
a tyrant causes starvation and death among the people).
Mozis religious argument introduces Heaven as an objective standard,
a universal guideline for moral conduct. High above the world, literally
and figuratively, Heaven is in a position to decide whether or not an attack
is morally justified, or even mandatory. In a time when numerous states
competed with one another and each state claimed to be in the right, an
objective standard was no luxury. The absence of an objective standard
21The issue of whether or not Mozi subscribes to a divine-command theory has led
to heated debate among a number of scholars (e.g., Ahern, Vorenkamp, Soles, Duda). See
Duda, Reconsidering Mo Tzu on the Foundations of Morality.
22This aspect of Heaven is mentioned in several places in the received Mozi, most
notably in the Intention of Heaven triplet, where we read that since it accepts food from
all people without discrimination, it must care for all people without discrimination
(28: 48/67).
90 paul van els
explains the application of double standards, of which Mozi accuses the
gentlemen of the world in Mozi 17. To put it differently, Heaven is the
impartial arbiter that Mozi was looking for in that chapter.23 In a conflict
between two states, Heaven decides which of the antagonists is in the
right and punishes the one who has done wrong. When a ruler reigns as
a tyrant, Heaven wreaks havoc in his state as a sign that he has lost the
Mandate. Simultaneously, Heaven indicates to a humane leader that he is
chosen to overthrow the tyrant, for the Mandate has been transferred to
him. Rulers who wish to attack and annex other states had better ascer-
tain whether they have received Heavens support. If no unequivocal signs
of approval have occurred, their attack lacks legitimacy. They may initially
achieve successes, but eventually they will fail, as the example of Fuchai
in the preceding chapter shows.
The religious argument may be Mozis ultimate line of argumentation
against military aggression, for it is based, not just on the publics sense
of justice (Mozi 17) or on a solid cost-benefit analysis (Mozi 18), but on
the will of the almighty Heaven. Whoever disagrees with Mozi and con-
tinues to proceed with unprovoked military offensives acts in opposition
to Heaven and will receive due punishment. The argument nonetheless
leaves many questions unanswered, especially with regard to Heavens
intervention in the human world: How many signs should Heaven send
down to signal the loss of the Mandate? What would these signs look like?
How can rulers be prevented from inventing signs or claiming ordinary
natural phenomena as special signs from Heaven? This issue appears to
be a major loophole in Mozis argumentation. As Benjamin Wong and
Hui-chieh Loy point out, any ambitious ruler can claim that spirits have
visited him and furthermore contrive things so as to give the appear-
ance that Heaven is on his side, and thus claim an even closer alignment
between his actions and those of the sage-kings.24 Since so much depends
on subjective interpretation, does the religious argument offer a way to
determine objectively whether or not the actions of a ruler are just, and
whether or not his military offensive is justified?
It appears that, contrary to what Mozi suggests, there is no objective
standard when Heavens signs have to be subjectively interpreted by
man.25 Mozi may have been aware of this, judging by the extraordinary
23This is further proof that Mozi 17 predates Mozi 19 (see above), as the reverse order
would make little sense.
24B. Wong and Loy, War and Ghosts in Mozis Political Philosophy, 347.
25See also Nicolas Standaerts essay in this volume.
how to end wars with words 91
historical examples he gives in which it is absolutely clear that warfare
was necessary. His descriptions of the founding of the Xia, Shang, and
Zhou dynasties are unique. No other text is known to contain descrip-
tions of such dramatic intensity. While the stories may have been taken
at face value in those days, it appears that Mozi embroidered them with
shocking elements (crying ghosts, shrieking birds, natural disasters, etc.)
to make it virtually impossible for contemporary rulers to claim a similar
situation. Hence, his religious argument is perhaps best seen as an impos-
sible test that puts the bar for permissible wars unfeasibly high.26 If the
contemporary situation in a state is not as deplorable as in Mozis stories,
Heaven obviously has not issued clearly identifiable signs that would jus-
tify the invasion and annexation of that state. Whoever does launch an
attack without these signs (i.e., without the Mandate of Heaven) acts in
opposition to Heaven and is doomed to fail. The religious argument, then,
ultimately depends on a belief in Heaven and spirits and on a belief in
Mozis version of history. But what can Mozi do if bellicose rulers remain
undaunted by his warnings?
The Dialogues
The three Core Chapters under discussion may be seen as the theoreti-
cal foundation of Mozis military views. Elsewhere in the received Mozi,
we are shown how the different arguments were used in practiceif the
recorded anecdotes are historically accurate. These anecdotes occur in
the so-called Dialogues (Mozi 4649/50), which are filled with short con-
versations between Mozi and various followers and opponents. Several
conversations appear to draw from or build on the arguments proposed
in the Fei gong triplet. Most of these conversations are between Mozi
and Lord Wen of Luyang .
One passage, Mozi 49: 112/2022, is essentially a summary of the moral
argument. In words similar to those in Mozi 17, Mozi tells Lord Wen that
the gentlemen of our times understand small wrongdo-
ings (crime) but fail to understand mistakes of greater magnitude (war).
Another passage, Mozi 46: 103/59, is reminiscent of the economic argu-
ment: here Mozi compares a ruler who has all the fertile lands he needs
but still desires some remote areas of a neighboring state to a man who
26I thank Michael Nylan (personal communication) for suggesting the term impos-
sible test.
92 paul van els
cannot finish all the delicacies his chef prepares but still craves the cake
of his neighbor. This comparison convinces Lord Wen into admitting that
both are cases of kleptomania (qie ji ). Another passage, in chapter
46, likewise invokes the economic argument, when Mozi (perhaps some-
what facetiously) compares the extravagant waste of resources in warfare
to a little boy playing horse:
:

Our Master Mozi told Lord Wen of Luyang: When a large state attacks a
small state, this can be compared to a little boy playing horse. When a little
boy plays horse, he exhausts himself by constantly running on his own legs.
Now, when a large state attacks a smaller one, in the small state under attack,
farmers do not get a chance to plow and their wives do not get a chance to
weave, because they are too occupied defending the state. Moreover, in the
state that initiated the attack, farmers also do not get a chance to plow and
their wives also do not get a chance to weave, because they are too occupied
attacking the other state. That is how large states attacking smaller states
can be compared to a small boy playing horse. (46: 101/2628)
The impact of war on the lives of the common people is also part of the
economic argument in Mozi 18, where Mozi emphasizes that no season is
good for warfare (winter is too cold to fight, summer too hot; in spring, the
people are kept from sowing, in autumn from harvesting). This chapter,
Mozi 46, expands the economic argument by noting that battles keep the
people on both sides of the conflict needlessly occupied.
And in yet another passage, in chapter 49, the religious argument
comes up. As in Mozi 19, this passage discusses unjust attacks (gong )
and their proper punishment (zhu ). And as earlier, Mozis opponent
notices a loophole in his argumentation:
:

:
, , ,
:
:

how to end wars with words 93


Lord Wen of Luyang was about to attack Zheng. Upon hearing this, our Mas-
ter Mozi stopped him, saying: Suppose that within the four borders of your
realm, the large cities attacked the smaller ones, the large families struck at
the smaller ones, killing their people, stealing their livestock, their clothes,
their food, and other valuables. What would you do? Lord Wen of Luyang
replied: Within the four borders of my realm, all people are my subjects.
If the large cities attacked the smaller ones, the large families struck at the
smaller ones, to seize their valuables, then I would severely punish them.
Our Master Mozi replied: You see, Heaven possesses the whole world in
the same way that you possess everything within the four borders of your
realm. If you were to raise troops and attack Zheng, wouldnt Heavens pun-
ishment be imminent? Lord Wen of Luyang asked: How can you prevent
me from attacking Zheng when, by attacking Zheng, I am merely comply-
ing with the will of Heaven? For three generations, the people of Zheng
have killed their father [i.e., their ruler], and Heaven extended punishment
on that state. If after three years this punishment is not yet completed, I
will assist in executing Heavens punishment. Our Master Mozi replied:
Indeed, for three generations, the people of Zheng have killed their father,
and Heaven extended punishment on that state. But even if after three years
this punishment is not yet completed, Heavens punishment is sufficient. If
you raise troops to attack Zheng with the excuse that in attacking Zheng, I
am merely complying with the will of Heaven, then this can be compared
to a man whose son is violent and dim-witted, so the man flogs him with a
bamboo stick, whereupon their neighbor also picks up a stick to beat him,
with the excuse that in beating him, I merely comply with the intention of
his father. Wouldnt this be perverse? (49: 112/614)
This dialogue confirms the stubbornness of Mozis opponents, who will
try any flaw in his argumentation to proceed with their desired military
offensive.
Whether fact or fiction, the dialogues between Mozi and Lord Wen
appear to serve as test cases for the various against military aggression
arguments. In these conversations, Mozi confirms the validity of his argu-
ments and strengthens them by closing potential loopholes. The con-
versations further reinforce the arguments by adding a hint of sarcasm,
humorous yet very destructive elements intended to belittle those who
wage unnecessary wars. For instance, he has Lord Wen confirm that bel-
ligerent rulers are nothing but kleptomaniacs, and he claims that rulers
who engage in warfare are fooling around like little boys. This rhetorical
strategy apparently worked, for the text has Lord Wen exclaim: Indeed,
when I look at the matter in the light of what you have just told me,
then what the world finds acceptable [i.e., attacking other states] is cer-
tainly not so!
(49: 112/18).
94 paul van els
In the Mozi, Mozi naturally wins all debates. His opponents, such as
Lord Wen, heed his advice and wake up from their expansionist dreams.
Meanwhile, history shows that, in spite of their noble efforts, Mozi and
his followers were not able to end wars with their words. For the Warring
States period came to an end in 221 BCE...after the state of Qin had con-
quered all competitors in a series of military campaigns.
Conclusion
The preceding sections studied three distinct arguments against military
aggression: moral, economic, religious. They show that Mozis antiwar
stance cannot be reduced to one coherent argument or, worse, to the
simplistic label pacifist. The arguments are complex, and so is the tex-
tual relationship between the three chapters that contain them. In the
past decades, efforts to solve the complex puzzle of the Core Chapters
threefold structure intensified. Scholars proposed various criteria, mainly
textual, to expose different layers of text and provide rough dates for each
layer. While there is consensus that Mozi 17, 18, and 19 were created in that
sequence, more precision is lacking. It is telling that a recent study of the
Mohist Core Chapters concludes with the observation that the history of
the Core Chapters is much more complex than is generally thought.27
Then again, the quest for textual-historical precision, however important,
distracts from what I consider the most attractive aspect of the three Fei
gong chapters: the fact that we have here, in one book, no fewer than
three distinct lines of argumentation on one topic. Irrespective of when
and where these chapters were created, and by whom, or how precisely
they relate to one another, these chapters offer a fascinating insight into
the dynamics within the school of Mozi. The chapters show how the
Mohists passionately condemn military offensives and forward different
arguments in response to different audiences or objections raised. Elites
who frown upon crime but rejoice about war are shown the duplicity of
their moral standards. Warmongers raising troops are confronted with the
insurmountable costs of the operation or scared with Heavens wrath.
27Desmet, All Good Things Come in Threes, 250251.
MOZI 31: EXPLAINING GHOSTS, AGAIN
Roel Sterckx*
One prominent feature associated with Mozi (Mo Di ; ca. 479381
BCE) and Mohism in scholarship of early Chinese thought is his so-called
unwavering belief in ghosts and spirits. Mozi is often presented as a Chi-
nese theist who stands out in a landscape otherwise dominated by this-
worldly Ru (classicists or Confucians).1 Mohists are said to operate
in a world clad in theological simplicity, one that perpetuates folk reli-
gious practices that were alive among the lower classes of Warring States
society: they believe in a purely utilitarian spirit world, they advocate the
use of simple do-ut-des sacrifices, and they condemn the use of excessive
funerary rituals and music associated with Ru elites. As a consequence, it
is alleged, unlike the Ru, Mohist religion is purely based on the idea that
one should seek to appease the spirit world or invoke its blessings, and not
on the moral cultivation of individuals or communities. This sentiment is
reflected, for instance, in the following statement by David Nivison:
Confucius treasures the rites for their value in cultivating virtue (while
virtually ignoring their religious origin). Mozi sees ritual, and the music
associated with it, as wasteful, is exasperated with Confucians for valuing
them, and seems to have no conception of moral self-cultivation whatever.
Further, Mozis ethics is a command ethic, and he thinks that religion, in
the bald sense of making offerings to spirits and doing the things they want,
is of first importance: it is the will of Heaven and the spirits that we adopt
the system he preaches, and they will reward us if we do adopt it. He takes
it for granted that we will not do what we should (in this sense) if we do
not believe in spirits or Heaven or if we think that good fortune depends on
*I would like to thank Carine Defoort and Nicolas Standaert for detailed comments
and corrections on an earlier draft of this essay, as well as the participants of the Univer-
sity of Leuven conference The Many Faces of Mozi: A Synchronic and Diachronic Study
of Mohist Thought (2528 June 2009) for their input on the paper out of which it has
grown.
1See, e.g., Ching, Chinese Religions, 70. JeeLoo Liu speaks of Mozi as the only ancient
philosopher who dealt with philosophy of religion and the most religious among ancient
philosophers. See Liu, An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy, 110, 124. Angus Graham char-
acterizes the Mohists as being at once the most religious and the most logical of the
ancient thinkers. See Graham, Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science, 4.
96 roel sterckx
fate rather than being a reward for good deeds. So people must believe in
spirits and must not believe in fate. In his view of religion there is (as in his
ethics) no inner feeling or awe.2
Sophisticated Ru are juxtaposed here to simple-minded Mo and the impli-
cation is that both are rival camps. Michael Puett emphasizes that the
Mohists were not bent on sacrificing to transform Heaven. Sacrifices for
the Mohists, he argues, are simply a case of humans giving the spirits
what the spirits need, just as the spirits give humans what humans need.3
In Puetts reading, neither Heaven nor the spirits can be capricious to the
Mohist since they act according to a clear moral calculus. Mohist inter-
action with the spirit world therefore is highly perfunctory and efficient
since the spirits act in an entirely predictable way: you get out of the spir-
its what you put into them.
Another simplification of Mohist religiosity is the idea that their views
on spirits are a remnant of an archaic religious world that became gradu-
ally superseded by a tide of conceptually more sophisticated philosophies.
In this linear view of the history of Chinese thought, Warring States ghosts
and spirits make way for rationality and ritual as we move toward the Han.
For instance, Burton Watson speaks of a growing atmosphere of sophisti-
cation and rationalism [that] led men to reject or radically reinterpret the
ancient legends and religious beliefs that Mozi had so fervently affirmed.4
Mozis inability to prove that Heaven or the spirits deliver immediate
rewards and punishments, Benjamin Schwartz writes, probably left his
upper-class hearers indifferent to his particular religious message.5 And,
according to Lester Bilsky, the Mohist view that spirits give blessings in
proportion to the number of offerings they receive had little impact on
the overall practice of religion and government.6
Sometimes, the plebeian nature of Mozis take on the spirit world is
grafted on to a sociology of the Mohist community, a subject for which
very little concrete evidence survives in our sources. Angus Graham
2Loewe and Shaughnessy, Cambridge History of Ancient China, 761. Chris Fraser writes
in a similar vein but qualifies his statement: The mundane tone of their religious thought
is perhaps partly due to the Mohists general disregard of aesthetic and cultural value. Yet
it would be indefensibly parochial to expect them to conform to a modern Westerners
conception of religiosity, since the comparatively mundane character of Mohist religion is
typical of much traditional Chinese folk religion. See Fraser, Mohism.
3Puett, To Become a God, 101104, quotation on 102.
4Watson, Mo-tzu, Basic Writings, 913, quotation on 13.
5Schwartz, The World of Thought in Ancient China, 170.
6Bilsky, The State Religion of Ancient China, 211212.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 97
notes that in passing from the Analects to Mozi one has the impression
of descending to a lower stratum of society without access to the higher
culture of Zhou.7 Mozis alleged association with the profession of arti-
san-carpenters is adduced to support this point. Thus, Graham suggests
we think of Mohism as springing from a class to some extent compa-
rable with the merchant class of Renaissance Europe.8 While, to be sure,
there is artisanal imagery present in the received Mozi, it remains risky to
infer the provenance of metaphors from an undocumented biography.9
Like others mentioned above, Graham takes the Mohist belief in ghosts
and spirits that are capable of punishing and rewarding as a concept that
belongs rather to folk religion. And like others he contrasts this with the
Confucian instinct to keep the spirit world at a distance, appease and offer
sacrifice, and refrain from drawing direct moral correlations that inspire
do-ut-des type of veneration. The Mohist, Graham writes, ...comes from
a less sophisticated class in which the perennial folk religion of China is
still alive, and does not like his masters to forget that they too are subjects
of still higher beings.10 On balance, we are led to believe that Mohist
views on the spirit world are to be equated with the lower, or popular,
strata of society, whereas other schools or thinkers deal with conceptu-
ally more elevated numinous forces such as Heaven and the Mandate or
with strategies for moral self-cultivation. The assumption then is that cul-
tic practices were irrelevant to intellectual elites or, indeed, that popular
or common religion can be confidently associated with a social class, a
premise that is highly questionable.11
To be sure, all these interpretations are invaluable attempts at teasing
out the Mohist take on spirits. Yet it is striking that they seem to begin from
7Graham, Disputers of the Tao, 34.
8Ibid., 45. See also Graham, Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science, 8. Philip Ivanhoe
and Bryan Van Norden characterize Mozis philosophy as distinctively anti-aristocratic.
See Ivanhoe and Van Norden, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, 55.
9Indeed, because artisans are also associated with the creation of goods and products
that support the luxuries and riches of aristocrats, Mozi would have to disown his own
professional affiliation if ever he had one.
10Graham, Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science, 14. Yuri Pines writes: Most Zhanguo
texts...largely neglect Heavens will, and no Zhanguo thinker, with the exception of Mozi,
assigns divine forces any significant role in political and social life. See Pines, Foundations
of Confucian Thought, 55. Piness statement holds only if one uses a very narrow definition
of divine forces and excludes, for example, ancestral spirits.
11For a critique of distinctions in belief systems according to social class, see Harper,
Warring States, Qin, and Han Periods; Harper, Contracts with the Spirit World in Han
Common Religion; and Sterckx, Religious Practices in Qin and Han.
98 roel sterckx
two assumptions: first, that views on the spirit world across the received
Mozi are unitary and internally uncontested; second, that Mozis views on
the spirit world should invariably be seen as conversant with or pitched
against a countercurrent, the so-called Ru (if there is such a thing as a uni-
tary Ru view on spirits). In what follows I argue that these assumptions are
problematic and overlook subtle differences and problems embedded in
the received Mozi text. I suggest that this is specifically the case with Mozi
31, the only preserved chapter in the Ming gui (Explaining Ghosts)12
triad and the principal source adduced to represent Mohist doctrine on
the spirit world.13 When read carefully against the other Core Chapters,
the Dialogues, and, to a lesser extent, the Opening Chapters, Mozi 31 not
only leaves significant question marks over how the Mohists conceived
of the spirit world and its workings but also throws doubt on whether we
can speak at all of one unitary and agreed Mohist view on the issue. My
analysis suggests that Mohist views on spirits evolve or, at least diversify,
across the received Mozi text, although the temporal sequence in which
these developments took place remains nearly impossible to reconstruct.
My claim in favor of a more variegated and multipolar Mohist view of
spirits not only is based on an internal analysis of the received Mozi but
also is reinforced by possible readings of a manuscript fragment, titled
Guishen zhi ming (Ghostly Percipience) by its editors, among
the Chu bamboo-slip materials held in the Shanghai Museum.
12Most translators take ming as an adjective to mean something along the lines of
percipient or conscious. These are certainly possible. I have opted for a verbal transla-
tion since the chapter covers more ground than the question of ghostly consciousness.
13The textual history of the received Mozi (divided into seventy-one chapters, fifty-
three of which are extant) continues to be full of unknowns. Pre-Tang bibliographies indi-
cate that a version of the text was circulating that included a separate index chapter (mu
yi juan ), but no mention is made of this in sources after the mid-Tang. See Wang
Changmin, Mozi guben mulu ji yipian kaoshuo; and Wang Changmin, Mozi pianmu kao.
It remains uncertain when exactly the two missing chapters in the Ming gui triad were
lost, if they ever existed at all. They are first listed as missing together with six other titled
chapters in the oldest fully preserved Mozi text, the Ming Zhengtong Daozang
(1447), which forms the basis of the presently transmitted version. For the purpose of this
essay I circumnavigate some of the more complex text-critical hypotheses on the Core
Chapters as a whole that have been proposed by scholars such as Alfred Forke, Chris
Fraser, Stephen Durrant, Angus Graham, Erik Maeder, Carine Defoort, Karen Desmet, and
others. I will refer to philological and text-critical points made by scholars where they have
a significant bearing on the actual arguments and ideas presented in the text. Most schol-
ars have drawn on intratextual signifiers to propose hypotheses on internal developments
within a Mohist school. With reference to Mohist views on the spirit world, intra- and
intertextual evidence that permits us to tease out clearly articulated currents of thought
within Mohism beyond a reasonable level of speculation remains scarce.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 99
The Arguments in Ming gui, xia
Let us look first at the arguments in the received Mozi 31 and the struc-
ture of its narrative. Mozi 31, which, at 3,406 characters, is the longest of
the Core Chapters,14 applies Mozis three tests of verification to the ques-
tions of whether spirits exist and whether they are
capable of rewarding the worthy and punishing the wicked
(31: 50/2526).15 These three tests are (1) spirits exist since there have
been reports and eyewitness accounts of them throughout the ages and
across geographical space; in other words, common observation and veri-
fiability through hearing and sight constitute proof; (2) spirits exist since
the sages of antiquity believed in their existence; in other words, ancient
authority forms the basis of proof; and (3) they exist since spirits are a
necessary condition for the establishment of a morally functioning soci-
ety, and people will behave better when they know that their actions are
sanctioned; in other words, practical utility and applicability for the ben-
efit of society provide proof. The elaboration of these three tests (called
source, root, and use by Chris Fraser),16 in that order, forms the bulk
of the chapter.
Structure of Mozi 31
Introduction: The contemporary world and its social structure are in
disorder. Why?
Because:
1.There exists doubt on the existence of spirits.
2.People fail to realize that spirits have rewarding and punishing powers.
Proof:
Test 1: Witness accounts:
1. The unrighteous killing of Du Bo by King Xuan of Zhou
(827/25782 BCE).
2. The spirit Gou Mang prolongs the life of Duke Mu of Qin
(659621 BCE).17
3. The unrighteous killing of Zhuang Ziyi by Duke Jian of Yan
(504493 BCE).
14Following the Sibu congkan edition as in the table presented in Desmet, All Good
Things Come in Threes, 11; and Desmet, The Growth of Compounds in the Core Chapters
of the Mozi, 100.
15The second question no doubt inspired E. R. Hughess (in many ways, rather ade-
quate) translation of ming as moral intelligence, although, strictly speaking, it mis-
translates ming gui. See Hughes, Chinese Philosophy in Classical Times, 50.
16See Fraser, Mohism.
17Following Bi Yuan and Sun Yirang, most scholars replace by .
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4. A sacrificial officer of Duke Wen of Song (610589 BCE) is
caned by a spirit through the intermediary of an invocator for provid-
ing substandard offerings.
5. A minister of Duke Zhuang of Qi (794731 BCE) is head-butted
by a goat during a blood oath.
Test 2: The sages of the past firmly believed in spirits, as is reflected in their
sacrificial practices and documented in their texts.
Test 3: Making a belief in ghosts foundational to the state ()
will benefit the people.
Concluding reservations:
Include a stretched argument on filial piety and an expression of doubt by
Mozi concerning his own thesis.
The interlocutors in Mozi 31 are referred to as those who maintain that
there are no ghosts (, mentioned seven times). Throughout
the chapter the assumption is that the masses () are naturally
receptive to believing in ghosts and are in doubt only when their superi-
ors () question the spirits existence. Note that
the proposition of the chapter is not the positive assertion that ghosts
exist; rather, the chapter concerns a search to confirm whether or not
they exist and whether or not they reward and punish. The key of Mozi
31 lies not in providing existential proof but rather in demonstrating the
utility of argument. Note also that the proposal to make people believe
in ghosts is formulated in the conditional voice, implying that those in
charge need not necessarily believe in their existence but can promote
creeds and cults as a ploy to influence social behavior:
, .
Now, if one could cause all people under Heaven to conform to the belief
that ghosts and spirits are capable of rewarding the worthy and punishing
the wicked, then how could there be disorder in the world? (31: 50/2627)
There are no explicit indications in Mozi 31 that Mozi equates those who
maintain that ghosts do not exist specifically with the Ru. The graph
does not occur at all in Mozi 31. The only Core Chapter in which it appears
is Mozi 39 (Fei Ru, xia ), which is believed to be a later addi-
tion to the ten other doctrines. Beyond that, the graph ru appears only
in Mozi 48, a chapter (Gongmeng ) among the Dialogues.18 With
18Naturally, the absence of the graph ru need not mean by itself that the Ru could not
be implied, but the statistics are striking nevertheless.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 101
the exception of a covert reference to the three-year mourning period (in
witness accounts 1 and 3 of test I), there is little that directly links the
ideas presented in this chapter to a clearly identified individual or group
of interlocutors anywhere else in the received Mozi. The recurring for-
mula that introduces the Mozi 31 interlocutors as those who hold that...
(zhi...zhe ...) need not refer to the same group of people across all
Core Chapters. It can simply be used to set up a dialogic setting.19
The first testwitness accountsis structured along a series of paral-
lel stories with clear intratextual parallels. The choice of witness accounts
suggests a rhetorical claim for the universal application of the Mozi 31
thesis. The incidents described take place across geographical space on a
Spring and Autumn period map: Zhou (central), Qin (west), Yan (north-
east), Song (south), and Qi (east).
The unlucky protagonists who are submitted to an unjust execution in
accounts 1 and 3 reply to their executioners in similar phrases with only
the formula for the embedded conditional clause (underlined) showing
significant grammatical variety:
(Account 1) , ; ,
, . (31: 51/89)
(Account 3) , , , ,
. (31: 51/2324)
My lord (majesty), you are about to put me to death although I am not guilty
of a crime. If the dead do not have consciousness, then it stops here. If the
dead do have consciousness, they will make sure that my lord knows this
before three years have elapsed.
Even more striking is the recurrence across witness accounts 1, 3, 4, and 5
of the following identical statement:
(), X, , X

:
At that time, there were none among the [name of state X] attendants who
did not see what had happened and no one in distant regions who had
not caught rumor [heard] of it; it was written in the Springs and Autumns
of [name of state X], and the feudal lords handed down the story saying:
[moral lesson X]. (31: 51/2627, 31: 52/56, 31: 52/1314, and slightly differ-
ently in 31: 51/1113)
19Cf. similar formulas such as and in 25: 39/9, 25: 40/28, 25:
41/18, 35: 58/15, 35: 58/17, 35: 59/2, 35: 59/4, 35: 59/17, 35: 59/21, 35: 60/7, and 35: 60/13.
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The core elements in witness accounts 1, 3, 4, and 5 include (1) the actual
cause that provokes ghosts to avenge themselves and (2) the universal
relevance of the moral message across all states marked by the fact that
the incidents were recorded in the local chronicles and then didactically
applied by successive feudal lords. The progression of authority runs as
follows: seeing (jian ) hearing (wen ) recording (zhu )
transmitting (chuan ).20 Only account 2 stands out in that it describes
a spirit rewarding a virtuous character (though not in the language of
shang fa ) and in that it lacks reference to a written record. In sum,
these witness accounts, with the exception perhaps of account 2, seem to
be built around a formulaic set of nearly identical narrative cues in which
an author inserts different events. If broken down to subunits such as the
level of the paragraph (ce ) therefore, we may have a series of parallel
accounts strung together with the narrative formula it is not only in the
explanations found in these writings that it is so, but...
, a formula that occurs five times in Mozi 31. In the absence of
potentially two preceding chapters in the triplet, one might be tempted to
infer a temporal sequence across the witness accounts based on the dat-
ing of each accounts chief persona. This however reveals little. While the
most parallel accounts (1 and 3) are set around three hundred years apart,
there appears to be no temporal progression from past to present, unlike
in the narrative buildup for the second test, discussed below. Finally, it is
worth pointing out that drawing on recorded witness accounts as a way
to invoke authority is hardly an original Mohist argumentation strategy.
When read as an independent unit, it remains unclear who Mozis spar-
ring partners are in Mozi 31.
If empirical accounts () fall short of proving the existence of
ghosts, the second test (fa ) consists of invoking the authority of past
sages. Taken on its own, calling on the ancients to bolster ones argument
is a rhetorical technique that does not really set Mohists apart from other
Warring States thinkers. In his choice of past exemplars the compiler
of Mozi 31 does not specifically favor the golden age of Zhou over any
other period. This is a pattern that recurs across the other Core Chapters,
where Mozi tends to select his examples from among the Three Dynasties
20Mark Lewis notes that empirical observation here gains the status of proof once
it is written down: The fact of inscription demonstrates the truth of an account. It is
granted a weight equal to that of direct perception. See Lewis, Writing and Authority, 115.
I would argue that writing does not necessarily grant equal authority to direct perception
but rather that it is the result of a sustained sequence of witness accounts.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 103
(Xia, Shang, Zhou) without a particular preference for the time of Con-
fucius.21 Examples adduced to suggest that the ancients did believe in the
existence of spirits include the Shang conqueror King Wus sharing
of sacrifices with his feudal lords, the fact that each of the Three Dynasties
issued rewards at the ancestral temple and punishments at the altar of
the soil to publicly demonstrate their justness, and the existence of writ-
ten records testifying to the existence of spirits (mentioned are a partial
quotation of Wen wang , Ode 235 of the Da ya (Great Odes),
and allusions to the Yi xun and Yu shi (i.e., Gan shi )
chapters in the Shangshu). Similar to the rhetoric of inclusive geographi-
cal space in test 1, the test 2 narrative claims universal applicability across
time. Mozi 31 builds up the argument by progressively pushing exam-
ples farther back in time: starting with the books of Zhou, then Shang,
then Xia.
The third testutility and social benefitzooms in on the second
proposition in Mozi 31, namely the rewarding and punishing powers
attributed to the spirit world, a belief that can be used to instill moral
order. The general tenet of test 3 is that spirits are all-seeing; they spot all
untoward behavior among humans (), and their punishments
overcome all. The parallel to (ghostly percipience) is therefore
(ghostly punishment):
,

, ,
.

, ,
,
.
Therefore,
when it comes to the percipience of ghosts and
spirits,
it cannot be (escaped from) in dark creeks and
broad swamps, mountain forests and deep
valleys,
since the percipience of ghosts and spirits will
inevitably know about you. (31: 54/11)
When it comes to punishment meted out by
ghosts and spirits,
it cannot be (overcome) by wealth, nobility,
strength of numbers, bravery, physical power,
military valor, strong armor, or sharp weapons,
since the punishments meted out by ghosts
and spirits will inevitably conquer these.
(31: 54/1112)
21As noted in A. Cheng, Histoire de la pense chinoise, 99. See also Miranda Browns
essay in the present volume.
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Unlike the reverse chronology in test 2, examples from the past in test
3 are ranked from past to present: Heaven commands King Tang to
chastise King Jie of the Xia; Heaven commands King Wu to chas-
tise King Zhou of the Shang. Note that the expression used is
(to carry out clear/visible/enlightened punishments), suggesting again
that we have a wordplay following the parallel structure sketched above
in which, somehow, ming and fa are treated as coordinate con-
cepts, which is difficult to convey in translation. Both accounts end with
an identical sentence in conclusion:
, , .
This is what I mean when I say that punishments meted out by ghosts and
spirits cannot be (overcome) by wealth, nobility, strength of numbers, brav-
ery, physical power, military valor, strong armor, or sharp weapons. (31: 54/
1718)
Finally, reference is made to a text entitled Qin Ai (31: 54/27), pos-
sibly a lost chapter from the Yi Zhoushu .22
Following test 3, Mozi 31 then takes a sudden thematic turn in which
the ghosts do not exist party brings up the subject of filial piety. The
text at this point is not at all clear, and its link to what precedes is vague,
which could suggest that the passage is corrupt or does not belong with
the rest of Mozi 31. The claim by the skeptics seems to be that belief in
ghosts (generally) implies that one does not benefit ones kin (parents)
and hence is detrimental to fulfilling the duties expected of filial offspring
(namely to be filial to ones own lineage first). Mozi in turn seems to sug-
gest that, provided ghosts and spirits really exist /,
even the obligation to be filial toward ones own kin (a virtue that could
be depicted as partial) hinges on a belief in the existence of ghosts, in this
case ancestral spirits, who are offered food and drink in sacrifice. (Clan-
based) filiality (xiao ) and (altruistic) benefit (li ) therefore need not
be mutually exclusive.
The final part of Mozi 31 then adopts a slightly different tone in which
the force of Mozis argument seemingly dissipates. Although Mozi can-
not answer the central question on the existence of the spirit world, he
suggests that even if ghosts or spirits do not exist, one should behave as

22The figure of Qin Ai occurs in Yi Zhoushu Shi fu. Zheng Jiewen speculates that Qin
Ai is the title of a chapter in a Shangshu version circulating in Zhanguo times. See Zheng
Jiewen, Zhongguo Mo xue tongshi, 107.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 105
if they really did since this would benefit society. Organized religion, if
not theologically watertight, at least has the advantage of bringing people
together:
,

, []
, , ,

,
[],

If ghosts and spirits truly do not exist, all this may seem to be nothing more
than a waste of material resources (cai) used for sacrificial wine and grains.
But, over and above, such expenditure is not a case of simply throwing
things away into a ditch or gully. For the members of the clan and friends
from the village and district can still come together and eat and drink [the
offerings]. So even if there were really no ghosts and spirits, a sacrifice still
enables them to gather together at a party, and people can befriend their
neighbors. (31: 55/57)23
Compared with the sustained buildup and consequential logic displayed
in the three tests, the argument in the final part of Mozi 31 lacks vigor; in
fact, this part of the chapter seems to represent a strand of Mohism that
is less convinced of or indeed less preoccupied with the theoretical proof
of the existence of ghosts. In its claim that even if one allows for the pos-
sibility that spirits do not exist, one should still perform cult rituals, this
final segment is ultra-utilitarian in that it is no longer concerned with
the question of the you or wu of a spirit world. In short, the part of
Mozi 31 following test 3 reads more like a discourse about the validity of
the thesis itself rather than part of its proof. In that sense it is more akin
to the skeptical tone we encounter in some of the passages on spirits in
the Dialogues, as we shall see, rather than to the argumentative style that
characterizes most of the Core Chapters.
Even if one takes these final exchanges as somehow related to test 3 on
account of their advocacy of the pure social utility of the sacrificial cult,
and even if one takes those who hold that there are no ghosts to be an
implicit reference to the Ru, it remains uncertain how the arguments in
Mozi 31 can be seen as diametrically opposed to what one might expect
from the Ru. Neither school uses, for the sake of argument, mutually
exclusive definitions of the types of spirits that make up their pantheon.
It is true that in Mozi 31 the master claims: What constitutes ghosts in
past and present consists of nothing other than the ghosts of Heaven,
23This passage is also singled out in Schmidt-Glintzer, Mo Ti: Solidaritt und allgemeine
Menschenliebe, 27.
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and also the ghosts and spirits in mountains and rivers, and also dead
people turning into ghosts , , ,
, (31: 55/12). Yet these attempts at delineat-
ing a clear-cut identity of what should be understood by a ghost should
not be taken literally. For instance, at no point does Mozi 31 imply that
the Mohist spirit world does not include ancestors: ghosts of dead people
must include ancestors, the text also mentions the lineage (zongzu )
gathering in convivial sacrifice, and it speaks of sacrifice as a demonstra-
tion of filial piety (31: 55/56). Furthermore, Mozi 31 insists that spirits
as a rule brought rewards to people at the ancestral temple (zu ) and
punished at the altar of the soil (she ), both loci not quite congruent
with the idea of impartiality found elsewhere in the Core Chapters. Like-
wise, throughout Mozi 31 the use of the terms gui and shen seems
arbitrary, and neither term is used consistently with a clear referent.
The image presented at the end of Mozi 31, namely that of sacrificial
ceremonies as feasts and occasions for human interaction, could sit
equally well with the classicist take on sacrifice. However, the proposal
here to maintain the cult, in the absence of theological substance, for
the sake of promoting social cohesion might be difficult to square with
a comment in Mozi 39 where Mozi castigates the vulgar Ru as beggars
who stuff food away like hamsters, dragging themselves along to large
funerals with their extended family to feast on drink and food.24 Whereas
in the Mozi 39 passage the targets of Mohist criticism are explicitly identi-
fied as Ru, the social aspect of sacrificial religion invoked in Mozi 31 is not
far removed from expectations one may find expressed in a Ru context.
One could even argue that the above line of argumentwhen in doubt
about the existence of spirits, sacrifice to them communally anyway
comes close to the highly functional or even utilitarian admonishment to
respect ghosts and spirits but keep them at a distance
of the Analects (6.22).
In short, Mozi 31 poses a number of interpretive hurdles. While its
overtone is clear, there are few internal clues in the text that allow us to
assume that the chapter is pitched deliberately as an exclusively anti-Ru
polemic. Even its own central proposition, the existence of ghosts and
spirits, is phrased in the conditional voice and subject to doubt at the
end of the chapter. Parts of the chapter, such as the witness accounts,
appear like a catalog of nearly identical story units, while the latter half
24See Mozi, Fei Ru, xia (39: 64/1926).
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 107
of the chapter is interspersed with moments of self-interrogation aimed
at clearing away doubts about the validity of the central proposition, the
existence of ghosts. Ghosts may not really exist, but a persuasive argu-
ment that they do can be useful regardless.
The Dating of Mozi 31
Since Mozi 31 is the only transmitted chapter in its triplet, it is difficult
to draw on it to establish significant temporal developments in Mohist
views on the spirit world. In the case of the Ming gui triad, it is impos-
sible to test the influential three-sects theoryproposed by Alfred Forke,
Luan Tiaofu , Angus Graham, and othersaccording to which
each of the Triplets would represent a distinct school of Mohism. There
are indications toward the end of Mozi 31, as I have suggested above, that
we might be dealing with a less radical and more self-inquiring group of
Mohists. But such speculation only stands if the final part of Mozi 31 is
taken as a continuous narrative following on from test 3 rather than a text
unit that has slipped in from elsewhere and is better read together with
some exchanges in the Dialogues.
In the 1960s Watanabe Takashi proposed that Mozi 31 belonged
to the most recent period of the Core Chapters and that it could be dated
to the late third century BCE around the Qin unification. Watanabe based
his argument for such a late date, among other reasons, on the fact that
the three tests as set out in Mozi 31 are conceptually identical to the three
tests (san biao ) in the Fei ming triplet (Mozi 35, 36, 37). The
fact that the term itself (san biao or san fa three models, standards)
does not occur might indicate, he suggests, that Mozi 31 could slightly
predate the Fei ming discussions. Watanabe is also not convinced that
there ever existed a Ming gui triad and argues that the chapter stands by
itself as a conceptual adjunct or supplement to the Tian zhi triplet,
which he also takes to be late. Watanabe further speculates that the place-
names in Mozi 31 indicate that it might have been written in the state of
Qin (and he goes as far as to claim that the ideas in these late chapters
served the ideology of Qin unification).25 Watanabes 1960s hypothesis of
25Watanabe Takashi, Bokushi shohen no chosaku nendai; and Watanabe Takashi,
Kodai Chgoku shis no kenky, 764. Zheng Jiewen speculates that since Mozi uses exam-
ples that involve divination, he is carrying on Song traditions that, in turn, are based on
Shang practices. Zhengs assumption that Shang religion equals the worship of spirits
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a Mozi 31 as recent as the 220s BCE remains hard to corroborate. If one
takes the Shanghai Museum fragment Guishen zhi ming, which some
scholars propose to date somewhere between 340 and 230 BCE, as in any
way cognate to the themes in Mozi 31, a Qin date for Mozi 31 would be
hard to sustain.26 I will discuss the Shanghai Museum fragment and assess
whether or not it can be linked directly to the Ming gui triad below.
Angus Graham, who sees ideological, rather than temporal, differences
across the core Triplets, lists Mozi 31 among his H group chapters, that is,
chapters belonging to what he calls the Compromising group (Graham
identifies an H group based on the grammatical principle that in these
chapters hu replaces postverbal yu where possible).27 Without the
remaining two chapters in the triplet Grahams three-sects theory natu-
rally is problematic. One might argue that the final part of Mozi 31 is more
accommodating than the more purist and reactionary exposition of
the three tests, but we have little to go on. Furthermore, Carine Defoorts
thesis, which is based on her study of the Jian ai triplet and holds
that the doctrine becomes more radical as time went by,28 would turn
Grahams accommodation theory on its head if one were to apply it inter-
nally within one chapter and surmise that the final part of Mozi 31 is of a
later date than the exposition of the three tests.
The mixed distribution of the formulas (occurring three
times) and (occurring eight times) also reveals little. Bruce
Brooks and Taeko Brooks submit a date for Mozi 31 toward the end of the
period 390280 BCE, which is the timeline they propose for the compo-
sition of the Core Chapters. In their evolutionary model, Mozi 31 would
represent a revised or updated version of the earlier chapter in the triplet,
now lost.29
Karen Desmet, who has examined the dating of the Triplets according to
the occurrence of compounds, concludes that the H group chapters were
written last in the Triplet sequence on the grounds that they consistently
while granting only a minor role to sacrifices to altars of the soil and grain, and that Zhou
religion emphasizes the opposite, is too simplistic as a basis for proving a Song provenance
for Mohist ideas on spirits. See Zheng Jiewen, Zhongguo Mo xue tongshi, 1724.
26This is a criticism of Watanabe Takashi recently put forward by Asano Yichi, who
would like to date the Shanghai Museum fragment between 373 and 278 BCE. See Asano
Yichi, Guishen zhi ming yu Mozi: Ming gui, 97.
27Graham, Divisions in Early Mohism; and Graham, Mo Tzu. See also the introduction
to this volume.
28See Defoort, The Growing Scope of Jian ; and her contribution to this volume.
29See A. Taeko Brooks, The Mician Ethical Chapters, 100, 118.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 109
contain more compounds than the Y (Purist) and J (Reactionary) chap-
ters. This would put the composition of Mozi 31, on philological grounds,
around 300 BCE.30 Desmet further suggests, with Watanabe Takashi and
Erik Maeder, that the earlier two chapters in the triplet may never have
existed since the three chapters in which Confucian views are challenged
most vociferously (Mozi 25, Jie zang ; Mozi 31, Ming gui; and Mozi 32,
Fei yue ) each represent doctrines of which only the latest, H chap-
ter, survives: All the doctrines of which only one chapter is extant (Fei
Ru, Jie zang, Ming gui and Fei yue) are more negative doctrines, not
constituting a new Mohist argument but mainly reacting against Confu-
cian ideas. As the Fei Ru doctrine itself indicates, tensions with the Con-
fucians probably sharpened only later in the history of Mohism.31 The
idea that a dichotomy with Confucians was not clearly pronounced in
the early days of the Mohist movement could tally with the paucity of
the label ru in the core doctrines. But even so, the assumption that the
interlocutors in the Mozi invariably are Confucians needs to be handled
with care. Regardless of these differences in interpretation, the balance of
received opinion would situate the composition of Mozi 31 in the period
starting around 300 BCE and ending well into the Qin around 210 BCE.32
I see little room to further refine this dating based on internal linguis-
tic or thematic arguments, other than that because of its skeptical tone
the final part of Mozi 31 (following test 3) could postdate the three-theses
argument.
Ghosts in the Other Core Chapters (Mozi 837)
The other Core Chapters in the received Mozi contain several passages
that touch on the issue of ghosts and spirits. It is noticeable that the ques-
tion of the existence of spirits is largely left untouched in these chapters.
Instead, the focus is on the utility of a belief in the spirit world for the
advancement of politics and government. In Tian zhi, shang (Mozi 26)
the initiative to undertake sacrifice is presented as an affirmation on
30Desmet, The Growth of Compounds in the Core Chapters of the Mozi.
31Desmet, All Good Things Come in Threes, 240, 248249.
32The only confident dissenting voice here is Fang Shouchu , who argued that,
because of its length and relative lack of rhetoric, Mozi 31 belongs to the earliest Core
Chapters and thus was composed before 329 BCE. For a summary of his arguments, see
Desmet, All Good Things Come in Threes, 5255.
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behalf of the ruler that he relies on the authority of Heaven. Sacrifice to
the spirits is seen as an instrumental conduit to the power of Heaven:
,

,
, , ,
, ,


That it is Heaven that entrusts the power to govern to the Son of Heaven
is something the common people under Heaven do not yet clearly under-
stand. Therefore, among the ancient sage-kings of the Three DynastiesYu,
Tang, Wen, and Wuwishing to make it clear to all people in the world that
Heaven gives the power for government to the Son of Heaven, there were
none who did not feed oxen and sheep with grass, and pigs and dogs with
grain, and cleanse the sacrificial grains and ale to offer sacrifice to Shangdi
and the ghosts and spirits and to seek and invoke the blessings of Heaven.
(26: 43/24, variant at 28: 48/48)
A clear spirit hierarchy is set out here and throughout the Tian zhi triad.
The ancient kings in the highest sphere (shang ) revered Heaven (tian
), in the middle sphere (zhong ) served the spirits (guishen ),
and in the lower sphere (xia ) loved the people, while their wicked
counterparts offended at all three levels (26: 43/914).33 Since all in the
world exert themselves to prepare sacrifices to Heaven, it follows that
Heaven loves the people equally (26: 43/1823). The intermediary role of
the spirits figures in Tian zhi, zhong (Mozi 27), where it is said that a
ruler, in response to disease and calamities, will fast and bathe himself
and prepare clean sacrificial grains and wine to sacrifice to Heaven and
the ghosts (gui ). Heaven, in return, has the power to avert disasters
(27: 44/1720). Wealth or material well-being (cai yong ) is seen as
a precondition for people to invest in sacrifices (27: 44/2930). Reneg-
ing on ones sacrificial commitments results in the loss of Heavens sup-
port. Hence, King Zhou lost the support of Heaven since he would not
worship Shangdi and rejected the ancestors and spirits without offering
them sacrifices (27: 46/2324, quoting the Da shi ). In short, in the
Tian zhi triad the spirit world acts as a sanctioning voice for the will of
Heaven. Spirits are not the ultimate source of authority but the exclusive
intermediaries of Heaven.34
33This tripartite structure is upheld throughout the Tian zhi triad. It is possible but
unclear whether, as Gunnar Sjholm speculates, a spatial referent is intended here. See
Sjholm, Readings in Mo Ti, 107.
34John Knoblocks characterization of the spirits as informants comes to mind: In
this Mohist view disease, pestilence, and famine were penalties for contravening the
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 111
In Shang xian, zhong (Mozi 9) the investiture of Yao, Shun, Yu,
Wen, and Wu as Son of Heaven is presented as a reward from Heaven and
the spirits for their impartial love of the people and their benefiting them.
Conversely, Jie, Zhou, You , and Li are punished by Heaven and the
spirits for their oppressive conduct (09: 12/2028). Shang xian, xia (Mozi
10) rehearses the familiar tripartite structure of the world: Heaven on high,
the spirits in the middle, the people below (10: 14/2425). In Shang tong,
zhong (Mozi 12) another explicit reference is made to the need
for proper sacrifice to prevent disasters and calamities inflicted as punish-
ments from Heaven:
, , ,


, , ,

, , ,
,

Therefore, the sage-kings of old understood what Heaven and the ghosts
desire and avoided what they resent, in order to seek and increase benefits
and avoid calamities in the world. Therefore, they led the myriad people
in the world by fasting and bathing themselves and by purifying sacrificial
wine and grains to sacrifice to Heaven and the ghosts. When they were serv-
ing ghosts and spirits, they did not dare to use sacrificial wine and grains
that were unclean, sacrificial animals that were not fat, or sacrificial jades or
silks that did not meet the standard measure. They did not dare to miss the
proper timing for spring and autumn sacrifices. (12: 18/3019/2)
Although the ideology that motivates sacrifice here has a definite Mohist
ring, it is equally true that, as far as the mechanics of sacrifice are con-
cerned, the requirements described herepurified and glossy offerings
are common across most Warring States texts.35 Interestingly, the Jian
ai triad invokes the image of sacrifice to implore the spirits on only one
occasion, in the case of King Tangs famous self-sacrifice (16: 29/79). Fei
gong, xia (Mozi 19) condemns siege warfare on the grounds that
it destroys the material provisions for sacrifices:
intentions of Heaven and, as such, did not occur in an orderly age. Ghosts and spirits
were informants of unseen misdeeds as well as avenging agents of a wrathful Heaven.
See Knoblock, Xunzi, vol. 3, 6.
35See Sterckx, The Economics of Religion in Warring States and Early Imperial China;
and Sterckx, Food, Sacrifice, and Sagehood in Early China, chap. 4.
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, , , , ,
,

,
, , , ,

Yet to gather the people of Heaven in order to besiege the towns belong-
ing to Heaven is akin to murdering Heavens subjects, to dispossessing the
spirits of their tablets, ruining the altars of the soil and grain, and violating
and killing their sacrificial animals. This then does not offer any benefits
to Heaven up there. Would its intention then be to bless the ghosts? But
the people of Heaven are murdered,36 the tablets of ghosts and spirits are
destroyed, the former kings are neglected, the myriad people are tortured,
and the common people are scattered; it is then not for the benefit of the
ghosts in the middle realm.37 (19: 33/2830)
This third chapter in the triplet is, as Paul van Els has shown in his con-
tribution to the present volume, mostly preoccupied with a theologi-
cal argument against war.38 Mozi 19 further calls on avenging spirits as
punishing agents as an alternative for offensive war. The Jie yong and
Jie zang chapters make no specific reference to the spirit world. In Jie
zang, xia (Mozi 25), Mozis objection to elaborate burials and extended
periods of mourning is basically inspired by economics: such practices
stand in the way of wealth creation and prevent the increase of the popu-
lation.39 Mozi also makes a point regarding cult: when a state becomes
poor as a result of overinvestment in funerals and mourning, sacrificial
goods will decline in quality, fewer people will have the means to offer
sacrifice, and hence the normal sacrificial cycle will be disturbed. As a
result, the spirits are upset, punish people with calamities, and abandon
them (25: 40/18). Thus, Mozi marries the idea of sacrificial duty with

36Emending to [] following Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu, 143.
37Benjamin Wong and Hui-Chieh Loy argue that Mozis political philosophy stands
or falls with the success of his attempt to prove the existence of providential ghosts. See
Wong and Loy, War and Ghosts in Mozis Political Philosophy, 344. Although warfare, in
the passage above, is presented as sacrilegious in that it harms Heaven, the spirits, and the
people, the specific mechanism used by the spirits when rewarding and punishing does
not draw much comment in the Fei gong triad, something one might expect if it was
central to the thesis. Wong and Loy may be reading too much into the Mohist reliance on
ghosts as backup for moral action.
38The compound guishen or variants thereof occur eleven times in Mozi 19, as opposed
to only once in Mozi 18 and not at all in Mozi 17. Mozi 17 puts forward a predominantly
ethical argument; Mozi 18 takes a mostly economic/utilitarian stance. See Paul van Elss
essay in this volume.
39For a more detailed treatment of this theme, see Riegel, Do Not Serve the Dead as
You Serve the Living.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 113
funerary economies and suggests that sacrifices should not be discon-
tinued during the mourning period:
, , ,

:
, ,

You may weep on the way to and from a funeral. Yet, once returned, you
should engage in earning your livelihood (clothes and food). You should
actively continue to perform sacrifices in order to express filial piety toward
your kin. Therefore, it is said that the rules of Our Master Mozi neglect the
benefits of neither the dead nor the living. (25: 41/2930)
Fei yue, shang (Mozi 32) insists that Mozi condemns music (and ban-
queting), not because it is aesthetically displeasing, but solely on the
grounds of the material and human resources required to produce and
play instruments. In Fei ming, shang (Mozi 35) Mozi puts righteousness
over a belief in fate:
, , ,

When the righteous are in power, the world will have order; Shangdi, hills
and rivers, ghosts and spirits will have their lineage elders [to preside over
sacrifices];40 and the people will be visited by the great blessings resulting
from this. (35: 59/56)
A misguided belief in fate is said to result in a chaotic government and
then, there would be no means to provide sacrificial grain and wine to
sacrifice to Shangdi, the ghosts, and the spirits ,
(35: 60/8).
Overall then the relevant passages in the other Core Chapters empha-
size the social and political role of the spirit world. The general theme
in these chapters does not depart substantially from the theses set out
in Mozi 31, but the emphasis is more on practicemore specifically, the
need to fulfill sacrificial obligations. The philosophical issue of the exis-
tence of ghosts and spirits (wu/you /) is not engaged.
The Opening Chapters and Dialogues
To what extent are views on ghosts and spirits and references to sacrifi-
cial practice in Mozi 31 and the other Core Chapters consistent with or
40Reading gan zhu as meaning zong zhu following Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu,
268.
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cognate to materials found in the Opening Chapters (Mozi 17) and Dia-
logues (Mozi 4649/50)?
It is noteworthy that the spirit world does not figure prominently at all
in the Opening Chapters as a subject of discussion (the graphs and
occur only twice each across the seven chapters). Qin shi (Mozi 1)
mentions divination and sacrifice, but it does so only as part of a meta-
phor noting that those who stand out through their talents are often more
likely to find themselves in peril than others: The numinous tortoises
are burnt first, and the snakes that have spirit power are sacrificed first
(1: 1/21).41 In Fa yi (Mozi 4), peoples inclination to prepare sac-
rificial offerings to Heaven and Heavens impartial acceptance of such
offerings are highlighted to reinforce the notion of an impartial Heaven
(4: 5/15). Qi huan (Mozi 5) reiterates the need to moderate sacrifices
in times of famine, a theme found across other late Warring States texts
(5: 5/1724).42 If the Opening Chapters are indeed of fairly late origin (mid-
to late third century BCE) and hence postdate Mozi 31 and the other Core
Chapters, it is striking that a theme so prevalent in the Core Chapters
occurs so sparsely in the Opening Chapters. This confirms the miscella-
neous nature of the Opening Chapters themselves and further suggests
that thematic continuities should not necessarily be inferred on the basis
of the purported dating of chapter groups in the Mozi, especially since the
dating is so uncertain.
It is in the Dialogues (specifically, Mozi 4649) that some of the doctri-
nal uncertainties beneath the surface of Mozi 31 and, as we will see, the
Shanghai Museum fragment, are on the agenda again. The Dialogues are
exchanges between Mozi and his disciplines and opponents. Most schol-
ars consider the Dialogues to postdate the Core Chapters on the grounds
that the protagonists in these chapters are second- or third-generation
disciples of Mozi. It is amid the generally more polemical nature of the
exchanges in these chapters that the identity of Mozis interlocutors is
made more explicit. Several passages in the Dialogues are of particular
relevance to the issues debated in Mozi 31: an exchange between Mozi and
41The reference here is to (rhyming) zhuo/*tiauk , meaning to stick a hot poker
through a turtle carapace, and pu/*bukh , a technical term for using a snake in a rain-
making sacrifice.
42For appeals to change ones diet and practice moderation in sacrifice during times
of natural disaster and famine, see, e.g., Zuozhuan Lord Cheng, year 5 and Lord Zhao,
year 17; Guliang zhuan Lord Xiang, year 24; Yi Zhoushu Di Kuang and Da kuang jie;
Liji Qu li and Yu zao; and Zhouli Shan fu.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 115
Wumazi in Mozi 46, several exchanges with Gongmengzi
in Mozi 48, and a couple of passages on sacrifice in Mozi 49.
Geng zhu (Mozi 46) contains a long interchange between Mozi
and Wumazi. Commentators traditionally identify this figure as one of
Confuciuss disciples, also known as Wu Maqi . Although his exact
identity remains uncertain, his stance in Mozi 46 would certainly befit
that of a Ru (yet note that the chapter does not explicitly label him a
Ru). In the exchange in question Mozi indicates that the perceptive quali-
ties of ghosts and spirits are so superior that, were the sages able to avail
themselves of them as sensory extensions, they would undoubtedly do so.
Sages are represented as bound by time and circumstance, whereas the
knowledge of ghosts and spirits is said to transcend time:
: :
,

,
, , : ,
, , , ,
: , , , ,


,

,

,

,


: ,

Wumazi spoke to Our Master Mozi: Who is more perspicacious and knowl-
edgeableghosts and spirits, or sages? Our Master Mozi replied: The per-
cipience and knowledge of ghosts and spirits is to the sages what perceptive
ears and keen eyes are to the deaf and the blind. In ancient times, King Kai
[Qi] of the Xia commissioned [his minister] Feilian to dig minerals in moun-
tains and rivers and cast them into vessels at Mount Kunwu. He ordered
[diviner] Wengnan [Yi] to divine with the tortoise of Boruo, saying:
Let the tripods, when complete, be three-legged and square ( *pa).43
Let them be able to cook by themselves, without fire ( *phr),
to store themselves away without being lifted ( *ts),
and move themselves without being carried ( *grh).
Use them for sacrifice at Mount Kunwu ([] *kha).
may our offerings be appreciated ( *ha)!
Then the oracle spoke:
I have accepted the offerings. Profuse are the white clouds:
At one time they are in the south, then to the north, now to the west,
then to the east.
43For reconstructions of Old Chinese I follow the OCM (Minimal Old Chinese) recon-
structions in Schuessler, Minimal Old Chinese and Later Han Chinese.
116 roel sterckx
The nine tripods having been completed, they will be transferred among
the three states.
When the ruler of Xia lost them, the founder of Yin inherited them. When
Yin lost them, Zhou inherited them. Now, the transfer from Xia to Yin and
Zhou took several hundred years. Even if a sage planned to gather his best
ministers and superior assistants to plan, how could he know events that
would happen after several hundred years? Ghosts and spirits, however, can
know this. And it is for this reason that I hold that the perspicacity and
knowledge of ghosts and spirits is to the sages what perceptive ears and
keen eyes are to the deaf and the blind. (46: 100/714)
The divide between Mozi and his interlocutor here is a disagreement on
the highest source of authority. For Wumazi, ultimate power of judgment
lies with the sages, whereas for Mozi it lies with ghosts and spirits, who act
as informants of Heaven that surpass the powers of divination. Later on in
the chapter the same Wumazi points out to Mozi that for all his righteous
conduct, people do not seem to help him and ghosts do not seem to bring
him blessings (46: 100/3031).
In Gui yi (Mozi 47) Mozi defends the idea that people of humble
social station are potential sources of good counsel by referring to the
spirit worlds universal acceptance of sacrifice: Now the peasant pays his
taxes to his superior, who [uses these to] make sacrificial wine and grain
offerings and, with these, sacrifices to Shangdi, ghosts, and spirits. Can you
claim that [the spirits] would refuse these offerings because they come
from people of low standing? ,
, , , (47: 104/67).
The subject of criticism here is the idea that because the spirit world mir-
rors human hierarchies, spirits would therefore reward those who offered
them sacrifices by reinforcing those partial social relationships that are
based on lineage and social station.
The Gongmeng chapter (Mozi 48) generally tallies closely with the key
themes in the Core Chapters (and, as we will see, the Shanghai Museum
fragment). Unlike Mozi 31, Mozi 48 is clearly set up as a polemic directed
against followers of Confucius. Gongmengzi is generally accepted
to be a Ru, possibly a disciple of Zengzi . In Mozi 48 Gongmengzi
mentions Confucius by name, Mozi several times disapproves of Con-
fucius and the fact that he is extolled as an exemplar, and the Ru are
condemned explicitly on four counts: (1) their belief that Heaven is not
intelligent (ming) and that ghosts do not have spirit powers; (2) their
adherence to the need for elaborate funerals; (3) their esteem for music
and dance; and (4) their firm belief in predestined fate (48: 109/48). The
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 117
first theme in the Mozi 48 dialogues that echoes Mozi 31 is the idea that
ghosts and spirits control reward and punishment and that antiquity
cements the authority of arguments (cf. the second test in Mozi 31):
: , , ,


, , ,
,

Our Master Mozi said: The ancient sage-kings all regarded ghosts and spir-
its to be divine and perspicuous and capable of meting out calamity and
blessing. They held that [ghosts and spirits] controlled good fortune and
misfortune and that, by means of these, governments were well adminis-
tered and states were secure. From Jie and Zhou down [however], they all
took ghosts and spirits not to be divine and perspicuous and unable to mete
out calamity and blessing. They held that [ghosts and spirits] did not control
fortune and misfortune, and for this reason, governments became chaotic
and states were in danger. (48: 108/13)
A second connection with Mozi 31 is that the Mozi figure in Mozi 48
returns to the philosophical question of the existence of a spirit world.
Mozi does this in a much-quoted analogy arguing that the insistence of
the Ru on ritual and sacrifice is valid only if they accept the basic proposi-
tion that spirits actually exist:
:, ,

Our Master Mozi said: Holding that there are no ghosts and yet studying
sacrificial rituals is like learning the rites of hospitality when there are no
guests or making fishing nets when there are no fish. (48: 108/1718)
Mozi 48 also revisits other relevant themes treated in the Core Chapters,
such as excess expenditure on music and burials.
As I pointed out above, where Mozi 48 differs from Mozi 31 is in its
explicit reference to the Ru as advocates of the ideas that the Mohists
oppose. We need to remain cautious therefore not to infer that the tenor
of the debate in both chapters is exactly the same. In Mozi 48 the Ru
are said to believe that Heaven is unintelligent and that ghosts do not
have spirit powers , (48: 109/45). This is
arguably a rather tendentious interpretation of the Ru position since it
would effectively mean that, for the Ru, spirits can be dismissed as hav-
ing no numinous power at all.44 Yet the Mozi 48 claim that ghosts do not
44A point also questioned in Lu Jianhua, Mozi zhi li xue, esp. 4041.
118 roel sterckx
have spirit powers () is not quite the same as the argument put
forth by Mozis interlocutors in Mozi 31namely that ghosts do not exist
(). The inference in Mozi 48 is that the Ru allow for the existence
of ghostly beings but that they simply deny the spirits any significant
numinous powers. The philosophical issue of the existence of spirits is
sidestepped in favor of a debate on their efficacy as moral agents. Finally,
as in the final part of Mozi 31, Mozi 48 contains two exchanges where Mozi
is put on the spot and asked again to clarify the validity of his own thesis.
Both episodes start off with the same premise, expressed by an unnamed
interlocutor in the first story and by someone named Die Bi in the
second: Sir [Mozi], you hold that ghosts and spirits are intelligent, that
they are able to bring about misfortune and good fortune, give blessings
to those who do good, and inflict misfortune on those who do bad.45 How
then, the interlocutor in the first story argues, is it tenable that he has
not received any blessings after having served Mozi for many years? Why
then, Die Bi in the second story argues, can Mozi, being an exemplary
sage himself, be prone to illness (48: 109/30)? In his answers Mozi seems
to suggest that ghosts and spirits do control knowledge and have agency
to act upon events but that there are many causes and effects that escape
their control.
Lu wen (Mozi 49) contains two passages that are of interest to
our understanding of the Mohist stance on cult. Both discussions focus on
the relationship between the materiality of offerings and the moral intent
behind the act of offering sacrifice. The issue is put to Mozi by a disciple
who meets him after a three-year interval:
, , , ,


, ,


, , ,

: , , ,
,

,

,

, ,
:, :
, ,
When I first came to your gate I had to wear short-sleeved jackets and
eat vegetable broth. If I ate it in the morning, I could not have it again in
the evening, and I had nothing to sacrifice to the ghosts and spirits. Now
45In the first story: , , [],
(48: 109/1920); variant in the second: , , ,
(48: 109/2930).
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 119
because of your teachings, my family is better off than we were in the
beginning. That being the case, I can respectfully offer sacrifice to ghosts and
spirits. Yet, still, many among my close followers have died, my six [types
of] domestic animals do not breed, and I have personally been plagued by
ailments. I have yet to be convinced [therefore] that your way is after all to
be adopted.
Our Master Mozi replied: This is not how things work, for the things
ghosts and spirits desire of men are manifold. They would wish that when
people enjoy high rank and salary, they would give up their position in favor
of the worthy; and that someone with great wealth would share it with the
poor. How then could ghosts and spirits merely desire to seize sacrificial grains
or snatch away sacrificial lungs?46 Now, you were enjoying high rank and sal-
ary, yet you did not give up your position in favor of a worthy. This is your first
misfortune. Being very wealthy you failed to share with the poor. This is your
second misfortune. And so now you serve ghosts and spirits merely by offer-
ing them some sacrifices while asking yourself, Why do these diseases inflict
themselves on me? This is like shutting one gate out of a hundred while
wondering, Where do these thieves enter from? In such a situation how can
you seek blessings from these bewildered ghosts?47 (49: 114/1219)
Contra suggestions that Mohists are merely interested in perfunctory do-
ut-des worship, the Mozi figure in this dialogue suggests that appeasing
spirits through sacrifice without an underlying moral or ethical intent,
or indeed, without putting a moral agenda into practice in daily life, is
ineffective and lacking in substance. Ghosts are not interested merely in
the volume or quality of sacrificial offerings. They continue to watch and
assess the conduct of the supplicant and value the integrity that under-
pins the presentation of offerings, a message that appears to have escaped
Mozis own disciple after three years of absence. The argument could be
interpreted as a veiled criticism of the Confucian notion that one should
respect and offer sacrifice to the spirit world in order to keep it at bay,
or their insistence that one should serve spirits as if (ru ) they are
present (). This passage is followed by an anecdote on a pig
sacrifice that touches on the same theme and to which I will return in the
final section of this essay.
To sum up, the Dialogues offer fertile ground for tracing debates on
some of the central themes of Mozi 31 (note that Mozi 50 adds nothing
46Liji 26 Jiao te sheng suggests that lungs were valuable organs in sacrifice
since they were thought to be rich in blood and qi.
47The expression is slightly puzzling. One could opt to emend it (e.g., John-
ston, The Mozi, 716 n. 30, reads for ). But it can equally well mean ghosts that harbor
suspicion for or that mistrust people who offer them only partial servicehence, ghosts
that are bewildered.
120 roel sterckx
new). Yet nothing in the passages discussed above suggests that we are
dealing with a direct commentary-type or discursive elaboration of the
received Mozi 31. While the discussions are formatted more clearly as a
Mo-Ru polemic, it is equally clear that not only may we have different
Mozi personas in action but also that Mozis core thesis on spirits was the
subject of various interpretations and even questioned by Mohists them-
selves. Mozis position on ghosts appears to be controversial even among
his own followers, and likewise, the explicit or implicit Ru counterargu-
ments do not speak with one voice. Rather than a sustained commentary
on a doctrinal maxim, what emerges is a picture of multiple arguments
by multiple actors concerning a thesis that continuously requires clarifica-
tion. To add further to this diverse polemical landscape, it is now time to
bring the Shanghai Museum fragment into our discussion.
The Shanghai Museum Fragment
A brief text fragment among the Chu bamboo slips held at the Shanghai
Museum could throw further doubt on one of the central theses in the
received Mozi 31, namely the notion that ghosts will invariably punish the
wicked and reward those who do good. While the fragment in question
possibly adds a significant new dimension to the Mohist view of spirits,
we also ought to be cautious not to extrapolate too much from what is, in
essence, a very short manuscript consisting of only five slips and a total
of 197 characters. The text was dubbed Guishen zhi ming by
Cao Jinyan , its editor for the Shanghai Museum series, and it is
usually referred to by this working title since its publication in 2005.48 Cao
Jinyan, Asano Yichi , and several other scholars have linked
this fragment to the received Mozi and postulate that it is part of the lost
first two chapters in the Ming gui triad.49 Cao takes the text as evidence
for the significant presence of Mohists in the state of Chu, a hypothesis, he
48Cao Jinyan, Shanghai bowuguan cang Chu zhushu Mozi yiwen. I will follow the text
as transcribed by Cao Jinyan with emendations and variants suggested by others indicated
in notes. For Caos text, see Shanghai bowuguan cang Zhanguo Chu zhushu, vol. 5, 149159
(plates), 307320 (transcription). Studies that include a transcription and annotations
include Asano Yichi, Guishen zhi ming yu Mozi: Ming gui; Xu Hua, Shang bo jian
Guishen zhi ming yi wei Dongzi yiwen; Li Rui, Lun Shang bo jian Guishen zhi ming
pian de xuepai xingzhi; Wang Zhongjiang, Guishen zhi ming yu Dong Zhou de duo yuan
guishen guan; Nishiyama Hisashi, Shang bo Chu jian Guishen zhi ming de sige bushi;
and Chen Wei, Shang bo wu Guishen zhi ming pian chu du.
49Cao Jinyan, Shanghai bowuguan cang Chu zhushu Mozi yiwen, 57.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 121
claims, that is strengthened by the discovery of a text fragment possibly
linked to the Mozi from Chu Tomb 1 at Changtaiguan (Xinyang
, Henan, excavated 1956).50 Asano, who dates Guishen zhi ming
between 342 and 282 BCE, adduces it as proof for his thesis that the ten
core doctrines are to be dated to the early Warring States period, that is,
during the latter half of Mozis life.51
There are a number of good reasons for associating Guishen zhi ming
with a Mohist polemic, given its thematic similarities with some of the
passages in the received Mozi described above. However, the question of
whether or not this piece should be text-genetically linked to Mozi 31 can-
not be answered conclusively. It is important not to infer a direct textual
affiliation with Mozi 31 based on the provisional title assigned by Cao Jin-
yan, which does not appear on the manuscript itself.52 Scholars have sug-
gested several other titles, but given that there is no evidence of an actual
title on the physical manuscript itself, I will continue to refer to it simply
as the Shanghai Museum fragment.53 The opening part of the original text
is missing (as is suggested by the connecting expression jin fu at
the beginning of the fragment). A dialogue setting seems likely,54 but no
interlocutors are identified by name:
50The fragment in question is referred to as the Shentu Di and contains a
conversation between the Duke of Zhou and Shentu Di, who famously committed suicide
rather than live an immoral existence. Its direct link to the Mozi, however, is controversial.
See Li Xueqin, Changtaiguan zhujian zhong de Mozi yi pian; and Wang Ning, Mozi ji
Shentu Di shizheng.
51Asano Yichi, Guishen zhi ming yu Mozi: Ming gui, 100101.
52The preserved text runs continuously over five slips (complete slips measure ca. 53
centimeters and were tied together in three registers). While it is likely that some content
(including, possibly, an actual title) preceded these five slips, the end of the fragment
must coincide with the end of a pian since a new unit (entitled Rong shi youcheng shi
) follows on slip 5 and is marked off by a separation mark

in black ink (see


Shanghai Bowuguan cang Zhanguo Chu zhushu, vol. 5, pl. 5, p. 156). Translations by Erica
Brindley and Ken Brashier appeared while my draft was with the editors. See Brindley,
The Perspicuity of Ghosts and Spirits and the Problem of Intellectual Affiliations in Early
China; and Brashier, Ancestral Memory in Early China, 338339. My translation broadly
agrees but differs in detail and modalities.
53Liao Mingchun suggests that, given its central argument, the text should be known
as Guishen you suo ming you suo bu ming . See Liao Mingchun,
Du Shang bo wu: Guishen zhi ming pian zhaji. Ding Sixin simply dubs the text Guishen
. See Ding Sixin, Shang bo Chu jian Gui shen pian zhushi; and Ding Sixin, Lun Chu
jian guishen pian de guishen guan ji qi xuepai guishu.
54I concur with Erica Brindley, The Perspicuity of Ghosts and Spirits and the Prob-
lem of Intellectual Affiliations in Early China, that the style of the fragment does not fit
the dialogical format of the Mozidisciple exchanges in Mozi 48, but I would suggest that
the fragment is simply too short to exclude the possibility that it is a dialogue altogether.
Self-reflective and expository moments can be embedded in a dialogue, as can rhetorical
122 roel sterckx
Slip 1
,
, , ()
,
Now, there are things that ghosts and spirits are aware of but equally
other things that they are unaware of, and this [can be derived from]
their rewarding of the good and punishing of the wicked. In ancient times
Yao, Shun, Yu, and Tang were benevolent and righteous and had sagely
knowledge,55 and thus, All under Heaven took them as a model. Because
of this they were honored to become Son of Heaven,
Slip 2
, (),56


,

, , ,
,

[ ,
],57 ,


questions. Regardless, the formula suggests that the narrator here is disagreeing with
a stance taken previously.
55Cao Jinyan gives the gloss ren/*nin for based on the phonetic resemblance
of *lhin and *tshn , , the latter being an old form of in Shuowen jiezi 8A.2a.
Nishiyama Hisashi, Shang bo Chu jian Guishen zhi ming de sige bushi, suggests pairing
renyi and shengzhi as binomes based on comparative use in Mozi 28, other Ru
texts, and the Zhuangzi. He argues that both binomes are stock expressions used by both
Ru and Mo (and criticized in Daoist texts) and takes this as an element in favor of a close
affiliation between the Shanghai Museum fragment and the received Mozi (in which the
binome occurs more than twenty times).
56I read as yu following Liao Mingchun, Du Shang bo wu: Guishen zhi ming
pian zhaji, rather than ju as proposed by Cao Jinyan, although their meaning is similar.
57The thirteen characters between square brackets were written on the bottom half of
the back of the second slip and are inserted into the main text by Cao Jinyan; for the plate,
see Shanghai bowuguan cang Zhanguo Chu zhushu, vol. 5, 316. There is nothing that sug-
gests that it was written by a different hand. Cao suggests that this is a case of haplography
in which the scribe or copyist added on the back of the slip a part of the text overlooked
while recording or copying the main text. The black ink mark

could indicate where


on the slip the omitted passage should be inserted. There is another possibility: what is
written on the back of the slip may be an explanatory comment, almost equivalent to an
example in a footnote, since the main text could make sense without the inserted thirteen
graphs if one takes the phrase to apply to all four tyrants mentioned earlier.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 123
were enriched with All under Heaven,58 and lived out their long lives in
praise,59 and later generations followed them. And so, that ghosts and
spirits rewarded them is evident [from these examples].60 When we come
to the kings Jie, Zhou, You, and Li, they burned61 sages to death, killed
those who exposed faults, robbed the hundred families, and inflicted
chaos on the states. [Because of this, Jie was cut down on Mount Li, and
Zhou received his punishment at the Qi Altar Mount.]62 Their bodies did
not die a natural death,63 and they became an object of ridicule to the
world. And so, that ghosts
Slip 3
[ , ]64

,
,

, ,

, ,
58According to Nishiyama Hisashi, the phrase , , or variations
thereof, is attested eleven times in the received Mozi, a statistic that could lend support
to textual affiliation. See Nishiyama Hisashi, Shang bo Chu jian Guishen zhi ming de gui
wei tianzi, fu you tianxia.
59The term chang nian occurs twice in the fragment. Liao Mingchun and Cao
Jinyan would like it to mean a long time, many years, in slip 2 and hence take it to
have a slightly different meaning from that of long life, old age, on slip 3. Ding Sixin and
Nishiyama Hisashi opt for long life in both cases. The contrast here is clearly with the evil
quartet that follows on slip 2, who failed to live to a natural old age.
60One could take ming here in its more pregnant meaning and translate: this is
due to their clear percipience.
61Liao Mingchun, Du Shang bo wu: Guishen zhi ming pian zhaji, emends fen
(*bn) to fen , meaning jiang , to collapse dead or, more generally, to kill (rather
than burn to death). His gloss does not substantially change the meaning of the sentence.
The reference here is most likely to the murder of Bi Gan by King Zhou and Jies
killing of Guan Long(p)feng , a loyal and upright minister. See Han Feizi Nan yan
and Ren zhu .
62There appears to be no received record of Jie coming to his end at a Mount Li
(*rk) other than in another manuscript among the Shanghai Museum corpus (Rongcheng
shi ). A lost Shizi fragment, however, states that Jie was banished to a Mount
Li (*rk), which is a homophone. See Shizi yizhu 72 (no. 68, quoting Taiping yulan
). Qi She must refer to the mountain site (Qi shan ) and geographical
heart of the Zhou polity where the (Western) Zhou ancestral altars were located. See Sun
Yirang, Mozi jiangu, 152 (Fei gong, xia). See also Li Feng, Landscape and Power in Early
China, 4647.
63Transcribed to read mo following Shuowen jiezi 3B.19b, 11B.23ab. I follow Caos
suggestion here that it must mean failing to live out ones life to the end, in contrast to
the virtuous quartet above.
64Note that these five graphs have been added by the editors based on context; they
are missing on the original slip.
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and spirits mete out punishment is evident [from these cases]. [However,]
when we come to Wu Zixu, he was one of the worlds sage exemplars, yet
he ended up in a leather sack and died. Yigong of Rong was one of the
worlds troublemakers, yet he lived to old age and died a natural death.65
If one examines the issue66 based on these cases, then [one must con-
clude that] among the good there are some who do not receive rewards,
and among the wicked
Slip 4
[

]67 68 ,


65Wu Zixu sought refuge in Wu in 522 BCE, when his father and elder brother were
unjustly executed in Chu. Eleven years later he persuaded King Hel of Wu (r. 514
496 BCE) to attack Chu to avenge his father and brother. After the death of King Hel, Wu
Zixu served the young King Fuchai(i) (r. 496473 BCE) and helped him win a war
against King Goujian of Yue (r. 496465 BCE). He then fell from grace and was forced
to commit suicide. The story occurs in many sources. See Johnson, Epic and History in
Early China. The identity of the second figure in the manuscript is debated. Cao proposes
Rong Yigong (also known as Rong Yizhong ), who is attested as an adviser
who had a bad influence on King Li of the Zhou (857/53842/28 BCE). Mozi 3 refers to
(cf. Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu, 13, Suo ran ); see also Lshi chunqiu 2.95 (Dang
ran ). Others have suggested Duke of Song (Song Mu Gong; r. 728720 BCE).
See Yang Zesheng, Shuo Shang bo jian Song Mu Gong zhe, tian xia zhi luan ren ye. In
a recent article jointly authored with Li Jiahao, Yang has reviewed his original identifica-
tion on the grounds that (1) there are no clear references indicating that Song Mu Gong
lived a long life, and (2) Song Mu Gong was not as famous as Wu Zixu. Instead, Yang and
Li now propose that the individual mentioned on the slip is Duke Mu of Qin ()
(r. 659621 BCE). To add weight to the relationship between the Shanghai Museum frag-
ment and Mozi 31, Yang and Li present a philological hypothesis that could explain why
Qin appears as Zheng in the second witness account of test 1 in Mozi 31. To support
their identification they adduce references that indicate that Qin Mu Gong could have
lived beyond the age of sixty-five and list four incidents on account of which Qin Mu Gong
could have been perceived to misbehave (as implied in the manuscript). See Yang Zesheng
and Li Jiahao, Tan Shang bo zhushu Guishen zhi ming zhong de Song Mao Gong.
66 I follow Li Rui, Nishiyama Hisashi , Chen Wei , and Wang Zhong-
jiang in glossing as the conditional ; Cao Jinyan and Asano Yichi opt for the per-
sonal pronoun , which is possible (the modality of the clause is most likely an implied
conditional anyway). Note, however, that the second-person pronoun does not occur in
the received Mozi except in a dubious quotation at Mozi 19: 34/25, 19: 34/27, and 19: 35/5.
Whatever option one chooses, to infer that a reading sheds greater clarity on the agents
in the dialogue here ( vs. ), let alone that we might have a dialogue here between a
first-person Mozi or Mohist grand master and a disciple, is highly speculative. Cf. Ding
Sixin, Lun Chu jian guishen pian de guishen guan ji qi xuepai guishu, 409412.

67The first four graphs between brackets are missing and have been supplied by Cao
Jinyan based on context; the lower part of the fifth character (= ) is visible on
the slip.
68 I have followed Liao Mingchun, who suggests not to follow Cao Jinyans emendation
to *kri (to speak favorably of, to commend) but instead to take as a binome,
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 125
;
()



some do not receive punishment. Therefore, when, based on these exam-
ples, I advocate the possibility that ghosts and spirits are not aware then
there certainly are good reasons [precedents] for this.69 Could it be pos-
sible that the power of the spirits [to mete out rewards and punishments]
is able to manifest itself, but that [spirits can choose] not to act upon
events?70 This, I do not know. Or71 is it a certainty that their powers are
incapable of manifesting themselves? That I also do not know. These are
two different scenarios [lit., these two options branch out differently].
And so when I
Slip 5
[: ]72 ,

say, Ghosts and spirits are aware of some things but unaware of others,
this is what it refers to!
In addition to its core theme, the fact that the text invokes Yao, Shun, Yu,
and Tang as archetypical sage-kings and Jie, Zhou, You, and Li as their
opposites could suggest a common milieu with the received Mozi. Yet it is
also clear that the Shanghai Museum fragment, if directly associated with
the Ming gui triad, would make the received thesis on ghosts and spirits
in Mozi 31 more complex since it offers two hypotheses that are not made
explicit there: (1) ghosts and spirits have the power of moral judgment
meaning to add another explanation (to the thesis). Nishiyama Hisashi transcribes ,
as does Wang Zhongjiang. Asano Yichi follows Cao. Li Rui proposes to emend to jie .
See Li Rui, Du Guishen zhi ming zha ji.
69For Cao Jinyan, this is a rhetorical question: How would I, because of this, speak
favorably of...?
70 () expresses modality here rather than a real question. Ding Sixin takes it as
a pronoun equivalent to the direct object pronoun . Ding Sixin and Wang Zhongjiang
gloss as transitive . Asano Yichi, Xu Hua, and Nishiyama Hisashi concur with Cao
Jinyans intransitive , the subject of which should not be the implied guishen but
rather qi li .
71Chen Wei convincingly glosses yi as yi , or, alternatively,..., and gives paral-
lel occurrences in Mozi 31 and 48. See Chen Wei, Shang bo wu Guishen zhi ming pian
chudu.
72These four graphs are missing on the strip and have been supplemented by Cao
Jinyan based on context.
126 roel sterckx
but not necessarily always the intent to apply those powers to each and
every case; and (2) ghosts and spirits could lack any sort of intervention-
ist power at all, or there are occasions when they simply do not have the
capability to punish or reward. In other words, when there is no obvious
spirit response, is this because the spirits have the choice to ignore or act
upon a certain case, or is it the case that their powers are intrinsically
limited? The first is a choice argument, and the second questions the very
possibility of moral judgment by the spirits. The spirits capacity to be
percipient and omniscient is separated from their ability to exert these
powers.
On that basis one could also question a direct link to the received Mozi,
as Ding Sixin , Li Rui , Erica Brindley, and others have done.
The first line of the Shanghai Museum fragment says that there are things
spirits know nothing about, the implication being that there are moral
flaws that escape their scrutiny. It therefore follows that the actions of
spirits can be experienced as whimsical, unpredictable, and capricious.
The Shanghai Museum fragment appears to be taking a position differ-
ent from both the received Mozi as well as what are purported to be Ru
views: there are events that ghosts act upon, but there are also events
that fall beyond their providential radar. The fragment adds nothing to
the question of the existence of ghosts and spirits. Their ability to mete
out punishments and rewards selectively leaves the ontological question
of their existence unaddressed. The Shanghai Museum fragment, Wang
Zhongjiang points out, could suggest that a spirit response is not
inevitable or even that it can simply be a coincidence.73 Here we might
have a debate between an interlocutor who takes the Mozi 31 position
(ghosts are ming) and someone who questions this and argues that there
are occasions when ghosts are not ming. The stance taken in the Shanghai
Museum fragment, then, is contra Mozi 31; its line of questioning, including
the option that spirits can selectively apply their moral sanction, seems to
be more in line with the skepticism seen in the dialogues in Mozi 48.74
73Wang Zhongjiang, Guishen zhi ming yu Dong Zhou de duo yuan guishen guan, 50.
74 This point has also been noted by Okamoto Mitsuo in Shang bo Chu jian
Guishen zhi ming yu Mozi: Gong Meng suo jian liangduan duihua and, independently,
by Brindley in The Perspicuity of Ghosts and Spirits and the Problem of Intellectual
Affiliations in Early China, 218 n. 19. Note that comparisons based on direct textual par-
allels with Mozi 31 are further complicated by the fact that the passage in Mozi 31 that
introduces the expression guishen zhi ming , at the beginning of test 3, occurs
in a unit of twenty-one characters (, ,
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 127
If parallels with the received Mozi come to mind, the acknowledg-
ment in the Shanghai Museum fragment that spirit powers have a limited
reach resonates with the two specific dialogues in Mozi 48 mentioned
above. In Mozi 48 Mozi indicates to his first interlocutor (the one failing
to understand why he has not received blessings from the spirits despite
years of dedicated service to Mozi) that humans may deceive themselves
in thinking that they are morally accomplished. In the second dialogue
Mozi acknowledges that even sages can suffer ill health because not all
factors that cause bad luck can be attributed to the spirit world. The latter
implies that spirits have only partial powers, a position that would tally
with the manuscripts suo bu ming thesis and the proposition that
being perspicuous (ming ) is not necessarily the same as having the
ability (neng ) to act upon it (wei ). Ding Sixin goes so far as to date
the Shanghai Museum fragment as contemporary to Mozi 48 on the basis
of these similarities (i.e., for Ding it has to be later than Mozi 31 and Mozi
2628 and datable to Xunzis time, ca. 313230).75
In sum, rather than postulate that the Shanghai Museum fragment is a
lost piece of the Ming gui triad, it might be safer to interpret this frag-
ment as yet another example of the self-searching dialectics that surround
the Mohist doctrine on ghosts and spirits. It could be evidence for the
existence of differing views on spirits among different strands of Mohism.
It could even reflect dissident views that were not exclusively Mohist. If
the Shanghai Museum fragment is Mohist, rather than associating it with
Mozi 31, its tone suggests that it is more akin to the skeptical reflection
in the dialogue passages of Mozi 48 and 49. As Benjamin Wong and Hui-
chieh Loy point out in their reading of a central line in Mozi 31 before
the publication of the Shanghai Museum fragment, Mozis thesis is to a
large extent an aspiration: he wishes he could make everyone in the world
) that is out of place or corrupt according to commentators. See Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu,
243244.
75Ding Sixin emphasizes this potential filiation in Lun Chu jian guishen pian de
guishen guan ji qi xuepai guishu, 417422; and in A Study on the Dating of the Mo Zi
Dialogues and the Mohist View of Ghosts and Spirits, 7481, 84. The similarities that he
finds between the Shanghai Museum fragment and these two dialogues in Mozi 48 are
not far-fetched. However, Ding overemphasizes the monovocal nature of Mohist views on
spirits in the received Mozi and generally downplays the occurrence of skepticism in Mozi
31 itself. Ding too easily assumes clear-cut school affiliations as the basis of his argument,
which forces him to conclude that the Shanghai Museum fragment (1) is not Mohist, but
(2) if it has to be Mohist, then it can only belong to a dissident Mohist group; (3) on the
other hand, since Mozi 48 has conceptual similarities to Xunzis Tian lun , the manu-
script could be Ru, but (4) it is not quite Ru.
128 roel sterckx
conform to believe (ruo xin ) that ghosts and spirits have the pow-
ers to reward and punish, which is not the same as claiming that they
already and invariably do so:
Mozi is not saying that people ought to believe that ghosts exist, but that
ghosts with the power to reward and punish the wicked exist. Compare
also his statement of the prevailing attitude towards ghosts: there are per-
sisting doubts about their existence, and there is also a misunderstanding
about their nature and power. This points at least to two different kinds of
unbelievers: those who do not believe that ghosts exist, and those who
believe that they exist but not that they have the power to reward the good
and punish the wicked.76
Mozis ambition is not to prove the existence of ghosts but rather to
promote the sociopolitical utility of a natural or indeed force-fed belief
in their punishing and rewarding powers. His aim is first and foremost
to demonstrate the utility of having a persuasive argument that favors
their existence rather than to come up with ontological proof. Whether,
as Wong and Loy claim, this impulse to invoke the workings of the spirit
world without seeking to prove that spirits exist necessarily constitutes a
challenge to classical Confucianism is far less certain in my view. One
might argue that an informed aporia on the question of the existence of
spirits combined with a practical attitude to keep spirits at a distance or
use them to ones advantage tallies well with the Confucian tenet that one
should sacrifice to spirits as if they are present (, Lunyu 3.12).
Even Confuciuss ambition in the Lunyu to keep the spirit world at bay
through ritual mimicry or discursive abstention hinges on the assumption
that humans are able to influence the spirit world and prevent them from
intervening in human affairs through deliberate neglect. Leaving aside the
thorny issue of what should be taken as the canonical basis for so-called
Ru views of the spirit world, the implication could be that Mozi misun-
derstands the Ru position on ghosts and spirits. The Ru nowhere deny the
76B. Wong and Loy, War and Ghosts in Mozis Political Philosophy, 348. On the issue
of belief Chad Hansen comments that Mozi does not literally argue for believing in spirits
any more than Confucius does!... He especially worries about wasting the traditional mor-
alizing literature that describes spirits redressing injustice. How, he asks, can it be appro-
priate in this linguistic tradition to wu [] spirits? After a string of such literature based
arguments, Mozi concludes with an argument that pointedly stresses the pragmatic nature
of the issue. He adopts a tone that suggests that he himself actually doubts that there are
spirits. He is arguing that we have to adopt and follow this dao of you-wu. Because of the
popular literature, folk beliefs, word of mouth, and so on, the proper and utilitarian guiding
language will use you [] of spirits. See Hansen, A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought, 118.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 129
existence of the spirit world outright but rather leave the question open
and merely propose an alternative method to deal with them. For the
Ru, disengaged reverence will keep spirits at bay, and sacrifice therefore
seeks to appease in a negative way (you want them to leave you alone); for
Mozi, sacrifice forges a direct link with the spirits in a positive way (since
they are there anyway, you may as well make sure they work for you).
If the figure bringing chaos to the world on slip 3 of the Shanghai
Museum fragment is in fact identified as Duke Mu of Qin, who, in the
received Mozi 31, is granted an additional nineteen years of life, one pas-
sage in the Lunheng (Discourses Weighed in the Balance) might even
suggest that the Shanghai Museum fragment could be associated with a
Ru tradition. The passage in question forms part of Wang Chongs
(27ca. 100 CE) overall argument that Heaven does not intervene either to
extend or to curtail someones life span on account of his or her deeds:
A follower of the Ru () named Dong Wuxin and a disciple of
the Mo () named Chanzi met each other and spoke about the
Way. Chanzi praised the Mohist doctrine that one can rely on the assistance
of ghosts and spirits, and in support he brought up the case of Duke Mu of
Qin, who, because of his enlightened virtue, had been granted an additional
nineteen years of life by Shang Di. Dongzi77 objected to this because Yao
and Shun had not been granted extra years and because Jie and Zhou did
not die young.
Yao, Shun, Jie, and Zhou can be considered to belong to the distant past,
but more recently, one could [equally] take the cases of Duke Mu of Qin or
Duke Wen of Jin as examples to refute the [Mohist] thesis. A posthumous
name is like a footprint of someones deeds. Traces of ones deeds during
ones lifetime form the basis for a posthumous name in death. Mu is a
name that stands for error and chaotic conduct; Wen is an expression
of virtue and grace. Is it the case then that Heaven granted additional years
to someone with erroneous and disorderly conduct, or that it took away
the life of someone who behaved virtuously and with grace? The reign of
Duke Mu did not surpass that of Duke Wen, and Duke Wens posthumous
name is more beautiful than that of Duke Mu. Yet Heaven did not extend
the years of Duke Wen of Jin; it only granted extra years to Duke Mu. This
means that Heaven rewards misconduct and disorder, much the same way
as Duke Mu himself did.78
77Note that the received text here says Chanzi but most commentators agree that it
should be Dongzi (alternatively one could read Chanzis argument was objected to on
account of...).
78See Lunheng Fu xu .
130 roel sterckx
To be sure, the labeling of Duke Mu of Qin as an unworthy person because
his posthumous name (or a variant thereof) can be decoded as such is an
argument initiated by Wang Chong to support his own (Dongzis) belief
that Heaven behaves in a whimsical way. Yet this Lunheng passage also
comes strikingly close to the contents of slip 3 of the Shanghai Museum
fragment, granted of course that the figure there is identified as Duke Mu
of Qin. Wu Zixu in the Shanghai Museum fragment provides the equiva-
lent example of Duke Wen of Jin in the Lunheng passage. Some scholars
therefore take these parallels as evidence that might link the Shanghai
Museum fragment to the persona of Dongzi, who is distinctly identified
as Ru.79 Naturally, the similarities are there, yet this hypothesis is also
problematic on several grounds: first, reading a Han passage back into a
fourth- or third-century BCE manuscript can be seen as Hineininterpre-
tierung; second, the identification of the figure of Dongzi as a Ru in a Han
or Tang source need not reflect a Warring States reality, especially when
this figure is unattested in sources contemporary with the received Mozi.80
In short, these attempts by Chinese scholars to make a detour through
the Lunheng with a view to attaching a school label to the Shanghai
Museum fragment illustrate the complexities involved when one infers
conceptual resemblances based on fragmentary terminological parallels.
Many questions therefore remain. Without further evidence to help
flesh out its context, the value of the Shanghai Museum fragment lies
primarily in that it should encourage us to refrain from labeling Mohist
views on spirits as generically unified, uncontested, univocal, and, conse-
quently, representative of some kind of school. If proven to be Mohist,
at most this new piece of evidence suggests that there were voices ques-
tioning the absolute nature of the Mohist thesis on certain spirit inter-
vention. Such criticisms could suggest a rivalry of ideas among different
branches of Mohists, yet there is nothing that excludes the possibility that
the skepticism and doubts expressed in the Shanghai Museum fragment
79See Xu Hua, Shang bo jian Guishen zhi ming yi wei Dongzi yiwen (who also
adduces another similar dialogue between Chanzi and Dongzi preserved in Ma Zongs
[d. 823 CE] Yilin as evidence); Yang Zesheng and Li Jiahao, Tan Shang bo
zhushu Guishen zhi ming zhong de Song Mao Gong, 185; Zheng Jiewen, Zhongguo Mo
xue tongshi, 198.
80The bibliographical treatise in the Hanshu mentions a work entitled Dongzi
in one scroll. His name is given as Wuxin and he is identified as an opponent
of Mozi. See Hanshu 30.1726. The same work is mentioned in the bibliographical treatises
of the Suishu (34.997) and Xin Tangshu (59.1510). Xu Hua suggests, on the
basis of quotations, that it may have been in circulation until late Ming times. See Xu Hua,
Shang bo jian Guishen zhi ming yi wei Dongzi yiwen, 105106.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 131
were uttered in a Ru context or in an environment that was not explic-
itly identified as Mohist. At best the Shanghai Museum fragment demon-
strates that the idea of spirit intervention in response to human behavior
was debated. My reading of this manuscript therefore concurs with and
reinforces the assessments reiterated recently by Li Rui and Erica Brind-
ley: fragmentary conceptual parallels or the overlapping of terminology
between received and excavated texts do not constitute sufficient evi-
dence to attach a particular intellectual or school affiliation to a text, a
concept that itself is problematic.81 Following the same logic, one should
allow for the possibility of a similarly porous interplay and divergence of
arguments within textual units of a received text. Reconstructing what is
newly excavated should inspire us to deconstruct what is received.
Ghostly Demands versus Frugal Rituals
The ontological problem of the existence of a spirit world and questions
surrounding the basis of their interventionist powers are not the only
themes in Mozi 31 that are cast into doubt elsewhere in the received Mozi
and beyond. Mozi 31 sits uncomfortably among other Core Chapters that
advocate thrift in ritual expenditure. To argue that the spirit world looms
permanently on the doorstep as a supramundane surveillance system
of human conduct, to quote Ian Johnston,82 but to support moderation
and frugality in funerary or ritual expenditure elsewhere might be seen as
inconsistent. Several voices, past and present, have noted this apparent
inconsistency, starting with the eponymous Mozi figure himself in Mozi
48, who compared rituals without spirits to throwing nets when there are
no fish. Wang Chong takes Mozi to task on this issue at great length:
The Mohists (Mo jia ) advocate thrifty burials yet also honor ghosts,
so their Dao is perverse and stands in mutual contradiction to their deeds;
it follows then that given this [contradiction], their teachings are hard to
follow. Wherein now does the contradiction lie? Suppose that it is not the
case that ghosts are the seminal essence (jing ) of dead people, then they
would not be aware of the fact that people honored them. Now, the Mohists
claim that ghosts are the essence of dead people; they treat a dead persons
essence [i.e., his ghostly manifestation] generously, yet treat a dead persons
81Li Rui, Lun Shang bo jian Guishen zhi ming pian de xuepai xingzhi, 3133; Brind-
ley, The Perspicuity of Ghosts and Spirits and the Problem of Intellectual Affiliations in
Early China.
82Johnston, The Mozi, lx.
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body tightfistedly. They are generous to their spirits (shen ), yet are stingy
in treating their bodies (ti ). When stinginess and generosity do not can-
cel each other out, and outward and inward do not assist each other, then
[ghosts] will be furious and send down calamities. Even if one esteemed
ghosts, in the end one [does this] because of the feelings of hatred [that
might be harboured by] the dead. It is human nature to desire generous
treatment and to despise ungenerous treatment; the same applies to the
hearts of the spirits (shen xin ). If one uses the method of Mozi and
serves ghosts to seek blessings, blessings will rarely come about but calami-
ties will arrive frequently. And, ab uno dice omnes, the methods of the fol-
lowers of Mozi are all like this. That their doctrines disappeared and were
not transmitted has its basis in this.83
For Wang Chong, Mozis inconsistent stance results from a misunder-
standing of the nature of death. His criticism, however, should be seen
in the context of his own time, the Han, and in the context of his own
work, the Lunheng, which contains several chapters that are preoccupied
with the nature of death and the moral continuity between the living and
the dead. In contrast, in the received Mozi, the doctrine on spirits rarely
involves theoretical discussion of the nature of death. The only noticeable
exceptions are the witness accounts 1 and 3 in test 1 in Mozi 31, where the
accused threaten that if the dead can be presumed to have conscious-
ness (which is implicitly admitted), then they will take revenge upon their
executioners within three years. Wangs claim therefore that the declining
popularity of Mohism in his own time was to be attributed to the inherent
doctrinal contradiction he highlights in the passage above must be exag-
gerated, or at least, internal contradiction can only be one among several
factors that might explain why Mohist ideas had fallen into disfavor in
his time.84
Modern scholars too have commented on Mozis, at first sight, para-
doxical stance. Feng Youlan speaks of a seeming inconsistency
in the positions of not only the Mohists but also the Ru, who insist on
funerary and sacrificial rituals yet did not believe in the existence of the
spirits. Feng reconciles these inconsistencies and calls them unreal on the
grounds that Confucians perform sacrificial rituals as a poetic sentiment
of respect toward the departed rather than as an affirmation of a religious
83See Lunheng An shu .
84Michael Nylan cautions not to extrapolate too much from this Lunheng passage
about the fate of the Mohists in Wang Chongs time. See Nylan, Kongzi and Mozi, 34.
On the problems of interpreting the paired reference to Ru and Mo in Han, see also Chen
Jinxia, Lun Shiji zhong Han Wudi yi guang Ru Mo.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 133
belief in the existence of spirits. Mohists, for their part, Feng argues, are
ultra-utilitarian in that they seek to prove the existence of spirits merely
to support their core doctrine of universal love. They employ any theory
that can be used to that end, including advocating economies in ritual
expenditure.85 Zheng Jiewen broadly concurs: logically speaking,
Wang Chongs criticism of the Mohist inconsistency is accurate, but it is
not relevant since the main purpose of the Mohists is to use their stance
on spirits as a service doctrine to promote impartial care, frugal burial,
and so on.86 The implication here is that some of the doctrines in the Core
Chapters would stand as independent tenets, while others merely serve
to lend weight to these. It is not clear to me on what basis the Ming gui
triad should be singled out to do just that.
Feng Youlans contention that the Ru do not believe in spirits, except
perhaps in the form of an empathy toward ancestral spirits outside the
common pantheon maintained through simple do-ut-des sacrifices, is
equally problematic. It assumes that Ru sacrificial ritual distinguishes
itself from popular or common religion because Ru ritual is inspired
by an advanced moral program. It also implies that sacrificial practice in
a Ru context should be seen as a manifestation of elite culture, while, by
contrast, Mohist cultic activity can be reduced to a gift-giving dynamic
popular among the masses, who are mostly concerned with the material
aspects of cult expenditure or the question of whether humans can expect
a direct and immediate return for their expressions of reverence.
This attempt to distinguish Mohist religiosity from Ru or Confucian
attitudes on the basis of their views on ritual is tenuous. It also appears in
the work of Benjamin Schwartz, who, in his explanation of the notion of
li , distinguishes a secular sphere of respectful manners from reli-
gious rites of sacrifice. Schwartz speaks of a Mohist disbelief in the magi-
cal spiritual-ethical function of ritual and music: In carrying on religious
sacrifices [the Mohist] does so out of gratitude towards the spirits and in
order to please the spirits, not because ritual makes him a nobler person.
In this sense, ritual is not magic in Fingarettes sense.87 It follows that
Mohist acts of service to the spirit world (i.e., the offering of sacrifice)
do not transform the performer and, hence, are more secular (or a-reli-
gious) than ritual and music as advocated by the Ru. Yet how useful is it to
85Fung, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, 5758.
86Zheng Jiewen, Zhongguo Mo xue tongshi, 209210.
87Schwartz, The World of Thought in Ancient China, 152153 (my italics).
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separate sacrificial cult from a category of high ritual and associate the for-
mer with Mo and the latter with Ru? If ritual, as Schwartz suggests, covers
the sphere of basic etiquette, are we to assume then that, say, table man-
ners are less secular and more morally transformative than the prepara-
tion of sacrificial offerings? And does Mohist criticism of ritual imply that
the Mohists are disinterested in ritual altogether? This is highly doubtful.
More convincing in this respect is Mark Csikszentmihalyis suggestion that
Mohist criticism was directed to ritual as practiced by the Ru (because it
is inconsistent) rather than ritual in general. In the Mohist perspective,
rituals can serve a utilitarian purpose provided that one adopts the right
ones and is consistent in their application.88 This certainly appears to be
a view held by Han times, when the complexity of Ru ritual is highlighted
as objectionable in the eyes of Mohists.89
In short, the Mohist advocacy for the simplification of ritual should not
imply that Mohists considered ritual to be unimportant altogether. By the
same token, it cannot be assumed that the so-called Ru conceived of ritual
as devoid of utilitarian motives. Indeed, offering sacrifice to keep the spirit
world at bay and refraining from discourse about them (Zi bu yu )
equally serve a purpose. The Mohists indeed constantly weigh and nego-
tiate the material requirements of ceremony, but so do most thinkers
of the period. If we accept the premise that, as my internal analysis of
the received Mozi shows, Mohist perceptions of the spirit world were
dynamic, internally contentious, and evolving, there is no need to explain
a Mohist belief in service to the spirit world and their advocacy of frugality
in ritual as a doctrinal contradiction. Putting together passages expressing
doctrinal doubt in Mozi 31, exchanges preserved in the Dialogues, and the
Shanghai Museum fragment, a picture emerges of a Mohist landscape in
which the polemic on spirits appears to be as much an internal debate as
it is a discussion pitched against external parties. And if we refrain from
assuming that Mohist views on the spirit world and ritual in general were
exclusively formulated in the context of a polemic against an identifiable
group known as Ru, the contradiction Wang Chong highlights might dis-
solve. It is impossible to establish in each case who are understood to be
the Ru in the received Mozi (e.g., none are mentioned in Mozi 31) and
88Csikszentmihalyi, Material Virtue, 3637.
89See, e.g., Huainanzi Yao le, which notes that Mozi found the rituals of Confucius
uselessly complicated and difficult ().
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 135
whether or not the mentions of the Ru across the received Mozi all refer
to the same group of people.
The apparent contradiction between ritual and materiality is not solved
in the Mozi. The point the Core Chapters seem to make is that rituals, if
performed inconsistently, could be a waste of time and resources, but the
material requirements of ritual are not invariably rejected. At the end of
Mozi 31, when the skeptics object to spending wealth (cai ) on sacrificial
offerings, Mozi counters their claim by insisting that such expense would
be justified even if it only brings people together (31: 55/111). In the sec-
ond test in Mozi 31, Mozi makes ritual expenditure part of an ontological
proof for the existence of ghosts and spirits, or at least, he uses it to back
up his claim that the ancients believed in them:
: , , , ,
,

Therefore, it was said that when the government offices provide the imple-
ments, they must first ensure that the proper sacrificial vessels and robes are
fully stocked in the warehouses, that the invocators of the ancestral temple
and all other officials in charge [of sacrifices] have all been appointed in
the court, and that the animals to be used as sacrificial victims are no lon-
ger grouped together with the common herds. Since the sages of antiquity
conducted their government in this fashion, it must be the case [that they
believed in the existence of ghosts and spirits]. (31: 53/23)
Moderation in ritual expenditure is not universally acclaimed across the
received text. In a passage in Mozi 25 he argues that sumptuous funerary
expenditure has a theological effect since it might deplete resources that
could otherwise be used to maintain regular sacrifices:
, , ,

,


,

,


, ,
: , , : ,
,

,


Now, if one follows those who support elaborate funerals and lengthy
mourning to conduct government, then the state will necessarily become
poor, the people will become few, and the government will necessarily be
in chaos. If the state is poor, then the sacrificial grains and wine will not
be of the required purity. If the people are few, there will be few to serve
Shangdi and the spirits. And if the government is in chaos, then sacrifices
will not be conducted at the appropriate times or in the appropriate mea-
sure. If now one conducts government in such a way that one effectively
136 roel sterckx
prevents the proper services to Shangdi and the spirits, they will be the first
to look down from above and, considering how to soothe the people, might
say: What is better for us, to have these people exist or to have them not
exist? Or: Whether they exist or not does not make any difference to us!
Consequently, Shangdi and the spirits will send down cruel punishments for
the peoples misdemeanors and abandon them. And if they do so, would not
that just be the appropriate thing to do! (25: 40/1822)
Lavish expenditure not only exhausts the states resources but, more
importantly, incites discontent in the spirit world itself. Indirectly Mozi
here invokes the spirits themselves as moral arbiters of ritual expenditure.
In Mozi 27 he draws on religious obligation to promote his views of an
egalitarian society: social harmony and the impartial division of wealth
ensure that the state will always have the necessary resources to provide
offerings to the spirit world (27: 44/2830). So the material basis of ritual
obligation is firmly acknowledged by Mozi. It supports his ideal of the
impartial society: a division of wealth leads to an equally shared burden
in the sustenance of religious obligation, which, in turn, prevents ritual
expenditure from undermining conventional economic productivity or
burdening one social class more than another. To label the Mohist world-
view, in this respect, as dominated by religious conservatism is therefore
exaggerated.90
In its most basic form one would assume that the Mohist expects a
return from the spirits that is proportionate to the generosity of his offer-
ings. But Mozi takes a morally superior stance when, in a passage in the
Dialogues (in Mozi 49), he insists that sacrifice should not degenerate into
a calculated quest for blessings but must reflect moral conduct:
,

, :

,

,


,

A priest from Lu offered one pig in sacrifice and asked for a hundred bless-
ings from the spirits. Our Master Mozi heard about this and said that this
cannot be done. Now, to give to others sparingly yet to expect much from
them would cause them to be afraid of the gifts given to them. Now, since
one pig is offered and yet a hundred blessings are sought for from ghosts and
spirits, they would be quite afraid if they received [an even more valuable]
sacrifice of oxen and sheep. Anciently, when the sage-kings served ghosts
and spirits, they just offered sacrifice and that was all. Yet today, by offer-
90See Knoblock, Xunzi, vol. 1, 58, for an example of overemphasis on Mohist religious
conservatism.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 137
ing one pig while seeking a hundred blessings, one would be better off to
remain poor than to become rich by it. (49: 114/2123)
Here a priest from Lu (heartland Ru territory) is reprimanded for expect-
ing a spirit response that is disproportionate to the value of the sacrificial
offerings. Sacrifice should be about moral intent rather than the quest
for blessings from the spirits by means of gifts. The offering of sacrifice
(do) should not necessarily come with an expectation of greater recom-
pense (des). In emphasizing the role of human conduct Mozis attitude
here could be comfortably construed as classicist.91 His exhortation to
the priest of Lu is that sacrifices should morally transform a person. In the
analysis of Feng and Schwartz, then, the Mozi figure in this passage would
be the perfect Confucian.
In sum, despite the fact that in certain debates in the Mozi, Mohist
views are clearly contrasted with those of the Ru, this dichotomy must be
handled with care in our analysis of the text. In the case of views on the
spirit world, it would be hard to claim that the Ru simply dismissed ghosts
91Zheng Jiewen constructs a hypothesis to explain this seeming discrepancy and argues
that these are debates that took place in the state of Lu at a time when Mozi had yet to
carve out a clear doctrinal niche. Mozi, according to Zheng, is still learning from the Ru
and has yet to make up his mind. His sojourn in Lu should therefore be seen as a dialecti-
cal arena in which Mohist core doctrines gradually became distinct from Ru teachings.
The implication for Zheng then is that the Core Chapters must be later than the Dialogues,
which would represent an early phase, when Mohist ideas were in an embryonic and inar-
ticulate state. See Zheng Jiewen, Zhongguo Mo xue tongshi, 3, 2223, 4142, 4647. Zhengs
scenario unfortunately is based on tenuous extrapolations, as is shown by the fact that
he needs to rely on quotations on sacrifice from the Li qi chapter in the Liji
and commentaries by Zheng Xuan (127200 CE) and Kong Yingda (574648
CE), texts and commentators dated centuries post factum. Zheng Jiewens summary of
the Mohist position is extremely speculative on other fronts. First, the doctrinal doubts
expressed by Gongmeng suggest to Zheng that the theory of morally conscious spirits was
established early on when the Mohists were setting themselves apart from the Ru. Zheng
makes this argument with an overly simplistic analysis. According to Zheng, the school
of the Ru does not like to talk about ghosts and spirits and prefers instead to concentrate
on self-cultivation. Yet for the lower classes of the population, whose main concern is
survival, such elevated doctrines are of little help. Mozi thus provides the common folk
with ideas that they can connect with and that might assist in encouraging rulers to toe
the line. Second, Zheng speculates that the early Mohists insist on proving the existence
of ghosts and their capacity to reward (and hence the need for sacrifices, etc.). Later on,
however, as the status of individual disciples changes, Mozis doctrine takes on a more
social character in that its main focus lies in encouraging disciples to cultivate themselves
and promote the selection of talented folk. It is unclear to me what basis Zheng draws on
to make these claims. Finally, Zheng asserts that Mozis own disciples question his theories
about providential spirits because of a disjuncture between his ideals on the one hand and
on the other hand the social reality and spirit of the time, which was increasingly human
centered. Underneath Zhengs last hypothesis lurks again a narrative that echoes the so-
called triumph of Confucianism.
138 roel sterckx
and spirits. Their insistence on ancestral rituals illustrates an acute aware-
ness of the spirit world. Perhaps the reality was more complex. Rather
than simply discrediting agnostic Ru and accusing them of hypocrisy
when investing in rituals without believing in spirits, the Mohists may
have sought to democratize the pantheon and divorce the notion of
spirit power from its ancestral basis as emphasized by the Ru. The dif-
fering views of the role of the spirit world by what are purported to be
Mohist and Ru camps would therefore be not so much of substance but
rather of degree: rather than being preoccupied with the question of the
existence of spirits, their shared concern was to understand what aspects
of the spirit world should be deemed spiritually potent and when. The
Mohist would argue that ancestral spirits are partial and, therefore, that
their spirit response fails to have universal or impartial relevance (unlike
nonancestral spirits). Mozi 31 can then be read not merely as a chapter
that seeks an imprimatur for sacrificial cult of the folk-religious type but
also as a plea for a more inclusive spirit pantheon. The Mo-Ru disagree-
ment hinges, not on whether or not spirits are potent, but rather on the
question of what signs should be taken as significant and hence acted
upon. Mohists would argue that the spirits should be monitored con-
stantly since the spirit world is impartial in judging human conduct; the
Ru instead assume that the spirit world is biased toward certain groups
or individuals. For them the crux lies in deciding when to ignore signs
from the spirit world and when to interpret them as socially significant.
As a result, Mohists prefer to see cultic activity and expenditure dedicated
to the entire pantheon so as to benefit as many as possible, whereas the
Ru prefer to invest resources in cultic activity on behalf of those enti-
ties that are of immediate concern to clan, lineage, or locality. Whereas
Mohists want resources for the sustenance of the spirit world deployed
for the benefit of the greatest common good (an attitude that could be
construed as moderate or utilitarian ), the Ru do not object to the idea
that resources can justifiably be concentrated and invested in a cause
that is partial (and concentrating goods for use of the few can indeed be
construed as excessive). At any rate, we must assume that many at the
time were undecided on the efficacy of the spirit world, as the Shanghai
Museum fragment corroborates.
Conclusion
Evidence does not allow us to reconstruct the sociology of Mohism with
sufficient detail. Yet there are elements both internal and external to the
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 139
received Mozi that suggest that the Mohist position on ghosts and spirits
may not have been straightforward or internally uncontroversial. Mohist
views on the spirit world were not static but evolving, or at least, they
were more nuanced and subject to debate than scholars have suggested.
I have shown that it is possible to arrive at a picture of a more polyphonic
Mohist view of the spirit world. I also hope to have shown that the absence
of all but one of possibly three original chapters that made up the Ming
gui triad does not prevent us from doing so, and that a close reading of
units at the subchapter level, as well as comparisons with passages in the
other Core Chapters and the Dialogues and the Shanghai Museum frag-
ment, reveals a more complex picture. This picture suggests that there
were Mohists who were skeptical about the prescience of the spirit world.
It also reveals that the philosophical issue of the existence of ghosts and
spirits, on the one hand, and the more pragmatically inspired question of
whether or not the spirit world is capable of punishing and rewarding, on
the other hand, were seen as separate issues. The first may have been an
ideological or theological debate that occurred between Mozi and his crit-
ics, the latter not necessarily identified as Ru in each and every case. The
second concern may have been debated as part of what some perceived
to be a Mo versus Ru polemic, with the latter advocating a fatalism far
more detached from individual moral (or immoral) action than the for-
mer. Yet even here, the interlocutors in these exchanges are not always
clearly defined.
The question then arises as to what encourages scholars to continue to
present the Mohist stance on spirits in the form of a terse and seemingly
unproblematic acknowledgment that Mohists simply believed in ghosts?
In this respect Nicolas Standaert has made the incisive observation that
our reading of the Mohist Core Chapters has been overly influenced by
the titles these chapters carry. Given that the phrases used as chapter
titles almost never occur in the text itself, Standaert suggests that they
were not conceived as part of the original chapters but that they may have
been assigned by an editor who drew on the list that appears in a passage
in Mozi 49. In that particular passage the doctrine on ghosts is referred
to as shi gui , serving ghosts.92 And so the relationship between a
title and a chapter is not necessarily clear and, in fact, sometimes seems
random. The case of Mozi 31 and the Shanghai Museum fragment support
Standaerts hypothesis, since one could argue that the ideas presented in
92See Standaert, Problems with Titles. For the passage on the ten doctrines, see Mozi
49: 114/710, quoted in the introduction to this volume.
140 roel sterckx
the received Mozi are very elastic and swing between moments when the
theoretical issue of the spirits consciousness or existence is at play and
moments when the texts seem to advocate nothing more than a generalist
exhortation to respect ghosts (even if one is not convinced of their exis-
tence). Naturally, we do not know what title was assigned to the Shanghai
Museum fragment, if any. But the title assigned to Mozi 31, Ming gui, if
taken as a verbdirect object phrase, explaining ghosts, does appear to
be a weak choice if it was meant to reflect the core content of the chapter.
In this respect a reading of ming as a stative verb (percipient ghosts)
would be equally plausible.93
This, together with a seeming paradox between the vociferous advo-
cacy of sacrifice and a criticism of ritual opulence, indicates that, when
situating Mohist views on spirits in their context, we should also refrain
from isolating these views as either uniquely Mohist or uniquely inspired
by or crafted in opposition to Ru views. Furthermore, in approaching the
Mozi, we may also have to be more careful in handling analytical concepts
such as religion versus ritual and popular (folk, common) versus elite or
indeed in assuming that we understand the contours of what sacrifice or
ritual meant at the time. A much more systematic analysis of religious
life in practice is required for the period in question. The anecdotal and
often-dispersed nature of much of the discourse on ghosts and demons
in Warring States texts indicates that debates on the spirit world rarely
happened exclusively as a philosophical exercise. We may not be able to
identify the voices in these discussions with certainty, but it is imperative
that we remove expectations that their views can be readily pigeonholed
in terms of a polemic between philosophical schools. Warring States
debates on sacrificial practice and cult in general were rarely held in iso-
lated ideological or theoretical terms, and practical utility seems to unite
them all, whether the polemic is associated with Mohism or not. The
intellectual and religious world of fourth- and third-century BCE China
was certainly more complex than a dialectic described by Herrlee Creel
in 1951, in which vulgar or superstitious Mohists contended with ratio-
nal Confucians.94
Ironically, many of the strategies one sees at work in the polemics sur-
rounding purported Mohist and Ru views on spirits in the Warring States
period reappear a few centuries later among vociferous critics active in
93Johnston allows for both readings; see Johnston, The Mozi, lviilviii.
94Creel, Confucius, 198.
mozi 31: explaining ghosts, again 141
the Eastern Han. The writings of Wang Chong, Wang Fu (90165
CE), and Ying Shao (ca. 140204 CE) are peppered with ambiguities
on the issue. Although they appear to dismiss a preoccupation with ghosts
and supernatural phenomena on the grounds that it is superstitious or
vulgar (su ), at the same time the very existence of the spirit world is
accepted or at best left unquestioned. Ghostly activity is not discounted
a priori but made subject to human response. Wang Chong does not
deny the potential influence of the spirit world on human affairs, but like
some of Mozis more skeptical interlocutors, he seeks to establish which
forms of spectral involvement humans should accept as being of a genu-
ine demonic nature. And a figure such as Ying Shao stresses the dangers
inherent in either an obsessive preoccupation with the spirit world or the
absolute neglect of demonic appearances.95
It appears then that, in Warring States as in Han China, disagreement
arose not so much over the presumed appearance or status of ghosts and
spirits or the impact of the divine on human affairs; rather, the debate
focused on whether such signs from the spirit world were to be taken as
genuinely ominous and hence socially or politically relevant and whether
there were occasions when the spirit world could be responsibly neglected.
But whereas in the Warring States period concern with these issues was
often associated with the Mozi figure, by Han times such questions had
taken on a more general existence and their links to the world of the his-
torical Mozi had faded.
95The core arguments occur in the Jie chu , Lun si , Si wei , Ding
gui , Si yi , and Ji yi chapters of the Lunheng; the Si dian and
Guai shen chapters in the Fengsu tongyi ; and the Bu lie and Wu
lie chapters in the Qianfu lun .
MOZIS REMAKING OF ANCIENT AUTHORITY
Miranda Brown
Use the past to serve the present
Chairman Mao
Why is this age worse than earlier ages?
Anna Akhmatova (1919)
The Janus-faced quality of Mo Di (ca. 479381) is something of a puzzle.
In his more familiar guise, Mo Di, or Mozi (Master Mo), is presented as
a radical: an outsider battling aristocratic privilege, a utopian demand-
ing the dissolution of hereditary barriers, an iconoclast calling for the
overhaul of tradition.1 No doubt, such features have endeared the thinker
to twentieth-century interpreters who see Mohist thought as offering an
alternative to the more staid and orthodox voices that later dominated
the tradition. Angus Graham, for example, extols Mo Di and his follow-
ers as vigorous independent thinkers who submit all traditional moral-
ity to the test of social utility and as challengers of traditional values.2
Thomas Metzger argues that the Mohist challenge to tradition provided
lasting contributions to the pattern of Chinese thought. Such challenges,
Metzger notes, introduced the seeds of reflexivity to philosophical dis-
course and transformed the assumptions of tradition into debatable
claims.3 And Heiner Roetz characterizes the Mozi by its radical detach-
ment from tradition and custom, a detachment that represents the height
of iconoclasm during the Axial Age in China. As Roetz sums it up, Mo Di
stands up against all established customs.4 At the same time, Mo Di and
his followers presented a conservative, and indeed, one might argue, reac-
tionary, face. The Mohists rail about the decline of morality, as well as the
prevalence of warfare and lavish spending, in their own time.5 The ancient
kings of the Three Dynasties are no more, the Mohists complain, and
1For accounts that present Mo Di as a social revolutionary, see Gu Jiegang, Shanrang
chuanshuo qi yu Mojia kao.
2Graham, Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science, 4.
3Metzger, Some Ancient Roots of Ancient Chinese Thought, 6364.
4Roetz, Confucian Ethics of the Axial Age, 242.
5Lewis, Writing and Authority, 112.
144 miranda brown
All under Heaven is at a loss as to what is proper ,
(25: 38/26 and 25: 40/1011). Though they presumably knew better,
the Mohists did not refrain from making appeals to ancient authority
when it suited them.6 To take a central issue in the Mozi, the text named
after Mo Di, why should men accord with the will of Heaven? One must
accord with the will of Heaven because, the Mozi tells us, the ancient
sage-kings of the Three Dynasties, Yu, Tang, Wen, and Wu, accorded with
the intentions (yi ) of Heaven and were rewarded
, (26: 43/910). A similar appeal (in almost
identical phrasing) is repeated in virtually every chapter of the Mozi. So,
Geoffrey Lloyd has concluded that the Mohists seem to be no exception
to the rule that early Chinese thinkers harkened back toor, better still,
carped onthe teachings of sage-kings.7
What do we make of the numerous appeals to ancient sages in the
Mohist corpus? Certainly, one could argue that such references were just
for forms sake.8 Conceivably, the Mohists mentioned these sage-kings
not because they especially believed in them but because they were mind-
ful of the expectations of their audience. Indeed, something along these
lines has been suggested by Graham, who maintains that the Mohists
judged doctrines primarily by their practical consequences, thereby
lending the impression that appeals to sage-kings amounted to little more
than an afterthought. Mo Di and his followers, Graham adds, comb[ed]
supporting questions however dubious, like a Protestant sectary using and
misusing scripture.9
Alternatively, the references to sage-kings might be interpreted as a
conservative lapsea sign, in other words, that Mos revolution was still
incomplete. Something like this has been proposed by Tan Yuquan, and
for good reason.10 Later traditions insinuate that Mo Di had been a fol-
lower of Confuciushence, the suspicion that Mo Di was unable to fully
extricate himself from the tradition he later rejected. At the same time,
however, appeals to sage-kings seem to be more than lapses. Looking at
the problem from the perspective of numbers, no fewer than 191 references
6 Metzger, Some Ancient Roots of Ancient Chinese Thought, 82; Loy, The Moral Phi-
losophy of the Mozi Core Chapter, 138143.
7Lloyd, Adversaries and Authorities, 26.
8Ibid.
9Graham, Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science, 1112.
10Tan Yuquan, Mozi sixiang pinglun, 161208, esp. 173, 180, 204.
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 145


to sages (sheng ) and 121 to sage-kings (sheng wang ) appear in the
Mozi. If we restrict our gaze to the Core Chapters, the picture is largely
unchanged: we have 102 references, or one occurrence of sage-kings for
every 481 words (see table 1). I am not the first to notice the Mohist pre-
dilection for citing the authority of the sage kings. Mark Edward Lewis
has observed of the Mohist canon that it routinely, indeed obsessively,
inscribes its social programs in an imaginary antiquity and appeals to the
authority of past writings.11
Table 1.Distribution of the Terms Sage, Sage-King, and Former King
in Zhou Texts
Title of work and approximate
date
Sage
(sheng )
Sage-king
(sheng wang)
Former king
(xian wang )
Book of Odes (From ca. 5th
c. BCE)
9 0 3
Early Book of Documents
(pre-5th c. BCE)
6 0 23
Analects (from ca. 5th c. BCE?) 8 0 2
Total for Mozi 191 121 40
Mozi Core Chapters (837;
ca. 5th4th c. BCE)
137 102 31
Mozi Opening chapters (17;
ca. 4th3rd c. BCE)
23 12 5
Mozi Dialogues (4649/50;
ca. 4th3rd c. BCE)
19 7 8
Daodejing (from 4th
c. BCE)
33 0 0
Mencius (4th3rd c.
BCE)
48 1 10
Zuozhuan (from ca.
mid-4th c. BCE)
26 3 48
Liji (Record of Rites; 4th
c. BCE)
75 10 48
Mu Tianzi zhuan
(The Tradition of Mu, Son of
Heaven; ca. 350 BCE)12
1 0 5
11Lewis, Writing and Authority, 111.
12Mathieu, Mu tien-tzu chuan, 342; Mathieu cautions that portions of the text (juan 5)
might be later.
146 miranda brown
Table 1 (cont.)
Title of work and approximate
date
Sage
(sheng )
Sage-king
(sheng wang)
Former king
(xian wang )
Lshi chunqiu
(Annals by L Buwei; ca. 239
BCE)
117 26 60
Xunzi (3rd c. BCE) 43 39 49
Guanzi (4th c. BCE; core,
ca. 250 BCE)13
185 45 79
Han Feizi (3rd c. BCE) 107 9 42
Guoyu (4th c. BCE)14 44 9 80
Shangjun shu (Book of
Lord Shang; 4th3rd
c. BCE?)
50 5 11
Zhuangzi (3rd c. BCE) 0 0 0
Shenzi (350?275? BCE)15 16 3 3
Yinwenzi (Warring
States?)
20 1 0
Heguanzi (Pheasant
Cap Master); late Warring
States?)
81 6 8
Guiguzi (late Warring
States?)
31 0 3
Yanzi chunqiu
(Spring and Autumn Annals
by Master Yan; late Warring
States)16
0 0 0
13141516
Still other explanations merit consideration: appeals to ancient sage-kings
were arguably more than formal. An examination of the pre-Mohist corpus
reveals a paucity of references to the two-character compound sage-king
(sheng wang). No references occur in the several thousand bronze inscrip-
tions of the Western Zhou (ca. 1045771 BCE) or in the Book of Odes (com-
piled ca. 1000600 BCE). The compound is furthermore absent from the
portions of the Book of Documents that predate the imperial unification
of 221 BCE. More surprisingly still, the term does not appear even in the
13For the dates of the Guanzi, see Rickett, Introduction, 15. Rickett argues that none
of the text predates the fourth century and that the core chapters coalesced around 250
BCE.
14Dates are based on Schaberg, A Patterned Past, 8.
15Thompson, Shen tzu, 399.
16Durrant, Yen tzu chun chiu, 487.
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 147


Analects, a text believed by most scholars to have a core that predates the
fourth century BCE. All this coincides with broader changes identified by
Gu Jiegang : whereas in the Western Zhou, antiquity represented
the recent past, in the Warring States period (453221 BCE), it came to
include an increasingly remote or mythic past.17 Given this context, the
appeals to sage-kings in the Mozi appear less as an old counterrevolution-
ary slip than a possible Mohist innovation. Although we cannot be sure,
it seems then that the iconoclast may have been responsible for shaping
and popularizing the rhetoric of the archconservative.
This essay investigates whether the concept of sage-king was in some
sense a Mohist innovation. Before providing a roadmap of arguments to
come, a couple of disclaimers are in order. The fragmentary nature of the
early textual record defies any effort to create ironclad chronologies. Nev-
ertheless, by piecing together textual clues with the secondary literature,
this essay assumes that we can arrive, not at incontrovertible truths, but
at hypotheses with a relative degree of probability. Moreover, new dis-
coveries continually change and complicate our understanding of textual
chronologies. Some of my arguments thus may be subject to revision.
Finally, my understanding of textual chronologies is indebted to the work
of other scholars. For example, I assume that the Mozi, like the Analects
and Documents, was the result of centuries of accretionand, more cru-
cially, that there is an early core, which has been identified correctly. Such
a movewhich flies in the face of the demands of parsimonywill no
doubt have its detractors. Though most scholars agree that early Chinese
texts changed over time, less of a consensus exists about how to date the
various strata. In recognition of this problem, I abide by the consensus
view when feasible, noting differences of opinion where relevant.
To answer the question of what role the Mohists played in shaping the
notion of the exemplary pasta notion central to the development of
Chinese traditions of thoughtI compare the vocabulary and rhetorical
strategies of the Mohist core with other early Chinese texts. In addition,
close attention will be paid to the differences between the various strata
of the Mozi. After providing a brief introduction to the major terms and
texts of this essay, I examine the vocabulary of sagehood in early China. I
show that the paucity of references to the term for sage-kings in the pre-
Mohist corpus cannot be explained away as a historiographical illusion,
17Gu Jiegang, Yu Qian Xuantong xiansheng lun gushishu, 102. For more recent itera-
tions of this view, see Poo, The Formation of the Concept of Antiquity in Early China.
148 miranda brown
the consequence of accidents of survival. As a result, I conclude that the
early Mohists were probably the first to refer to ancient authorities as a
collective group or abstract category. From this discussion of vocabulary,
I move to the subject of rhetorical strategy: did the Mohists merely coin
a new term or did they also transform the practice of making appeals
to ancient authority? By tracing earlier references to the six figures held
up by the Mohists as sage-kings, I demonstrate that, while the Mohists
did not invent either appeals to the past or the six figures, they were the
first to put distant figures and Zhou founders into a single class of model
rulers. In closing, I ask why the Mohists defined the nature of ancient
authority. I show that the invention of the sage-kings as a class reflected
rhetorical strategy; the expanded and abstract notion of a class of sage-
kings lent Mohist argumentation both force and flexibility. Consideration
of the evidence thus suggests that the invention of the ancient sage-kings
represents an important but overlooked legacy of the Mohists.
Setting the Stage
Because this essay presents a number of challenges to the uninitiated
reader, I provide a brief survey of the periods, sources, and major figures
of this study. In addition, the present discussion aims to lay bare some of
my basic assumptions about my sources.
The early Mohists were in the habit of mentioning earlier periods,
which they referred to in a variety of ways. In broad terms, the Mohists
spoke of antiquity (xi ; gu ) or the Three Dynasties (san dai ).
The Three Dynasties included the Xia dynasty (or Yu-Xia ),18 and
the two historical dynasties, the Shang (or Yin ) dynasty, and the
Zhou dynasty. By Zhou, Mo Di was usually referring to the Western Zhou.
In addition, the Western Zhou was seen as closely associated with the
noble houses that served as the de facto rulers of many states in Mo Dis
own time.
Pre-Mohist sources can be divided into two classes: those that are
archaeologically recovered and those transmitted through the ages. The
former class includes tens of thousands of inscriptions on bronze that
have been discovered in the tombs and caches of the Western Zhou
elite. In addition, there are the manuscripts recovered from two tombs
in Hubei. The first set of manuscripts was discovered in 1993 in Tomb 1
18See Mozi 31: 52/27 (Ming gui, xia) and 37: 63/3 (Fei ming, xia).
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 149


at Guodian, Jingmen and was possibly composed during the second half
of the fourth century.19 The second set of manuscripts was looted from
a tomb (or tombs?) before being bought by the Shanghai Museum from
Hong Kong.20 The Shanghai Museum manuscripts are generally thought
to be contemporaneous with the Guodian manuscripts.
Transmitted texts make up the majority of the sources for this study;
three such sources, discussed below, contain fragments or chapters that
predate the Mozi. The Book of Odes (Shijing ) is a collection of some
three hundred odes, some of which may have existed orally by the fifth
century BCE. The Book of Documents, or Shangshu (also known as
the Classic of History, or Shujing ) mostly contains speeches attrib-
uted to ancient sage-rulers: while the so-called Old Text or Archaic Script
(gu wen ) was collated in the 4th century CE, on the basis of older
material, the New Text or Modern Script (jin wen ) version was col-
lated in the 2nd century BCE, also on the basis of various circulating texts
(shu ). This version can be further divided into different temporal strata.
Michael Nylan has tentatively suggested the following tripartite division:
(A) five chapters from the early Zhou, (B) eighteen chapters dating from
the late Western or early Eastern Zhou, and (C) six chapters that date
much later, closer to the unification of China in 221 BCE.21 In this essay,
I will refer to the A and B sections of the New Text version as the early
Book of Documents, and to the C section as the late chapters. As quota-
tions from the Mozi reveal, the present form of the Documents is clearly
different from what the early Mohists called documents.22 And finally,
the textual history of the Analects, which purports to record the teachings
of Confucius and his disciples, is the subject of much debate. In this essay,
I follow scholars such as Arthur Waley, Bruce Brooks and Taeko Brooks,
and Bryan Van Norden, who agree that the text was compiled over centu-
ries, perhaps even well into the Western Han dynasty (206 BCE25 CE).
Opinions are divided as to which chapters or passages represent the
authentic core of the Analects.23
19As Yuri Pines points out, although the tomb was probably closed in the late fourth or
early third century (ca. 300278 BCE), the manuscript contents are likely to be older. See
Pines, Subversion Unearthed, 161 n. 8.
20Allan, Not the Lun yu, 116.
21Nylan, Five Confucian Classics, 135136.
22For discussions of the missing citations, see Zheng Jiewen, Mozi yin Shu yu lidai
Shangshu zhuanben de bijiao.
23An alternative view is that the Lunyu was collated in the Western Han dynasty, possibly
on the basis of existing quotes. For a variation of views, see e.g Van Norden, Introduction
150 miranda brown
As for the Mozi, most scholars agree that there is an early core including
chapters 837, of which twenty-three survive. Some disagreement exists
as to the dates of the Core Chapters. Graham and the Brookses argue that
the chapters are the work of Mo Dis fifth- and fourth-century followers,
positing that the earliest stratum dates to 390 and the latest to 280 BCE.24
Watanabe Takashi sees a somewhat longer period of evolution, with the
earliest chapters being written in the fourth century and the latest around
221; he posits four stages or strata of evolution: chapters that date to
(1) the early fourth century BCE, (2) the second half of the fourth century
BCE, (3) the late fourth century BCE to mid-third century, and (4) the late
third century BCE and beyond.25 The claim that the latest stratum dates
to the late third century, however, now seems questionable with the pub-
lication of the Shanghai Museum manuscript titled Guishen zhi ming
(Ghostly Percipience) by its editors. The manuscript refers
to ancient figures such as Yao and Shun , a feature that Watanabe
saw as a sure sign of a late third-century date. As a result, the manuscript
suggests that the latest stratum of the Core Chapters of the Mozi could
very well be earlier than the late third century.26 The rest of the Mozi
which includes the Opening Chapters (chapters 17) and Dialogues (chap-
ters 46 49/50)is regarded as the work of disciples writing in the fourth
and third centuries BCE. My discussion will largely focus on the Core
Chapters, whose authors I refer to as the early Mohists. Where appro-
priate, I discuss later developments as presented in the Opening Chapters
and Dialogues and refer to these texts as later chapters.
As much discussion revolves around six figures extolled in the Mozi as
sage-kings, it is worth introducing them here. Before providing a capsule
description of the six, I should mention that the Mozi associates all six
with the Three Dynasties. For example, the Mozi repeatedly refers to the
to Confucius and the Analects; Csikszentmihalyi, Confucius and the Analects in the Han;
and John Makeham, The Formation of Lunyu as a Book.
24For Graham, see Disputers of the Tao, 36 and Graham, Divisions in Early Mohism
Reflected in the Core Chapters of Mo-tzu. For the Brookses, see the summary of their pre-
publication essays in Desmet, The Growth of Compounds in the Core Chapters of the
Mozi, 102. The prepublications have been unavailable for some time. Some of them have
now been published in the Warring States Papers.
25Watanabe Takashi, Bokushi shohen no chosaku nendai, part 2, 2731. Watanabe
argued that these four stages or strata could be roughly placed into three periods, the last
two stages sharing one period. See the introduction to the present volume.
26Shanghai bowuguan cang Zhanguo Chu zhushu, vol. 5, 307; Ding Sixin, Shang bo Chu
jian Gui shen pian zhushi. For an opposing view, see Brindley, The Perspicuity of Ghosts
and Spirits and the Problem of Intellectual Affiliations in Early China. For Watanabe
Takashis reasoning for why the chapter on ghosts is late, see Watanabe Takashi, Bokushi
shohen no chosaku nendai, part 2, 3031.
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 151


six figures as the sage-kings of the Three Dynasties, Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang,
Wen, and Wu (e.g., 9: 11/2, 9: 12/20). Yao and
Shun, who often appear together, probably never existed. Although these
figures are said to be the most venerable of the six sage-kings, references
to them occur after the fifth century BCE. In these accounts, Yao chose
Shun, a worthy man of humble origins, over Yaos own son as successor.27
Yu is not only the founder of the Xia dynasty but also associated with
various flood myths of early China. Accounts vary, but the thrust of the
competing legends is clear: Yu dredged channels to serve as outlets for the
floodwaters. Yu was later appointed by Shun to succeed him as heir, thus
continuing the practice of bypassing sons in favor of worthies. By some
accounts, Yu intended to continue the tradition of appointing worthy
heirs as the Son of Heaven and preferred Bo Yi (sometimes referred
to as Yi). Yet such a move was thwarted, in some legends by Yus son, the
evil Qi . Thus, the practice of shanrang (abdicating in favor of a
meritorious heir) came to an end and so began the age of hereditary suc-
cession.28 Tang, who is also known as Chengtang , is associated with
the overthrow of the Xia and the founding of the Shang dynasty. Because
of this, Tang is thought to have inaugurated the dynastic cycle, whereby
one ruling house was replaced by another. The last two, Wen (r. 1099
1050 BCE) and Wu (r. 1049/451043 BCE), are historical figures; they are
known as the founders of the Zhou dynasty. King Wen (The Cultured) is
thought of as the actual founder of the Zhou. He is said to have begun the
conquest of the Shang but died without seeing it to completion. King Wu
(The Martial) oversaw the actual conquest of the Shang and the estab-
lishment of Zhou rule. Legend has it that he died several years after the
conquest and was succeeded by a child, King Cheng (r. 1042/351006
BCE). The child king was aided by a number of uncles, including the virtu-
ous Duke of Shao and Dan , also known as the Duke of Zhou.29
Where Did All the Sage-Kings Go?
With these preliminary remarks, we are now ready to tackle the ques-
tion posed in the introduction: Is the scarcity of references to the term
sage-king in the pre-Mohist corpus actually meaningful? Arguably, the
27On abdication, see Pines, Subversion Unearthed; Pines, Disputers of Abdication.
28Allan, The Heir and the Sage, 55, 6874. For various myths of Yu, see Lewis, Flood
Myths of Early China. For more favorable accounts of Qi, see Allan, The Heir and the Sage,
7374.
29See Shaughnessy, Western Zhou History, 308311.
152 miranda brown
appearance of Mohist novelty could be an illusion. After all, our discus-
sion has focused on a single compound, sheng wang (sage-king). More
importantly, the limited nature of our archiveand particularly the
various strata within the Mozineed to be considered. In recognition of
these problems, three competing explanations will be evaluated: internal
evidence that suggests that the practice of appealing to sage-kings was
pervasive before the early Mozi, the scenario that sheng wang appears
only in the latest stratum and thus reflects a third-century convention,
and lastly, the possibility that equivalents for sheng wang can be found
in earlier texts. Through this method of inquiry, I conclude that my ini-
tial hypothesis still represents the most plausible explanation: the early
Mohists appear to have been among the earliest to use the term sheng
wang.
We begin with the first scenario: the early Mohists were not the first to
appeal to the authority of the sage-kings. As most readers familiar with
the Mozi know, Mohist authors depict their own contemporaries making
appeals to the sage-kings. A few chapters in fact present objections on
the grounds that Mohist proposals were contrary to the way of the ancient
sage-kings. For example, one chapter on warfare (Fei gong, xia )
depicts opponents as protesting the Mohist proposal to eliminate offen-
sive warfare on the grounds that such attacks were carried out by the
very men extolled by Mo Di as sage-kings. Of old, Yu had attacked the
Miao, and Tang had attacked Jie, the opponents wrote, and King Wu had
attacked Zhou, and yet all of these men have been set up as sage-kings
, , , (19: 34/17).30
Although the passage could be interpreted as evidence of a pre-Mohist
discourse on sage-kings, this is probably not the most compelling argu-
ment. For a start, the aforementioned example comes from the later strata
of the Mozi. Watanabe Takashi dates Fei gong, xia to the third
stratum of the Mohist core, that is, the late fourth to mid-third century.
A second instance of Mozis contemporaries appealing to the authority of
the sage kings, which appears in Fei ming, zhong, is dated by Watanabe
to the fourth stratum, in the late third century. Such an assessment is con-
sistent with that of the Brookses. In addition, the fact that the comments
recorded were imaginary deserves attention. In each of these chapters, the
Mozi deploys a range of different (sometimes contradictory) statements in
30Watanabe Takashi dates this chapter to stratum 3.
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 153


favor of the Mohist position.31 After each argument, an imagined objec-
tionone framed in identical terms to the Mohist argumentis duly
presented before a counterargument is provided. In both of these cases,
the Mozi goes on to argue against the objection by adducing further his-
torical examples and adding more nuanced explanations. Interestingly,
this pattern is not unique to arguments involving sage-kings; a similar
tack is actually taken with other arguments, for example, in discussing
social benefit (li ). The imaginary proponents of offensive warfare argue
against the view that offensive warfare is detrimental to the health of the
state.32 This larger rhetorical pattern of presenting objections and rebut-
tals in the Mozi suggests that a literal reading of the text is untenable; if
anything, the early Mohists were not responding to existing criticisms as
much as forestalling them.
Having considered the internal evidence, we move to the second sce-
nario; a combination of internal and external evidence suggests that the
term sage-king was not in wide circulation before the fourth century.
However, the fact that the compound sheng wang does not appear in pre-
Mohist texts means not that the Mohists necessarily invented or popular-
ized the word, but only that the Mozi dates to a time in which the term
was already in use. Certainly, this scenario should be taken seriously, since
several factors point to this possibility. To begin with, a few texts with pos-
sible fourth-century parts refer to sheng wang (see table 1). These include
the The Zuo Tradition (Zuozhuan , compiled in the mid-fourth cen-
tury from older archival material), the Record of Rites , and the Elder
Dais Record of Rites (Dadai Liji ).33 Furthermore, the Mozi
itself was composed over as much as two centuries, with some parts dat-
ing possibly to the mid- or late third centurya period in which the term
sage-king (sheng wang) was already used.
31Loy, Justification and Debate, 455.
32See, e.g., Mozi 19: 33/1215.
33Some of the textual fragments that make up the Record of Rites and the Elder Dais
Record of Rites have been discovered in fourth-century tombs. See, for example, Guodian
Chu mu zhujian, 129131 (this corresponds to Ziyi pian ); Shanghai bowuguan cang
Zhanguo Chu zhushu, vol. 2, Min zhi fumu , 151175 (this partly corresponds in
part to the Kongzi xianju chapter). For the textual resources of Elder Dais
Record of the Rites, see Shanghai bowuguan cang Zhanguo Chu zhushu, vol. 4, Nei li
, 219229 (this corresponds to Zengzi lixiao ); Shanghai bowuguan cang
Zhanguo Chu zhushu, vol. 7, Wuwang xianzuo , 147168 (this corresponds to the
chapter of the same title). In addition, Shanghai bowuguan cang Zhanguo Chu zhushu,
vol. 6, Jinggong ne , 159191, corresponds very roughly to material found in the
Yanzi chunqiu and Zuozhuan .
154 miranda brown
Yet two factors militate against this second explanation. Aside from
the Mozi, references to sage-kings are rare in other fourth-century texts,
a fact that works against the idea that the Mohists were merely follow-
ing prevailing convention. The Zuozhuan, a lengthy chronicle, contains
just three references. Most strikingly, the term does not appear in any of
the excavated material found at the Guodian tomb or retrieved by the
Shanghai Museum. This in itself is striking, given the range of genres and
philosophical orientations represented in these collections, and one work
that invites comparison with the Mozi chapter on ghosts. Moreover, if we
compare the dates assigned to these chapters, the possibility that the term
appears only in the latest stratum seems unlikely. In fact, sage-king is
missing from only three Core Chapters: chapters 14, 17, and 18 (see table 2).
To be sure, Watanabe Takashi dates chapters 14 and 17 to the first stratum,
but the term appears in chapters that he has dated to the second stratum.
The Brookses chronology suggests that sheng wang appears in an early
stratum of the Core Chapters (their period 3, presumably the mid-fourth
century). Besides, the paucity of references may reflect factors other than
the nonexistence of the term, for chapters 14 and 17 are the briefest of the
Core Chapters. They number only 563 and 426 characters respectively,
significantly less than the average length of a chapter (1,600 characters).
We turn now to the final scenario, the possibility that the abstract
notion of ancient sage-kings existed but under a different guise. In this
connection, several passages seem to suggest that the term former kings
(xian wang ) could be used as a near equivalent to sage-kings
(sheng wang). For example, the text declares, Making music is wrong.
How do we know that this is so? I say this because of the documents of the
former kings

: . (32: 57/1517)34
The chapter on elevating worthies also notes: Moreover, to take elevating
worthies as the root of governance, how could this just be the doctrine
of our master Mo? This is the way of the sage-kings and it is the doctrine
contained in the records of the former kings, in the words of Junian
,

,
. (9: 12/89)35 Worth noting here is the fact that
sheng wang (sage-kings) is used in the same sense as xian wang (former
34Watanabe Takashi dates Fei yue, shang to stratum 3.
35Watanabe Takashi dates Shang xian, zhong to stratum 4. Some debate exists as to
the meaning of the two characters junian . By some accounts, it refers to a title, but
other commentators have interpreted the term more literally as meaning something like
yuannian (long ago). On this point, see Mozi jiaozhu, 85 n. 58.
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 155


kings). In another chapter, in fact, the authors speak of the documents of
the sage-kings (31: 55/78).
This use of former kings as a near synonym for sage-kings presents
problems for my hypothesis: pre-Mohist authors conceivably spoke of the
sage-kings but in different terms. Indeed, a scan of the vocabulary of ear-
lier texts alerts us to such a possibility: references to the former kings
(xian wang) appear with some frequency. In the Book of Documents, we
find twenty references in the New Text portions of the work, three in
the Book of Odes, and two in the Analects (see table 1). While most of
these references refer to royal ancestors,37 the Analects comes closest to
36For these strata, see Desmet, The Growth of Compounds in the Core Chapters of the
Mozi, 102. Each of the strata has a date from 390 till 280 BCE.
37For the use of xian wang to mean royal ancestor, see Tianbao , Ode
166 (Xiaoya), Zhaomin , Ode 265 (Da ya), Yi , Ode 256 (Da ya). Since the text is
Table 2.Distribution of Sage-Kings in the Mozi
Chap.
No.
Title Brookses
stratum36
Watanabe
Takashi
stratum
Total no. of
characters
Sheng
wang
Frequency
8 5 2 819 2 409
9 7 4 2,337 10 234
10 9 4 1,495 3 498
11 4 4 797 1 797
12 7 4 2,398 7 343
13 10 4 1,872 7 267
14 2 1 563 0 0
15 5 2 1,307 2 654
16 8 3 2,720 2 1,360
17 1 1 426 0 0
18 5 2 1,276 0 0
19 7 3 2,012 4 503
20 3 2 596 6 99
21 4 3 572 10 57
25 7 3 2,811 11 256
26 5 4 1,362 4 340
27 8 4 2,302 2 1,151
28 9 4 2,284 3 761
31 8 4 3,406 17 200
32 6 3 1,540 3 513
35 4 1,473 3 491
36 4 992 3 331
37 8 4 1,436 2 718
156 miranda brown
anticipating the Mohist usage of former kingsnamely, as a term that
conveys the general sense of ideal ancient rulers rather than royal ances-
tors. Admittedly, the compound for former king occurs only twice in
the Analects, and one of those references, a late addition, seems to retain
the older sense of a deceased royal ancestor.38 The second occurrence is
ambiguous and may suggest that former kings could be used to refer to
a group broader than royal ancestors. For example, we hear the master
saying, In deploying the rites, one should put the emphasis on harmony.
This is what was considered good in the Way of the Former Kings and
from which follow the large and small (Analects 12.19). While it is clear
that the former kings refer to moral exemplars, too little context survives
to know which former kings the master had in mind. Were they the for-
mer kings of the Zhou or recent rulers of Confuciuss home state, Lu? Or
did the former kings encompass a broader group of worthy kings, as they
would in the Mozi? Still, the ambiguity is meaningful. Earlier references
to the former kings used the term in a parochial sense; in contrast, the
Analects seems to have divorced the notion from the immediate context
of ancestral venerationa sign, perhaps, that the authors of the Analects
had begun to imagine ideal rulers as a general group.
I have asked to what extent the impression of Mohist novelty is an illu-
sion, one caused by the fragmentary nature of our sources. Admittedly,
the nature of our archive requires that we accept a high level of uncer-
tainty; yet my investigation, which has cast a broad net, suggests some
tentative conclusions. Granted, the Mohists did not invent the idea of
ancient sages ex nihilo. At least one early textthe Analectshints that
they may have adjusted existing vocabulary. Yet by the same token, my
examination indicates that the term sage-king (sheng wang) was not in
wide circulation in the fourth century. In fact, there is little evidence to
suggest that, outside the Mozi, the term was commonly used before the
third century BCE.
Investigating the Sextet
Having looked into the background of Mohist vocabulary, we are now
ready to move to the second stage of my argument and ask a related
corrupt, Kong Yingdas explanation of zhuhao is necessary. For a general discussion
of how the past in Western Zhou texts is conceived of in terms of recent ancestors, see
Poo, The Formation of the Concept of Antiquity in Early China, 88.
38Lunyu 16.1. For a similar interpretation, see Lau, The Analects, 172.
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 157


question: was the Mohist innovation limited to changes in terminology
or did the Mohists reimagine the past? Clearly, the six figures that make
up the Mohist sextet appear in earlier texts. Although references to Yao
and Shun emerge only in the Analects, pre-Zhou figures such as Yu and
Tang can be found in the Documents and Odes (see table 3). Moreover, a
bronze inscription dating to the Western Zhou relates Yus efforts in tam-
ing a flood, although the term sage-king is not used.39 Because of these
issues, a thorough examination of all six figures extolled as sage-kings in
the Mozi is in order. While appeals to the authority of the past certainly
predate the Mozi, the early Mohists appear to have been the first to treat
both pre-Zhou figures and Zhou founders as a model for the present.
Naturally, Mohists did not invent arguments based on ancient prec-
edent. Crucially, the early chapters of the Documents invoke the examples
of ancestral figures, particularly former Zhou rulers. As Michael Nylan puts
it, The ancestors good example must be perpetuated and the ancestors
will be obeyed, for the ideal king, in point of fact, rules by virtue of his
ancestors charisma.40 Yet early appeals to the past differ from those in
the Mozi insofar as they primarily concern Zhou ancestors. The early core
of the Documents provides a prime example of this phenomenon. Pre-
Zhou figures such as Tang and Yu appear (the latter only in passing).41 The
precedent is usually the speakers own ancestor, a Zhou founder. This is
not to say that the early authors of the Documents failed to acknowledge
the merits of pre-Zhou rulers. In some chapters, the virtues and example
of King Tang of Shang are duly noted (particularly in speeches addressed
to the defeated Shang). For example, in the Proclamation on Wine
(Jiugao ), King Cheng supposedly observed, In ancient times, the
former wise kings of the Yin [e.g., Shang] and the hundred surnames were
fearful and reverent toward Heavens Mandate and so kept to the path
of virtue and held to the way of wisdom. From the reign of Chengtang
[i.e., Tang] down to Yi, the kings were still able to inspire awe and respect
in their ministers.42 Still, such praise for Tang, however sincere, does not
imply that the Documents envisioned the Shang founder as a model for
39Li Xueqin, Lun Xian gong xu ji qi zhongyiyi. See also Qiu Xigui, Xian gong xu ming
wen kaoshi; Zhu Fenghan, Xian gong xu ming wen chushi; Li Ling, Lun Xian gong xu
faxian de yiyi; cf. Lewis, Flood Myths of Early China, 29.
40Nylan, Five Confucian Classics, 139.
41Yao and Shun appear only in the late chapters of the Documents. Yu appears only in
a passing reference as a distant cultural hero.
42Jinwen Shangshu kaozheng, Zhou shu, 15.324. :

,
, , ,

,

158 miranda brown
Table 3.Distribution of the Sextet in Zhou texts
Text Date Yao Shun Yu Tang Wen Wu
Book of Odes From ca. 5th
c. BCE
0 0 6 4 38 11
Book of
Documents
(A and B
sections)
Pre-5th
c. BCE
0 0 2 8 27 24
Analects From ca. 5th
c. BCE?
4 7 5 2 3 3
Mencius 4th3rd c. BCE 60 100 30 36 35 10
Zuozhuan From ca. mid-
4th c. BCE 8 10 15 6 37 16
Liji From ca. 4th
c. BCE 6 13 7 16 34 24
Mozi Opening
Chapters
ca. 4th3rd
c. BCE 4 3 4 8 2 7
Mozi Dialogues ca. 4th3rd
c. BCE 1 2 6 10 3 2
Lshi chunqiu ca. 239 BCE 67 67 46 89 60 47
Xunzi 3rd c. BCE 45 46 54 48 17 19
Guanzi 4th c. BCE; core,
ca. 250 BCE
15 13 9 24 5 19
Han Feizi 3rd c. BCE 84 78 17 38 23 15
Guoyu 4th c. BCE 39 33 44 30 61 45
Shangjun shu 4th3rd c. BCE? 11 8 2 14 1 2
Zhuangzi 3rd c. BCE 63 46 28 22 13 0
Shenzi 350?275? BCE 6 4 3 2 0 0
Yinwenzi Warring States? 5 3 2 5 1 0
Heguanzi Late Warring
States?
8 3 1 5 3 0
Guiguzi Late Warring
States?
0 0 0 2 2 0
Yanzi chunqiu Late Warring
States
1 7 1 9 0 0
the Zhou king. Whereas the Zhou kings are called upon to imitate their
ancestors and to continue the good works of their forebears, only passing
mention is made of good Shang kings. For the most part, the latter appear
in the Documents as foils to the deposed Shang ruler, reminders of the
contingent nature of Heavens Mandate.43
43For discussions of the Shang in connection with the Mandate, see ibid., 15.32527,
17.33942, 11.36471, 11.32526.
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 159


A close look at the Analects reveals a picture consistent with that of
the Odes and Documents. We find few early references that treat pre-Zhou
figures as model rulers. To be sure, some passages in the Analects present
Yao and Shun as the coequals of Kings Wen and Wu. For example, it is
stated, Shun was able to bring order to the world with five ministers; King
Wu said that he required only ten capable ministers (Analects 8.20). In
this instance, it is clear that the master thought of Shun and Wu as being
in the same class of ideal rulers. Yet there are reasons to doubt that the pas-
sage necessarily anticipates the Mozi. As table 4 reveals, Waley, Van Norden,
and the Brookses treat this passage and other references (e.g., Analects
20.1) to pre-Zhou figures as late interpolations. The Brookses even propose
that the passage in question dates to the mid-third century BCE.
Of course, this discussion raises the question of what role pre-Zhou fig-
ures played. In this connection, I would argue that such figures present
mythic ideals: they are gods and cultural heroes who explain the existence


44Van Norden, Introduction, 16.
Table 4.The Sextet in the Analects, Analyzed by Strata
Referent Passage
no.
Date by
Brookses
Date by
Waley
Dates by
Van Norden
Yao and Shun 6.30 262 BCE Oldest
stratum
Interpolation44
Yao and Shun 8.18 262 Non-Ru
additions
External
tradition
Yao 8.19 262 Non-Ru
additions
External
tradition
Yao and Shun 8.20 262 Non-Ru
additions
External
tradition
Yu 8.21 260 Non-Ru
addition
External
tradition
Tang 12.22 326 Later portions Later strata
Yao and Shun 14.42 262 Later portions Later strata
Yu and Lord Millet 14.5 310 Later portions Later strata
Shun 15.5 305 Later portions Later strata
Yao, Shun, and Tang 20.1 253 No connection
to the core
Later strata
Wen 9.5 405 Core Core
Wen and Wu 19.22 253 Later portions Core
Wuding (Gaozu) 14.6/7 298 Later portions Later strata
160 miranda brown
of civilization but whose achievements are singular and defy imitation. To
demonstrate this, let us turn to the Odes, which is the only pre-Mohist text
that presents any sustained description of Yu or Tang. There, Yu and Tang
are depicted as possessing divine or superhuman qualities. Certainly, we
find no hint yet of the myth of Yus extraordinary birth from his fathers
belly,45 but Yu is linked with the Great Deluge and the Lord Millet, who
is described in the Odes as the product of a divine union. As Anne Birrell
notes, this presentation of Yu and Tang as mythic figures is consistent
with lore about Yu being the god who demarcated all the earths land,
the god of tilling, and the god who regulated watercourses and so ended
the world deluge.46 Similarly, the divine origin of Tangthe descendant
of a child born of a woman and a dark bird that dropped an egg into her
mouthis also alluded to in the Odes.47 As with Yu, Tang is depicted
as receiving a divine mandate. Though he does not bring order after the
deluge, he is nevertheless credited with the monumental task of partition-
ing the frontier. As one ode explains, Heaven ordered a dark bird / To
descend and give birth to the Shang / To dwell in the vast Shang lands. /
Of old the Lord on High ordered Tang / To demarcate the borders in the
four directions.48 Here, the parallelism of the ode suggests an equiva-
lence between Tang and the divine bird. Just as the bird gave birth to
the Shang, Tang was responsible for demarcating the realm of the civi-
lized from the uncivilizedand thus for bringing order to human society.
Indeed, Tang and Yu are different from Kings Wen and Wu. Yus efforts
to tame the flood and to mark divisions between the land and water are
responsible for the creation of human society. Such feats, needless to say,
lie outside the powers of a human king. Little wonder, then, that we see
so few injunctions to imitate Yu by reshaping the landscape! By the same
token, the conquest of the Xia and the concomitant division of civilization
from wilderness is treated as a singular moment, a one-time event that
demands commemoration rather than emulation.49
In fact, few texts before the Mozi even mention the distant figures in
the same breath as the Zhou founders. Two odes that contain references
to King Wen and a more distant figure illustrate this point. The first ode
45Allan, Not the Lun yu, 140.
46Birrell, The Four Flood Myth Traditions of Classical China, 241.
47Xuanniao , Ode 303 (Shangsong).
48Ibid.
49On mythic heroes, see Boltz, Kung Kung and the Flood, 142; Puett, To Become a
God, 188196.
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 161


mentions Zhou founders and their lords in relation to a watercourse built
by Yu, and so Yu is not associated with the Zhou founders as part of a
larger class of ancient rulers.50 The second presents a more complicated
example, and so let us look at two stanzas:
And so Hou Ji was produced
And the hundred blessings were brought down [by Heaven?],
The varieties of millet, the millet planted early but late
ripening, the millet planted late but early ripening,
Early-planted grain and late-planted grain, of wheat and soy.
Taking control of All under Heaven,
Hou Ji instructed the people in sowing and reaping.
And so there was millet for sacrifices and millet for drink.
There was rice and there was black millet.
Taking control of the earth,
He thus became the inheritor of Yus legacy.
The descendant of Hou Ji
Was truly the Great King
Installed on the southern side of Mount Qi.
Verily he began cutting off the Shang
In the era of Wen and Wu.
[The Zhou rulers] continued the enterprise of the Great King.51
The connection between Wen and Wu, on the one hand, and Yu, on the
other, is convoluted. Three steps stand between Yu and King Wen: Yu is
mentioned in conjunction with Hou Ji, who is then linked to the Great
King, who was reportedly the grandfather of King Wen. More importantly,
the organization of the stanzas does not suggest equivalence between Yu
and the Zhou founders. Yu is the peer of Hou Ji, and both are cultural
progenitors. In contrast, Wen and Wu are said to be the peers of the Great
King.52 Just as the Great King cut off the Shang, Wen and Wu defeated
the Shang at Muye. If anything, the organization of the stanzas highlights
the differences between Yu and the Zhou founders.
My analysis has shown that earlier texts differ from the Mozi in at
least two regards: pre-Zhou figures are not held up as imitable examples,
50Wenwang you sheng , Ode 244 (Da ya); cf. Waley, The Book of Songs,
241242.
51Bigong , Ode 300 (Lusong); cf. Waley, The Book of Songs, 313314.
52Sarah Allan has noted that the image of Yu as a cultural progenitor is often distinct
from his place in myths that concern the founding of dynasties. See Allan, The Heir and
the Sage, 57.
162 miranda brown
and they are rarely associated with the Zhou founders. But when did
the Mohists begin associating pre-Zhou figures with the Zhou founders?
If indeed the six figures are presented as a group only in the later stra-
tum, this leaves open the possibility that the Mohists were responding to
the conventions of the late fourth centurya time when Zhou founders
were commonly treated as the peers of Yao, Shun, Yu, and Tang.53 The
Shanghai Museum manuscripts contain one such example: the Zigao
compares the Zhou founders appointment of meritorious ministers to
the anointment of the worthy heir by both Yao and Shun.54
Doubts aside, an analysis of the earliest strata within the Mozi reveals
that distant figures were associated with Zhou founders. Granted, table 5
shows that the earliest stratum (chapters 14 and 17) does not contain refer-
ences to the sextet. In addition, we must wait until the later strata to find
all six figures mentioned in the phrase The sage kings of old, Yao, Shun, Yu,
Tang, Wen, and Wu. At the same time, the Mohists clearly associated Wen
and Wu with more distant figures by the second stratum: chapter 8 contains
references to all members of the sextet except for King Wu, and chapter 15
cites Yu, Wen, and Wu as exemplars.
A close reading of the earliest stratum reveals that Zhou founders not
only were mentioned in the same breath as Yao and Shun but also rep-
resented a collective standard for the early Mohists. Consider the follow-
ing excerpt, which comes from the chapter Shang xian, shang
(Elevating the Worthy, Upper), dated by Watanabe Takashi to the second
stratum:
,55 ,

,
,

, ,

, ,

In ancient times, Yao raised up Shun from the north shores of Fuze, award-
ing him the task of governance, and so All under Heaven was pacified. Yu
raised up [Bo ] Yi from Yinfang, awarding him the role of chief minister,
and so the demarcation of the nine continents was completed. Tang raised
up Yiyin from the kitchens, awarding him the task of governance, and so

53The Rongcheng shi is one example of a text that mentions all six of the
sage-kings. See Shanghai bowuguan cang Zhangguo Chu zhushu, vol. 2, 256, 259, 263, 267,
277, 288.
54Allan, Not the Lun yu, 138.
55See Sun Yikai, Mozi quanyi, 21. He reads yang as a reference to the north shores (bei
an ).
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 163


his aims were achieved. King Wen raised up Hongyao and Taidian from the
hunters and fishers, awarding them the task of governance, and so the west-
ern regions were subdued. (8: 10/68)
At least two points deserve discussion. To begin with, the element of recy-
cling should be obvious. Most of the figures are in fact familiar; Yao and
Shun are found in the Analects; Yu, Tang, and Wen appear in the Odes
and Documents. Moreover, the tactic of citing ancient precedent is hardly
novel. As we have seen, Wen was invoked in the Documents as a source
of authority, an example to be imitated by future kings. Instead, the dif-
ference lies with the fact that Yu and Tang are now associated with later
figures. Instead of representing some distant mythic ideal, such a depic-
tion reveals that Tang and Yu were to be treated as the coequals of Wen,
which brings us to my second point: the association of Zhou founders
Table 5.Distribution of the Sextet in the Mozi Core Chapters
Chap.
no.
Title Brookses
stratum
Watanabe
Takashi
stratum
Yao Shun Yu Tang Wen Wu
8 5 2 2 2 2 2 1 0
9 7 4 3 3 4 4 2 2
10 9 4 6 7 6 7 4 5
11 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0
12 7 4 0 0 0 0 0 0
13 10 4 0 0 0 0 0 0
14 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
15 5 2 0 0 2 0 3 2
16 8 3 0 0 7 6 7 3
17 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
18 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
19 7 3 0 0 5 6 1 5
20 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
21 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 0
25 7 3 3 3 3 2 2 2
26 5 4 0 0 3 3 3 3
27 8 4 2 2 2 2 3 2
28 9 4 2 2 2 2 5 3
31 8 4 1 1 4 4 5 8
32 6 3 0 0 1 0 0 0
35 4 0 0 0 4 4 3
36 4 0 0 0 3 0 3
37 8 4 0 0 3 6 2 6
Total 20 20 44 51 42 47
164 miranda brown
with earlier figures not only appears to have been unprecedented but also
requires thinking of the earlier figures such as Yao, Shun, and Yu in a dif-
ferent light. In fourth- and third-century texts, Yao and Shun bypassed
the principle of hereditary transmission, something of which the Mohists
appear to have been aware. Though they appointed worthy ministers,
Tang and King Wen passed on their throne to their sons. The differences
between the Yu-Xia and later dynasties, however, are downplayed by the
presentation. The Mohists instead gloss over the significant differences
between the practice of anointing worthies as heirs and appointing them
as ministers, instead focusing on the more basic principle of elevating
the worthy, a principle blithely summed up as following the way of Yao,
Shun, Yu, and Tang (8: 10/1112).56
Jian ai, zhong (Inclusive Care, Middle), which is also dated
by Watanabe Takashi to the second stratum, provides one final example
of an early Mohist attempt to create equivalence between the distant and
recent Zhou past. It presents both the Zhou founders and distant figures
as an imitable standard. Consider the following description of the feats
of Yu:


57, ; ,
, 58

,

..., ,


In ancient times, Yu governed All under Heaven. To the west, he dredged
the West River and the Huai in order to drain the waters of the Qu, Sun,
and Huang. To the north, he dredged the waters of the Fang, Yuan, and
Han in order to divert the waters to the Shao basin and to Hutuo. He sepa-
rated the flow from Mount Dizhu and opened up Mount Long. In this way,
he benefited the people of Yan, Dai, Hu, He, and the Western River.... Of
old, King Wen governed the western territories, where he was like the sun
and moon spreading light to the four directions in the western territories.
He did not humiliate small states on account of the fact that his was large. He
did not humiliate the few on account of his numbers. And he did not
steal the millet and livestock of the peasants just because he possessed force
or the means for violence. (15: 26/1722)
56For Piness comment on the passage, see Pines, Disputers of Abdication, 249251.
57Following Sun Yirang in reading yu as wei .
58According to Mozi jiaozhu, 169 n. 47, chi is a variant for tuo ; hence, it is read
Hutuo here.
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 165


The excerpt presents several points of interest. For a start, the more
human face of Yu is emphasized. Notice, for example, that the Great Del-
uge is never mentioned; the various hydraulic projects are rendered in
positive terms, as efforts to bring economic benefits to the world rather
than as a response to a disaster of superhuman scale. The understated
tone of the description indicates that Yus engineering projects were no
different from those undertaken by larger states in the Warring States
periodprojects that require careful coordination and planning rather
than any larger-than-life qualities. In addition, the de-emphasis on sin-
gular qualities is consistent with the second part of the excerpt, where
Yu is juxtaposed with the more proximate figure of Wen. Although the
achievements of the men were different, the Mozi argues that they express
the same principle, impartiality (jian ). Just as Yu had sought to benefit
All under Heaven, Wen embraced the same goals of bringing prosperity
to the world. All this brings us to our final point, namely, why the Mohists
went to the trouble of presenting the achievements of Yu in a more under-
stated fashion and juxtaposing Yu with Wen. For the Mohists, the fact that
the sage-kings of old were united in their pursuit of impartiality meant
that such values were timeless and that similar policies should be adopted
by rulers of the present.
Fei gong, xia (Against Military Aggression, Lower) provides a final
example of an effort to highlight the unity of the past and of past rul-
ers. To see this, let us return momentarily to the discussion of offensive
warfare. As we have seen above, the imaginary opponents of the Mohists
argue that the example of the sage-kings of the past militates against
the Mohist position (19: 34/1617). Unfazed, the Mohists retort that their
opponents do not have a clear grasp of the historical record and fail to
realize that the sage-kings of the past went to war only with authoriza-
tion from Heaven. In support of this view, they cite the cases of the three
sage-kings, the very three named by the opposition. The example of Yus
attack on the Miao opens the rebuttal. Heaven expressed its displeasure
with the Miao, the Mohists argue, through inauspicious omens, includ-
ing three days of bloody rain, the sighting of dragons in the ancestral
temples, and howling dogs in the marketplace. Heaven then communi-
cated its will to Yu directly. Amid thunder and lightning, a spirit with
the face of a person and the body of a bird appeared to
Yu (19: 34/21). The Mohists then proceed to explain that such authoriza-
tion was seen not only in the case of Yu but also with Tang. As with the
Miao, Heaven chose to express its displeasure through celestial portents
and monstrosities: The sun and moon lost their periodicity, hot and cold
166 miranda brown
weather arrived out of order,...spirits wailed in the capital, and cranes
cried out for more than ten days , . . . ,
(19: 34/24). Heaven furthermore sent down a sign to Tang by
means of a spirit. A similar pattern is evident in the case of King Wu of
Zhou. The imminent fall of the Shang was announced through unseason-
able weather and strange sightings: A woman became a man, and Heaven
rained down flesh , (19: 35/23). As with earlier figures,
Heaven also made its will manifest to King Wu. A red bird supposedly
appeared before the king with a message from Heaven that the Zhou were
to attack the Shang and to take control of the state.
In many regards, the counterargument in Mozi (19: 34/1635/8) resem-
bles those I have adduced earlier on at least two counts. For a start, the
references to the cases of Yu, Tang, and Wu are intended to refute point
by point the objections posed by the Mohist interlocutors. Additionally,
the symmetry between the three cases works to amplify the point made
by the Mohists about the unrighteousness of offensive warfare. Such sym-
metry arguably also reinforces the impression that the principles that
guided and motivated the conduct of sage-kings exhibited consistency.
My examination of the six figures suggests a picture consistent with
the discussion of terminology. Although legends about the six figures
existed prior to the Mozi, and the strategy of appealing to past rulers had
long been part of the cultural repertoire, the way in which the Mohists
deployed the six figures appears to have been novel. Through a process of
relabeling, old figures acquired new meanings and functions. Yu was now
the peer of Wen and Wu rather than a mythic figure that brought order to
the world. By the same token, Wen and Wu no longer presented the only
standard of kingship; they were kings on a par with the sages of time past,
a group that included predynastic figures such as Yao, Shun, and Yu. This
move to create equivalence between distant antiquity and the Zhou may
be seen as an effort to create an undifferentiated past, one independent
of the genealogical pretensions of a reigning dynasty.
Explaining the Mohist Creation of Sage-Kings
The foregoing discussion leaves us with a final question: why did the early
Mohists go so far as to create a more expansive and abstract category
of sage-kings? To better understand why the authors did this, we need
to consider the aims of the Mohists. As seen below, the move to relabel
the sage-kings and to expand the number of potential historical examples
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 167


was a function of strategy. By elaborating the examples of various peri-
ods of the past, the Mohists were able to highlight the unity of the past,
which in turn lent rhetorical force to their arguments. With the strategy
of recasting distant figures, the Mohists moreover expanded the number
of precedents they could cite. Such flexibility allowed the early Mohists to
imagine a past that was more congenial to their arguments and to bypass
potential objections based on evidence from better-documented periods.
What evidence exists that the decision to include distant figures among
the sage-kings was strategic? Certainly, if we imagine that the sage-kings
were already a concept in wide circulation, the Mohists would not have
had much choice in pointing to specific figures when arguing on the basis
of authority. Yet interestingly, a careful look at variations in terminology
and rhetorical strategies between chapters reveals diverging uses of the
past within the Mozi core. As we have seen above, the term sage-kings or
its near equivalent former kings appears in all but three Core Chapters
(14, 17, 18). Moreover, seven chaptersfrom both early and late strata of
the Core Chaptersdo not contain any mention of specific sage-kings,
even though the collective authority of the ancient sage-kings is invoked
(see table 5). Of these, three are the chapters that lack references to the
terms sheng wang and xian wang, and the remaining four include the
chapters titled Shang tong, shang, zhong, xia , , (Conform
Upward) and Jie yong, shang (Moderation in Expenses).
The chapter Ming gui, xia (Explaining Ghosts, Lower) pro-
vides the most explicit evidence of strategic considerations. The chapter
opens by arguing for the existence of ghosts on the basis of the testimony
of innumerable people, citing anecdotes from centuries past as evidence
of such beliefs. At this point, the imaginary interlocutor interjects, claim-
ing that the testimony of the multitudes fails the test of reliability. The
Mohists respond by offering the evidence of the sage-kings of the Three
Dynasties of old: Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang, Wen, and Wu (31: 52/20). The
Mohists then proceed to relate the words of King Wu of Zhou, which they
argue provides clear evidence that the sage-kings believed in the existence
of ghosts. The Mohists then stop as if to anticipate the objections of their
opponents, explaining that evidence for the existence of ghosts is not to
be found merely in the words of King Wu. A similar position can also be
inferred from the deeds of the ancient kings of the Three Dynasties, the
Yu-Xia, Shang, and Zhou. The Mohists then continue at length, provid-
ing further evidence for belief in the existence of ghosts on the part of
the virtuous rulers of the Xia before raising another potential objection:
If ghosts appear only in the Documents of Shang, but not in the Documents
168 miranda brown
of Xia, this would be insufficient for establishing the standard [for proving
the existence of ghosts] , ,
(31: 53/17). The comment, which provides a segue to greater docu-
mentation, reveals that the author feels the collective authority of the past
to be stronger than the evidence from any one dynasty. Such a presump-
tion may very well have reflected a simple additive logic, whereby the
more testimony is adduced, the better. At the same time, the selection
and sequence of examples appear to have been more strategic than this.
The Mohists clearly did not think that examples drawn from recent cen-
turies were in themselves enough to make a forceful argument. The ten-
dency to move backward in time and to provide evidence from each of the
Three Dynasties points to a more basic pattern in their thinking: namely,
the immutability and unity of the exemplary past.
We have seen how appealing to the examples of specific sage-kings
could work to the benefit of the Mohists, but questions may be raised as to
whether such a strategy necessarily was advantageous. It could be argued
that such a strategy actually created constraints on Mohist argumentation
insofar as it limited where appeals to the past could be made. After all,
it was conceivable that the past did not always lend itself to the sort of
categorical statements that the Mohists were fond of making.
Our evidence, however, suggests that, aside from rhetorical weight,
the expansion of the exemplary past allowed the Mohists to simultane-
ously invoke the collective weight of the past while exercising choice
with respect to historical exemplar. Shang xian, xia (Elevate the Wor-
thy, Lower) provides a case in point. In the previous section, we saw how
the Upper (shang) version adduced four specific events in support of the
Mohist position: Yaos anointing of Shun, Yus appointing of Bo Yi as his
chief minister, Tangs selection of Yi Yin, and King Wens decision to raise
the status of two worthies. Though the Mozi claims that all these cases
embodied the same principle of elevating worthies, the fact remains that
the way of Yao, Shun, Yu, and Tang, it could be argued, was not neces-
sarily one and the same; some of the sage-kings chose only to appoint
worthies to high positions rather than to anoint them as successors. In
this regard, the selection of Bo Yi is a potential sticking point; as noted
above, some versions of the legend have it that Yus efforts to transmit the
throne to Bo Yi were thwarted by Qi, Yus son. For this reason, the case of
Bo Yi potentially disrupts the appearance of the unity between the Three
Dynasties.
Though we cannot say for certain whether the authors of the Mozi were
aware of potential problems with their examples, this much seems implied
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 169


by the Lower (xia) and Middle (zhong) versions of Shang xian, which are
reportedly later. In the Lower and Middle versions, the examples seem to
have been chosen with greater care, a move that suggests some awareness
of the potential conflicts introduced by the original choice of sagely exem-
plars. In the Lower version, we hear that Yao had Shun, Shun had Yu,
Yu had Gao Yao , Tang had Yi Yin, and King Wu had Hongyao and
Taidian (10: 14/1924). In the Middle version, we similarly learn that Shun
was discovered by Yao in a rustic location and then subsequently made
Son of Heaven; Yi Yin was discovered by Tang and anointed as chief minis-
ter; and Fu Shuo was discovered by King Wuding of the Shang
(9: 12/1215). In both cases, the earlier reference to Bo Yi, the worthy that
Yu reportedly preferred to his own son Qi, is omitted (the Lower version
includes Yu but redirects attention to Yus relationship to Gao Yao, a man
who was never slotted to be the next Son of Heaven). To be sure, the dif-
ferences are more suggestive than definitive; still, readers will notice that
the omission of Bo Yi minimizes the potential dissonance created by the
differences between the myths from the Yu-Xia and later dynasties. As a
result, the transition from the distant reaches of antiquity to more recent
dynasties is smoothed, and the impression that the lessons of the Three
Dynasties are identical is preserved.
To be sure, too much should not be made of any single example; fortu-
nately, other chapters suggest that the Mohist practice of relabeling gave
them considerable flexibility in their deployment of the collective past.
Consider, for example, the arguments against music found in the one
surviving version of Fei yue (Against Music). As usual, a range of
arguments is deployed, including those made on the basis of precedent.
Interestingly, though the ancient sages are invoked, the Mozi is unusually
sparse on details and historical examples when it comes to the words or
deeds of the sage-kings on music, a vagueness that suggests the authors
awareness that they were treading on thin iceor, worse still, as one com-
ment reveals, that the evidence for aristocratic traditions of recent centu-
ries might be used to support the contrary. We hear, for example, that the
enjoyment of musicdismissed as a sensual pleasurefails to accord
with the affairs of the sage-kings (32: 55/24). A little while
later, we also learn that while the sage-kings levied taxes on the popula-
tion, they did so, not for the purpose of increasing their own pleasure, but
rather for the benefit of the population. With the examples of the sage-
kings thus firmly in sight, the Mohist authors sprinkle evidence from the
exemplary past. Only one anecdote is cited, a lost section of the Book of
Documents, in which readers are reminded that King Tang had prohibited
170 miranda brown
dancing in the palace and fined perpetrators. The constant dancing in
the palace, the Documents notes with disapproval, represents sorcery
(wu )! The gentlemen should be punished with a fine of two bundles of
silk ,

, (32: 57/1718).
As the early Mohists were circumspect about their choice of historical
example, we can only guess why they chose Tang. The larger historical
context, however, provides a key. The authors appear here to be mak-
ing something less than a general statement about music. In fact, there is
reason to think that the early Mohists did not take issue with the Odes or
other music of the masses (which they seem to cite). Instead, as Watanabe
Takashi points out, the early Mohists were primarily attacking the music
of the aristocrats.59 Indeed, archaeological evidence supports Watanabes
reading: tombs reveal that Spring and Autumn period (771453 BCE) elites
were sometimes buried with very costly musical instruments.60 Viewed
from this perspective, one might understand the choice of Shang exem-
plars. At the very least, Tang did not bear the uncomfortable associations
that we find with Zhou founders, who were closely identified with the
noble families of Eastern Zhou and thus might claim to preserve the way
of the Zhou sage-kings. By diverting attention away from the Zhou, one
could argue, the Mohists were able to move the discussion to more neu-
tral territory.
The chapter on mourning and burial arguably provides the best evi-
dence for the strategic advantages gained by creating a class of sage-
kings out of the sextet. To see this, we must trace the various arguments
advanced in this chapter against the elaborate burials and long mourning
periods of elites. As usual, ancient precedent is cited, though this time, the
pitfalls of such a line of reasoning are acknowledged. Right after the early
Mohists claim that moderation in burial was the way of the sage-kings,
an imaginary opponent presents an objection: lavish burials and three-
year mourning periods may very well fail the test of social utility; but
they represent the models of the sage-kings and so must be practiced
(e.g., 25: 40/2426). As attentive readers will notice, the opponents objec-
tion is suspiciouslyand unusuallythin on details; in other chapters,
the opponents point to specific historical examples. Certainly, the lack
of specificity does not indicate the weakness of the objection. Although
no sage-king is specified as advocating three years of mourning or lavish
59Watanabe Takashi, Bokushi shohen no chosaku nendai, part 2, 23.
60Rawson, Western Zhou Archaeology, 42930.
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 171


burials, the imaginary opponent presumably had the Zhou in mind. We
know not only that the Spring and Autumn elite who claimed ties to
the Zhou court, practiced lavish burial rites but that such burials can be
traced back to the Shang.61 The wearing of mourning for prolonged peri-
ods or three years mourning was also an old practice by Mo Dis time. If
we trust various Warring States chronicles, such a practice was observed
by the noble rulers of the Spring and Autumn period.62 More problemati-
cally, it was supported by Mo Dis Ru opponents, who claimed to have
a strong connection to the traditions of Zhou.63 All this did not escape
the attention of the Mohists; in one later chapter, Gongmeng , a
proponent of three years mourning declares that he models himself after
the Zhou .64
The authors response to the objection reveals the importance of hav-
ing some flexibility in the choice of exemplar and, indeed, the option to
cite the example of men who lived in periods that had less documenta-
tion. Watch here as they outmaneuver their opponents through a rhetori-
cal sleight of hand:
, , , , ,


65


,

, ,
, , ,

,

,66 , , ,

,
,

, ,

, ,
,

Of old, Yao edified through his instruction the eight Di [barbarian groups]
to the north. When he died on the road, he was buried on the dark side of
Mount Qiong, wrapped in three layers of burial shroud with the wood of
a paper mulberry tree for an inner coffin and a kudzu vine to tie it. After
he was interred, the mourners wailed for him. They filled the grave pit but
did not create an embankment [i.e., a tumulus]. Afterward, the horses and
cows rode on top of the grave. Shun edified through his instruction the
seven Rong [barbarian groups] to the west. When he died on the road, he
61Ibid., 368449; von Falkenhausen, Chinese Society in the Age of Confucius, 51, 71111.
For the Shang period, see Keightley, The Shang, 264270.
62On the roots of three years of mourning, see Knapp, The Ru Reinterpretation of
Xiao.
63See, e.g., Analects 18.18, 1.11, 4.20.
64On Gongmengs position vis--vis the Zhou, see Mozi 48: 107/2023; for mourning
and burial, see Mozi 48: 108/2021.
65Following Sun Yirang in reading this graph as bian .
66Other scholars, including Sun Yirang, read jiuyi (the Nine Yi) for yue . See
also Mozi jiaozhu, 284 n. 115.
172 miranda brown
was interred in the market of Nanji in three layers of burial shroud and an
inner coffin made of the wood of a paper mulberry tree with a kudzu vine
to tie it. After he was buried, the townsmen drove over the grave. Yu edi-
fied through his instruction the Yue [the nine Yi?] to the east (?). When he
died on the road, he was interred on Mount Kuaiji in three layers of burial
shroud and a wooden coffin of parasol wood three inches thick. There was
only a kudzu vine to fasten the coffin, but the top and bottom of the coffin
were not sealed. The grave pit was not so deep as to reach the springs nor
so shallow that the stench came through. After he was interred, the mourn-
ers gathered some soil for the top, creating a ridge comparable to a plot just
three feet wide. (25: 40/2941/3)67
It should be noted that the passage concludes by repeating that modera-
tion was the way of all the ancient sage-kings Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang, Wen,
and Wu. But what is striking is the discrepancy between the slogana
slogan that presumes the unity of the sage-kingsand the selection of
only three as actual examples; interestingly, the Shang and Zhou founders
Tang, Wen, and Wu are missing from the descriptions of the past. Cer-
tainly, it might be argued that these figures were omitted for the sake of
economy. After all, why repeat oneself if fewer examples are sufficient to
make the point? While this explanation might make sense for other clas-
sical authors, it seems less plausible in the case of the early Mohists, who
are notorious for belaboring a point, with the chapter on burial being a
particularly flagrant example. Readers familiar with the passage will notice
that the description of Yus burial repeats verbatim the description of the
model of the sage-kings given only several paragraphs before. The quiet
omission of Shang and Zhou examples appears deliberate and arguably
deflected attention away from the weaknesses in argument. By carefully
choosing the representative examples, the Mohists moved the argument
into distant antiquity, which had the advantage of lighter documentation.
Through this trick, they could avoid acknowledging a larger problem: the
fact that the past was not univocal and that the evidence of more recent
dynasties worked against them.
Seen from this perspective, the Mohist reinvention of the six figures
appears to have been a strategic move. As we have seen, appeals to antiq-
uity were in a sense ill suited for attacks on aristocratic institutions, insti-
tutions that had the weight of history and tradition behind them. Rather
than forgo arguments based on precedent, the Mohists devised a new
ploy: they expanded the number of historical precedents at their disposal
67For the meaning of sangeng zhi mu , see Sun Yikai, Mozi quanyi, 334.
mozi

s remaking of ancient authority 173


by reaching beyond the Zhou and even Shang. In this way, they could
selectively choose their representatives of antiquity, without having to
acknowledge either the diversity of the past or the existence of inconve-
nient precedents.
Conclusion
I opened this essay with the question of whether the two faces of Mo
Di could be reconciled. I investigated whether our sources really indi-
cate that the early Mohists created the very terms for and image of the
sage-kings, and why. Looking at the textual evidence, I conclude that the
Mohist view of the ancients was indeed different from that found in other
extant works. While they were not the first to make appeals to past rul-
ers, the early Mohists nevertheless played a hand in creating the image
of the Three Dynasties as a golden age. Such a vision, I further argue, was
motivated largely by rhetorical necessity. As we have seen, invocations of
the sage-kings bolstered, rather than undermined, the Mohist attack on
aristocratic traditions on several fronts. To begin with, such invocations
deflected attention away from the inconvenient evidence of more recent
ages. In addition, they were endlessly flexible, for the sage-kings could be
chosen selectively to represent antiquity.
It remains to say a word about the legacies of the Mohists. Many of
the proposals wrapped in Mohist arguments about antiquity were ineffec-
tive. If later traditions provide any indication, Mohist calls for moderate
expenditures for burials were largely ignored. The archaeological evidence
reveals that aristocrats continued to enter the Hereafter with great pomp
and ceremony. Although Mohist ideas did not catch on, their rhetorical
strategies provide another lens by which to examine their influence. As
table 1 reveals, the term sage-king, was commonplace in the third cen-
tury BCE. In addition, the Mohist impact can be felt in terms of which past
was deployed. A scan of later texts of the Warring Stateswith the excep-
tion of the Record of Rites (Liji ), which promotes Zhou customs, par-
ticularly of mourning and burialreveals a pronounced preference for
the distant over the recent past. The Mencius (late fourth century) pro-
vides a prime example of this trend. Interestingly, Yao and Shun appear
with the greatest frequency, but the pre-Zhou founders Yu and Tang still
occur more often than the Zhou founders, even when the references to
the Duke of Zhou are considered (see table 3). No doubt, further research
is necessary for fleshing out the connections between the early Mohists
174 miranda brown
and the later tradition. Such a study would require that a host of factors be
considered. We would need to know much more about, for example, later
thinkershow they came into contact with Mohist works and modes of
argumentation, how they deployed the past in their works, and what
specific aims they had in so doing. Indeed, such research may reveal the
impact of the Mohist remaking of ancient authority.
THE ETHICS OF THE MOHIST DIALOGUES*
Chris Fraser
The Mohist Dialogues are four chapters of the Mozi (4649) consisting
of brief conversations between Mozi and various disciples, opponents,
and rulers or officials. The first two also present sayings attributed to
Mozi.1 The Dialogues reflect the Mohists at the height of their influ-
ence as a sociopolitical reform movement. They depict Mozi traveling
to various states and receiving audiences with their rulers, to whom he
dispenses moral and political advice. He discusses doctrinal issues with
students and outsiders, including several Ru (Confucians, erudites,
classicists), an opponent named Wumazi ,2 who defends an
*An earlier version of this essay was presented at the conference The Many Faces of
Mozi: A Synchronic and Diachronic Study of Mohist Thought, held at the University of
Leuven, 2528 June 2009. I am grateful to the conference participants for helpful com-
ments, especially Roman Malek (the discussant for the paper). I am also indebted to the
editors of this volume, Carine Defoort and Nicolas Standaert, for many useful comments.
1The content of the four chapters can be summarized very roughly as follows. Chapter
46, Geng Zhu, is a mixed collection of anecdotes, conversations, and sayings touch-
ing on a variety of themes in Mohist thought. The chapter is named after Geng Zhuzi
, a Mohist disciple who appears in its opening anecdote. Chapter 47, Gui Yi
(Valuing Morality), focuses loosely on moral psychology and moral instruction and
comprises mainly sayings ascribed to Mozi. Chapter 48, Gongmeng, mainly pres-
ents Mohist criticisms of the Ru. (The chapter takes its title from Gongmengzi ,
a Ru depicted in several conversations with Mozi.) Chapter 49, Lu Wen (Ques-
tions of Lu), relates conversations tied in various ways to the state of Lu, including several
between Mozi and the ruler of Lu. Aside from these general themes, however, chapters 47,
48, and 49 all contain other miscellaneous material as well. On the whole, the Dialogues
are organized only very loosely, although their content is doctrinally fairly coherent. A fifth
chapter, Chapter 50, Gongshu , is sometimes also counted among the Dialogues.
This chapter contains a single, extended anecdote about Mozi convincing the king of Chu
to call off an attack on Song by explaining how Song defense tactics could counter
all nine means of attack invented by Gongshu Pan , a brilliant military engineer
employed by Chu. Since, unlike chapters 4649, this chapter is not a collection of short
passages treating doctrinal issues, for the purposes of this essay I will not treat it as part
of the Dialogues.
2Commentators such as Su Shixue have suggested that Wuma was a Ru, either
a student of Confucius named Wuma Qi or his son. See Mozi jiaozhu, 647. How-
ever, in the Dialogues, Wuma is not treated as a representative of the Ru (as, e.g., Gong-
mengzi is), and he expresses no distinctively Ru views. Moreover, he criticizes the
practice, shared by both the Mohists and the Ru, of praising the former kings as moral
exemplars (46: 101/110). These points suggest that he was probably not a Ru.
176 chris fraser
ethic of self-interest, and a critic named Wu L , who opposes moral
activism, advocating instead self-sufficient living off the land.3 The Mohist
school is depicted as a flourishing, disciplined organization that attracts
and trains students, recommends them for official posts or dispatches
them on military assignments, and is supported by donations from them
once they are employed. It is difficult to say to what extent the sayings
and events that these texts associate with Mozi, are grounded in historical
fact and to what extent they are retrospective embellishments, projections
backward from the status and doctrines of later generations of Mohists.
The doctrines and prose style of the Dialogues are more polished than
those of the earliest Mohist essays, such as Mozi 11, 14, and 17, which may
record the words of Mo Di himself. Unlike the essays in the Triplets
the ten sets of three essay-length chapters, or pian , that form the Core
Chapters of the Mozi (chapters 837)4one passage in the Dialogues
explicitly arranges the ten core Mohist doctrines into a systematic, coher-
ent platform addressing a range of social and political problems, one or
another of which Mohist teachers are to select for initial presentation to
a ruler on the basis of the particular problems his state faces (see below).
This discussion implies a context in which not only Mozi but his senior
disciples have sufficient reputation and social status that they routinely
succeed in approaching rulers from the four quartersall parts of the
early Chinese worldto offer policy advice. Given the Mohists plebeian
origins, it seems unlikely that they could have achieved this level of influ-
ence within Mozis lifetime. So I tentatively suggest that the Dialogues
represent the status and doctrines of the movement some time after
perhaps several generations afterMozis death.5 Some of the conversa-
3Outwardly, Wu Ls dao (49: 113/1329) resembles that of the Agriculturalists, a
movement devoted to economic self-sufficiency. See Graham, Disputers of the Tao, 6474.
He may not be aligned with them, however, since instead of mentioning their patron god
the Divine Farmer (Shen Nong ), he claims to emulate the sage-king Shun. His posi-
tion overlaps with some Daoist views, since he advocates a simple lifestyle and opposes
the dissemination of explicit moral teachings.
4Four of the ten Triplets are incomplete, as seven of these thirty chapters are lost. The
Core Chapters are sometimes also considered to include a pair of texts entitled Fei Ru
(Against the Ru), one of which is lost. The surviving member of the pair is devoted
entirely to criticizing the Ru; its first half resembles a debate handbook recording stock
rebuttals of Ru teachings. Since, unlike the Core Chapters, this text is not organized as a
coherent presentation of a specific Mohist doctrine, I place it in a separate category from
the Core Chapters.
5A pair of correspondences between the Dialogues and the Confucian Analects offer
intriguing hints but no conclusive information as to the Dialogues chronology. One pas-
sage appears to cite the exchange in Analects 13.16 between Confucius and Zigao, Duke of
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 177
tions they record might go back to Mozi himself, but we probably have no
way of determining to what extent they do.
This essay will argue that the ethics of the Dialogues is largely con-
sistent with that of the middle and late chapters of the Core Chapters,6
but that the Dialogues develop characteristic Mohist ethical ideas in sev-
eral interesting ways. First, they clarify the Mohist conception of yi
(morality, duty, right) as norms that can be explicitly expressed in yan
(statements) and publicized and consistently followed by all with good
consequences. Second, they present a series of views on moral worth that
tie it to agents character and intentions. Third, they fill out the Mohist
view of moral motivation and suggest how the Mohists might approach
issues related to weakness of will. Finally, they present a new, demanding
ideal of moral sagehood. The following sections explore the continuity
between the Triplets and the Dialogues and then consider each of these
four developments in turn.
Continuity with the Core Chapters
The ethical doctrines of the Dialogues are in many respects continuous
with doctrines found in the Core Chapters, particularly the later strata.7
As in most of the Triplet essays, the standard of right teachings and action
is what benefits Heaven (tian ), the ghosts, and the common people:
She , concerning good governmentthe nearby are pleased, and the distant
comeand criticizes it for offering no concrete policy proposals (46: 101/2021). Another
passage (48: 108/2628) ridicules the defense of the Ruist three-year mourning ritual in
Analects 17.19. The Analects explains that the three-year mourning ritual reciprocates the
three years of care that infants receive from their parents; the Mohist reply is that the Ru
apparently know no better than an infant how to conduct themselves.) These parallels
seem to place the Dialogues in the same intellectual milieu as the second, later half of the
Analects. (See also E. Bruce Brooks and A. Taeko Brooks, The Original Analects, 259262,
who explore a more extensive series of potential parallels, some relatively speculative.)
In particular, since Analects 17.19 probably falls within the very late strata of that text,
one might appeal to it to assign a similarly late date to the corresponding Mozi passage.
(E. Bruce Brooks and A. Taeko Brooks, The Original Analects, 161, propose a date of ca. 270
BCE for Analects 17.19.) However, the absolute dates of the Analects passages are difficult
to determine, and rather than the Mozi passage on the three-year mourning responding
directly to the text of the Analects, conceivably both might reflect a preexisting, widely
circulated Ru saying.
6The twenty-three surviving essays in the Triplets fall into several chronological strata.
For an overview, see the supplement Texts and Authorship in Fraser, Mohism.
7For an overview of the ethics of the Triplets, see Fraser, Mohism, sec. 7.
178 chris fraser
: ,

,


,

,

Our Master Mozi said, In all statements and actions, do what is beneficial
to Heaven, ghosts, and the common people. In all statements and actions,
renounce what is harmful to Heaven, ghosts, and the common people. In
all statements and actions, do what conforms to the sage-kings of the Three
Dynasties, Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang, Wen, and Wu. In all statements and actions,
renounce what conforms to the tyrants of the Three Dynasties, Jie, Zhou,
You, and Li. (47: 104/1517)
As this passage shows, the Dialogues also follow the middle and later
Triplets in commending the sage-kings as moral exemplars or models by
which to distinguish what is right.8 Other passages further extol the value
of the sage-kings teachings:
: ,

,
,

: ,

Wumazi said to our Master Mozi, To set aside people of today and instead
praise the former kings, this is to praise rotten bones. Its like a carpenter
who knows rotten wood but not living wood. Our Master Mozi said, That
by which the world lives is through the teachings of the dao (Way) of the
former kings. Now praising the former kings, this is praising that by which
the world lives. (46: 101/911)
:

, ,
,

,

Our Master Mozi said, The ancient sage-kings desired to pass their Way on
to later generations. So they wrote it on bamboo and silk and engraved it on
metal and stone in order to pass it down to their descendants, desiring that
their descendants would emulate it. Now to hear what was passed down
from the former kings but not practice it, this is to discard the traditions of
the former kings. (47: 105/1617)
As in most of the Core Chapters, benefit (li )the criterion of what is
morally rightis understood to comprise wealth, population, and social
order (zhi ). Where the Triplets typically include state security within
8On the role of the sage-kings, see Miranda Browns essay in this volume.
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 179
the scope of social order, a passage in the Dialogues treats it as a separate
item:
: , , ,

, , , ...,
, ,

, ,


: ,

Our Master Mozi said, The jade of He, the pearl of Sui, and the nine caul-
dronsthese are what the various lords call precious. Can they enrich
the state, increase the population, bring order to the government, and
bring security to the state?...Now, if one governs a state by employing yi
[morality], the population will surely be large, the government will surely
be orderly, and the state will surely be secure. The reason we value precious
things is that they can benefit people, and yi can benefit people. So I say, yi
is the most precious thing in the world. (46: 101/1418)
Consistent with many of the Triplets, a person with moral wisdom or
know-how obeys Heaven, sacrifices to the ancestral ghosts and nature
spirits, cares about others, and moderates expenditures:
: , ,

Our Master Mozi said, A wise person must respect Heaven, serve ghosts,
care about others, and moderate expenses. Combining these constitutes
wisdom. (48: 107/27)
Like many of the Triplet essays, the Dialogues oppose wars of aggression,
profligate spending, extravagant burial and mourning practices, luxurious
entertainment, and fatalism. Several exchanges with rulers of different
states depict Mozi condemning military aggression, as in the following:
:, , ,
, , , :


, , , ,
, , :

:, ,

Our Master Mozi said to Lord Wen of Luyang, [Warlike rulers such as your-
self] attack neighboring states, kill their people, seize their oxen and horses,
food, and goods, and then write their deeds on bamboo and silk, engrave
them on metal and stone, and inscribe them on bells and cauldrons to pass
on to their descendants, saying, No ones achievements equal mine. Now
suppose a commoner were similarly to attack neighboring families, kill their
people, seize their dogs and pigs, food, and clothing, and similarly write his
deeds on bamboo and silk and inscribe them on vessels and dishes to pass
on to his descendants, saying, No ones achievements equal mine. How
180 chris fraser
could this be permissible? Lord Wen of Luyang said, So if I view it on the
basis of your statement, what all the world calls permissible is not necessar-
ily so. (49: 112/1418)
This passage is also significant because it emphasizes the distinction,
introduced in Jie zang (Moderation in Burials), between prevailing cus-
toms and objective moral norms: what all the world considers permis-
sible might nevertheless be morally wrong (25: 41/1827). Another passage
depicts Mozi castigating a minister of Wei , a small state surrounded by
wealthier, more powerful rivals, for spending resources on luxuries and a
harem rather than defense, which would be of greater benefit:
, , ,

, ,

,
,

,
Now, if we examine your house, there are hundreds of decorated vehicles,
hundreds of grain-fed horses, and hundreds of women clothed in finery. If
we took the cost of decorating the vehicles and feeding the horses and the
materials needed for the fine clothing and used them to maintain soldiers,
surely they would exceed a thousand men. If there were a crisis, you could
station several hundred in the front and several hundred in the rear. Com-
pared with stationing several hundred women in the front and rear, which
would be more secure? (47: 105/2628)
The Fei ming (Against Fatalism), Jie yong (Moderation in
Expenditure), and Fei yue (Against Music) triplets phrase their
condemnation of fatalistic beliefs, excessive funeral practices, and waste-
ful entertainment generally, directing them at what are depicted as wide-
spread views and customs that the Mohists see as detrimental to the
general welfare. By contrast, the Dialogues incorporate these points
along with a criticism of their supposed impietyinto an attack targeted
specifically against the Ru:
,

, ,

. . .

, ,

,
, , ,

. . . ,

. . .
, , ,

,
; ,

The Way of the Ru includes four policies that are each enough to ruin the
world. The Ru treat Heaven as insentient and the ghosts as inanimate, and so
Heaven and the ghosts are displeased...They also conduct rich burials and
prolonged mourning. They have several inner and outer coffins and many
layers of shrouds, and their funeral processions are like moving house. For
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 181
three years they cry and weep, until they cannot stand up without support
or walk without a cane, their ears unable to hear and their eyes unable to
see.... They also sing to the accompaniment of strings and dance to drums,
practicing songs and music.... And they take fate to exist, holding that pov-
erty or wealth, longevity or early death, social order or disorder, security
or danger have been fixed and cannot be increased or decreased. If rulers
practice this, they will surely neglect to govern; if their subjects practice it,
they will surely neglect their work. (48: 109/48)
The subtext of these criticisms is that the Way of the Ru fails to promote
the benefit of all and is thus morally wrong. Ru practices displease Heaven
and the spirits, waste resources, and interfere with economic production
and good social order.9
An interesting difference between the Dialogues and the Core Chap-
ters, then, is the emergence of the Ru as rivals whose doctrines and prac-
tices the Mohists explicitly denounce, often in face-to-face discussions
with individual Ru. Many essays in the middle and later chronological
strata of the Triplets condemn practices such as rich burials or elabo-
rate musical performances and rebut criticisms of Mohist doctrines, but
without identifying particular opponents or rival groups by name. The
Fei Ru (Against Ru) chapter attacks the Ru by name, but its status
as a Core Chapter is debatable: although its chronological relationship to
the Triplets is not entirely clear, stylistic and thematic features suggest
it is of later origin than the early and middle strata, and its content has
more affinities with the Dialogues.10 By contrast, the Dialogues confront
opponents such as Wumazi and Wu L and direct a series of scathing
criticisms at the Ru.11 One explanation for this difference may simply be
the different genres or purposes of the two sets of texts. The Core Chap-
ters focus on promulgating and defending Mohist doctrines, not refuting
rivals. Where they attack harmful practices or answer criticisms, their
purpose is not to diminish particular opponents so much as to justify the
Mohist Way. By contrast, the Dialogues have broader aims and a more
diffuse focus. Besides promoting Mohist doctrines, they depict exchanges
9Besides the points in the quoted passage, the Dialogues also criticize the Ru for their
excessive conservatism (46: 102/1920, 48: 107/2023) and their passivity (48: 106/2531,
48: 107/59), two attitudes that in the Mohists view squander opportunities to benefit
the world.
10See n. 4 and the introduction to this volume.
11Among the individual Ru mentioned in the Dialogues are Confucius, an unnamed
follower of Confuciuss student Zixia (46: 101/5), Gongmengzi (chapter 48, passim),
and Chengzi (48: 109/4).
182 chris fraser
in which Mozi debates and criticizes opponents, answers disciples
questions, provides moral coaching or other practical advice, and offers
various observations or words of wisdom. Another explanation for the
greater prominence of the Ru in the Dialogues may be that when most of
the Core Chapters were composed, the Ru did not strike the Mohists as
especially significant rivals.12 The Ru movement may have developed in
parallel with Mohism, such that the Ru became prominent adversaries for
the Mohists only after the bulk of the Triplets were produced.
As mentioned in the introduction of this essay, one of the Dialogues
explicitly organizes the ten core Mohist teachings into a platform com-
prising five pairs of doctrines targeted at a range of social problems:
, : :
,

, ; ,
, , ; ,
; ,

Our Master Mozi visited Wei Yue, who said, Having been granted an audi-
ence with the rulers of the four quarters, what would you expound first?
Our Master Mozi said, Whenever you enter a state, you must select a task
and work on it. If the state is in disorder, expound to them promoting the
worthy and conforming upward; if the state is impoverished, expound
moderation in expenditure and moderation in burial; if the state over-
indulges in musical entertainment, expound against music and against
fatalism; if the state is dissolute and indecorous, expound revering Heaven
and serving ghosts; if the state is devoted to aggression and intimidation,
expound inclusive care and against military aggression. So I say, select a
task and work on it.13 (49: 114/710)
This passage underscores the consistency between the Dialogues and the
Triplets. It suggests that the writers of at least some parts of the Dialogues
were consciously concerned to provide clear, concise reformulations of
key doctrines from the Triplets, along with guidance for Mohist adherents
in applying them.
Let me now move beyond these points of continuity to explore devel-
opments in the ethics of the Dialogues.
12For a detailed discussion of the identity of the early Mohists opponents and the
significance of the Ru for the Mohists, see Robins, The Moists and the Gentlemen of the
World.
13For a summary of the ten doctrines, see Fraser, Mohism, sec. 2; and the introduc-
tion to this volume.
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 183
Role of Statements
A cornerstone of Mohist ethics is the conviction that the proper moral
and political Way (dao ) can be expressed and transmitted explic-
itly in verbal formulations as statements, doctrines, or teachings ( yan
). Such yan are treated as dicta or instructions that guide action. Like
many early Chinese texts, the Mozi frequently pairs yan conceptually with
xing (conduct, practice).14 Peoples conduct is expected to correspond
to their yan, and those who endorse contrasting yan can be expected to
act in contrasting ways (e.g., 16: 28/45).15 As illustrated in the Mohist
doctrine of conforming upward (shang tong ), people are expected
to follow their rulers yan (11: 16/1923), and moral education involves
emulating the yan and xingin effect, the words and deedsof worthy
political leaders. A major aim of the Core Chapters is to present the yan
of Mozi, which the texts propose as a guide to right conduct. Opponents
objections to Mohist doctrines are characterized as yan (e.g., 16: 27/28, 25:
40/28), as are views that the Mohists seek to refute concerning funerals,
the nonexistence of ghosts, and the existence of fate (e.g., 25: 38/2639/6,
31: 55/7, 35: 58/1516). The Mohists specifically identify the pernicious yan
of the fatalists as a cause of poverty, inadequate population, and social
disorder, since applying this yan to guide conduct leads to economically
and politically harmful negligence (35: 60/710):
:, , ,
,

, ,

,

:

:; ; ;
; ; ; ;


14In various contexts, the pairing yan and xing may correspond roughly to the English
word and deed, theory and practice, or principle and application.
15Of course, people sometimes endorse yan that they fail to carry out completely, as
the Mohists complain concerning officials failure to practice their doctrine of promoting
the worthy: Now, the officer-gentlemen of the world in their personal lives and state-
ments all promote the worthy. But when it comes to public administration and ruling
the people, none know to promote the worthy and employ the capable. Thus, we know
that the officer-gentlemen of the world understand minor things but not major ones
(10: 14/67). As the Mohists see it, officials know enough to practice the doctrine in minor,
personal matters, as when they insist on hiring an expert butcher to cut up an ox or an
expert tailor to make a suit of clothes, but not in major affairs such as selecting appointees
for government office, when they instead practice nepotism or favoritism. Such cases are
an example of partial incompetence in following teaching or the Way. Notice that the
criticism is that officials do not know to employ the capable in government. I discuss the
Mohists views on such partial incompetence further below.
184 chris fraser
,

,

Our Master Mozi stated ( yan), Ancient kings, dukes, and grandees in gov-
erning the state all desired that their state be wealthy, their population
large, and their government orderly. However, they obtained not wealth but
poverty, not a large population but a small one, not order but disorder. This
is failing to get what they originally desired and instead getting what they
detested. What is the reason for this? Our Master Mozi stated, There were
many fatalists mixed in among the people. The yan [statement] of the fatal-
ists says, If fated to be wealthy, then wealthy; if fated to be poor, then poor.
If fated to be many, then many; if fated to be few, then few. If fated to be
orderly, then orderly; if fated to be disorderly, then disorderly. If fated to be
long-lived, then a long life; if fated to be short-lived, then a short life. Given
fate, even if one devotes great effort, of what advantage is it? Above, they
persuaded kings, dukes, and grandees of this; below, they interfered in the
work of the common people with it. So the fatalists are morally bad. So as
to the yan [statements] of the fatalists, we cannot fail to clearly distinguish
them.16 (35: 58/1318)
The link between statements and conduct is what makes promulgating
incorrect yan not merely intellectually misguided but morally despicable.
Since people tend to act on yan, the Mohists deem it crucial to establish
explicit, reliable criteria for evaluating the distinctions between shi
[this/right] and fei [not/wrong] and between benefit and harm with
respect to yan (35: 58/1920). The major criteria they propose are their
three models (san fa ): yan should be rooted (ben ) in or tested
(kao ) against the deeds of the ancient sage-kings (i.e., they should have
some historical precedent); they should have a source in what the com-
mon people can hear and see (they should have some empirical basis);
and they should be successful in application (yong )specifically,
when applied as a basis for government administration and penal law,
they should benefit the state, clan, and common people (35: 58/1922).17
The Dialogues underscore and develop this conception of correct state-
ments as an expression of and guide to the Way. Yan that are effective
in guiding or improving conduct are to be made regular or constant
(chang )that is, repeated frequently and promulgated widely (and,
16That is, we should apply objective models or criteria to clearly distinguish whether
they are shi (right) or fei (wrong).
17One version of the theory refers to the three models as the three markers (biao )
(35: 58/19). Another substitutes documents of the former kings for what people hear and
see as the source and adds the intent of Heaven and ghosts as part of the root (36:
60/1920).
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 185
presumably, followed consistently). Regularly uttering yan that are of no
use in guiding conduct is verbal depravity (dang kou ):
, , ,

,


As for statements that are adequate to repeatedly guide conduct, make
them constant [repeat them regularly]. Those not adequate to prompt con-
duct, do not make them constant. To make constant those not adequate to
prompt conduct, this is verbal depravity. (46: 101/3031; and nearly identical
47: 104/1920)
In another passage (46: 102/24103/1), Mozi accuses Wumazi of verbal
depravity because his yan is of no benefit. Benefit (li ), of course, is
the third of the three models for distinguishing statements that are cor-
rect from those that are wrong.18 The statement in question is apparently
Wumazis slogan For me there is killing others to benefit myself, but not
killing myself to benefit others , , which
Mozi refers to as your yi (zi zhi yi ) and Wumazi himself calls my
yi (wo yi )that is, my norm or my standard of right, probably
referring to what is morally correct. Mozi refutes Wumazis yi by show-
ing how publicizing it would have self-defeating consequences: those who
endorse it would be inclined to kill Wumazi to benefit themselves, while
those who reject it would be inclined to kill him to stop the spread of his
malicious statement. Either way, although his proposed yi (norm) aims to
protect or promote his interests, publicizing it is instead likely to bring
him harm. The implication is that besides benefiting society, an adequate
yi or yan must meet a publicity condition and, most likely, a universaliz-
ability condition. Yi or yan can be justified only if they can be publicized
and regularly followed by all without negative or self-defeating conse-
quences. These conditions probably also follow from the idea that an effec-
tive action-guiding statement should be made constant (46: 101/30), or
widely and regularly promulgated, combined with the Mohists expectation
that people normally act on the statement they promulgate and endorse.
The import of Mozis refutation of Wumazi is that the latters slogan, and
thus his yi, cannot consistently and effectively be made constant.
The dialogue with Wu L, the opponent who criticizes Mozis activism,
presents a justification for the Mohists devotion to promulgating their
ethical and political yan (49: 113/1329). Wu is a rural recluse who spends
18Strictly speaking, the third model is that a yan applied as a basis for government
administration and penal law should benefit the state, clan, and people.
186 chris fraser

the winter making pottery and the summer farming. He compares himself
to the sage-king Shun , also traditionally said to have worked in the
fields. He probably takes his eremitic way of life to be the sagely way, and
he apparently takes the Mohists activism to be misguided. Challenging
Mozi, Wu claims that one should simply do what is yi (morally right),
without promulgating yan (statements) about it:

Be yi, thats all; be yi, thats all. Whats the use of making yan about it? (49:
113/14)
However, at Mozis prompting, Wu assents to the consequentialist view
that what is yi yields material benefit for others. So Mozi responds by
defending moral activism on the grounds thatin the prevailing circum-
stances, at leastfor him, Mozi, to research and promulgate the Way
and statements of the sage-kings ultimately benefits the world more
than directly producing food or clothing. As a single, individual worker,
his economic output would necessarily be limited, but promoting the Way
could potentially bring about extensive benefit: if rulers follow his yan,
they will bring order to their states, and if the common people follow
them, they will improve their conduct. Moreover, Wu agrees as well that
teaching or encouraging others in a worthy activity is a greater contribu-
tion than simply performing it oneself. Many people know little about
morality (yi), Mozi claims, so why not disseminate teachings ( yan) about
it? Promulgating teachings or statements to reform peoples conduct is
thus morally justified on the grounds of its good consequences.
In their treatment of yan, the Mohists define a seminal position on
what became one of the core issues of early Chinese philosophy: the role
of explicitly formulated models or guidelines in directing action. Adopting
a stance later shared by Xunzi, Hanfei, and others, they contend that the
most effective way to promulgate the Way and lead people to follow it is
to set forth explicit guidelines articulated through statements. This is the
mainstream stance that parts of the Daodejing, Mencius, and Zhuangzi
reject in various ways.19 Each of these texts expresses a skeptical stance
19For instance, Daodejing, chapter 2, describes the sage as practicing an unstated
(bu yan ) teaching, Mencius privileges the heart over yan in guiding action (2A.2), and
the Zhuangzi, chapter 4, advocates fasting the heart (xin zhai ) rather than directing
action by explicit guidelines.
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 187
concerning whether explicit models or statements can guide action effec-
tively and, in the case of the Daodejing and Zhuangzi, about whether such
yan should be actively disseminated.
Moral Worth
The Dialogues also include several interesting passages addressing moral
worth, an issue not explicitly treated in the Core Chapters. These texts are
significant because they tie moral worth to action-guiding attitudes, such
as intentions and commitments, and to robust, stable aspects of agents
character. The Dialogues thus provide strong evidence against the view
that Mohist ethics concerns only outward compliance with the Way and
neglects issues of character, motivation, and moral worth.20
According to the Dialogues, the moral worth of agents actions and
character rests on their intentions (yi , also aims) or intent (zhi
, also commitments).21 To evaluate peoples character, we must deter-
mine their intent by observing the results of their conduct over the long
term. Observation of only limited or restricted instances is not enough, for
others could be merely luring us into trusting them:
:

,

The lord of Lu said to our Master Mozi, I have two sons. One of them is
keen on study; one of them is keen on sharing wealth with others. Which
would be acceptable as the crown prince? Our Master Mozi said, We cant
yet know. Perhaps they act this way for the sake of reward or praise. The
bowing motion of a fisherman, its not done for the sake of expressing grati-
tude to the fish; baiting rats with worms, its not done out of care for the
rats. I hope your lordship will observe them to see how their intents match
up with their results. (49: 113/68)
Short-term observation cannot yield reliable knowledge of peoples
motives. Virtues such as moral goodness (ren ) comprise stable traits
20For examples of such interpretive views, see D. Wong, Mohism, 454, and Schwartz,
The World of Thought in Ancient China, 147.
21The concepts of yi (intentions, aims) and zhi (intents, commitments) largely
overlap. Zhi may tend to refer to relatively long-term commitments. However, as illus-
trated below in the dialogue about feeding versus extinguishing a fire (46: 100/2023), yi
can refer to either the intention to perform a particular act (such as extinguishing a fire)
or a long-term commitment (such as benefiting the world).
188 chris fraser
and associated patterns of conduct. Acting properly in a few cases does
not qualify one as morally good, just as temporarily standing on tiptoe
does not make one tall:
:

:


, ,

Several disciples reported to our Master Mozi, saying, Gaozi excels in being
good. Our Master Mozi said, Its not necessarily so. Gaozis being good is
analogous to standing on tiptoe to make oneself taller or spreading ones
shoulders to make oneself broader. It cannot be made to last long. (48:
111/1011)
These examples concern long-term evaluation of motives or character. But
the texts extend this view to cover individual actions as well. Moral worth
lies in intending to do what is right (yi), even if the good consequences of
ones conduct have yet to materialize:
:, ; ,


, :

,

,
:,

:
,

Wumazi said to our Master Mozi, You inclusively care for everyone in the
world, but have yet to benefit them; I do not care about everyone, but have
yet to injure them. Both sides having yet to achieve results, why do you
deem yourself alone right and me wrong? Our Master Mozi said, Suppose
something is burning. One person is carrying water to pour on it; one person
is holding fuel to add to the fire. Both sides having yet to achieve results,
which of the two people do you value more? Wumazi said, I deem the
intention of the one carrying water right and the intention of the one hold-
ing fire wrong. Our Master Mozi said, I likewise deem my intention right
and yours wrong. (46: 100/2023)
One aspect of moral worth is to pursue moral ideals regardless of the pros-
pect of reward or punishment:
:, , ,

:

,


,


:,

Wumazi said to our Master Mozi, As to your practicing whats morally right,
people do not see and assist you, the ghosts do not see and reward you,
yet you do it. Youre crazy. Our Master Mozi said, Suppose you have two
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 189
servants. One of them works when he sees you and doesnt work when he
doesnt see you. One of them works whether he sees you or not. Which
of the two do you value more? Wumazi said, I value the one who works
whether he sees me or not. Our Master Mozi said, So then you too value
craziness. (46: 100/30101/3)
Another aspect is that the virtuous agent takes the initiative to pursue
what is right. This is a point on which the Mohists contrast their way with
that of the Ru. In one passage, Gongmengzi cites a Ru saying to the effect
that a gentleman offers counsel only when asked:
:

,

Gongmengzi said to our Master Mozi, The gentleman folds his hands on
his chest and waits. When asked, he speaks; when not asked, he ceases. He
is like a bell. When struck, it chimes; when not struck, it does not chime.
(48: 106/2526)
Mozi responds that this maxim applies only to predicaments in which a
violent ruler is unlikely to heed counsel. In other cases, as when the state
is endangered or the ruler is contemplating harmful military action, the
gentleman should step forward with advice: Though not struck, one must
chime (48: 106/31). Elsewhere, the Dialogues reiterate this point with
respect to the virtue of loyalty (zhong ). A loyal minister is proactive in
serving his rulers interests:
:, ;

;

:,
,

, ,

, ,

, ,

Lord Wen of Luyang said to our Master Mozi, Someone explained to me


his view of a loyal minister: If you command him to bow, he bows; if you
command him to bend backward, he bends backward. If standing by, he is
quiet; if called, he responds. Can this be called a loyal minister? Our Master
Mozi said, If you command him to bow, he bows; if you command him to
bend backward, he bends backwardthis resembles a shadow. If standing
by, he is quiet; if called, he respondsthis resembles an echo. Of what use
are a shadow and echo to you? As to what I call a loyal minister, when his
superior is at fault, he observes and warns. When he has a good idea, he
advises his superior without announcing it to others. Outside, he corrects
his own flaws, while he brings his good points inside. He identifies with his
superior and does not ally with other subordinates. Thus, all that is excellent
190 chris fraser
and good is attributed to the superior, and complaints and grudges go to
the subordinates. The superior is at ease and happy, while the ministers
handle the worries and troubles. This is what I call a loyal minister. (49: 112/
30113/3)
Though morally worthy agents take the initiative in pursuing the good,
not everyone need contribute to morality in the same way. There may be
a division of labor on the basis of peoples different abilities:
:, ,
, ,


;
; ,

In practicing morality, what is the greatest task? Our Master Mozi said,
It is like building an [earthen] wall. Those who can build it up, build it up;
those who can refill the earth, refill the earth; those who can measure, mea-
sure; and eventually the wall is completed. Practicing morality is like this.
Those who can discuss and argue, discuss and argue; those who can explain
texts, explain texts; those who can work, work; and eventually the work of
morality is completed. (46: 100/1618)
Although the Core Chapters treat issues pertaining to moral worth less
directly, I suggest that they too devote attention to agents motivation
and character rather than merely their conduct. The Triplets are con-
cerned not only with modifying what people say and do, but with devel-
oping the evaluative, action-guiding shi-fei attitudes that motivate proper
statements and conduct. According to the Mohist theory of identifying
upward, for instance, people are to emulate virtuous political superiors
in order to acquire evaluative attitudes that conform to unified norms for
distinguishing right from wrong. Villagers, for example, are instructed to
model themselves on the virtuous official who governs their district:
,

. . . , ; ,


, ; ,

The myriad people of the village will all identify upward with the district
head....What the district head deems right, you must also deem right; what
the district head deems wrong, you must also deem wrong. Eliminate your
bad statements and learn the good statements of the district head; elim-
inate your bad conduct and learn the good conduct of the district head.
(12: 18/910)
Agents who have learned to distinguish right from wrong properly exer-
cise their moral know-how (zhi ) by reliably doing what is moral and
refraining from what is not. Failing to distinguish right from wrong prop-
erly yields grounds for concluding that they do not really know the differ-
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 191
ence between right and wrong (17: 31/14). The authors seem to assume
that to have appropriate right-versus-wrong (shi-fei) attitudes is to have
the right sort of motives and that to possess reliable moral know-how is
to have a virtuous character. The aim is for people to acquire the rel-
evant right-versus-wrong distinctions and normative responses so that
they acquire a stable, reliable disposition to respond properly to morally
pertinent situations.22 This aim dovetails with the Dialogues position that
agents moral worth is to be evaluated on the basis of their attitudes and
conduct over the long term and that temporary or strained adherence to
moral norms does not qualify as virtue.
Moral Psychology
A third area of development in the Dialogues is moral psychology. Sev-
eral essays in the Triplets touch on issues in this area, especially when
describing peoples conduct in a state of nature or how people can be
motivated to practice the Mohist norm of inclusive care (jian ai ).
Among the major claims the different essays advance are that even in
a political state of nature people generally are spontaneously motivated
to act on what they deem right (shi) or moral (yi) (11: 16/10); that they
tend to reciprocate beneficial or detrimental attitudes and conduct
(15: 26/1012, 16: 29/2324); that they are inclined to follow political lead-
ers (15: 25/2226/9, 16: 29/2530/4), though they may resist if the latter are
not perceived as acting in the public interest (12: 20/23); and that they
are motivated by community approval and discouraged by disapproval
(12: 20/58).23 On the whole, however, the Triplets devote relatively little
direct attention to moral psychology, since their major focus is normative
doctrines and policy proposals. The Dialogues flesh out the Mohists views
on moral psychology and develop their positions on several points.
The Dialogues core psychological generalization resonates with the
account of people in a state of nature presented in the Triplets entitled
Conform Upward. These essays as well as the Dialogues hold that people
tend to be strongly committed to morality and will generally act on their
conception of it. According to Conform Upward, Upper, for instance,
prior to the establishment of government and universal moral education,
22I discuss these points in more detail in Fraser, Mohism and Motivation.
23For further discussion of these points, see Fraser, Mohism and Self-Interest, and
Fraser, Mohism and Motivation.
192 chris fraser
people all deemed their conception of morality right, on that basis deemed
others conception of morality wrong, and so deemed each other wrong
, (11: 16/1011). The motivational
force of these convictions is so strong that they lead to violent social tur-
moil. The Dialogues reiterate the idea that people are generally motivated
by their conception of yi, at least when its demands are not too strenuous.
Anyone would help someone struggling with a heavy load, for instance,
because doing so is morally right:
,


, ,


:

Suppose there is a man carrying grain who is resting by the roadside. He
wants to get up but cannot. On seeing him, whether old or young, of high
rank or low, gentlemen would surely help him up. Why? I say, because it is
yi.24 (47: 106/45)
Indeed, people value yi even more than life. They would never sacrifice
a limb for a piece of clothing, nor their life to rule the world, but they
will fight to the death over yan (statements, doctrines) that they think
violate yi:25
:

: , ,


:
,

Our Master Mozi said, Nothing is more valuable than yi. Suppose we said
to someone, Ill give you a hat and shoes but cut off your hands and feet.
Will you do it? Surely he wouldnt do it. Why? It is because a hat and shoes
are not as valuable as hands and feet. And suppose we said, Ill give you the
empire but take your life. Will you do it? Surely he wouldnt do it. Why? It
is because the empire is not as valuable as ones life. Yet people will kill each
other fighting over a single statement. This is valuing morality more than
ones life. So I say, nothing is more valuable than morality. (47: 103/2326)
24Passages such as this one refute skepticism about whether the Mohists ascribe to
people any sort of morally worthy motivation. Nivison, The Ways of Confucianism, 83,
and Ivanhoe, Mohist Philosophy, sec. 4, for instance, seem to think that for the Mohists
there is no such thing as virtuous motivation. Contemporary New Confucian writers have
expressed similar views. See Cai Renhou, Mojia zhexue, 83.
25This statement is comparable to Menciuss claim that people will generally give pri-
ority to yi, even when doing so conflicts with the only available means of preserving their
lives. Even a beggar, Mencius suggests, would not accept food given with a deliberate show
of disrespect. See Lau, Mencius, 6A10.
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 193
Moreover, people like to think of themselves as moral: they are pleased
to be praised for it even when the praise is unmerited and they see them-
selves as needing no help to achieve it.
:,

Our Master Mozi said, The gentlemen of the age, if they are poor and you
say they are rich, they are angry. But if they are immoral and you say they
are moral, they are pleased. Isnt it perverse! (46: 102/11)
: , , ,
, ,
Our Master Mozi said, The gentlemen of the world want to become moral,
but if you help them cultivate themselves, they resent it. This is like wanting
to build a wall but resenting it if people help you build it. Isnt it perverse!
(47: 105/1314)
These passages are two of many in the Dialogues that criticize the gentle-
men of the age () for failing to understand and pursue cor-
rect moral normsoften while paying lip service to moralityand even
opposing the Mohists moral activism. On the one hand, anyone would
help the man carrying grain to lift his load, because it is the right thing to
do. But on the other hand:
, , ,

Now, gentlemen who practice morality carry on the Way of the former kings
and expound it, but not only are [the gentlemen of the age] not pleased to
practice it, but they even condemn and slander it. This is the gentlemen
of the age holding the moral person in less regard than a carrier of grain.
(47: 106/57)
Although people tend to be motivated by their conception of morality,
their grasp of morality is often inadequate, and so society falls short of
Mohist moral ideals. The Dialogues are optimistic about peoples commit-
ment to the general idea of morality, but they also express deep frustra-
tion withand even alienation fromthe actual moral attitudes of many
gentlemen of the age (47: 106/4). Given societys low moral standards,
proper moral, social, and political order can be achieved only through
active dissemination of correct moral doctrinesa stance which con-
verges with that of the Core Chapters.
194 chris fraser
According to the Dialogues, people are inclined not only to act on what
they take to be moral but to respond positively to others who practice
morality. If treated with care and respect, people feel close to and identify
with others; without care and respect, they can easily become estranged.
In one story, the famous inventor Gongshuzi challenges Mozi to
explain whether his moral norms have hooks and rams analogous to
those Gongshu developed for naval warfare, which can stop the retreat or
block the advance of enemy boats. Mozi replies:
,

,

;

,

,


, ; ,

,

,

The hooks and rams of my morality are superior to yours for naval battles.
I hook people with care and push them with respect. If you do not hook
them with care, they will not be close to you; if you do not push them with
respect, they will quickly become contemptuous. If they are contemptu-
ous and not close to you, they will quickly leave you. So caring about and
respecting each other amount to benefiting each other. Now, if you forcibly
hook people to stop them, they too will hook and stop you; if you forcibly
ram them to repel them, they too will ram and repel you. Hooking and ram-
ming each other amount to harming each other. So the hooks and rams of
my morality are superior to yours for naval battles. (49: 115/1519)
This passage echoes two important psychological generalizations found
in the Triplets. One is that people generally reciprocate each others atti-
tudes and conduct (15: 25/2425, 16: 29/2324), a tendency that for the
Mohists helps explain why the norm of all-inclusive care for everyone
( jian ai) is practically feasible. The other is that peoplespecifically,
competent officialswill not feel close (qin ) to, and will hesitate to
serve, a leader who fails to show them appropriate care and esteem
specifically, by paying them well and delegating genuine responsibility to
them (9: 11/1316). A significant feature of this passage is that it introduces
an explicit concept of respect (gong ) for others, a notion absent from
the Core Chapters.26 In their emphasis on the comparatively proactive
moral attitude of care (ai ), which involves a positive inclination to
benefit others, the Triplets tend to overlook the more neutral moral atti-
26A passage in one of the Elevate the Worthy essays states that to recruit talented
personnel for employment in government, one should show them reverence ( jing )
(8: 9/16). But none of the Triplets mention respect for others as a core moral attitude on a
par with care (ai ) for others.
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 195
tude of respect, whichfor contemporary moral philosophers, at least
might involve only an inclination to treat others fairly and avoid harming
them. Having introduced the notion of respect, however, the Dialogues do
not go on to develop a distinctive theoretical role for it.27
Gui Yi (Valuing Morality), the second chapter of the Dialogues,
contains a series of remarks providing advice on personal moral discipline,
a topic that receives little attention in the Core Chapters.28 A likely expla-
nation for its inclusion here is that the Dialogues may have been directed
primarily at Mohist followers rather than the broader audience addressed
by the Triplets, many of which explicitly appeal to the entire hierarchy of
government officials, along with other gentlemen of the world. Where
the Core Chapters resemble a series of public-advocacy pamphlets, the
Dialogues may be more comparable to a handbook for Mohist adherents,
which treats the concrete practice of the Mohist Way. Among other points,
the Dialogues urge their audience to engage only in statements and actions
that benefit all (47: 104/1517); to repeat, or make constant, statements
that improve conduct while refraining from those that do not (47: 104/
1920); and to persevere in the path of morality even if they fail occasion-
ally (47: 104/2223).
This last remark is of particular interest, for it suggests an intriguing
approach to weakness of the will that coheres with, but is not articulated
in, doctrines presented in the Triplets. As I mentioned above, the Mohists
consider the ability to draw and act on right-versus-wrong distinctions
properly a form of competence or know-how, akin in some respects to
the ability to perform a skill. Accordingly, their primary explanation for
an agents failure to act morally is that the agent lacks the relevant know-
how. As they understand it, such failure is typically due not to insufficient
motivation, but to ignorance or incompetence in distinguishing right from
wrong and responding accordingly. Mohist texts depict three overlapping
types of cases of such ignorance or incompetence. The first occurs when
the agent simply does not know how to distinguish right from wrong
27This point is unsurprising, given the Mohists tendency (discussed further on) to
emphasize increasingly stringent moral standards. Moral norms that emphasize respect
for all are typically less demanding than those that seek to promote everyones welfare, as
the Mohist Way does.
28Two illustrations of such personal moral discipline that we do find in the Triplets are
the gentleman and the ruler depicted practicing inclusive care in the arguments intended
to show that inclusive care is practically applicable (16: 27/2828/10). Both guide their
conduct by reciting to themselves statements about how an exemplary gentleman or ruler
is as committed to the good of his friends and subjects as to his own.
196 chris fraser
properly, as when people fail to distinguish wars of aggression as wrong
and even deem them morally right (17: 30/2731/3, 28: 49/78). The texts
especially call attention to cases of partial incompetence, in which peo-
ple distinguish right from wrong properly in some but not all relevant
instances. One example is when they rightly condemn theft and murder
but wrongly approve of unprovoked warfare aimed at seizing the wealth
and slaughtering the populace of other states.
:,


,

,

Our Master Mozi said to Lord Wen of Luyang, The gentlemen of the age all
know minor things but not major ones. Suppose there is a man here. If he
steals a dog or pig, they call him morally bad [not-ren]. If he steals a state
or a city, they take him to be morally right. Its like seeing a small amount
of white and calling it white, yet seeing a large amount of white and calling
it black. (49: 112/2022)
Another example is when they apply a norm such as employing the capa-
ble properly in some cases, as when hiring a professional bowyer to repair
a bow or veterinarian to cure a sick horse, but not others, as when they
appoint an inexperienced relative to an official post (10: 14/616). Such
cases represent a failure fully to know the distinction between moral and
not-moral (17: 31/3).
The second type of ignorance or incompetence is when the agent ver-
bally draws distinctions correctly but then fails to act properly. An agent
may mouth the right words about morality, yet lack the practical know-
how to reliably distinguish and choose what is right and reject what is
wrong (19: 33/1517). These are cases in which agents conduct fails to con-
form to their statements.
:: ,

, ,

, ,


,

,
,

, ,

Our Master Mozi said, Now if a blind person says, Whats bright is white,
and whats dark is black, even the clear-sighted have no basis for chang-
ing this claim. But combine white and black things together and make the
blind select among them, and they cannot know them. So as to my saying
that the blind do not know white and black, its not on the basis of their
naming; its on the basis of their selecting. Now, as to how the gentlemen of
the world name ren [moral goodness], even [the sage-kings] Yu and Tang
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 197
have no basis for changing it. But combine ren and not-ren things together
and make the gentlemen of the world select among them, and they cannot
know them. So as to my saying the gentlemen of the world do not know
ren, its not on the basis of their naming; its on the basis of their selecting.
(47: 105/47)
To count as having moral know-how, the agent must respond to right-
versus-wrong distinctions not just by making the appropriate sort of state-
ments but by reliably performing appropriate actions.
A third type of incompetence is when an agent endorses the Way
and undertakes to act on it, yet fails to do so. The agent commits to the
Way, and presumably has some grasp of the distinctions and responses it
entails, but falters in carrying it out, perhaps because of doubt or confu-
sion about what to do, a lack of self-confidence, or motivational inertia. In
the Mohist theoretical scheme, this sort of failure to follow a Way that one
endorses is comparable to akrasia, or weakness of will, since it amounts
to a failure to do what one intends or deems best. However, rather than
framing the problem as a failure to act on ones best judgment or to carry
out ones intention to perform some discrete act, the Mohists view it as a
lack of ability or competence in following a course that one has embarked
on. The Core Chapters do not treat this issue explicitly, but a passage from
the Dialogues addresses it as follows:
,

,

If you undertake to practice yi [morality] but are not able, you must not
abandon the dao. To give an analogy, a carpenter who saws [a straight edge]
but is not able does not abandon the marking line. (47: 104/28)
The emphasis on ability (neng ), paired with the carpentry analogy,
suggests thatas in the second type of case above, when people say the
right things but then fail to act properlythe Mohists ascribe this sort of
akratic failure to a form of incompetence, not insufficient motivation.29
29This interpretation is consistent with passages in the Core Chapters that discuss
whether the Mohist norm of inclusive care is too difficult. According to the last two of the
three Inclusive Care chapters, the major obstacles to the widespread practice of inclusive
care are just that rulers do not adopt it as a basis for government and officers do not adopt
it as a basis for conduct (15: 26/12) and that no rul-
ers delight in it (16: 30/4). Both texts claim that people can be brought to
practice inclusive care through their inclination to conform to their rulers wishes. The key
problem is not that it is difficult but that rulers have not promulgated it as their societys
Way and accordingly people have not adopted it as a norm. Of course, the rulers approval,
along with any rewards and punishments he institutes, will contribute to peoples motivation
198 chris fraser
This incompetence is analogous to a defect in performing a skill, such as
sawing a straight edge. So they probably see the remedy for akratic failure
as analogous to that for ineptitude in a skill: the agent should continue
training himself to recognize and act on evaluative distinctions properly,
with the Way as his guide, until he can do so reliablyjust as the novice
carpenter should keep practicing his sawing technique, with the marking
line as his guide, until he masters his craft. For the carpenter, the eventual
outcome is skill mastery; for the moral agent, it is virtue.30
Sagehood Ideal
The fourth development in the Dialogues is an explicit ideal of personal
moral sagehood not found in the Core Chapters. On the whole, the Dia-
logues present a more demanding view of the moral life than the Triplets
do. The main requirement the Core Chapters place on the typical member
of society is to conform to the norms of moral rightness, which, if generally
followed, would promote the benefit of all. These norms include inclusive
care; refraining from war, theft, oppression, and exploitation; sharing sur-
plus labor, knowledge, and surplus resources; performing ones social role
conscientiously, thus contributing to social order and economic prosper-
ity; helping to provide for orphans and the childless elderly; and exercis-
ing the relational virtues of kindness toward subordinates, loyalty toward
superiors, compassion toward ones children, filial devotion toward ones
parents, and fraternal love toward ones siblings.31 By todays standards,
all this adds up roughly to being a caring and considerate family member,
a responsible member of society, and a decent neighbor willing to offer
others a helping hand. Being moral lies largely in playing ones part in a
system that promotes the benefit of all.32
to practice it. But the chief reason that they fail to practice it is not a lack of motivation;
it is that the ruler has not established it as a norm, and so people have not acquired the
relevant competence. For a detailed discussion of Mohist views on motivation, see Fraser,
Mohism and Self-Interest, and Fraser, Mohism and Motivation.
30This sketch rebuts Nivisons claim that the Mohists have no explanation of akrasia
beyond sheer perversity on the agents part. See Nivison, The Ways of Confucianism, 84.
31For particularly clear examples, see Mozi 26: 43/78, 26: 43/2527, 27: 44/2645/2,
and 28: 48/2328.
32Besides the minimal requirement of yi (moral rightness), the Core Chapters also
present a more stringent ideal of ren (moral goodness). The mark of ren people is that
they take as their business promoting the benefit of the world and eliminating harm
to the world (15: 24/2627), an end potentially much more demanding than the basic
norms of yi. But ren may simply have been a virtuous attitude rather than a standard of
conduct, and the Triplets do not suggest that people are generally expected to go beyond
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 199
The Dialogues, by contrast, suggest that morality lies largely in helping
others, as Mozi seems to imply when he asks Wu L whether what he calls
moral is, as for Mozi, a matter of having strength to work for others and
wealth to share with others , (49: 113/1415).33
Moreover, if morality does not prevail in the world, one can only work
even harder to achieve it, whether or not others do their share:
, , :

:,

, ,
Traveling from Lu to Qi, our Master Mozi passed an old acquaintance, who
said to him, Now no one in the world practices yi. You alone toil to practice
yi. Youd be better off quitting. Our Master Mozi said, Suppose there was
a man with ten sons. One worked the fields while nine sat around. Then
the one who worked the fields could not but work even more urgently.
Why? Those who eat are many, while those who work are few. Now, if no
one in the world practices yi, you should encourage me. Why stop me?
(47: 103/28104/1)
Here we find hints of the self-sacrificing extremism that, according to
the Zhuangzi Tianxia (Under Heaven) chapter, became preva-
lent among some Mohist factions late in the movements history. In this
respect, the Dialogues may reflect a general tendency as Mohism devel-
oped to shift toward more demanding norms of conduct,34 eventually
culminating in the legendary selflessness of late Warring States Mohist
militias.35
the demands of yi and dedicate themselves to directly pursuing the benefit of all. A person
who lives up to the requirements of yi, without directly seeking to promote the benefit of
the world, is not blameworthy.
33Precursors of this characterization of yi can be found in several Triplets. According
to one passage, Heaven desires that people who have strength work for each other, who
have dao teach each other, and who have wealth share with each other (27: 44/28). This
ideal echoes the description of social disorder in the first two Conform Upward chap-
ters, which claim that as order breaks down, people cease to share surplus labor, surplus
wealth, and good dao (11: 16/1213, 12: 17/18; see also 10: 15/1617). By implication, when
society conforms to yi, people are expected to share surplus labor and wealth. Two key
differences from the Dialogues are the qualifiers each other and surplus. The sharing is
depicted as reciprocal rather than purely altruistic, and in the Conform Upward chapters
it is specifically surplus labor and goods that are shared, not all labor and goods.
34Later versions of the doctrine of inclusive care, for instance, seem more demanding
than earlier ones. See the essay by Carine Defoort in this volume.
35The dedication and heroism of these bands of Mohists are vividly depicted in Lshi
chunqiu 19/3.4 Shang de and Huainanzi Tai zu . See Knoblock and Riegel, The
Annals of L Buwei, 487488, and Major et al., The Huainanzi, 818.
200 chris fraser
Among the remarks on personal moral discipline in the Dialogues is a
striking passage that advocates eliminating the influence of emotions and
other potential sources of bias and dedicating oneself wholly to yi, so as to
become a sage or moral saint:
: , ,

,

, , , , ,

, ,


Our Master Mozi said, When silent, ponder; when speaking, instruct; when
acting, work. Make these three alternate one after the other and you will
surely be a sage. You must remove the six biases: you must remove happi-
ness and anger, joy and sorrow, fondness [and dislike], and apply ren and
yi. Your hands, feet, mouth, nose, and ears being employed for yi, you will
surely be a sage. (47: 104/2226)
The six biases are affective attitudes or passionshappiness, anger,
joy, sorrow, preferences, and aversions. The text takes these as unreli-
able grounds for guiding action and urges us to reject them in favor of
guidance by moral goodness (ren) and moral rightness ( yi). This passage
has been cited as evidence that the Mohists advocate guiding action by
dispassionate intellect instead of unreasoned attachment.36 I suggest,
however, that such a reading imports a Western concern with the contrast
between reason and passion that is alien to the Mozi. The Mohists them-
selves draw no clear distinction between intellect and emotion,37 nor do
they employ any concept that corresponds directly to that of reason. The
text mentions only applying ren and yi, not dispassionate intellect, and
its argument is that the other attitudes are prone to bias, not that they are
unreasoned. Nor, I think, does the passage entail that we should become
wholly dispassionate or emotionless. Ren and the relational virtues of
hui (benevolence), zhong (faithfulness), ci (compassion), xiao
(filial devotion), and ti (brotherliness)which many of the Triplet
essays count among the goods that constitute yi (morality)are likely to
include affective components, though these may be calmer or less intense
than happiness, anger, joy, and sorrow. The texts point is rather that con-
duct should be guided by the virtue of moral goodness and the objective,
36See D. Wong, Mohism, 453.
37I argue for this point in Fraser, Mohism and Motivation.
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 201
impartial norms of moral rightness rather than by easily biased emotions
and preferences.38
The Mohist stance on the passions here is defensible, insofar as the six
attitudes the text mentions are indeed highly susceptible to bias. Even
when they do align with correct moral judgment, they alone cannot prop-
erly be the basis for conduct, but must be checked against moral norms.
Still, the passage invites several lines of criticism. One could argue that the
passions are part of human life and, in some cases at least, are a modality
through which we more fully appreciate the moral status of certain events
or situations. The torture of innocent children, for instance, is not merely
wrong but horrendous. The passage proposes that the path to moral sage-
hood lies in setting aside our personal, potentially biased passions and
acting on moral goodness and rightness alone. An important alternative
view, one sometimes associated with the Ru, is that sagehood might lie
instead in integrating the passions with ren, so as to bring them into line
with correct moral judgments. Instead of ignoring joy and sorrow, for
instance, we would seek to feel joyful about things that are morally good
or right and sorrowful about those that are bad or wrong. One might argue
that this latter view more adequately recognizes the place of emotions in
moral life. In the Mohists defense, however, the passage is not describing
the psychology of the sage or the morally good person but advocating an
approach to personal moral development. The Mohists might agree that
the sagely person feels joy about the good and sorrow about the bad. But
this is irrelevant to the texts claim, which is that to become such a person,
we should set aside the bias-prone emotions and preferences we feel now
and in their place apply ren and yi.
Another question is whether the distinction between preferences and
shi-fei distinctions grounded in our conception of moral rightness is as
sharp as these instructions for sagehood assume.39 The Mohists them-
selves are committed to the view that to distinguish something as right
or wrong is at the same time to approve or condemn it, and thus to have
38The passage thus presents an interesting contrast with Mencius, who holds that
some emotions, such as our alarm at seeing an infant in danger, naturally align with cor-
rect moral norms and morally worthy motivation, and that personal moral development
lies in extending these or filling them out appropriately. Menciuss chief point is that
such passions show we are capable (neng ) of being morally good. He is vague about
the criteria for discriminating morally relevant passions from irrelevant or bad ones, but
the two he clearly thinks especially important are care for parents and respect for brothers.
See Lau, Mencius, 7A15.
39See Griffin, Value Judgement, 1936.
202 chris fraser
a preference for or against it.40 Of course, the point of the passage is that
we should eliminate subjective bias, not all preferences. But a more defen-
sible way to make this point might be to advocate bringing our prefer-
ences into line with objective norms, rather than simply removing
(qu ) them.
These quibbles aside, the most striking aspect of the passage is its ideal
of total dedication to morality. One is to devote every thought, utterance,
and action to ren and yi, setting everything else aside. No room is left for
any activity without positive moral value, derived, according to Mohist
normative theory, from contributing in some way to the benefit of all.
Morality here is not merely a constraint on our conduct, a normative
status our actions should have, or one good among others. It is an all-
encompassing end in itself. The sage ideal presented here is thus con-
siderably more demanding than the moral doctrines of the Triplets, which
require only that everyone live by norms whose collective practice pro-
motes the benefit of all.
To grasp the place of this passage in Mohist thought, however, I suggest
that again we need to consider its likely audience. As I proposed above,
the Dialogues may be directed at committed Mohist followers, who have
already dedicated themselves to promoting the benefit of allto becom-
ing paradigmatic ren people who take as their task promoting the ben-
efit of the world and eliminating harm to the world (15: 24/2627). The
passage may thus present a supererogatory ideal, not a basic moral norm
that all are obliged to follow. Given the religious character of the Mohist
movement, the injunction to purge the six biases and devote oneself
wholly to moral goodness and rightness should probably be compared not
to a general moral guideline, such as Do not harm the innocent, but to
the strict norms of self-discipline adopted by members of an ascetic reli-
gious order. In this context, the conception of sagehood presented here is
understandable, even admirable. It is easy to imagine, in a world of scarcity
and turmoil such as the Mohists, people choosing to organize their lives
around the project of bringing about a morally more satisfactory state of
affairssuch as by working, as the Mohists did, to prevent war and allevi-
ate poverty. In the context of Mohist religious beliefs, this commitment
to sagehood can also be regarded as a profound expression of spiritual-
ity or religiousness.41 For devoted Mohist believers, the sagehood ideal
40See Fraser, Mohism and Motivation.
41I thank Roman Malek for suggesting this point.
the ethics of the mohist dialogues 203
would have represented a way of more directly conforming to the intent
of Heaven and thus in effect achieving a form of unity with the divine.
Indeed, the pursuit of such moral and religious ideals may have been
among the few constructive life choices open to many Mohists (especially
if, as generally thought, they came largely from the lower classes of soci-
ety). These ideals may have seemed all the more attractive and empower-
ing because of the chance they offered to make a difference in the world.
Given the adverse, war-ravaged economic and political circumstances in
which Mohism arose, it is hardly surprising that some people might have
been inspired to emulate the heroic altruism of the fabled sage-king Yu,
as the Zhuangzi reports some dedicated Mohists sought to do.
Absent a comparable religious background or a similarly harsh his-
torical and economic context, however, this ideal of sagehood is difficult
to justify. Indeed, to secular, contemporary readers, it is bound to seem
narrow and impoverished. We view moderate indulgence of passions or
preferences as compatible with the demands of yi, and we cannot easily
see yi filling up all of life in the way the sagehood ideal implies. Indeed, it
is difficult to envision how yi should or even could come to dominate life
in this way unless we were to share two things with the Mohists: a con-
sequentialist view in which morality lies in the promotion of a narrowly
specified set of goods, and a historical setting in which securing those
goods is immensely difficult.
Conclusion
To sum up, the ethics of the Dialogues is in many respects consistent
with the views promoted in various Triplets, but the Dialogues present
at least four important extensions of Mohist ethical ideas. They eluci-
date the Mohist conception of morality or the Way as norms that can
be promulgated through explicit statements or teachings and constantly
followed by all with beneficial, self-consistent consequences. They clar-
ify an interesting stance on moral worth that ties it to agents character
and intentions. They develop the Mohist view of moral motivation and
indicate an intriguing approach to cases of action failure comparable
to weakness of the will. They also set forth a stringent ideal of personal
moral sagehood. On the whole, the Dialogues present a more demand-
ing conception of the moral life than the Triplets do. This difference may
be due partly to a general tendency in later generations of the Mohist
movement to embrace increasingly stringent ethical norms. But it may
204 chris fraser
also be explained by the different audiences to which the two sets of
texts are directed. Whereas most of the Triplets are explicitly addressed
to rulers, officials, and gentlemen, few of whom would have been Mohist
adherents, the Dialogues appear to be addressed primarily to committed
Mohist disciples. Indeed, they may be comparable to a handbook or com-
monplace book of teachings for adherents, as in many places they discuss
the concrete practice of Mohist doctrines or issues that might arise in
dialogue with opponents. Hence in places they may depict ideals adopted
specifically by devout followers rather than norms the Mohists advocated
for the typical member of society.
FROM ELEVATE THE WORTHY TO INTIMACY WITH OFFICERS
IN THE MOZI*
Hui-chieh Loy
The traditional attitude toward the first chapter of the received Mozi text,
titled Qin shi (Intimacy with Officers),1 has been mixed. On the
one hand, it seems clear enough that the ideas presented in the chapter
are akin to a type of counsel found in each of the three versions of Shang
xian (Elevate the Worthy) in the Mozi Core Chapters. Briefly put,
this counsel enjoins the princes to employ worthy and capable people in
government whatever their social status and whatever their kinship, or
lack thereof, with the ruler. The same type of recommendations, while
less extensively elaborated upon, appears in Qin shi. It is probably with
this in mind that Y. P. Mei writes in a footnote to his translation of the
*The first version of this essay was presented at the conference The Many Faces of
Mozi: A Synchronic and Diachronic Study of Mohist Thought, held at the University of
Leuven, 2528 June 2009. I thank the discussant Karel van der Leeuw and the various par-
ticipantsespecially Kwong-loi Shun, Michael Nylan, Carine Defoort, Nicolas Standaert,
and Chris Fraserfor their comments and discussions, and Miranda Brown, who, in addi-
tion, read and commented upon a subsequent draft. Additional and extensive comments
were also given later by Carine Defoort, Nicolas Standaert, Griet Vankeerberghen, Sara
Vantournhout, Yuri Pines, Chad Hansen, Chong-ming Lim, and Mingde Yuen.
1The term shi is notoriously untranslatable. As Hsu Cho-yun reminds us, it refers to
the lowest-ranking members of the Zhou aristocracy, a status just barely above that of
the common people. These were a class of men similar to the samurai of medieval Japan.
Originally serving as soldiers, often itinerant, by the end of the Spring and Autumn period
they would develop into a distinct social and cultural elite. The crucial thing to note is
that a shi having the status of a common gentleman in the Zhou aristocracy nominally
received an education in the six fields: ritual, music, archery, charioteering, writing, and
mathematics. In principle, shi were prepared to be not just robust warriors, but also gentle-
men with good manners and minds. See Loewe and Shaughnessy, Cambridge History of
Ancient China, 566, 583. Yuri Pines further notes that shi were largely excluded from politi-
cal processes in their states up to the early Warring States period, as the highest positions
in the state hierarchy were firmly occupied by leading members of a few noble lineages,
who effectively prevented outsiders from entering the inner circle of power-holders; con-
sequently, shi made their living largely as retainers and stewards of the noble lineages,
and only under truly exceptional circumstances could they gain national prominence. See
Pines, Envisioning Eternal Empire, 117118. Given the above, translations of the term have
ranged from knights, gentleman, officer, man of service, to scholar. I use officer
throughout this essay purely as a matter of convenience. The reader should keep in mind
that officer refers to someone from the class that supplies low-ranking men of service, as
opposed to an official, someone with an actual position in government.
206 hui-chieh loy
chapter: the content of this chapter is nothing more than an appendix to
the three synoptic chapters VIIIX,2 namely to Shang xian.
Yet, on the other hand, certain elements within Qin shi have sug-
gested to some scholars a non-Mohist provenance for the chapter. Mei
reports the common opinion of critics that the chapter (along with
the next two) is utterly spurious and perhaps the work of some well
meaning Confucianist who tried to reconcile the...rival schools.3 Both
viewsthat Qin shi is a mere appendix to the Core Chapters and that
it has a non-Mohist provenanceare also reported by Sun Yirang
(18481908), whose magisterial commentary on the Mozi text, the Mozi
jiangu , remains one of the great achievements of Chinese tradi-
tional philology, and is extensively relied upon by Mei.4 Sun further adds
that it is only because the chapters high-minded and upright theses are
close to the doctrines of the Confucians that later generations chose to
put it at the beginning of the Mozi corpus.5
Modern scholars tend to the opinion that all seven chapters of the first
part of the Mozi are composed rather late in relation to the rest of the
corpus.6 In this regard, Qin shi bears various clues suggesting its relative
lateness, some of which will be discussed later. This essay will take for
granted the modern opinion. But even given the fact that Qin shi is com-
posed later than the Core Chapters in general and than the three versions
of Shang xian in particular, questions remain as to how the contents
of the former relate to the latter. For instance, is Qin shi an appendix
to or an epitome or digest of Shang xian?7 Does the former simply
repeat (with or without condensation or elaboration) the points made in
2Mei, The Ethical and Political Works of Motse, 1 n. 1.
3Mei, Motse: The Neglected Rival of Confucius, 5253. See also Mei, The Ethical and
Political Works of Motse, 1 n. 1.
4See Mei, The Ethical and Political Works of Motse, preface, xii.
5See Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu, 1. The relevant line from Sun is [Because] the discourse
of this chapter is largely an appendix to the Shang xian chapters, it does not seem appro-
priate to have it as the first chapter. [But] because the theses it maintains are high-minded
and upright and similar to the doctrines of the Confucians, later generations eventually
chose to put it first , ,
, ,
6For the relative lateness of the first seven chapters of the Mozi (compared with the
rest of the corpus), see Mozi jiaozhu, 10251026; Johnston, The Mozi, xxxixxxii; and
Fraser, Mohism.
7Appendix is from Mei (see n. 1 above), probably translating Sun Yirangs term yuyi
(see n. 5 above). Durrant, A Consideration of Differences in the Grammar of the Mo
Tzu Essays and Dialogues speaks of the seven as epitomes, while Graham, Divisions in
Early Mohism, prefers digests. See also the introduction to the present volume.
from

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207
some or all the versions of Shang xian? Or does it contradict, go beyond,
or otherwise qualify the latter?
To anticipate: I will argue that Qin shi improves upon Shang xian in
that it provides a more sophisticated construal of the motivations of those
targeted by the counsel that one should employ worthies in government.
If the worthies are portrayed as motivated by a somewhat mercenary pur-
suit for wealth, honor, and power in Shang xian, they are presented as
acting from apparently nobler motivations in Qin shi. In fact, they come
across as taking on attitudes that are reminiscent of the characterization
of the gentleman (junzi ) in such texts as the Analects, Mencius, and
Xunzi. When in the fullness of time the ideas in these other texts became
identified with a distinctive Confucian outlook and in that guise became
widely championed by the intellectual classes of traditional China, it was
only natural that later scholars would take Qin shi to espouse theses that
are high-minded and upright because they were judged to be similar to
the doctrines of the Confucians.8
But as we shall also see, the writer of Qin shi (and, likewise, those of
the versions of Shang xian ) by no means endorses without qualification
the attitudes of the worthies he promotes. Nonetheless, the point of Qin
shi is precisely that worthies who embody that nobler, more gentlemanly
perspective regarding political servicewhile all the more potentially
troublesome to the ruler on that accountare also the most capable of
benefiting the state. The crucial concern is for the ruler to have a proper
understanding of what motivates them and thus be able to deal with them
effectively.
Shang Xian: Motivating the Prince
Since part of my aim is to relate the ideas in Qin shi and Shang xian, let
us begin by highlighting certain salient points regarding the latter. As men-
tioned earlier, the three versions of Shang xian agree in offering certain
advice to the princes. They argue for the efficacy of this counsel by refer-
ring to the actions of the sage-kings and tyrants of high antiquity. Many of
the specific proposals are said to be things done by the ancient sage-kings
when they ruled the worldan argumentative device that pervades large
8On the problems with identifying the outlooks of the Warring States Ru with Confu-
cianism as we have come to understand that latter term, see, e.g., Nylan and Csikszent-
mihalyi, Constructing Lineages and Inventing Traditions.
208 hui-chieh loy
parts of the Core Chapters. The counsel is consistently referred to across
the versions with the phrase elevate the worthies (shang xian) (e.g.,
8: 9/11, 9: 10/18, 10: 13/24), from which the title of the chapter is derived.
Another characteristic phrase is utilize the capable (ones) (shi neng
) (8: 9/11) and the related employ the capable (ones) (shi neng )
(9: 11/13, 10: 14/67). The proposal itself enjoins the princes to employ
people variously called the worthies (xian , xianzhe ) (9: 10/24,
10: 15/3), worthy people (xian ren ) (9: 10/30), or worthy and good
officers (xianliang zhi shi ) (8: 9/1112) in the states govern-
ment. The call is that princes employ such people whatever their social
status: even though they are from among the farmers or artisans
(8: 9/30) and whether or not they are related to the ruler
(9: 10/20, 10: 14/18). Those to be employed are defined primarily in terms
of their possessing certain skills or other qualities useful to the running
of the state. But at the same time, the expectation is that suitable candi-
dates will come from among the officer (shi) class since these men were
educated, even though largely excluded from political processes in their
states by the higher nobility.9
Note that by highlighting the above points, I am eliding various differ-
ences between the Shang xian versions. On the basis of these differences,
contemporary scholarship has come to the probable conclusion that the
three chapters display an evolution of thinking and that the Upper version
(shang) was composed first, then the Lower version (xia), followed by the
Middle version (zhong).10 Nonetheless, despite the differences between
the three Shang xian versions, they share a line of thinkinga crucial
commonality or overlap on a set of specific issueswhich I have summa-
rized in the previous paragraph. The crucial thing to note is that this com-
monality exists whatever the specific position taken regarding the relative
chronology of the three versions; we should not ignore its existence even
though we should also not allow it to blind us to the differences between
the versions. It is precisely when we consider what the three versions say
about the implications of and conditions for the successful implementa-
tion of what is ostensibly the same counsel, that the doctrinal develop-
ment between them (and Qin shi) comes into sharper relief.
In the remainder of this section and in the next I will discuss two sets of
issues in Shang xian about the conditions for the successful implementa-
9Pines, Envisioning Eternal Empire, 117118; see also n. 1 above.
10See the introduction to this volume.
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209
tion of the advice to elevate the worthy. The first set of issues relates to
how the authors motivate their princely audience to adopt their counsel
and their implied understanding of how the princes might fail to properly
follow their counsel. The second concerns what they say or imply about
the motivations of the worthies.
On the first point, while the counsel in each version of Shang xian
is broadly meritocratic in character, it is presented, in the first instance,
as a way for the princes to achieve their own desire for political success.11
The counsel is not consistently presented as a principle of social justice,
which is how meritocracy is often discussed today.12 Instead of arguing
that the princes should do as counseled because giving the worthies posi-
tions in state government and rewarding them richly are what they justly
deserve (or, more broadly, what social justice requires), the surface formu-
lations of the arguments mainly appeal to the rulers own interests. Both
the Upper and Lower versions begin by saying that the rulers of the day
all desire (yu ) that their own states be wealthy, populous, and orderly,
and then go on to argue that rulers can fulfill this desire only if they heed
the counsel to elevate the worthy (8: 9/7, 10: 13/23). While the beginning of
the Middle versionprobably the last of the three to be writtenspeaks
more broadly of the rulers desire to preserve stability and avoid failure
(9: 10/17), the ending refers more grandiosely to the rulers
desire to rule All under Heaven and govern the various lords and oth-
erwise realize their ambition to have their way in the world and leave a
name for all generations , ,
(9: 13/1718). In short, the authors of the Shang xian chapters do
not shrink from advertising the efficacy of their counsel for advancing the
rulers own interests and ambitions, even while there is variation among
them regarding the exact scope of those interests and ambitions.
The point is not to say that nothing at all concerning social justice is
implied by the contents of the versions, only that it is not the first thing
11See, e.g., Schwartz, The World of Thought in Ancient China, 153; and Lowe, Mo Tzus
Religious Blueprint for a Chinese Utopia, 83. The doctrine bears a resemblance to the mod-
ern idea of careers open to talents and, more generally, of meritocracy as a principle
of government. The term meritocracy was first coined by Michael Young in his book
Rise of the Meritocracy, 18702033, to describe the dystopia of an imagined British society
of the future in which social and economic benefits are distributed strictly on the basis of
objective merit (measured in terms of intellectual achievement): For hundreds of years
society has been a battleground between two great principlesthe principle of selection
by family and the principle of selection by merit (24).
12See, e.g., Daniels, Merit and Meritocracy; and Miller, Principles of Social Justice, esp.
chap. 9, Two Cheers for Meritocracy.
210 hui-chieh loy
emphasized in the versions attempts to persuade the princes. The point
is also not that the rulers interests and ambitions are necessarily selfish
or contrary to the public goodthey might but need not be. Rather, the
rhetorical payoff for arguing in the above manner is that if the argument
is taken to be sound, the rulers would be acting against their own interests
should they fail to elevate the worthies. In other words, they would be
acting irrationally.
This point is especially highlighted in the Middle and Lower versions
(9: 11/2526, 10: 14/715). They point out that rulers do not hesitate to turn
to skilled professionals such as tailors and butchers when they need a
coat made or an ox or lamb slaughtered. But when it comes to the seri-
ous business of ruling the state, they turn to their relatives or those they
favor because of physical attractiveness, with no regard for whether these
people have the know-how to do the tasks to which they are appointed.
As the Lower version sarcastically observes, it is as if the rulers hold their
states less dearly than their bows, horses, coats, and animals (10: 14/1415),
suggesting that such actions are clearly irrational even when judged purely
by the standards of the rulers own interests.
It also follows from the above that a proximate obstacle to the imple-
mentation of the elevation of worthies lies in a sort of cognitive-practical
deficiency on the part of the rulers: either they are ignorant of the general
principle that tasks should be fitted to people with suitable know-howa
possibility belied by their ability to act upon the same principle in trivial
mattersor they act irrationally.
But for rulers to successfully employ the worthies so as to achieve polit-
ical success, it is not enough that they not fall prey to this sort of practi-
cal irrationality. The Upper and Middle versions highlight the same three
additional conditions necessary for any proper implementation of the
policy: the worthies must be incentivized to come forward and also kept
in fruitful government employment by (1) the conferment of honor in the
form of titles and ranks, (2) substantial emoluments, and (3) unambigu-
ous granting of genuine authority (8: 9/3010/1, 9: 11/4). The reason behind
these conditions is that if the rank is not high, the people (min ) will
not respect the officeholder; if the emoluments are not substantial, they
will not have confidence in him; and if the appointment does not confer
actual authority, they will not fear him (8: 10/12, 9: 11/5). Presumably, all
this becomes especially crucial when the worthies come from among the
farmers and artisans (i.e., low backgrounds), and thus more is needed to
make sure that the people at large recognize the worthies newly granted
authority. In other words, by conferring rank, emoluments, and authority
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upon the worthies, the ruler effectively signals to the people at large that
he is serious about employing these people and that his appointments
have the backing of his power. In this regard, both versions also empha-
size that the outlay is not for rewarding the worthies as if such were their
just deserts but so that the policy will be effective (8: 10/12, 9: 11/5).
Shang Xian: Incentivizing the Worthies
The discussion of what is required not only to encourage the worthies to
come forward but also to retain them in fruitful employment brings to
light a second set of issues: the motivation of the worthies themselves. As
they are presented in each version, the worthies appear primarily moved
to enter government service and to remain at their posts by the prospect
of wealth, honor, and power. This characterization is vividly suggested by
the analogy of the archery contest found in the Upper and Lower versions
(8: 9/1518, 10: 13/2527). In these chapters, the process of increasing the
number of worthies who can be employed in government is presented as
analogous to getting more people in the state to become skillful at archery:
hold a contest, richly reward and honor the winners, and people will work
hard at archery and come forward. The Lower version even speaks prag-
matically of enticing (you ) them by the promise of reward (10: 13/27).
To the extent that the archery example is meant to be an analogy for how
the worthies are to be encouraged to come forward, the latter are being
presented as motivated by the prospect of wealth, honor, and power.
In one especially striking passage, the Upper version even talks about
the ancient sage-kings promising to reward the righteous (yi ) with
wealth, honor, and intimacy with the ruler and threatening to withhold
these benefits from the unrighteous. The result of this policy was that
people competed to conduct themselves righteously (8: 9/2026).13 The
parallel passage in the Middle version does not speak of the sages pro-
claiming that they will reward righteousness and penalize unrighteous-
ness but speaks only more generally of the sages elevating the worthy
and employing the capable without considering kinship, social status, or
appearance (9: 10/1921). But it, too, concludes with a similarly striking
13Scott Lowe found the idea of people competing to be righteous in order to gain
rewards and avoid punishments ironical and expressed surprise that the writer of the
chapter failed to see that irony. See Lowe, Mo Tzus Religious Blueprint for a Chinese Uto-
pia, 81.
212 hui-chieh loy
note that people were all encouraged by the rewards and intimidated by
the penalties, and followed each other in being worthy
, , (9: 10/21). What is most interesting in these pas-
sages is that whether or not the ancient sage-kings aimed to incentivize
righteousness or worthiness with the promise of material benefits, the tar-
gets of their policy are presented as being so motivated. More generally,
while passages exist in the versions that say or imply that the worthies
are incentivized by the prospect of material benefits, there are none that
present them as being motivated by, for instance, a desire or conviction to
serve the common benefit. This is so even though once they come forward
and are employed, they are presented as working hard at activities that do
serve the common benefit (see 9: 10/2611/2).
In light of the above considerations, the Middle versions discussion of
modern rulers failure to give the worthy a high enough emolument even
while they grant him a high rank (9: 11/13) takes on an added significance.
The ostensible problem is that the people will not have confidence in the
appointed official because of the rulers mixed signals (9: 11/45). Taken by
itself, the passage (and the parallel in the Upper version at 8: 9/3010/2)
need not be construed as saying anything about the motivation of wor-
thies. But the same chapter, just a bit further down, also has the worthy
faced with a high rank that is not matched by the appropriate emolument,
deliberating and saying to himself: This is not to genuinely care about me,
but to make use of me upon a pretext ,
(9: 11/1314). In other words, his concern is framed not in terms of the
proper fulfillment of his duties nor of the common benefiteven though
these are the concerns expressed by the writer of the chapterbut that
he himself has not been properly treated.14
14Yuri Pines comments: Mozi supplies...a more sophisticated justification for enrich-
ing and empowering shi [officers]: these measures are needed not just to attract the wor-
thies but also to clarify to the general populace that these persons of humble origin are
really entitled to lead the people. Plausible as it is, this justification does not deny personal
interest of the shi in riches and ranks; rather it provides an additional reason to satisfy
their desires. See Pines, Envisioning Eternal Empire, 141142. Pines notes that the sober
estimation of shi [officer] inclinations is certainly not exceptional to Mozi. It was generally
shared by the major genii of Zhanguo administrative thought, such as Shang Yang, Shen
Buhai, Han Feizi and the authors of several Guanzi chapters. In this regard, he singles out
the Zhanguo ce as a precious repository of a frequently hidden side of the noble
self-image of the shi. One especially candid passage from it categorically states that the
shi [officers] of All under Heaven...just seek riches and honor for themselves and com-
pares them to dogs, which, if the ruler throws them a bone, will easily rise and bite each
other over the bone (Pines, Envisioning Eternal Empire, 142; see also 142144).
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Nonetheless, the counsel of Shang xian calls exactly for the employ-
ment of a type who can be incentivized toward righteousness (Upper
version) or worthiness (Middle version) by the prospect of material ben-
efits, just like the archers who can be enticed (Lower version) by the
promise of rewards to train hard and come forward. In fact, as far as the
versions are concerned, the employment of such people is the necessary
condition for the maintenance of a flourishing state. The authors of the
different versions of Shang xian do not seem to consider that the mer-
cenary motivation of the worthies might stand in the way of a successful
implementation of the counsel to improve the governance of the states.
If anything, their confidence in the effectiveness of their proposals (e.g.,
relating to how the numbers of worthies employed might be increased)
depends upon them construing the targets of their proposals as being so
motivated. The primary point of potential failure is ostensibly the rulers
inability to effectively incentivize the worthies given their motivation.
Having said the above, we should not hastily identify the perspective
of the worthies as it is presented in Shang xian with the perspective
of the writers of those chapters, or see the latter as endorsing without
qualification the motivations of the very people who are supposed to be
incentivized by their proposals. In this regard, consider the following curi-
ous passage in the Upper Version: after recounting how the ancient sage-
kings promoted righteousness through the promise of material benefits
and the threat of penalties, with the result that all people competed to be
righteous, the writer asks, What was the reason for this? .
To answer this question, he makes the following cryptic remark:
, ; , ,
, , , ,

There is one thing by means of which superiors employ their subordinates;


and there is one craft by means of which subordinates serve their superiors.
This is analogous to the case of the rich man who built his walls high and
left only one gate. If a burglar should enter, the man can close the gate and
search for him, and the burglar has no way to escape. What was the rea-
son for this? It is because the superior controls [lit., got] the vital point.
(8: 9/2628)
Notice that the section ends with another What was the reason for this?
The answer there is that the superior controls the vital point. But the
whole story of the rich man and the burglar is framed to answer the initial
question: why were the ancient sage-kings able to accomplish what they
didhaving people compete to be righteous? A first answer to the initial
214 hui-chieh loy
question can now be stated: because the ancient sage-kings also controlled
the vital point. The explanation of what that means is supposed to be
found in the story of how the rich man successfully dealt with the burglar.
This connection is also signaled by the fact that something in the story
about the rich man and the burglar is supposed to be an analogy for that
one thing by means of which superiors employ their subordinates, one
craft by means of which subordinates serve their superiors. And since
the account of the ancient sage-kings itself continues a discussion on how
the worthies in the employ of the ruler can be made more numerous (8:
9/1118), the story of the rich man and the burglar is thus, presumably,
supposed to throw light on that larger issue as well.
So what is it about the rich man and the burglar that somehow throws
light on the successful policies of the ancient sage-kings? It seems to
be something like this: the rich man has an understanding of what the
burglar wants and his likely courses of action given that motivation. He
consequently shapes the physical environment within which the latter
operates so as to be in a position to counteract the actions of the burglar
and protect his own interests. The combination of high walls and only one
gate serves both to keep the burglar out and also to channel him toward
a predetermined path should he manage to enter. By analogy, the ancient
sage-kings, likewise, had a vital understanding of what people want and
their likely courses of action given that motivation. They consequently
shaped the incentive regime within which the latter conduct their lives so
as to be in a position to advance their interest in encouraging good behav-
ior in people. The advertisement of the promise to reward righteousness
with wealth, honor, and intimacy with the ruler, and the threat to penal-
ize unrighteousness by withholding those same favors, serve both to deter
undesired forms of behavior and also to channel peoples energies toward
desired forms of behavior.
Now, understanding the logic of the passage does not require that we
think of the people who competed to be righteous before the ancient sage-
kings (i.e., candidate worthies in the context of the larger discussion of the
chapter) as so many burglars. The point of the analogy is, presumably,
primarily to instruct the ruler about the vital point that has to be grasped
if he is to successfully control people. Nonetheless, the fact remains that
the worthy and the burglar are meant to be analogies for each other in
their respective scenarios, and that the rich mans success is meant to
throw light on the ancient sage-kings success. In light of this, the choice
of analogy is singularly unflattering to the worthy. One wonders if the
writer is hinting that getting the worthies to apply for positions and then
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fruitfully employing them for the benefit of ones state is like catching a
thiefsomeone attempting to steal from youand turning him around
to work for you instead. And if not that, the passage is at least a subtle
reminder that the worthyas with the burglarhas his own motivations
which, given a suitable situation and when not properly channeled, may
very well bring him into conflict with the interests of the ruler or the com-
mon benefit of the community. Yet the wise ruler may not need to reform
those motivations. Rather, what is needed is that these motivations be
given play within a properly arranged context that is constructed on the
basis of a proper understanding of those motivations, so that they result
in behavior conducive to the rulers interests and the common benefit of
the community.
Be Intimate with the Officers: An Overview
Let us turn now to Qin shi. The following discussion will not cover every
possible detail in the chapter; however, given its relative brevity, all parts
of it will be touched upon. The focus will be on those aspects of the chap-
ters argument especially relevant to exposing the evolution in thinking
that occurred between its writing and the writing of Shang xian. That
Qin shi advocates elevating the worthy (as previously defined) is sig-
naled in the opening lines:
, , ,
, ,
If, upon coming to rule in [lit., entering] a state, one fails to be attentive
to its officers, then one will lose the state. And if, upon seeing the worthies,
one is not anxious to use them, then they will disregard the ruler. Except for
worthies, there are none the ruler should be anxious to use, and except for
officers, there are none with whom the ruler should discuss matters of state.
Someone who, while disregarding the worthies and neglecting the officers, is
able to preserve his state: there has never been such a one. (1: 1/56)
The passage crystallizes in an explicit way the claim made in Shang xian
that the policy of elevating the worthy is a fundamental of governance
(8: 10/13, 9: 13/18, 10: 13/24). It is not just that the policy will benefit
the state: being solicitous toward the worthy officer is a necessary condi-
tion for the ruler to preserve his rule in his state at all.
This is not to say thateven in the opening linesQin shi merely
repeats the basic counsel of Shang xian without any change of focus or
emphasis. After all, the main point of these first lines is not exactly that
216 hui-chieh loy
princes employ the worthies and utilize the officers; rather, what is neces-
sary is for the ruler to have a certain anxiety (or solicitousness)or, as
the chapter title implies, that he should seek intimacy with the worthies.
This seems to go beyond enacting certain policies so that the worthies are
suitably elevated, honored, and rewarded, and so motivated to serve the
state. Exactly what this anxiety requires remains to be seen.
Another important shift in focus or emphasis lies in the relative lack of
elaboration of the counsel to elevate the worthy. At one point, the writer
speaks of how not even familial closeness and prior ties should be allowed
to trump the need for positions and emoluments to match the compe-
tence and accomplishments of the appointees (1: 1/2526). This alludes to
the notion that in employing the worthy and capable, the ruler ought to
disregard the candidates kinship relationship (or lack thereof) with him,
but the point is here made without that elaborate discussion of how this is
the rational thing to do, or how doing the converse is irrational, that one
finds in Shang xian. All in all, the basic counsel to elevate the worthy
does not seem to be something that the chapter intends to argue for as
much as it is something already assumed. In the same way, the writer will
speak of the Way of the impartial king (1: 1/292/1)prob-
ably referring to the doctrine of the Jian ai chapters15without
any further explanation or argument, as if he is assuming that the ideal
of such a Way is uncontroversial. He seems to assume that his audience
possesses a background in the rudiments of Mohist doctrine.
All in all, the chapter seems to belong in a milieu where some version
of the basic counsel that the princes employ the worthy and capable with-
out regard to their background and kinship relationship is no longer as
controversial as it might have been when the different versions of Shang
xian were composed. This suggests that Qin shi was composed later
than the Core Chapters in general and Shang xian in particular.16 It also
suggests that Qin shi is probably not a summary or digest of Shang
xianthe chapter is not concerned to recapitulate the doctrine of elevat-
15See, e.g., Johnston, The Mozi, 9; Zhou Caizhu and Qi Ruiduan, Mozi quanyi, 9; and
Tan Jiajian and Sun Zhongyuan, Mozi jinzhu jinyi, 5.
16After the middle Warring States period, it appears that many if not most rulers had
firmly internalized the notion of the indispensability of the worthy and good shi for their
states well-being.... The idea of elevating the worthy and, more importantly, the end of
the pedigree-based social order became a reality in most of the Warring States.... While
certain thinkers continued to criticize the principle of elevating the worthy...none
suggested reestablishment of the pedigree-based social order. See Pines, Envisioning Eter-
nal Empire, 122123.
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ing the worthy. Rather, as we shall see later, it meant to further develop
the thinking relating to that doctrine.
Another indication of a later date of composition for Qin shi is the
occurrence of two probable anachronisms in the chapter: the references
to Meng Ben and Wu Qi (1: 1/22). Commentators identify Meng
Ben with the Meng Yue briefly mentioned in Sima Qians Shiji, Basic
Annals of Qin. The man served King Wu of Qin (r. 310307 BCE)
and was put to death after being involved in an accident that led to the
kings death.17 Given the dates involved, Sun Yirang notes that the ref-
erence was probably inserted by a later handthat is, someone from
after the time of Mozi (ca. 480390 BCE). A similar case can be made
for the reference to Wu Qi (ca. 440381 BCE), who served King Dao of
Chu (r. 401381 BCE) and was murdered shortly after his patrons
death.18 Commentators estimate that Wu Qi died more than a decade
after Mozi, and consequently surmised that the reference was probably
added by Mozis disciples.19 In both cases, the traditional commentators
presuppose that the historical Mozi was the author of at least part of Qin
shi. But once this assumption is droppedas it is by modern criticsthe
anachronisms fit in with the notion that the chapter as a whole is a later
composition.20
Finally, there is also the suggestive fact that all the positive historical
examples in the chapter are from the more recent history of the Spring
and Autumn and Warring States periods rather than the high antiquity
of the ancient sage-kings. In fact, the chapter as a whole never appeals to
the words and deeds of the ancient sage-kings as sanctioning or ground-
ing the effectiveness of its proposals, which forms a sharp contrast with
the Core Chapters as a whole and Shang xian in particular. This is, again,
consistent with the overall impression that the chapter was composed
later rather than earlier in the Warring States period, by which time the
17See Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu, 5; the reference is in Shiji, 1.209; see also Watson, Sima
Qian: Records of the Grand Historian, 28.
18For Wu Qi, see Shiji, 7.21652169; and Goodrich, Ssu-Ma Chiens Biography of Wu
Chi . A useful collection of anecdotes about Wu Qi can also be found in Sawyer, The
Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, 193202.
19This is the opinion of Wang Zhong (17451794) and Su Shixue (1814
1874), recorded in Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu, 5; Sun himself demurs.
20For example, on reasoning analogous to that of Wang and Su (see previous note),
Zhang Chunyi (18711955) concludes that this chapter was not written by Mozi
himself; see Wang Huanbiao, Mozi jigu, vol. 1, 19.
218 hui-chieh loy
existence of multiple and incompatible narratives of the past had dimin-
ished the appeal of the Way of the sage-kings.21
Returning to the contents of the chapter: if arguing for the basic counsel
that princes elevate the worthy does not appear to be the main point of
Qin shi, then what is the main point? Fortunately, the writer of the chap-
ter explicitly stated his thesis and, in a sense, even organized his chapter
around this thesis. About three quarters through the text, he says:
,
A good talent is hard to command but can make his ruler respected. (1: 1/27)
Two distinct points are being made here. First is the observation or con-
cession that the princes will find it difficult to deal properly with good
talent, referring to the worthies whom they are being asked to employ by
the basic counsel. Second is the insistence that employing such people is
what the princes should do if they want to achieve success. The discus-
sion in the next two sections will propose a closer reading of the part of
the chapter leading up to this central, twofold thesis: for it turns out that
much of it can be seen as a sustained argument in support of the thesis. In
the remaining roughly one quarter of the chapter (1: 1/262/5), the writer
continues to drive home this main point and exhort his princely audience
to take the lesson to heart.
As we shall see below, investigation of the chapters main argument
reveals both continuity with Shang xian and also a divergence from or
development of the latter. The counsel of Qin shi is presented on the
assumption that rulers should be intimate with and employ the worthies
precisely because doing so will benefit their government and, beyond
that, help them achieve fame. The underlying assumption regarding the
rulers motivation is thus continuous with that in Shang xian. With this
in mind, much of the chapter can be seen as offering advice to the rulers
on what they need to do or keep in mind if they are to profitably employ
worthies. It is in the implied analysis of the worthies motivation that Qin
shi departs from Shang xian. This analysis is meant to ground the chap-
ters advice to rulers regarding how best to treat worthies given that the
benefits from employing them are proportionate to the sheer difficulty of
doing so.
21Pines, Envisioning Eternal Empire, 124. The classical statement of the skepticism
regarding appeals to the sagely past because of conflicting appeals to incompatible narra-
tives about that past is in Han Feizi, chap. 50; see Liao, The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu,
vol. 2, 298299. See also Miranda Browns essay in the present volume.
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Be Intimate with the Officers: The Capacity to Endure Humiliation
After opening the chapter with the strong claim that rulers need to be
solicitous of the worthies if they are to preserve their rule at all, the writer
cites the examples of three rulers from history: Lord Wen of Jin
(r. 636628 BCE), Lord Huan of Qi (r. 685643 BCE), and King
Goujian of Yue (r. 496465 BCE):
, , ,

Formerly, Lord Wen was exiled but came to rule the world; Lord Huan left
his state but came to be hegemon over the various princes; King Goujian of
Yue met with humiliation at the hands of the king of Wu but still overawed
the worthy rulers of the Central States. (1: 1/89)
Perusing the traditional accounts regarding these rulers, it seems intuitive
that the writer of Qin shi should want to present them as worthy of emu-
lation: all had been out of power at one point in their lives and in exile
from their home states; but all (re)gained their states and even achieved
fame as successful and powerful rulers who were able to conquer foes and
impose their will upon their neighbors. Most importantly, the three were
well known for having befriended and greatly profited from the service of
talented and loyal followers from the officer class (i.e., the worthies in
the context of the discussion).22 Since the princely audience of Qin shi
would probably have agreed that the three were successful rulers whose
hegemonic achievements they themselves found desirable of emulation,
it follows that the writer of the chapter would have good reason to high-
light the three as positive examples. The above considerations might be
implied, but are not explicitly voiced in the text at all. Instead, the explicit
lesson drawn from mentioning the three is as follows:
22For Lord Huan and his most prominent minister, Guan Zhong , who was instru-
mental in the rise of Qi as a great power, see Rosen, In Search of the Historical Kuan
Chung; and John Knoblocks useful summary of the sources in his Xunzi, vol. 2, 5356. As
Knoblock puts it: The significant accomplishment of Duke Huans career was to recognize
the uncommon merits of Guan Zhong (54). For Lord Wen and the company of talented
men (and women) who accompanied him into exile or assisted his return to power, see
Zuozhuan, Lord Xi 23.46; and Watson, The Tso Chuan, chaps. 1112. A helpful collection
of the early sources for Goujian and his loyal supporters Wen Zhong and Fan Li
is Cohen, Speaking to History, chap. 1, The Goujian Story in Antiquity. This is not the
only instance in the Mozi where a series of historical examples are not cited in chronologi-
cal order; see, e.g., 16: 29/2530 (cf. 15: 26/17). But the writer of the chapter is probably
less interested in the exact details of the careers of these three men as rulers than he is in
appealing to them as stock examples of rulers who turned misfortune into success.
220 hui-chieh loy
,
The reason these three men were able to extend their names and become
successful in the world is because they all endured repression and great
humiliation in their states. (1: 1/9)
The overtas opposed to merely impliedexplanation for the success of
the three is not the fact that they employed worthy and capable people
but that they endured repression and great humiliation.
Indeed, the traditional accounts regarding the three rulers record
that they suffered various indignities when out of power. Lord Wen, for
instance, in his wanderings from state to state encountered rulers who
treated him without ritual propriety (including one who spied on him
when he was bathing) and was even once offered a clod of earth by some
peasants when he begged for food. If tradition is to be believed, King
Goujian suffered the worst humiliations of the three. After having been
defeated by his rival King Fuchai of Wu (r. 495473 BCE), he
and his wife served the latter as slaves for three years before they were
allowed to return to their home state of Yue. To curry favor with the king
of Wu to secure his release, Goujian went so far as to taste the kings stool
to diagnose the latters sickness when he fell ill.23 So one thing that the
text could be saying with the examples is that the three rulers achieved
their success because they were able to bide their time while enduring
great humiliations, waiting for an opportune time to make their come-
back.24 On this reading, it is their ability to endure repression and humili-
ation that is worthy of emulation by the ruler who aspires to great things.
But this cannot be the whole story.
A minor point first: the inconveniences that Lord Huan underwent
were hardly repression and great humiliationa brief sojourn of about
a year in a neighboring petty principality before the murder of the ruler
(his cousin) allowed him to return with an armed escort to claim the
throne. Even if the previous explanation works for the cases of King Gou-
jian and Lord Wen, it does not work in his case. More importantly, the
text speaks of the rulers enduring repression and great humiliation in
their stateswith the probable implication that they were in power at
the timewhereas most of the indignities the three experienced were
23Note that Goujians supposed sojourn as a slave in Wu may be a later invention,
which also means that if the chapter is alluding to those supposed events at all, it has
to have been composed later in the Warring States period. I thank Yuri Pines for this
observation.
24See Wang Huanbiao, Mozi jigu, 4.
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suffered when they were outside their states and out of power. Finally,
consider the next line of the text:
, ,
Greatest is to have never been defeated; next is to be defeated yet use that
to become successful. This is what is meant by [properly] employing the
people. (1: 1/910)
Taken on its own, the phrase [properly] employing the people (yong
min ) gives the impression that it is all about the rulers ability to
marshal and use the people at large in their states. This seems to be the
predominant sense of the phrase as it is used in other texts of the period.25
But if the chapter so far hangs together at all, and unless we want to say
that the text is introducing a wholly different topic of discussion at this
point, it seems much more plausible to see the phrase as referring to the
rulers employment of the worthies.26 It might be the case that, for the
author, the proper employment of the worthies is but a specific applica-
tion of the more general category of employing the people. The phrase
might also relate to the claim in the Upper version of Shang xian that
princes should promote capable individuals even if they are from among
the farmers and artisans (8: 9/30).27 Whatever the case may be, there is
supposed to be some connection between a rulers ability to befriend and
use talented peopleto successfully employ the worthyand his abil-
ity to endure repression and great humiliation in his state. The previous
explanation does not account properly for this connection.
Leaving aside the above interpretive puzzle for now, consider the next
part of the chapter. The text shifts to talking explicitly in the first person
and adds a new character to the discussion: the gentleman .
25The phrase yongmin is also found in such texts as the Guanzi, Zhuangzi,
Shangjun shu, Han Feizi, and Lshi chunqiu. It is also the title of a whole chapter in the
Lshi chunqiu, 19.4. But as far as I can tell, the occurrence in Qin shi (also the sole occur-
rence in the Mozi) is the only one that comes close to demanding an interpretation saying
that it is not about the employment of the people in general but about the employment
of the shi in particular. In the Lshi chunqiu chapter, for instance, Guan Zhong, a shi
employed by Lord Huan, is cited as an example of someone who knew how to yongmin.
See Knoblock and Riegel, The Annals of L Buwei, 490.
26See also Zhou Caizhu and Qi Ruiduan, Mozi quanyi, 4 n. 7, which explains the phrase
as to employ worthy talented people . Sun Yirang tries to have it both ways:
This is to say that because they were intimate with the officers, they were able to employ
their people. See Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu, 2.
27Thanks to Carine Defoort for suggesting this possibility.
222 hui-chieh loy
:, ,
, , ,
,
I have heard it said: It is not for lack of a peaceful abode, but because I lack
a peaceful heart. It is not for lack of sufficient wealth, but because I lack a
satisfied [lit., sufficient] heart. And so the gentleman is hard on himself
but easy on others, while the man of the multitude is easy on himself but
hard on others. The gentleman when advancing [in the world] does not
compromise his aspirations; when retreating he investigates the facts of the
matter, and even if he might be mixed up with the vulgar, he remains with-
out resentment in his heart to the end. For that one is someone who has
confidence in himself. (1: 1/1012)
One crucial interpretive question to be answered is who is the I that
speaks in the above passage? He seems to be identified with the gentle-
man who appears in the passage. This identification is suggested by the
use of the same I have heard...And so... (......) formula to
introduce the manifesto and describe the characteristic conduct of the
hypothetical actors in the Caretaker and Ruler thought experiments
in the Lower version of Jian ai.28 In other words, the lines following the
initial I have heard it said constitute the manifesto of the gentleman,
and the lines after the and so describe his characteristic conduct. The
question now becomes: who is this gentleman?
In the Mozi Core Chapters gentleman and sometimes officer-gentleman
normally refer to a social position rather than (as in the case of,
e.g., the Mencius) an ethical category; these individuals are not always
28In making this point, I am taking the quotation of what the gentleman said as end-
ing with . This is not the only possible punctuation, since the quotation could
also end further downfor instance, with . (Thanks to Michael Nylan for
pointing this out to me.) Nonetheless, my preferred punctuation follows that adopted by
Sun Yirang. It is also suggested by the parallel construction in the Lower version of Jian
ai introducing the manifestos and describing the characteristic conduct of various hypo-
thetical actors in the Caretaker and Ruler thought experiments (see 16: 27/2928/4 and
16: 28/1319). Let us take one particular example: the jian shi (impartial officer; 16:
28/14). As with the gentleman in Intimacy with Officers, the text here introduces his
manifesto by a and even has him begin it with the same . After presenting that
manifesto (I have heard that the one who is a superior officer of the world will surely
care for the well-being of his friend as he does his own...), the text then introduces a
description of his conduct with , as in the case of Intimacy with Officers (And so
when he sees that his friends are hungry, he feeds them...). The passage also takes pains
to insist that as the words [yan ; maxim] of the impartial officer are such, such is his
conduct and that his words and conduct fit together like the two halves of a tally. The
labels Caretaker and Ruler were assigned by Van Norden in his A Response to the
Mohist Arguments in Impartial Caring.
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distinguished from the other members of the aristocratic elite.29 The terms
are also often used in a sarcastic sensewhich was how the officer-gen-
tleman appeared in the Lower version of Shang xian (see 10: 14/67, 10:
14/1516), for instance. In contrast, the gentleman here in Qin shi seems
to be the bearer of an ideal set of attitudes and pattern of behaviorthat
laid out in his manifesto and characteristic manner of conduct. With this
in mind, the earlier question Who is the gentleman? might be better
framed as Whose perspective is the gentlemans manifesto and charac-
teristic conduct supposed to represent as an ideal to which that person
aspires or ought to aspire?
One option would be to see the gentlemans point of view as represent-
ing the ideal to which the princes do (or so the writer pretends) or, more
likely, are invited to aspire. Such an interpretation would preserve the
flow of the chapter so farthere would be no shift in focus that demands
special explanation since everything in the chapter up to this point can
be read as addressed by the writer to his princely audience.30 But there
are incongruities. For instance, it would be hyperbolic for the gentlemans
predicament to be spoken of in terms of the rulers having to endure
repression and great humiliation in their states mentioned earlier. It is
also odd to think of the likes of Wen, Huan, Goujian, and those who aspire
to their achievements as people who seek to be gentlemen, who do not
resent being mixed up with the vulgar, as opposed to, for example, peo-
ple who desire to rule All under Heaven and govern the various lords
and have their way in the world and leave a name for all generations
(recall 9: 13/1718).
What about the worthies and officers mentioned at the beginning of
the chapter? That is, the perspective described by the gentlemans mani-
festo and characteristic conduct is meant to represent the ideal to which
these people aspire (i.e., if they count as worthy at all). If so, then the ideal
presented in the gentlemans manifesto and characteristic conduct is not
what we might have come to expect of the worthies given the way they
were portrayed in Shang xian, that is, people whose loyalty and service
are incentivized by the prospect of such worldly goods as wealth, honor,
29Hsu Cho-yun comments that the shift in what it means to be a shi (see above, n. 1)
parallels a similar transformation in the term junzi, which originally meant son of the
lord, but which gradually came to refer to any person of moral refinement. See Hsu Cho-
yun ,The Spring and Autumn Period., 583 n. 113.
30See, e.g., Wang Huanbiao, Mozi jigu, 6; and Zhou Caizhu and Qi Ruiduan, Mozi
quanyi, 45.
224 hui-chieh loy
and power. Neither a peaceful abode nor sufficient wealth is enough to
give the gentleman of Qin shi a peaceful or satisfied heart: he aspires to
higher things. In fact, neither worldly success nor its opposite will cause
him to compromise on his commitments to his ideals. And in all these,
the gentleman holds himself to a mode of conduct that sets him apart
fromand abovethe majority of men.
Interestingly, the gentleman in Qin shitaken as representing the
ideals of the worthiesbears a certain resemblance to a type that has,
over the course of time, become associated with the teachings of Confu-
cius and his successors. Like the gentleman of the Analects, he is not satis-
fied with material comforts (Analects 1.14) and refuses to look upon mere
emoluments and, by extension, worldly rewards in general as proper moti-
vation for political service (Analects 15.32). He does not resent it when his
abilities are unacknowledged and not put to use (Analects 1.1). And much
like the idealized officer of the Mencius, he is also distinguished from the
common run of men, who can be expected to compromise and go astray
unless supported by a constant livelihood (Mencius 1A7). Instead, like
the Mencian Great Man (da ren ), he appears to enjoy a degree
of moral self-sufficiency and even a sense of moral superiority to both
the common people and (implicitly) the rulers (Mencius 3B2). Finally,
he is also reminiscent of Xunzis description of the gentleman as noble
though without rank, wealthy though without emolument, flourishing
though abiding in poverty, and contented though alone.31 This resonance
between the gentlemans manifesto and characteristic conduct and a cer-
tain ideal type found in such texts as the Analects, Mencius, and Xunzi
is very likely the reason, as Sun Yirang and Y. P. Mei report it, that later
scholars considered the contents of Qin shi to be close to the doctrines
of the Confucians.32
But leaving aside the question of how later generations came to see
Qin shi as having a Confucian provenance, let us return to the interpre-
tive hypothesis that the perspective described by the gentlemans mani-
festo and characteristic conduct is meant to represent the ideal to which
the worthies aspire. I believe that this is the hypothesis that makes the
best overall sense of the text. In fact, this hypothesis will also allow us to
make sense of the as-yet-unexplained connection between the successful
31See the listed passages in, e.g., Lau, The Analects; Lau, Mencius; and Knoblock,
Xunzi, vol. 2, 74 (The Teachings of the Ru, 8.6).
32See also Pines, Envisioning Eternal Empire, 125127, 130131, 145152.
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rulers ability to employ the worthy and his ability to endure repression
and great humiliation in his state. But rather than argue for the truth of the
above hypothesis directly, let us consider how the chapter as a whole reads
given this hypothesis. For given the self-presentation of the worthies in
the guise of the gentleman as an interpretive hypothesis, the earlier com-
ments about the three successful rulers can now be seen in anew light.
Be Intimate with the Officers: The Difficulties of Employing Talent
One implication of adopting this interpretive hypothesis is that the ruler
who wants to employ worthiespeople who, while mixed up with the
vulgar, nonetheless see themselves as aspiring to be gentlemenneeds
to possess a certain adroitness that goes beyond what is required of the
ruler in Shang xian. In those chapters, the crucial problem was that the
ruler may find it difficult to part with wealth, honors, or power, and this
might be the reason that the writers of those chapters take extra pains to
reassure him that being liberal with certain worldly goods is conducive to
the advancement of his own interests and ambitions. The difficulty facing
the ruler highlighted in Qin shi, in contrast, concerns the self-esteem
of the rulers pitted against the pride of the gentleman.
By insisting that he is above the prospect of material rewards, ranks,
or even the possession of political power, the gentleman proclaims his
deeply felt superiority vis--vis both common people and ruler. That the
gentleman is presented as deeply self-aware is highlighted not only by the
comment that he has confidence in himself (zi xin ) but also by,
for instance, the explicitly self-referential nature of his manifesto: note
the multiple first-person personal pronouns in its formulation (1: 1/1012).
The writer builds into his presentation of the gentleman the self-image of
someone who thinks of himself as a gentleman or at least is aspiring to
be one: this self-aware moral superiority is the basis of his confidence in
himself.
The above suggests that the ruler who wants to fruitfully employ and
motivate such a person will have to treat him with a degree of deference,
which is not just a matter of showering him with material benefits, even if
those prerequisites are assumed: he is dealing with one who sees himself as
above such incentives. In fact, the ruler will have to treat him with a defer-
ence that implicitly concedes the latters sense of his own superiority and
has to be perceived as such by the worthy. Concrete illustrations of what
such deference demands are, in fact, suggested by the immediate sequel:
226 hui-chieh loy
, ,
33 , ,
, , ,
, , , , ,
: ,

And so one who undertakes that which he regards as difficult is bound to


get what he desires therein. I have never heard of one who does what he
desires yet avoided what he abhors. Thus, pushy ministers set straight the
ruler, but fawning subordinates damage their superiors. A ruler must have
a naysaying minister, and a superior must have plainspoken subordinates.
When those who engage in open debate are persistent in presenting their
views and those who privately advise34 are plainspoken, then can the lives
of people be prolonged and the state protected. If ministers hold their rank
and positions dear and so do not speak out, or if ministers close by are silent
and those more distant sigh, or if resentment builds up in peoples hearts,
or toadying and flattery abide by [the rulers] side while wise counsels are
obstructed, then the state is in danger. Did not Jie and Zhou lose the support
of the worlds officers? They lost their own lives and All under Heaven. Thus,
it is said: presenting treasures worthy of a state is not as good as recom-
mending the worthy and advancing officers. (1: 1/1418)
The employment of worthy officers preserves the state: which is why
their service is more valuable than mere treasures. This is so presum-
ably because the worthies often possess wisdom capable of correcting the
erroneous conceptions of their ruler, which, if left unchecked, could lead
to policy mistakes. But such wisdom can be effective in bringing about
successful governance only to the extent that the officers who possess it
are willing to speak their minds in counseling the rulers, and the rulers
are willing to accept their correction.
With respect to the first, the writer points out that ministers and sub-
ordinates who put great store by their own personal advantagerather
than, say, subscribe to the high-minded gentlemanly ideal described
earlierare likely to keep silent rather than brave the rulers ire in offer-
ing frank counsel. The second point implies that the ruler will at times
have to defer to subordinates who are not shy of disagreeing with him.
While the text here does not speak directly of the sort of attitude that
rulers ought to take, its extended description of the useful subordinates
behaviorpushy (rather than fawning), naysaying, plainspoken,
33Following Zhang Chunyi (in Wang Huanbiao, Mozi jigu, 8) in emending to .
34The line is obscure; my translation follows Zhou Caizhu and Qi Ruiduan, Mozi
quanyi; and Johnston, The Mozi, 5.
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and persistent in presenting their viewsand the crucial insistence that
it is only when such behavior is given free play that the state can flourish,
reveal much about what the ruler has to put up with if he wants to profit
from employing the worthies.35 Consider also the next series of analogies
and historical examples:
, , , ,
, , , , ;
, ; , , , ,

Now suppose there are five awls and this is the most pointed onethe most
pointed one is bound to be the first to be broken. Suppose there are five
blades and this is the keenestthe keenest one is certainly the first to be
dulled. For the same reason the sweet well is the first to be used up, the
attractive tree is the first to be felled, the efficacious tortoise is the first to
be burned, and the magical serpent is the first to be dried in the sun. And so
Bi Gans being cut into pieces was due to his unbending ways; Meng Bens
death was due to his bravery; Xi Shis drowning was due to her beauty; Wu
Qis being torn asunder was due to his [successful] conduct of affairs. Hence,
among those people [i.e., like those just mentioned] there are few who did
not die because of what they were good at. Thus, it is said that the zenith
is difficult to maintain. (1: 1/2023)
Bi Gan was an upright minister serving King Zhou , the notorious
last ruler of the Shang dynasty, already mentioned in the previous quo-
tation. Bi was cruelly put to death by the king for remonstrating against
the excesses of his ruler.36 Meng Ben , or Meng Yue as he is
known from the Basic Annals of Qin, was a man noted for his physi-
cal strength and served King Wu of Qin, himself a powerful man who
loved feats of strength (see above). The king died after injuring himself
in a cauldron-lifting contest with Meng Yue, and as a result, Meng and his
family were put to death. Xi Shi was the famed beauty whom King
Goujian presented to King Fuchai of Wu as part of a stratagem to weaken
the latter. According to an ancient tradition, she was drowned (or perhaps
committed suicide by drowning) on the order of Goujian after he success-
fully destroyed Wu.37 Finally, Wu Qi was a capable military strate-
gist and statesman credited with reforming the state of Chu under King
35Similar arguments can be found in the Xunzi, 13.2 The Way of the Minister, which
also cites the example of Bi Gan. See Knoblock, Xunzi, vol. 2, 198199.
36See, e.g., Lau, Mencius, appendix 4, Ancient History as Understood by Mencius; and
Lshi chunqiu 2/5.5, 13/5.1, 23/4.1b.
37See Mozi jiaozhu, 7 n. 32; and Johnston, The Mozi, 7 n. iii.
228 hui-chieh loy
Dao. Because those reforms strengthened the position of the royal house
against the old aristocracy, Wu Qi incurred considerable hatred. He was
murdered by the old aristocracy after the death of his patron king.38
Although I am unable to conclusively determine exactly how each of
the characters mentioned is supposed to feature in the context of the
argument of the passage, the overall point of the stories is clear enough
since the conclusion is explicitly stated: these people all died because of
what they excelled in. Just as it is the sharpest awl thatbeing most use-
ful and thus repeatedly usedis the one to be broken first, and so on,
so Bi Gan died a cruel death precisely because of his virtue of principled
obstinacy in remonstrating against the excesses of his ruler, and Wu Qi
was murdered by the old aristocracy because the highly effective reforms
he initiated incurred their wrath.
Within the context of the main argument of the chapter, one point of the
passage is to emphasize that the likes of Bi Gan and Wu Qi are the human
equivalents of well-honed instruments and prized natural resourcesin
the parlance of modern management science, they are human resource
assetsthat the ruler should learn to carefully husband. But there is
also an implied dis-analogy as well: the deaths of the four are not exactly
like the sharpest awl getting broken or the sweetest well becoming dry
because of heavy use. Rather, the four were put to death because the very
manifestation of their abilities brought about deadly resentment in the
ruler or other members of the ruling elite. (Though, to be fair, the exam-
ples of Bi Gan and Wu Qi make this point better than the other two do.)
This is a chilling reminder that in the opposition between the ruler and
his pushy, naysaying, plainspoken officials who are persistent in pre-
senting their views, the ruler often has the final say in the sense that he
can always put a stop to further remonstration by force. But since a ruler
who readily does such things can expect to have only subordinates who
would rather keep silent than brave the rulers ire in offering frank coun-
sel (1: 1/16) and can expect to eventually lose the support of the worlds
officers (1: 1/17), the enlightened ruler will have to desist if he truly wants
to derive a profit from the employment of his human resource assets. In
38Note, however, that according to Sima Qian (Shiji 7.2168), the aristocrats shot Wu Qi
with arrows. The author of the chapter may have confused Wu Qis mode of death with
that of Shang Yang, who was put to death by being dismembered by chariots (7.2237).
If that is the case, then this is yet another sign that the writer is somewhat hazy about
the actual events, an indication of the lateness of the chapter. I thank Yuri Pines for the
observation.
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fact, he will have to do more than desist: he will have to encourage and
live with the very pushiness, naysaying, plain-speaking, and persistence
that moved King Zhou to order Bi Gans heart removed.
We are now in a better position to appreciate not only what the writer
is asking the ruler to do in undertaking what the latter regards as dif-
ficult so as to get what he desires therein (1: 1/14) but also the extent
of the solicitousness that is being demanded of the prince in the opening
lines of the chapter (1: 1/56). More importantly, the above also throws
light on how the successful rulers employment of worthy and talented
people gets connected with his having to endure repression and humili-
ation in his own state (1: 1/8)the writer was merely being candid.
Here, keep in mind also the assumption throughout that the perspec-
tive described by the gentlemans manifesto and characteristic conduct
(1: 1/1012) is meant to represent the ideal to which the worthies aspire:
that portrayal can now be seen as implying an explanation as to why the
worthy is both so hard to command (1: 1/27) and a true human resource
asset. The thought is that, on the one hand, the worthys self-confident
sense of his own moral superiority makes him, as someone who thinks
lightly of mere personal advantage, more capable and willing to brave the
rulers ire in offering frank counsel. But, on the other hand, that same self-
confidence, especially when expressed in uncompromising remonstration
opposing the rulers wishes, can often generate deadly resentment in the
heart of a ruler unwilling or unable to endure repression and humiliation
in his own state.
All of the above leads inexorably to the punch line:
, ; , ; ,

A good bow is hard to draw but can reach high and pierce deep; a good
horse is hard to guide but can carry a heavy load and travel far. [So like-
wise] a good talent is hard to command but can make his ruler respected.
(1: 1/2627)
The references to the good bow and the good horse as analogues of
the good talent continue the motif that the worthy is the human equiva-
lent of well-honed instruments and prized natural resources that the ruler
should learn to carefully husband. As the writer of the chapter has been
arguing, properly utilizing these assets is a difficult thing that goes against
the natural inclination and pride of the ruler. But as the series of analogies
now emphasizes, the usefulness of these assets is directly proportionate
to the difficulty of using them.
230 hui-chieh loy
It is precisely the good bows resistance to being drawn that makes
it a powerful device capable of propelling a projectile with great force:
the greater that resistance (the draw weight), the greater the amount
of stored potential energy when drawn and the greater the amount of
kinetic energy imparted to the arrow when released. The analogy of the
good horse is rather more forced than that of the bow, but the main point
seems clear enough: to the extent that a horse is goodcapable of carry-
ing a heavy load and possessing great enduranceit will also be one that
is not for the neophyte rider, unable to control and make proper use of
the great strength of the beast. And so it is likewise with the good talent,
the worthy who sees himself as aspiring to be a gentleman: the reason
why employing such a person benefits the ruler, is also the reason why
it is so hard to command him. And conversely, only the ruler capable of
commanding the worthyenduring repression and great humiliation in
his own state in the process, if it comes to thatcan look forward to the
greatest success and deserve the greatest praise.
As mentioned early on, the remaining roughly one quarter of the chap-
ter (1: 1/262/5) is mostly concerned with driving home the main thesis of
the chapters argument and exhorting the princely audience to take the
lesson offered to heart. Here, two practical matters present themselves.
First, the ruler, if he truly aspires to the ideal of being an impartial king
(jian wang ), cannot afford to listen only to those who already agree
with him; he must be ready to accept the advice and opinion of those
who disagree with him (1: 1/292/1). The point is already implied by earlier
arguments (1: 1/1415). Second, the ruler is encouraged to spread his kingly
generosity and favor beyond the confines of the palace lest he prove
unable to influence the wider world of his state (1: 2/5). Within the con-
text of the chapter, the point is probably that worthy and capable people
who are able to benefit the state can hardly come only from among those
who are already close to the ruler (e.g., from among his close kinsmen).
The wise ruler will cast his net widely.
But apart from the above more practical points, one way to think about
the burden of this part of the chapter is to understand the writer as say-
ing: given the conclusion of my main argument (worthies are hard to
employ, but employing them is the way to successful rule), the following
are things you ought to keep firmly in mind. One is the thought that just
as it is because the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers do not despise the little
streams that fill them that they can become great (1: 1/27), so likewise, the
ruler cannot afford to make light of the contributions that the worthies
can make to further the power of his state. But more important is the
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converse point: to the degree to which the employment of the worthies
has enlarged the power of his state, the rulers own part will necessarily
diminish. That is, the ruler needs to be fully aware that the successful state
is the work of many hands and his own part will only be just that, a part
of a much larger wholejust as the water of the great Yangtze and Yellow
Rivers does not come from a single source, and the lavish fur garment is
not made from the white fur of a single snow fox (1: 1/2829).
Finally, as if to reassure his audience that a ruler who follows the counsel
of the chapter will not thereby detract from his princely prerogatives, the
writer points out that even the things that are uncontrovertibly great
Heaven and Earth, Great Waters, Great Firesneed not always mani-
fest their greatness in obvious and visible ways; so likewise kingly virtue
need not always appear exalted (1: 2/3). One wonders if, having already
made the more shocking point that the proper employment of the wor-
thies ultimately requires that rulers learn to endure repression and great
humiliation in their states, the writer now feels the need to pull back a lit-
tle so as to make his counsel more palatable. That is, what is being asked
of the prince is not really repression and humiliation but, rather, kingly
virtue manifested in a more subtle, less obvious way.
Conclusion
As indicated above, if the perspective described by the gentlemans mani-
festo and characteristic conduct is meant to represent the ideal to which
the worthies aspire, then it would seem that the worthies of Qin shi are
a rather different sort than their counterparts in Shang xian. The latter
appear moved to enter government service and to remain at their posts
primarily by the promise of honor, wealth, and power. In fact, the recom-
mendations made in those chapters relating to how the rulers could best
attract them to service depend upon construing the targeted people as
being so motivated. Consequently, the primary point of potential failure is
supposed to be the rulers practical irrationality. In contrast, the primary
point of potential failure in Qin shi is the rulers pride: their resentment
at having to put up with the worthies outspokenness, an outspokenness
that is all the more galling because it is fueled by their self-confident sense
of moral superiority. This shift regarding what might cause rulers to fail
to properly elevate the worthy is itself grounded in a change in the way
the worthies are construed: they are now people who see themselves as
living according to high ideals that cannot be compromised by the mere
prospect of worldly goods.
232 hui-chieh loy
I believe that the changes constitute an improvement on the part of
Qin shi over Shang xian in the sense that the formers construal of the
worthies motivation explains more. Consider the worthies dedication to
promoting the common benefit of the state. For instance, according to the
Middle version of Shang xian:
, , ..., ,
, ..., ,
, .
As for how the worthies govern the state: they start early and retire late
hearing lawsuits and attending to the government.... As for how the wor-
thies administer their offices: they go to sleep late and wake up early col-
lecting taxes from the passes, markets, and produce from mountains, woods,
waters, and land to fill the official coffers.... As for how the worthies manage
the districts: they go out before sunrise and return after sunset [probably:
supervising the activities of] plowing and sowing, planting and cultivating,
and gathering harvests of grains. (9: 10/2628)
The result is that the states criminal-justice system is orderly, the courts
coffers are full, the people are wealthy, and even Heaven and the spir-
its benefit (see 9: 10/2830). The Upper and Lower versions of Shang
xian do not enlarge upon the dedication of the worthies to serving the
state, but unless something similar is being assumed, it is mysterious why
employing them in government would result in the state being wealthy,
well populated, and well ordered (8: 9/7, 10: 13/23). And yet why the wor-
thies behave consistently in the described mannerworking for the good
of the state at the expense of some cost to personal comfort and well-
beingis not something any of the versions of Shang xian discuss. In
fact, the worthies dedication and willingness to sacrifice their personal
comfort and well-being is somewhat puzzling if they were really as mer-
cenary in motivation as they are presented in these chapters.
In contrast, the worthies of Qin shi, motivated as they are by their
high gentlemanly ideal, seem more plausible candidates for the sorts who
would be willing to dedicate themselves to the service of the common
benefit in the way described in Shang xian. The insight that the writer
of Qin shi is urging can thus be phrased in the following manner: pre-
cisely if the basic counsel propounded by Shang xian is to lead to the
advertised benefits as presented in those chapterswealth and order
for the states (8: 9/7, 10: 13/23), fame for the ruler (9: 13/1718)Shang
xian has at best given an incomplete, if not defective, understanding of
what it takes for the counsel to work. The analysis of Qin shi constitutes
an improvement over Shang xian in the sense that it presents a more
sophisticated (and more realistic) understanding of the psychology of the
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233
worthies, on the basis of which it puts forward a more nuanced way to
effectively implement the basic counsel to elevate the worthy.39
In light of the above, Qin shi cannot be properly considered a sum-
mary or digest of Shang xian. As mentioned earlier, the former takes
for granted the cogency of the policy to elevate the worthy so much so
that it never bothers to directly argue for that policy. We have also seen
how the worthies as they are presented in this chapter are rather different
from their counterparts in Shang xian. In addition, I have also suggested
several arguments concerning its content that indicate the chapters late
date. Rather than an appendix to Shang xian or a chapter of non-
Mohist provenance, Qin shi presents a striking further development
in Mohist political thought. Its vision of a worthy who is reminiscent of
a Confucian gentleman suggests the interaction of the authors of the
chapter with other schools of thought, interactions that may also explain
some of the impetus for the development in Mohist ideas. Nonetheless,
this is a development that is meant to further the Mohist goal that rulers
adopt the basic policy that is expounded so forcefully in Shang xian. The
more complex understanding of the motivations of the worthies is in the
service of a more effective way to implement the basic counsel to elevate
the worthies.
There are also other lines of continuity with ideas in the larger Mohist
corpus. Although the gentlemen of Qin shi differ from the worthies in
Shang xian, there are still interesting points of contact between the two.
Consider that neither the worthy of Shang xian nor his gentlemanly
counterpart of Qin shi act straightforwardly from a desire to bring about
the impartial benefit of all; that is, neither acts from a commitment to the
call to be impartially concerned for the welfare of people without distinc-
tion of self and others, associates and strangers (as advocated in the Jian
ai chapters). The former is moved by the promise of wealth and honor;
the latter acts from a deeply felt concern to live up to a certain self-image
that forms the basis of his confidence in his own moral superiority vis--vis
both common people and ruler. This is to say, not that the gentleman
of Qin shi so described does not care about other people, but that any
concern he has (and it is a very strong one) is mediated by an underlying
concern that he lives up to that self-image.
39Given the tradition that there were different sects of Mohists, it is also possible that
this development is a result of internal disagreements among Mohists. I thank Miranda
Brown for pointing this out to me.
234 hui-chieh loy
In this regard, it is thus fitting that the writer of Qin shi should con-
clude the statement of the gentlemans manifesto and the associated
description of his characteristic conduct by referring to the gentleman
with the pronominal bi (1: 1/12), that one, as if distancing himself from
him. It is that one who has confidence in himself. A subtle distinction
between the point of view of the writer and the perspective of the gentle-
man he is talking about is thus maintained. In maintaining that distinc-
tion, the writer hints at a crucial point of continuity between the subtexts
of his chapter and of Shang xian: there is an aspect of the Mohist prac-
tical political project whose success does not straightforwardly depend
upon people becoming doctrinal Mohists or adopting Mohist attitudes.
What matters is that they come toor are incentivized or manipulated
todo the right thing. This general point is candidly articulated in the
following story from the Dialogues in the Mozi:
, , :

, ,
:,
:,
, :,
,
, ,
There was a man who traveled to Master Mozis school. He was strong in
body and sharp in mind, and the master wanted him to stay and study.
Master Mozi said: If you study for a while, I shall make you an official. The
man was persuaded by these fine words and became a student. After a full
year had passed, he demanded an official position from Master Mozi. Master
Mozi said: I havent got you an official position. But have you not heard the
story of the men of Lu? In Lu, there were five brothers. Their father died,
but the older brother loved wine and would not attend to the funeral. His
four younger brothers told him that if he carried out the funeral for them,
they would definitely buy him wine. He was persuaded by these fine words
and carried out the funeral. After the funeral, he demanded wine from his
four younger brothers. But the four younger brothers said to him: We will
not give you wine. You buried your father and we buried our father. Was
he only our father? If you had not buried him, people would have laughed
at you. Therefore, we persuaded you to bury him. Now you are righteous
and I am also righteous. Am I the only one who is righteous? If you had not
studied, people would have laughed at you. Therefore, I persuaded you to
study. (48: 110/510)40
40Translation from Johnston, The Mozi, 691693, slightly emended.
from

elevate the worthy

to

intimacy with officers

235
From the point of view of the Mozi in the storyand that of the four
younger brothers in the story within the storythere is something that
someone ought to do (the strong man ought to study with Mozi; the eldest
brother ought to bury his father). Yet both Mozi and the younger brothers
understood from the start that the person who needs to do the required
thing is unlikely to do it without suitable inducements: in one case it is the
prospect of an official position, with the unspoken implication of wealth
and honor attached, and in the other case, the prospect of wine.
Now, presumably, just as the younger brothers did not think that the
reason one ought to bury ones dead father was so that one could then
have a good drink, the Mozi of the story did not think that the reason one
ought to study was so that one could become an official. They would thus
have to concede that their (Mozi, the younger brothers) concerns were
not shared by their opposite numbers (the strong man, the elder brother).
Nonetheless, neither Mozi nor the younger brothers tried to convince the
strong man or the elder brother that they ought to have the proper con-
cerns. Instead, they made promises which turned out to be insincere but
achieved the desired result of motivating the required behavior on the
part of the strong man and the elder brother. And these promises were
effective because they were based upon a realistic appreciation of what
would actually move their targets to action.
The crucial thing is that as far as Mozi and the younger brothers were
concerned, the strong man and the elder brother did not need to share
the right perspective on things so long as they could be made to do the
right thingif necessary, by lies and manipulation. Whether and how
often such tactics really do result in good outcomes (and whatever our
own opinion concerning their moral acceptability), the point made in the
passage is that the ends justify the means: the Mozi of the story unabash-
edly referred to what he did (manipulating the strong man) as righteous.
Returning to Shang xian and Qin shi, the implication is that with the
right sort of incentives, those who are otherwise primarily interested in
wealth, rank, and power can be put to useful work for the benefit of the
state; and even one who would later come to be known as a Confucian
gentleman, can do his part in a Mohist scheme of things to advance the
common benefit, provided that the ruler can handle him with the requi-
site adroitness.
But it is not just that the writer of Qin shi maintains a distance between
his point of view and the point of view of his gentleman: one wonders if
ultimately he can only be ambivalent about the latters attitude. From the
236 hui-chieh loy
point of view of a commitment to impartially promote the benefit of the
world and to eliminate the harms to the world, the moral scruples of the
gentleman as he is presented in Qin shi constitute at best unnecessary
squeamishness and, at worst, a potential obstacle to that conjunction of
talent and political power that is necessary for the proper ordering of the
world. One cannot help but wonder if, from the perspective of the impar-
tial benefit of all, the self-focused attitude of the moral gentleman is but
another form of that preference for ones own well-being that can bring
about great harm to the world.
HEAVEN AS A STANDARD
Nicolas Standaert*
The concept of tian (Heaven) is often considered to be one of the key
concepts in Mozis thought. Seen from a diachronic perspective, however,
there is a clear evolution in its use throughout the Mozi. For instance,
while the concept is nearly absent in the oldest Triplets of the Core Chap-
ters, in the youngest it is very often explicitly adopted in the argumenta-
tion. It is as though Mozi adduces Heaven as the ultimate argument in
defense of his core ideas. This is confirmed by chapters 26, 27, and 28,
the Tian zhi (Will of Heaven) triplet, which we believe is among
the youngest of the Triplets.1 Apparently the editors of the Mozi consid-
ered the theme of Heaven important enough to devote one triplet to it.
That the Tian zhi triplet belongs to the youngest triplets can possibly
be explained by the fact that the increasing criticism directed toward the
Mohists boosted the need for an all-encompassing foundation, which they
found in Heaven. In addition, in these Core Chapters, Heaven is increas-
ingly considered a standard (fa ). As a result, Mozi appears to be the
first ancient Chinese master to express in a more or less systematic way
his vision of Heaven.
At first sight, this vision is confirmed by the Opening Chapters, which
are usually dated later than the Core Chapters. One of them, chapter 4, Fa
yi (Standards and Norms) is commonly presented as a summary
of the Tian zhi chapters. In it, Heaven is closely linked with the idea of
a standard. Which stage in Mohist thought does this chapter represent?
What are the similarities and differences with the Core Chapters? What
evolution is there in the relationship between the concepts of tian and fa?
These are the questions that the present contribution will address. I shall
*I thank Carine Defoort for her comments on earlier drafts, and the participants at
the conference The Many Faces of Mozi: A Synchronic and Diachronic Study of Mohist
Thought held at the University of Leuven, 2528 June 2009, especially Miranda Brown, for
their valuable suggestions.
1For the sequence of the Core Chapters, I follow Watanabe Takashi, Bokushi shohen
no chosaku nendai; Desmet, The Growth of Compounds in the Core Chapters of the
Mozi; and Desmet, All Good Things Come in Threes. In the case of the Shang xian
, Shang tong , and Tian zhi Triplets, the chronological order is shang
, xia , zhong . My own structural and content analysis of the Tian zhi chapters
corroborates their analyses.
238 nicolas standaert
first discuss the notion of fa, then tian, and finally Heaven as a standard.
Before doing so, I shall present a translation of the Fa yi chapter.
The Fa yi Chapter
By way of introduction, a brief statistical analysis of the key terms in the
Mozi is quite revealing. If one excludes not only the compound tianxia
but also tianzi , tiandi , and tianrang (the latter three
each occur only occasionally), Fa yi is the only chapter of the Opening
Chapters in which tian occurs, twenty-two times in total (see table 1).
This is a high number, far higher than in any of the Core Chapters except
the Tian zhi triplet. Another character that appears often in Fa yi is
fa : it appears twenty-eight times. This is by far the largest number of
occurrences of fa in any of the Mozi chapters. The combination fa yi
appears only in the Fa yi chapter, twice at the beginning of the text
(excluding the title). This occurrence at the beginning explains the title
of the chapter. The combination yi fa appears merely three times in
one of the Core Chapters, namely in Tian zhi, xia (chapter 28).
Table 1.Frequency of the Terms Tian , Fa , and Ren in the Mozi
ICS
Chap.
No.
Chap.
no.
Title
1.1 1 1
1.2 2
1.3 3 1 1 2
1.4 4 22 1 28 9
1.5 5 1 1 1
1.6 6 2 3 4
1.7 7
2.1 8
2.2 9 12 2 2 6
2.3 10 2 1 2 1
3.1 11 5 10 3
3.2 12 10[4] 19 4 1
heaven as standard 239
Table 1 (cont.)
ICS
Chap.
No.
Chap.
no.
Title
3.3 13 3 9 1
4.1 14
4.2 15 1 3 4[1]
4.3 16 3 1 3[1] 3
5.1 17 3
5.2 18
5.3 19 17[1] 2 1 4 1 2
6.1 20 3
6.2 21 5
6.3 22
6.4 23
6.5 24
6.6 25 2 13[1] 14
7.1 26 36[3] 9 1 1
7.2 27 88[2] 11[1] 5 13
7.3 28 44[2] 10[1] 7 8
8.1 29
8.2 30
8.3 31 8 4 5
8.4 32 2[1] 1 3
9.1 33
9.2 34
9.3 35 5 1 1
9.4 36 5 2 5
9.5 37 6 1 2 3 2
240 nicolas standaert
ICS
Chap.
No.
Chap.
no.
Title
9.6 38
9.7 39 1 7
10.1 40 3 1
10.2 41 1 1
10.3 42 6 1
10.4 43 1 2 3
11.1 44 4 1 1 3
11.2 45 2
11.3 46 1 2
12.1 47 2 2 1 5
12.2 48 4[1] 3 2 11
13.1 49 10 5
13.2 50 1 1
14.1 52 4
14.2 53
14.3 56 2
14.4 58
14.5 61
14.6 62
14.7 63 2[1]
15.1 68 1
15.2 69 3
15.3 70 5
15.4 71 2
Note: Numbers between square brackets refer to the occurrences of characters indicated
in the Mozi zhuzi suoyin as being reconstructed.
Table 1 (cont.)
heaven as standard 241
As far as the framework of Fa yi is concerned, the two concepts of fa
(standard) and tian (Heaven) structure the whole. In fact, this chapter can
be divided into two parts, each composed of two sections, and a connect-
ing section between them: the first part (sections 1 and 2) discusses fa,
and the second part (sections 4 and 5) is about tian. The term tian does
not appear in the first part; and fa does not appear in the second. The two
parts are connected by a transition passage at the center (section 3), in
which both fa and tian appear. This results in the following structure:
[1] Part 1: Fa (4: 4/812)
:
,

,
,
, ,
, ,
,
,
, ,
,
, , ,

[1]
Our Master Mozi said:
Those in the world who perform tasks cannot be without standards and
norms.
And those who are able to succeed in their task without standards and
norms do not exist.
Even gentlemen serving as generals and ministers all have standards.
Even artisans performing tasks all have standards too.
Artisans form squares with a square, circles with a compass,
straight lines with a string, surfaces with a level, and vertical lines with a
plumb line.
All artisans, whether skilled or unskilled, take these five as standards.
The skilled can conform to them exactly;
as to the unskilled, though they cannot conform to them exactly, if they
follow them in performing tasks, they still surpass what they can do on
their own.
So artisans in performing tasks all have a measurement by standards.
Now, the greatest is to order the world, the next is to order great states, but
they are without a measurement by standards;
in this they are less discerning than artisans.
242 nicolas standaert
[2] Part 1: Fa (4: 4/1418)

,
,
,

,
,
,

,
,
,

,
[2]
This being so, then what is acceptable as a standard for order?
How would it be if everyone took ones parents as a standard?
Those in the world who are parents are many, but those who are humane
are few.
If everyone took ones parents as a standard, then this is taking the inhu-
mane as a standard.
Taking the inhumane as a standard is not acceptable [as a standard].
How would it be if everyone took ones teachers as a standard?
Those in the world who are teachers are many, but those who are humane
are few.
If everyone took ones teachers as a standard, then this is taking the inhu-
mane as a standard.
Taking the inhumane as a standard is not acceptable [as a standard].
How would it be if everyone took ones rulers as a standard?
Those in the world who are rulers are many, but those who are humane
are few.
If everyone took ones rulers as a standard, then this is taking the inhumane
as a standard.
Taking the inhumane as a standard is not acceptable [as a standard].
So then neither parents nor teachers nor rulers are acceptable as the stan-
dard for order.
[3] Transition (4: 4/2024)

:
,
,

, ,
,
heaven as standard 243

,
,
,
,
,
[3]
What then is acceptable as the standard for ordering?
Hence, I say: [There is] nothing better than taking Heaven as a standard.
Heavens conduct is expansive and impartial;
its gifts are generous and not obliging;
its brightness endures without fading.
Thus, the sage-kings took it as a standard.
Since they took Heaven as a standard, they necessarily measured every
action and enterprise by Heaven.
What Heaven desired they carried out;
what Heaven did not desire they refrained from.
Now, what is it that Heaven desires, and what is it that it hates?
Certainly Heaven desires to have human beings care for one another and
benefit one another and does not desire to have them hate one another
and hurt one another.
How do we know that Heaven desires to have human beings care for one
another and benefit one another and does not desire to have them hate
one another and hurt one another?
Because it cares for them inclusively and benefits them inclusively.
How do we know that it cares for them inclusively and benefits them
inclusively?
Because it possesses them inclusively and accepts offerings from them
inclusively.
[4] Part 2: Tian (4: 4/2429)
, ,
,
[], , ,
,
,

:
,
,
:
,

,

244 nicolas standaert
[4]
Now, all states in the world, small or large, are cities of Heaven,
and all human beings, young or old, noble or humble, are subjects of
Heaven;
for they all graze sheep and oxen, feed dogs and pigs, and prepare clean
wine and millet cakes in order to revere and serve Heaven.
Does this not mean that it claims them inclusively and accepts offerings
from them inclusively?
Since Heaven claims them and accepts offerings from them inclusively,
what then can make us say that it does not desire that human beings care
for one another and benefit one another?
Thus it is said:
Those who care for others and benefit others, Heaven will certainly
bring fortune upon them.
Those who hate others and hurt others, Heaven will certainly bring
disaster upon them.
For it is said:
He who murders the innocent will be visited by misfortune.
How else can we explain the fact that human beings who murder each
other meet disaster by Heaven?
Thus, [we know that] Heaven desires human beings to care for one
another and benefit one another,
and it does not desire them to hate one another and hurt one
another.
[5] Part 2: Tian (4: 5/15)
, 2,

,
,

, ,

,
,
,
,
,
,

2The character ai was added by Bi Yuan.


heaven as standard 245
[5]
The ancient sage-kings Yu, Tang, Wen, and Wu cared for the people of the
world inclusively, leading them to revere Heaven and serve the ghosts.
Manifold were their benefits to human beings.
Thereupon, Heaven brought fortune upon them,
establishing them as Sons of Heaven;
and all the feudal lords of the world showed them respect and served
them.
The wicked kings Jie, Zhou, You, and Li hated the people in the world inclu-
sively,
leading them to revile Heaven and insult the spirits.
Great was their hurt to human beings.
Thereupon, Heaven brought disaster upon them,
depriving them of their states and homes, and in life and death they were
dishonored in the world;
and their sons and grandsons of later generations condemned them unceas-
ingly to this day.
Jie, Zhou, You, and Li, then, are those who did what was not good and
obtained disaster.
And Yu, Tang, Wen, and Wu are those who cared for human beings and
benefited human beings and obtained fortune.
Thus, we have those who obtained fortune because they cared for human
beings and benefited them,
as well as those who obtained disaster because they hated human beings
and hurt them.
The Use of Standards
Before showing the link between tian and fa, it can be helpful to inves-
tigate the different meanings of fa in Fa yi, the other Opening Chap-
ters, and the Core Chapters.3 Different translations could be given for fa:
model, law, standard, and so on. Here I will consistently translate
fa as standard. The artisan analogy, mentioned at the beginning of the
chapter (see section 1) but also mentioned at other instances, is obviously
fundamental for this interpretation of fa.
What Are the Main Characteristics of a Standard?
Fa yi starts with the statement that those in the world who perform
tasks cannot be without standards and norms (fa yi ) and refers to
3For recent studies on fa, see Fraser, Mohism; and Hansen, Fa (Standards: Laws)
and Meaning Changes in Chinese Philosophy.
246 nicolas standaert
the fact that artisans performing tasks have standards. This example is
further developed: all artisans, whether skilled or unskilled, use squares,
compasses, strings, levels, and plumb lines. This analogy in Fa yi makes
clear that a significant characteristic of standards is that they are a uniform
reference or model to make things square, round, straight, flat, or verti-
cal. In other words, they are objective and not supposed to be subject to
interpretation: in all circumstances they should remain the same. Another
major characteristic is that one can measure (duo ) with standards.4
To measure has two meanings that are closely connected: the examples
of squares, compasses, and so on refer to instruments and norms with
which one can measure or evaluate the shape or relative position of an
object; but the same instruments are also often used to measure or count
how long, wide, etc. an object isthat is, properties that are expressed in
figures on a measurement scale.
Thus, standards are objective and therefore in principle infallible. The
aim is that the skilled artisan should conform exactly to, fit precisely,
or hit right in the middle (zhong ) the standard.
Who Uses Standards?
According to Fa yi, the standards are not the same for all people, but all
people should use standards. In the artisan analogy, all artisans, skilled
or unskilled, use them. In other words, the text does not foresee the pos-
sibility of an artisan having attained a level of skill such that he no longer
needs a standard. This need of a standard is extended to everyone who
performs tasks (cong shi ), extending even to the ordering of the
states and the world. Thus, generals and ministers have standards, and
also the ancient kings used a standard; in this they are analogous to the
skilled artisan.
What Can Function as a Standard?
Starting from the artisan analogy one can distinguish a range of standards,
from concrete to more abstract. The utensils used by the artisan, such
as squares and compasses, are the most concrete standards. But these
instruments lead to a wider set of concrete standards, as discussed in the
4Later texts, such as Shuowen jiezi , confirm the close link between fa, yi, and
du(o). In Shuowen jiezi, yi is explained as du, and du as fazhi: , , ; the
figurative explanation of du is a person taking a fa in his hands.
heaven as standard 247
Jie yong and Jie zang chapters. In the latter fa seems to
describe the stipulations for funerals. Though some would translate fa as
code of laws, law, legal requirements (Mei Y.P.), or rules (Watson),
it is significant that some of the instructions set out for burials concern
quasi-artisanal measurable aspects, such as the thickness of the coffin,
the depth of the grave, and the number of shrouds to cover the body. As
such they always seem to carry an association with standards, as in the
following fragment from Jie zang, xia:
, :, ,
, , ,
, , , ,

Therefore, the ancient sage-kings established a standard regarding the burial


of the dead, which stated: The coffin shall be three inches thick, sufficient
to hold the decaying body. As to shrouds, there shall be three pieces, ade-
quate to cover the ugliness. It shall not be buried so deep as to reach water
or so shallow as to allow the odor to ascend. Three feet in size shall be big
enough for the mound. After the deceased has been buried, the living shall
not engage in extended mourning but shall speedily return to work and pur-
sue what each one is able to do to mutually benefit each other. Such are the
standards of the sage-kings. (25: 40/2426)
The basis of the standard is in the first place what is useful with regard to
a good coffin, but it is extended to being beneficial (li ) to the people
involved. As such it is a measurement-like utility standard.5 Moreover,
in the final sentence the conventional aspect of standard is resolved by
appeal to the sage-kings. The expression standards of the sage-kings is
used five times in the Mozi. In Jie yong, shang it occurs twice, where it
pertains to another rather concrete stipulation, in this case the instruc-
tions for marriage, where the age of marriage can be measured in terms
of the exact number of years.6
5Hansen, A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought, 467.
6:, ; ,
, , ,
, , In ancient times, the
sage-kings made the following standard: No man of twenty should dare to be without
a family; no girl of fifteen should dare to be without a master. Such were the standards
of the sage-kings. Now that the sage-kings have passed away, the people have taken to
following (their own desires). Those who like to have a family early sometimes marry at
twenty. Those who like to have a family late sometimes marry at forty. When one averages
the late marriages and the early ones, it is still later than the standards of the sage-kings
by ten years (Mozi 20: 36/1921).
248 nicolas standaert
In the two other cases the standard of the sage-kings refers to a much
more abstract principle, which is not measurable in the same way as the
previous cases. The first occurs in Fei gong, xia , where it is used
to refer to what is sometimes called the three levels of benefit (san li
). This refers to an idea mentioned explicitly in Shang xian, xia
and in the Tian zhi triplet stipulating that any human action should
ultimately benefit Heaven, the spirits, and human beings. In Fei gong,
xia this is considered precisely the standard of the sage-kings:
: , ,
, , ,
, , , :
, , ,
,
Our Master Mozi said: Well, concerning that which the world praises as
good, what is the reason for it? Is not an act praised because it matches per-
fectly the benefit to Heaven on high, the benefit to the spirits in the middle
sphere, and the benefit to the people below? Or is it praised because it fails
to match perfectly the benefit to Heaven on high, the benefit to the spirits in
the middle, and the benefit to the people below? Even the stupid would say
that it is praiseworthy when it matches perfectly the benefit to Heaven on
high, the benefit to the spirits in the middle, and the benefit to the people
below. Well, what the world agrees on as righteous7 is the standard of the
sage-kings. (19: 33/1215)
The last reference to the standard of the sage-kings summarizes another
core idea of the Mozi: inclusively caring for each other and mutually ben-
efiting each other (jian xiang ai, jiao xiang li , ). Jian ai,
zhong mentions this core idea once as standard of the sage-
kings and twice as a standard:
:, , ,
, , , , ,

Therefore, our Master Mozi said: If the officer-gentlemen of the world


sincerely desire the world to be wealthy and dislike it to be impoverished,
desire to have it orderly and dislike it to be chaotic, they should care for
each other inclusively and benefit each other mutually. This is the standard
of the sage-kings and the way for order in the world, and one cannot but
work hard at it. (15: 26/2827/2)
7Another version has yang (foster) instead of yi .
heaven as standard 249
The second fragment is from the same chapter, rejecting exclusiveness
, which is the opposite of inclusiveness.
, :

Since we reject it [exclusiveness], with what can we replace it? Our Master
Mozi said: One can replace it with the standard of caring for each other inclu-
sively and benefiting each other mutually. But what is the standard of caring
for each other inclusively and benefiting each other mutually? (15: 25/1011)
The abstract principle of caring for each other has without doubt practical
consequences for Mozi. One may, however, notice a shift in accent: the
artisans tools are not only concrete but are also in principle capable of
measuring objectively. Yet, with abstract principles one cannot necessar-
ily make such an objective evaluation. By linking these principles to the
metaphor of the tools, Mozi creates the idea that even an abstract prin-
ciple can be a measurable and objective standard. The type of standard
depends on who uses it: concrete instruments for artisans, more general
principles for rulers. But in the eyes of Mozi, both standards should be
infallible. As such, the accent shifts from the instrument of measurement,
in the case of the artisans tool, to the person who uses the standard, in
the case of the abstract principle.
Besides concrete instruments, concrete norms, and more abstract prin-
ciples, even people can function as standards. Fa yi (section 2) presents
three examples: parents, teachers, and rulers. There is a case for translating
fa here as role model or prototype.8 However, Fa yi expects even this
fa (model) to be without failure, just like the artisans tools; yet, the three
prototypes are not without failure, because they lack perfect humaneness
(ren , see discussion below). Since not all parents, teachers, and rulers
are perfect, they cannot really function as a standard to inspire perfectly
humane conduct. In contrast, in another passage of Shang tong, zhong
the Son of Heaven is considered the most humane (ren ren )
in the world. The rhetorical question that follows shows that in principle
taking such a person as a standard should lead to a world in perfect order
(government):
, ,

8Expressions used by Fraser, Mohism.


250 nicolas standaert
For the emperor is naturally the (most) humane person in the world. If all
the peoples of the world take him as a standard, how then can the world9
be described as disorderly? (12: 18/2223)
Thus, even though people cannot be measurably objective standards in the
same way that artisanal tools can, the people held up as standards should
be infallible. Finally, there is again reference to the ancient authorities as
a collective group. These ancient sage-kings not only use standards but
are worthy to be standards themselves. In this case the appeal to ancient
authority characteristic of Mozi functions as ultimate proof that even
abstract principles can be put into practice.10 This appears from Ming
gui, xia :
: , , ,
,
:, ,

Our Master Mozi said: If the senses of hearing and sight of the multitude
are thought to be untrustworthy in resolving a doubt, we may ask if such
men like the sage-kings of the Three Dynasties, Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang, Wen,
and Wu, are worthy to be a standard. About this all people above the medio-
cre will say that such men like the ancient sage-kings of the Three Dynas-
ties, Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang, Wen, and Wu, are worthy to be a standard. If the
ancient sage-kings of the Three Dynasties are worthy to be a standard, we
may review for a moment the deeds of these sage-kings. (31: 52/1922)
The concept of persons as standards is closely linked with what they do.
Mozi stresses deeds, tasks, or actions (shi ), and in that sense stan-
dards are concrete (see, e.g., the first lines of section 1 of Fa yi). The
concrete deeds of the sage-kings can set an example and thus become
the standard. One example can be found in Jian ai, xia, where in four
successive instances the inclusiveness (jian ) of the ancient sage-kings
becomes a standard for Mozis concept of it:
,
This is the inclusiveness of King Wen. Even what our Master Mozi called
inclusive was taken from the standard (model) of King Wen. (16: 29/23)
,
This is the inclusiveness of Yu. Even what our Master Mozi called inclusive
was taken from the standard (model) of Yu. (16: 29/67)
9Another version has tianzi (Son of Heaven) instead of tianxia .
10See Miranda Browns essay in this volume.
heaven as standard 251
,
This is the inclusiveness of Tang. Even what our Master Mozi called inclu-
sive was taken from the standard (model) of Tang. (16: 29/1011)
,
This is the inclusiveness of Wen and Wu. Even what our Master Mozi called
inclusive was taken from the standard (model) of Wen and Wu. (16: 29/
1415)
One finds an echo of this idea in the last part (section 5) of Fa yi, where
the ancient sage-kings Yu, Tang, Wen, and Wu are said to have cared
for the people of the world inclusively, leading them to revere Heaven
and serve the ghosts, and their benefits to the people were manifold (cf.
the three levels of benefit); as a result they were established as Sons of
Heaven. Given the context of the previous sections, their concrete deeds
were put forward as examples.
How to Use a Standard?
According to Fa yi, standards are used when performing tasks (cong shi
) (section 1), by which it is implied that one uses them for shaping
and determining ones own actions, whether making an object or con-
ducting a government. But standards also have a hermeneutical function:
in the just-quoted passage of Jian ai, xia, sage-kings and their deeds are
not only a standard to follow but also a standard by which to judge a
doctrine. The term is used in a similar way in the well-known passage
of what is often translated as three tests (san fa )11 in Fei ming,
zhong . The reference to the skilled artisan and the rejection of
the unreliable judgment made by using a potters wheel (which seems to
be an allusion to metaphors also used in Zhuangzi) show how much Mozi
is presented as someone who is searching for standards that are certain
and stable, measurable and infallible.
: , ,
, ,
, ,
, , , ,
,
11Or san biao in Fei ming, shang .
252 nicolas standaert
Our Master Mozi said: To make any statement or to write down any doc-
trine, there must first be established some standard of judgment. To discuss
without a [standard of] judgment is like determining the directions of sun-
rise and sunset on a revolving potters wheel. Even skillful artisans would
not achieve correctness in that way. Now the truth and error [of a doctrine]
in the world is hard to tell; therefore, in making a statement, there are three
standards. What are the three standards? That there be a basis; that there
be an origin; and that there be a use. With regard to its basis, examine the
will of Heaven and spirits and the deeds of the sage-kings. With regard to its
origin, verify it through the books of the ancient kings. What of its use? This
comes out in the administration of justice and government. These then are
the three standards of a statement.12 (36: 60/1721)
This also confirms the double use of a standard: a standard is not only
used to determine ones own actions but is also to evaluate or judge the
actions of others on the basis of objective criteria. In doing so, the shift
pointed out in the previous section is strengthened: by using standards
that should function as measurably objective norms, which in fact they
are not, there is a shift of emphasis to the one using these standards and
pretending that these are measurable, objective, and infallible.
Why Does One Need A Standard?
The Mozi does not seem to give an extensive argument for why one needs
standards. Fa yi starts with the fact or observation that people use stan-
dards. The most important reason given (still in section 1) is that, as in
the case of an unskilled artisan, a standard helps one to perform better
(surpass oneself yu ji ) than when one does things without one.
The fact that one surpasses oneself stresses the fact that a standard is not
an autonomous norm decided by the people themselves but a heterono-
mous norm, which is external to them. This idea of beyond the self is
also clearly developed in Tian zhi, shang and Tian zhi, xia. In these
two chapters distributive righteousness (yi ) is proposed as bringing
about order and correct government (zheng or ). It is immediately
added that this is never realized by the lower levels in society ordering
the higher levels, but by the higher levels ordering the lower levels. Next,
12Concerning the use of books as standards, see also Ming gui, xia: :
, , If there are testimonies of spirits only
in the books of Zhou and none in those of Shang, it could still not be a standard (Mozi 31:
53/17). , , If there are testimonies
of spirits only in the books of Shang and none in those of Xia, it is still not a standard
(31: 53/23).
heaven as standard 253
the text develops the idea that order is never (or not quite) attained by
following oneself //, a sentence occurring eleven
times with variations.13 Therefore, every layer of a society needs to refer
to the higher level and ultimately to Heaven. According to these chapters,
one cannot limit oneself to personal cultivation, but one has to refer to a
standard beyond oneself.
In this respect it appears that Mozi is not satisfied with the self-
cultivation of virtues as proclaimed by the contemporary elite. His starting
point is people who can measure a board with a ruler, draw a perpendicu-
lar accurately with a square, and find a vertical with a plumb, and who
are likewise in search of guiding principles that are outside themselves
in order to help them lead a moral life beneficial to others. The solution
offered consists of principles, persons, and behaviors that can function
as infallible standards. The ultimate and seemingly perfect standard is
Heaven, a claim that opponents can hardly oppose.
One can observe a twofold evolution concerning this need for standards
in the Mozi. On the one hand, as appears from the statistical analysis (see
tables 1 and 2), the concept of fa is nearly absent in the earlier chapters of
the Triplets but is mentioned in later chapters. Thus, there seems to have
been an increasing need for finding arguments based on the use of stan-
dards. On the other hand, this evolution is parallel to the increasing need
to ground new ideas in Heaven. A good example of the latter is the triplet
Fei gong, where in the first two versions the notion of tian is absent. In
the last one, however, Heaven is drawn into the discussion. There it is
argued that aggressive warfare (gong ) does not benefit Heaven, while
only punishments (zhu ) are supported and sometimes even ordered
by Heaven.14
The two evolutions of an increasing need for standards and for a foun-
dation in Heaven are connected by the fact that Heaven itself becomes a
standard.15 The Shang xian triplet is the clearest example in this regard:
in Shang xian, shang (chapter 8), there is no mention of tian; in Shang
xian, xia (chapter 10), which, we believe, is the second in date, there is
sporadic reference to tian.16 In the last sentence there is a reference to the
13See Mozi 26: 42/2729, 26: 43/1, 28: 47/2426.
14See also Paul van Elss essay in this volume.
15This can be observed from the other occurrences of fa in the Core Chapters: there
is a certain parallelism between the frequency of fa and tian in these chapters (except for
the Jie yong and Jie zang chapters, where there is no mention of tian; see
table 1).
16See Desmet, Pleidooi voor een volmaakt bestuur.
254 nicolas standaert
three levels of benefit (san li): when one employs the most virtuous man,
this is also considered beneficial to Heaven:
, ,
Now, elevation of the worthy is for the benefit of Heaven, the spirits, and the
people, as well as the foundation of government. (10: 16/23)
Shang xian, zhong (chapter 9) goes even further: the whole idea of pro-
moting the best candidate finds its foundation in Heaven, which functions
as a standard:
,
; ;
Table 2.Chronological Frequency of Tian , Fa , and Ren in the Mozi
:0T,
0F, 0R
: 0T,
0F, 3R
: 0T,
0F, 0R
: 1T,
3F, 4[1]R
: 0T,
0F, 0R
: 3T,
3[1]F, 3R
: 17[1]
T, 1F, 2R
: 5T,
0F, 3R
: 3T,
0F, 1R
: 36[3]
T, 1F, 1R
: 10[4]
T, 4F, 1R
: 44[2]
T, 7F, 8R
: 2T,
2F, 1R
?: 22T,
28F, 9R
: 88[2]
T, 5F, 13R
: 12T,
6F, 0R
Source of scheme: Desmet, The Growth of Compounds in the Core Chapters of the Mozi,
118.
Note: T = tian; F = fa; R = ren. For specific dating, see p. 15 of this volume.
heaven as standard 255
And the reason the ancient sage-kings were able to take the elevation of
the worthy and the employment of the capable as their policy was because
they took their standard from Heaven. Even Heaven does not discriminate
among the poor and the rich, the honorable and the humble, the distant and
the near, and the related and the unrelated; the virtuous were promoted and
exalted; the vicious were kept back and banished. (9: 12/1718)
A similar evolution can be found in the Tian zhi triplet (see below). In
Fa yi the two concepts of Heaven and standard are also clearly joined
together.
In short, the Fa yi chapter corresponds to a later stage in the evolu-
tion of Mohist concepts, one that calls for greater reliance on standards.
It presents a concept of a standard that is objective, infallible, measurable,
and outside oneself.
The Notion of Heaven
In Fa yi the first part on fa (sections 1 and 2) and the second part on tian
(section 4 and 5) are joined by a transition passage (section 3) in which
both terms occur. This passage gives two reasons why tian should be used
as a standard. The first is an intrinsic reason related to some characteris-
tics of Heaven:
, , ,

There is nothing better than taking Heaven as a standard. Heavens actions


are expansive and impartial; its gifts are generous and not obliging; its
brightness endures without fading. Thus, the sage-kings took it as a stan-
dard. (4: 4/2021)
The depiction of these traits, in both their positive and their negative
expression (wu , bu ), does not appear elsewhere in the Mozi. The
traits are related to the dimensions of space (guang ), density (hou ),
and time (jiu ). It refers not only to the infallibility of Heaven but also
to its inclusiveness, while human models such as parents, teachers, and
rulers are not always perfect. The second reason is linked to the first: sage-
kings used Heaven as a standard. This argumentation corresponds to one
of the three tests according to which the deeds of the sage-kings can be
used as a standard.17
17See also Miranda Browns essay in this volume.
256 nicolas standaert
While the formulation of these reasons as such is unique to the Mozi,
some of the ideas expressed in these reasons are not unfamiliar in the
Mozi. The fact that Heavens actions are expansive and impartial and
also that it is bright (ming ), for instance, corresponds to a statement
at the beginning of Tian zhi, shang in which it is said that after having
offended their parents or rulers, people may possibly escape from them to
other shelters, but they can never escape the clear sight of Heaven.
:, :
,
As the saying goes: Committing a crime in broad daylight, whither can one
flee? Really there is nowhere to flee. For Heaven clearly sees it even if it be
in the woods, valleys, or solitary caves where there is no one. (26: 42/1415)
And the idea of Heavens generosity expressed by the term hou can
also be found in the substantiality, density, or intensity of Heavens care
for people. For instance, in the chapter Tian zhi, zhong Mozi repeats
successively how he knows why Heavens care of the people is substan-
tial . (27: 45/21; 27: 46/1; 27: 46/3; 27: 46/34).18
After the transition section, Fa yi proceeds with further characteristics
of Heaven and arguments for its use as a standard. Generally speaking,
these characteristics correspond to a large extent to those that are typical
for the Mozi. Before proceeding with further analysis of this chapter, I will
first give a brief overview of some characteristics of Heaven as they appear
in the Tian zhi triplet in order to compare them with those given in the
Fa yi chapter.
Characteristics of Heaven in the Tian zhi Chapters
The Tian zhi chapters reveal human traits as the most noteworthy char-
acteristic of Mozis image of Heaven. Compared with older texts of the
Warring States period, the Mozi is an exception in this regard. Many of
the characteristics of Heaven in, for example, the Documents, the Odes,
Lunyu, and Laozi are more connected with nature: tian is clear (ming
) like the sky, while earthquakes and other natural disasters mark the
violent terror (wei ) of tian. Only exceptionally does one find human
18(Mozi 27: 45/21);
, (27: 46/1); (27: 46/3);
, (27: 46/34).
heaven as standard 257
characteristics attributed to Heaven in these texts.19 In the Tian zhi trip-
let, however, human qualities dominate. For instance, Heaven is consid-
ered eminent and wise (gui zhi ), analogous with the eminent and
wise sovereign. But the attribution of human traits goes further. Heaven,
for example, sees (jian ) everything, even in woods, valleys, or solitary
caves, as was the case in the previous excerpt from the beginning of Tian
zhi, shang. Along with seeing them, Mozis Heaven also addresses people
in words. The traditional notion of mandate or command certainly
has to do with the use of words (ming ), but in early texts the words
of Heaven or Shangdi are almost never in the form of a direct address. In
Tian zhi, shang, Heaven, or more precisely the will of Heaven, addresses
itself in the first person (wo ) to the human being. To the question why
the ancient rulers Yu, Tang, Wen, and Wu were rewarded, Mozi provides
the following answer using the notion of three levels of benefit:
:, , :
, ; , ,

Our Master Mozi said: In the highest sphere they revered Heaven, in the
middle sphere they worshiped the spirits, and in the lower sphere they
cared for the people. Hence, the will of Heaven declared: All those whom
I care for they also inclusively care for, and all those whom I benefit they
also inclusively benefit. Their care for others is expansive and their benefit
to others is most substantial. (26: 43/1112)20
Such words from Heaven are very exceptional in the early Chinese corpus;21
even in the Mozi they are unique.
Another projection of human characteristics can be found in the use of
affective terms. These are often, but not always, terms that later acquired
a heart radical ( or ). In the Documents and Odes, such terms appear
only very rarely in descriptions of Heaven;22 even the Lunyu and Laozi
are conservative in this respect. Mozis use of such terms is striking: like
19For a more extensive analysis of the Book of Documents and Book of Odes, see Stan-
daert, The Fascinating God, chaps. 6 and 7.
20There is a negative formulation in Mozi 26: 43/1416: :
, ,
21The only exception for direct speech I have found so far is Odes 241.5 (Huangyi
; Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 4, 452), yet without the use of the first person:
God said to King Wen: Be not like
those who reject this and cling to that; be not like those who are ruled by their likings
and desires.
22For exceptions, see Standaert, The Fascinating God, 101102, 113114.
258 nicolas standaert
the human being, Heaven can also desire (yu ) and hate (wu ).
In response to the question what does Heaven really desire and what
does it hate? in Tian zhi, shang, Mozi answers, Heaven
desires righteousness and hates unrighteousness (26:
42/18); and the whole passage that follows connects human and Heavenly
desire and hate.
Other human keywords associated with Heaven in the Mozi, especially
in the Tian zhi chapters, are ai (to care for) and the closely connected
notion of li (to benefit). In the above quotation of Tian zhi, shang,
for instance, the will of Heaven says about the model kings that All those
whom I care for they also inclusively care for, and all those whom I benefit
they also inclusively benefit (26: 43/1112). Moreover, by doing good, the
human being himself also favors Heaven, who is one of the three benefi-
ciaries in the three levels of benefit. These values are those used by Mozi
to describe government under a good ruler in one of the few passages that
in its wording is nearly identical in the three Tian zhi chapters:
: , ,
, , ,
,
Our Master Mozi says: He who is in a large state does not attack small
states; he who is in a large house does not molest small houses. The strong
does not plunder the weak; the honored does not disdain the humble; the
clever does not deceive the stupid. This is beneficial to Heaven above, ben-
eficial to the spirits in the middle sphere, and beneficial to the people below.
Being beneficial to these three, it is beneficial to all. So the most excellent
name is attributed to such a man, and he is called sage-king. (26: 43/2527;
cf. 27: 46/10, , , and 28: 48/26, ,
)
This attitude is even called Heavenly virtue (tian de ) (28: 48/26).
The human being and Heaven thus take part in one great project that is
beneficial to everyone.
The most prominent term with a heart radical is will (zhi ) in the
title of the triplet Will of Heaven (). Mozi actually more frequently
refers to yi (intent, intention), with the expression (), although
it is difficult to discern the difference between the two terms tian zhi and
tian yi.23 By employing the concept will of Heaven, Mozi stresses that
23For an attempt to find some subtle differences, see Radosav, Lun Mozi zhexue de
tianyi, 431432.
heaven as standard 259
such a will exists outside and beyond the human being. It is not just a man-
date intended for an individual but a will that the ruler, the gentleman,
and everyone else must obey. Mozi repeatedly points out how the human
being must follow (shun ) the will of Heaven and not go against (fan
) it. The central concept in these chapters is, after all, justice or righ-
teousness (yi ), for which Mozi makes a fervent plea in these three
chapters. Yi is one of the concepts that was close to Confuciuss heart as
well, but for him it meant something more like appropriate behavior or
duty: that which one is expected to do given ones position, such as to
honor and take care for ones parents. The Mohists remove yi from this
traditional and relational discourse and give it a somewhat new meaning
in the direction of distributive justice: benefit for all. This righteousness
actually originated in Heaven (27: 44/14, 27: 44/2223;
28: 48/1).
In general, the Tian zhi chapters attribute to Heaven all the traits that
form the core of Mozis own moral teachings: namely, care for everyone
and benefit everyone. Mozi not only implores people to care for everyone
but believes that Heaven itself does so and that Heaven expects the same
of human beings. Heaven sees to this through rewards and punishments.
Caring for others by benefiting them will thus also result in personal ben-
efit; not caring for others and thus injuring them will result in personal
injury. The person who follows the will of Heaven receives rewards (shang
); the person who opposes it meets punishment (fa ).
Comparing Fa yi to the Tian zhi Triplet
Generally speaking, several essential elements in Fa yi appear in the
Tian zhi chapters, albeit in a much more succinct way. In Fa yi, care
and benefit also occupy the central place (sections 35): Heaven wants
people to care for one another and benefit one another and does not want
them to hate one another and harm one another, because Heaven itself
cares for them inclusively and benefits them inclusively. This is proven
by the fact that Heaven receives offerings from everybody and then gives
fortune to the good and sends harm to the evildoer, as is shown by histori-
cal examples.
In comparing the Fa yi and the Tian zhi chapters in more detail, one
can first point at differences: some key notions of the Tian zhi chapters
do not appear in Fa yi. First, Fa yi does not make reference to yi ,
which is a core concept in the Tian zhi chapters. Except for the shortness
260 nicolas standaert
of the chapter, no obvious reason can be found to explain this. Second
is the absence of the terms tian zhi and tian yi in Fa yi. This absence,
however, should not be considered exceptional, because the term tian
zhi hardly appears in the whole Mozi book, including Tian zhi.24 Thus,
the fact that it, or even tian yi, does not appear in Fa yi is in itself not
exceptional. There are also some differences in emphasis: the second part
of Fa yi, on the topic of Heaven, is preceded, in section 3, by a clarifica-
tion of what it means that the ancient sage-kings measured every action
by Heaven: What Heaven desired they carried out; what Heaven did not
desire they refrained from. Next follows a series of three questions. The
first is about what Heaven desires and hates, which are also keywords
in the Tian zhi triplet. The answer focuses on the core ideas of care
and benefit: Certainly Heaven desires to have human beings care for
one another and benefit one another and does not desire to have them
hate one another and hurt one another. This idea, characteristic of the
Jian ai chapters, receives a foundation in Heaven in the Tian zhi trip-
let. While this is a familiar idea, the exact formulation in Fa yi (xiang
ai xiang li and xiang wu xiang zei ) does not occur
elsewhere in the Mozi. In Tian zhi, shang one finds the expression jian
xiang ai, jiao xiang li (inclusively caring for each other,
mutually benefiting each other), which is also characteristic of the Jian ai,
zhong chapter, where it is considered a fa (see above).25 The reason Fa
yi uses the shorter expression xiang ai xiang li can possibly be found in
the two answers that follow: we know that Heaven desires and expects this
from human beings because Heaven itself cares for them inclusively and
benefits them inclusively. And we know the latter because Heaven pos-
sesses them inclusively and accepts offerings from them inclusively. Thus,
Heaven wants human beings to care for each other because Heaven itself
cares for them and this is confirmed by Heaven accepting their offerings.
Yet, the keyword in the Jian ai, zhong passages is jian (inclusively).
Xiang ai xiang li in Fa yi applied to human beings stands in contrast with
the inclusive jian (and not the reciprocal jiao or xiang), which is applied
to Heaven in Jian ai, zhong, in a parallel sentence with ai and li.
The importance attached to jian in the Fa yi chapter shows that the
idea of inclusiveness is closely linked to the idea of an infallible fa and to
24See the introduction to this volume.
25See Defoort, The Growing Scope of Jian , and her essay in this volume.
heaven as standard 261
the reason for choosing tian as fa. In section 2 of Fa yi it was explained
that there are only few parents, teachers, and rulers who are ren, and that
therefore taking parents, teachers, and rulers as standards would be simi-
lar to conforming to a standard that is often inhumane (bu ren). Heaven,
on the contrary, is jian. One finds a similar reasoning in the Tian zhi
chapters, especially Tian zhi, zhong, which is chronologically the latest
of that triplet. In it, the focus shifts from the parents or ruler not being
ren to the other pole of the five relationships: the son or the subject not
serving his parents or ruler and thus being not ren.
, ,
, ,
, , ,
,

In the world there are those who are inhumane and are unfortunate. I speak
of a son who does not serve his father, a younger brother who does not serve
his elder brother, or a subordinate who does not serve his superior. Then all
the gentlemen of the world will call him unfortunate. As for Heaven, it cares
for everything in the world inclusively, quickly ripens all things to benefit
them. Since even the tip of an autumn hair is made by Heaven, and people
get to benefit from it, it can be said to be really substantial. Why then do
they not compensate Heaven, and do they not know this to be inhumane
and unfortunate? This is why I say that the gentlemen understand things on
a small scale but not on a large scale. (27: 45/1619)
This reasoning is then further developed by stating that one knows that
Heavens care for the people (min ) is substantial because Heaven
orders sun, moon, and stars for them, regulates the four seasons, sends
frost, rain, and dew, grows grain and silk, and provides hills, rivers, metal,
and animals for the people. Contrary to the son who, after being taken
care of by his father, does not return the same care to his father and is
thus considered bu ren, Heavens care is always inclusive.
In many regards, Tian zhi, zhong extends the ideas that have been
developed in the earlier chapters. Although yi remains the core con-
cept, it is noteworthy that Tian zhi, zhong, more than the other chapters,
considers following Heaven as a basis of humaneness (ren). The use of
this term in the Mohist texts is rather exceptional. Moreover, as appears
from tables 1 and 2, the term appears only in the later chapters, usually in
combination with yi. This is also clear in the Tian zhi chapters, which
are all to be dated quite late. Within the triplet there is a gradual increase
in the use of ren: it occurs once in Tian zhi, shang, eight times in Tian
262 nicolas standaert
zhi, xia, and twelve times in Tian zhi, zhong. This apparent evolution
and the later date suggest that in their debates with contemporaries, the
Mohists increasingly were searching for a foundation for the whole moral
conduct of human beings, including the key notion of ren. On the one
hand, they adopted the term as a positive value, which was then also used
to evaluate the conduct of opponents. On the other hand, they found the
term unsatisfactory and preferred ai. In Fa yi the term ren is prominent
(nine times), but it is used three times in succession in the same construc-
tion: it is because the humane among the parents, teachers, and rulers are
few that these cannot be considered standards. Heaven, on the contrary,
is able to fulfill this role.
The content of Fa yi can further be related to the growing scope of
jian and to the idea of reciprocity, as developed by Carine Defoort in her
essay in this volume. By establishing reciprocity between Heaven and
all human beings, Fa yi extends the meaning of jian. Though the term
people (min) does not occur in Fa yi, all states in the world, large or
small, are cities of Heaven (tian zhi yi ),26 and all human beings,
young or old, noble or humble, are subjects of Heaven (tian zhi chen
).27 This is strengthened by the certainty of reward for all human beings
who care for and benefit others. Fa yi does not, however, radicalize the
moral stance to the extent that reciprocity becomes a duty toward Heaven
rather than something to be expected from others.
Not only does Mozi indicate that Heaven cares inclusively for people, but
he also offers reasons for it. Fa yi in fact advances two major arguments.
The first reason is that Heaven claims human beings inclusively and accepts
offerings from them inclusively; this aspect of offerings is further developed
in the final sections of Fa yi. The second reason is that in Mozis opinion,
Heaven, in an automatic and perfect way, brings fortune to anyone who
takes care of and benefits others and brings disaster to anyone who hates
26The same expression occurs once more in Fei gong, xia:
, , , , ,
Is this intended to benefit Heaven? Yet one has gathered together the men
of Heaven to besiege the cities of Heaven; so they are massacring the people of Heaven,
driving out the spirits of their ancestors, overthrowing their altars of the soil and grain, and
slaughtering their sacrificial animals. It is then not a benefit to Heaven on high (Mozi 19:
33/2829). See also Tian zhi, shang: , Since Heaven possesses
all the cities and the people, how could it fail to take care of them? (26: 43/2021). In this
sentence, Bi Yuan emended into .
27This is a unique expression in the Mozi.
heaven as standard 263
or hurts others. There is a close link between these two arguments. Those
who make offerings to Heaven are in turn taken care of by Heaven.
These ideas can also be found in the Core Chapters on the will of
Heaven. Several sentences in Fa yi are in fact very similar to sentences
in the chapters Tian zhi, shang and Tian zhi, xia28, which are the two
Tian zhi chapters that are closest to each other. This seems to indi-
cate that the editor of Fa yi had access to at least one of these texts (or
maybe, less likely, that the editor of the two Tian zhi chapters had access
to the text of Fa yi). One can notice a development in the argumenta-
tion in the course of these two chapters. In Tian zhi, xia the reciprocity
between offering sacrifices and caring for others is much more developed:
in the same way that the lords of Chu and Yue accepted offerings from
all within their borders and therefore also cared for the people of Chu
and Yue, Heaven inclusively receives offerings from All under Heaven,
and therefore, Heaven inclusively cares for all the people under Heaven.
The similarity in wording between Fa yi and Tian zhi, zhong, which
is the latest chapter in the triplet, is more limited. The latter mentions
the preparation of clean wine and millet cakes for offerings in a different
context and contains a statement that is only somewhat similar to the
statement in Fa yi that he who murders the innocent will be visited by
misfortune , . (4: 4/28)29
These different aspects can throw some light on the dating of the Fa
yi chapter. Instead of being considered a late forgery or merely a sum-
mary of the Tian zhi chapters,30 it may be a step in a process or evo-
lution of ideas. Various elements indicate that Fa yi could be situated
chronologically between Tian zhi, shang/xia and Tian zhi, zhong, the
latter being very structured. On the one hand, Fa yi contains several
28Compare 4: 4/2326 with 26: 43/1920 and 28: 48/46; compare also 4: 5/12 with
28: 48/1417.
29Compare 4: 4/28 with 27: 46/1 and also with 26: 43/21, 28: 48/11.
30Most of the early discussions on the seven summaries focused on the question
of whether they were genuine or forgeries , that is, whether or not they were
written by Mo Di (or the Mojia ). Wu Yujiang , Mozi gepian zhen wei
kao, 10121013, gives an overview of the opinions of Bi Yuan , Wang Zhong , Sun
Yirang , Hu Shi , and Liang Rengong (= Liang Qichao). To this one
can add the early writings of, for instance, Huang Jianzhong , Luan Tiaofu
, and Fang Shouchu . They vary in opinion over whether these chapters or some
of them are genuine or not, chapters 13 being more likely to be forgeries, and chapters
47 belonging to the Mozi school rather than to Mo Di. But they usually agree on the fact
that these are late chapters. The evolutionary analysis is less concerned about whether
they are written by Mo Di himself and more with the place they occupied in the chain of
textual production.
264 nicolas standaert
sentences similar to those in Tian zhi, shang/xia. On the other hand, it
stresses the importance of ren, a theme that is more prominent in Tian
zhi, zhong; and it also does not include the theme of reciprocity as a duty
to Heaven, an idea that is fully developed in Tian zhi, zhong.
Fa yi affirms the certainty with which Heaven brings fortune or disas-
ter in reaction to human behavior. This is also in line with the Tian zhi
chapters, but once more it is formulated in a unique way, using the expres-
sions bring them fortune (fu zhi ) and bring them disaster (huo
zhi ); in the Tian zhi triplet reward (shang ) and punish (fa
) are commonly used. The idea of fortune and disaster is developed in
the last section (section 5) of Fa yi, which presents successively the posi-
tive and negative historical examples of such an automatic retribution:
respectively, the sage-kings Yu, Tang, Wen, and Wu, and the evil kings Jie,
Zhou, You, and Li. The sage-kings inclusively took care of all in the world
and also benefited them, and that is why Heaven instituted them as Sons
of Heaven and why they were respected as such; the wicked kings were
counterexamples. The sage-kings are also quoted in the Tian zhi chap-
ters, with Yao and Shun added in the two last chapters (Tian zhi, xia and
Tian zhi, zhong). They are proposed as examples of following the will of
Heaven and of inclusiveness. The Fa yi description corresponds mostly
to an argumentation that can be found in Tian zhi, xia.31
Heaven as a Standard in the Tian zhi Triplet
The core idea of Fa yi is that Heaven should be the ultimate standard
of human conduct. Likewise, the Tian zhi chapters not only describe
Heaven but also consider it a standard. The increasing need for a standard
and for Heaven as being that standard, as was pointed out above, can also
be observed within the three Tian zhi chapters. As in Fa yi, Heaven and
standard come together.
There is, however, also an evolution with regard to this idea throughout
the three chapters, which may help to clarify the specificity of Fa yi. In
the first chapter of the Tian zhi series, fa appears only oncein the very
last sentence. It is preceded by a reference to artisans toolsthe compass
and the squarewith which the will of Heaven is compared. Some word-
ing is similar to Fa yi (e.g., the use of zhng to fit precisely, to hit
31See 4: 5/12 and 28: 48/1417.
heaven as standard 265
the mark), but the analogy is used in a different way: the primary pur-
pose is not to use a standard for something that the carpenter is making
himself but to measure all the square and circular objects in the world.
Likewise, Mozi is measuring with his standard the conduct and doctrines
of the gentlemen in the world and concludes that they are far from exem-
plifying humaneness and righteousness.
: , ,
, , : ,
, , , ,
:
Our Master Mozi said: The will of Heaven to me is like the compass to the
wheelwright and the square to the carpenter. The wheelwright and the car-
penter use their compass and square to measure what is circular and square
in the world and say: What fits is right and what does not fit is wrong. The
writings of the officer-gentlemen of the world of the present day cannot all
be loaded [in a cart], and their doctrines cannot be exhaustively enumer-
ated. They endeavor to convince the feudal lords, on the one hand, and the
scholars, on the other, but from humaneness and righteousness they are far
off. How do we know? Because I have the clearest standard in the world to
measure them with. (26: 44/14)
In this quotation the measuring is a value judgment of right (shi ) and
wrong (fei ). This use of a standard to evaluate the conduct of others
is characteristic of the Tian zhi chapters. Mozis standard became an
increasingly powerful instrument, not only to measure ones own conduct,
but to measure and criticize the conduct of opponents.
The chronologically second chapter in the series, Tian zhi, xia, has
several references to fa and tian. In a paragraph that is very similar to the
final section of Fa yi, the historical proof is presented of the sage-kings
being rewarded and installed as Sons of Heaven as a result of their caring
for and benefiting the people. Specific to this passage, however, is that the
Sons of Heaven were installed to serve as a standard. Thus, not only is
Heaven a standard, but Heaven installs others as standards as well:
,
, ,
, , , ,

Anciently, the sage-kings of the Three Dynasties, Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang, Wen,
and Wu, cared for the world inclusively and proceeded to benefit it. They
converted the intentions of the people and led them to worship the High
Lord, hills and rivers, and the spirits. Heaven was pleased because they
cared for those whom it cared for and benefited what it would benefit,
266 nicolas standaert
and [Heaven] bestowed rewards upon them, placing them on the throne,
installing them as Sons of Heaven to serve as the standard, and calling them
sages. Here we have the proof of reward of the good. (28: 48/1417)
The next reference in the same chapter includes the expression yifa
, the inverse expression of the title Fa yi. This expression occurs only
in Tian zhi, xia (three times), which could be a further indication of
the chronological closeness between Fa yi and Tian zhi, xia. Here the
artisan analogy is used in a way similar to the one in Tian zhi, shang
namely, to judge others:
, , ,
, , ,
,
Hence, our Master Mozi established the will of Heaven as his norm and
standard, just as the wheelwright uses his compass and the carpenter uses
his square. Now, the wheelwright with his compass and the carpenter with
his square can know the difference between what is square and what is
circular. Similarly, having established the will of Heaven as the norm and
standard, I [Mozi] can know that the gentlemen of the world are far from
righteousness. (28: 49/13)32
This theme is likewise used in the concluding sentences of the chapter.
To convey this message, a line from the Shijing is quoted.33 In addition,
the will of Heaven is also described as the jing of righteousness, which
seems to function as a synonym for fa.
, ,
: , , ,
, ,
, , ,
, , , ,

Therefore, our Master Mozi established the will of Heaven to be the norm
and standard. Not only did our Master Mozi establish the will of Heaven
32Still another use: , , , ,
: , ? They recorded it on bamboo and silk and kept
them in the archives so that the descendants would imitate their royal ancestors, saying:
Why not let us open up the archives and let us learn of the standards and righteousness
of our ancestors? (Mozi 28: 49/1011).
33Odes 241.7 (Huangyi ); see Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 4, 454. In Tianzhi,
shang there is no quotation from classical texts, in Tian zhi, xia there is one, and in
Tian zhi, zhong there are three: two from the Shijing, one from the Shujing. This shows
the growing need to argue on the basis of classical texts.
heaven as standard 267
to be the standard, it is also the theme of an ode in the Da ya
(Great Odes) among the books of the ancient kings: The Lord said to King
Wen, I cherish your intelligent virtue. It was not proclaimed with much
noise or gesture. It was not modified after the possession of the empire.
It happened without consciousness of effort, following the scheme of the
Lord. This is to proclaim that King Wen used the will of Heaven as a standard
and followed the Lords scheme. If the gentlemen of the world really desire
to practice humaneness and righteousness and be superior men, seeking to
attain the Way of the sage-kings, on the one hand, and to procure blessings
to the people in the state, on the other, they must not neglect to examine
the will of Heaven. The will of Heaven is the immutable norm of righteous-
ness. (28: 50/48)
A final step is made in the last chapter of the series, Tian zhi, zhong. This
is in fact one of the most structured chapters of the Mozi and clearly had
a different editor than the other two Tian zhi chapters. In its conclusion
fa is again prominently present.34 Here some similarities and differences
with the previous chapters appear. The conclusion starts with the artisan
analogy:
,35 ,
, , :
, ,

Therefore, the will of Heaven is to our Master Mozi like the compass to the
wheelwright and the square to the carpenter. The wheelwright uses his com-
pass to measure what is circular and not circular in the world, saying: That
which fits my compass is called circular. That which does not is called not
circular. Therefore, whether an object is circular or not can all be known.
Why is this so? Because the standard of circularity is clear. (27: 46/2729)
The same description is repeated for the wheelwright. The reason for con-
fidence in the standard is that it is clear or bright (ming ), the same
word used in the description of Heaven in Fa yi when it was said that
Heavens brightness endures without fading (section 3). Next Tian zhi,
zhong states that Mozi similarly measures with the will of Heaven the
jurisdiction and government of the lords in the world, on the one hand,
and the doctrines and teachings of the multitudes in the world, on the
34One other use of fa in the same chapter: , ,
, , Because he was obedient to Gods scheme, he
rewarded him with Yin and honoured him by making him emperor and enriched him with
the empire (Mozi 27: 46/1415).
35Following the variant for , as indicated in the Mozi zhuzi suoyin.
268 nicolas standaert
other, in order to check whether they correspond to what he calls good
(shan ) or bad (bu shan ). Here, as was noticed before, one can
observe a further evolution of the shift from the instrument of measure-
ment to the person who uses the standard. Mozi claims that, like an artisan
estimating his material on the basis of a fixed norm, he judges all men in
the world, including kings and ministers, against the yardstick of the will of
Heaven. He calls their behavior good or bad. Thus, one recognizes in him
a tendency to place himself above actual politics by means of the power of
language and through reference to Heaven.
Subsequently, the Tian zhi, zhong chapter summarizes Mozis opinion
in a very succinct way. First, similar to the previous chapters, it is stated
that the will of Heaven is used as a standard to evaluate humane (ren)
and inhumane (bu ren). The author has full confidence in this method,
as they are as distinguishable as black and white. This highlights the
infallibility of any standard in the eyes of Mozi.
, ,
,
With this as the standard and with this as the norm, whether the lords and
the ministers are humane or not humane can be measured as [easily as]
distinguishing between black and white. (27: 47/56)
The conclusion repeats a key sentence that can be found elsewhere in
Tian zhi, zhong. The chapter started with a question about the source
of righteousness, and Tian zhi, shang, Tian zhi, xia, and also other
chapters served as preparation for what is developed in Tian zhi, zhong.
But the arguments receive another structure and a more compact form in
Tian zhi, zhong. Characteristic of this structure is that each of the four
main arguments is closed by the same approving words of Mozi, which
also appear at the end of the chapter:
: , ,
,
Therefore, our Master Mozi said: If the rulers and the gentlemen of the
world really want to follow the Way and benefit the people, they have to
investigate fundamentally the basis of humaneness and righteousness, and
the will of Heaven can only be followed. (27: 47/89)
Now, however, as a final climax, this synthetic statement itself is consid-
ered a standard, since the following is added:
,
To follow the will of Heaven is the standard of righteousness. (27: 47/9)
heaven as standard 269
Conclusion
The Fa yi chapter may have been one point in an evolution of the Mohist
doctrine, not necessarily the final one. In the course of the Mozi texts one
can notice a growing need to ground the core ideas: promotion of the
worthy, repudiation of aggressive warfare, caring for and benefiting each
other, and so on. The basic idea of this foundation is a need for certainty,
for which the analogy of the tools of artisans, such as the compass and
square, is the best example. In using these instruments, the artisan has
a standard that is objective, measurable, infallible, and presumably out-
side his own will. This is taken as a metaphor for the use of standards for
human behavior: the rather abstract standards (such as inclusive care of
each other and mutual benefit to each other) and the personalized ones
(such as the ancient sage-kings) should all function in the same way:
objectively, measurably, infallibly, and outside ones own will. The ulti-
mate standard is Heaven because it is absolutely inclusive. This reasoning
also reflects another evolution: the shift from the concrete tools of the
artisan to the more abstract standards for human behavior results in a
shift of focus from the standard to the one who is using the standard.
This becomes even clearer in yet another evolution: standards assist in
shaping and evaluating not only ones own conduct but also the conduct
of others. While the Mohists seem to come closer to their contemporaries
by adopting their language (such as ren and the citation of classical writ-
ings), they gradually intensify their claim to possessing the standards for
moral behavior and good government. The fact that in this discourse they
even take Heaven as the ultimate standard must have been frightening
for their opponents.
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All fragments are quoted using the Chinese text in D. C. Laus Mozi zhuzi suoyin
(A Concordance to the Mozi): the first number refers to the chapter, the second
to the page in Mozi zhuzi suoyin, the third to the line. What follows is the reference in
this volume.
1.Qin shi (Intimacy with Officers)
REFERENCES TO THE MOZI
1: 1/56 215, 229
1: 1/8 229
1: 1/89 219
1: 1/9 220
1: 1/910 221
1: 1/1012 222, 225, 229
1: 1/12 234
1: 1/14 229
1: 1/1415 230
1: 1/1418 226
1: 1/16 228
1: 1/17 228
1: 1/2023 227
1: 1/21 114
1: 1/22 217
1: 1/2526 216
1: 1/262/5 218, 230
1: 1/2627 229
1: 1/27 218, 229230
1: 1/2829 231
1: 1/292/1 216, 230
1: 2/5 230
4.Fa yi (Standards and Norms)
4: 4/812 241
4: 4/1418 242
4: 4/2021 255
4: 4/2024 60 n. 62, 242
4: 4/2326 263 n. 28
4: 4/2429 243
4: 4/28 263
4: 5/1 25 n. 71, 27 n. 76
4: 5/12 263 n. 28, 264 n. 31
4: 5/15 114, 244
5.Qi huan (Seven Misfortunes)
5: 5/1724 114
8.Shang xian, shang (Elevate the Worthy, Upper)
8: 9/7 209, 232
8: 9/11 208
8: 9/1112 208
8: 9/1118 214
8: 9/1518 211
8: 9/16 194 n. 26
8: 9/2026 211
8: 9/2628 213
8: 9/30 208, 221
8: 9/3010/1 210
8: 9/3010/2 212
8: 10/12 210211
8: 10/68 163
8: 10/1112 164
8: 10/13 215
282 references to the mozi
9.Shang xian, zhong (Elevate the Worthy, Middle)
10.Shang xian, xia (Elevate the Worthy, Lower)
9: 10/17 209
9: 10/18 208
9: 10/1921 211
9: 10/20 208
9: 10/21 212
9: 10/24 208
9: 10/2611/2 212
9: 10/2628 232
9: 10/30 208
9: 11/2 151
9: 11/4 210
9: 11/45 212
9: 11/5 210, 211
9: 11/13 208, 212
9: 11/1314 212
9: 11/1316 194
9: 11/2526 210
9: 12/89 154
9: 12/1215 169
9: 12/1718 255
9: 12/1722 60 n. 62
9: 12/20 151
9: 12/2028 111
9: 12/21 27
9: 12/22 25 n. 71
9: 13/1718 209, 223, 232
9: 13/18 215
10: 13/23 209, 232
10: 13/24 208, 215
10: 13/2527 211
10: 13/27 211
10: 14/67 208, 223
10: 14/616 196
10: 14/715 210
10: 14/1415 210
10: 14/1516 223
10: 14/18 208
10: 14/1924 169
10: 14/2425 111
10: 15/3 208
10: 15/1617 199 n. 33
10: 16/23 254
11.Shang tong, shang (Conform Upward, Upper)
11: 16/10 191
11: 16/1011 192
11: 16/1213 199 n. 33
11: 16/1923 183
12.Shang tong, zhong (Conform Upward, Middle)
12: 17/18 199 n. 33
12: 18/910 190
12: 18/2223 250
12: 18/3019/2 111
12: 20/23 191
12: 20/58 191
14.Jian ai, shang (Inclusive Care, Upper)
14: 24/1819 48 14: 24/22 46
15.Jian ai, zhong (Inclusive Care, Middle)
15: 24/2627 198 n. 32, 202
15: 25/67 50
15: 25/1011 249
15: 25/19 41
15: 25/21 50
15: 25/22 51
15: 25/2224 52
15: 25/2226/9 191
15: 25/2425 51, 194
15: 26/1012 191
15: 26/1112 51
15: 26/12 197 n. 29
references to the mozi 283
15: 26/14 41, 50, 44 n. 26
15: 26/1722 164
15: 26/21 52, 60 n. 61
15: 26/22 54 n. 44, 62 n. 70
15: 26/24 52
15: 26/25 52 n. 39
15: 26/26 52
15: 26/2827/2 248
16.Jian ai, xia (Inclusive Care, Lower)
16: 27/89 53 n. 40
16: 27/13 53
16: 27/14 53
16: 27/1416 54
16: 27/1617 54 n. 43
16: 27/18 54
16: 27/2425 54
16: 27/28 4142, 183
16: 27/2828/10 195 n. 28
16: 27/29 42
16: 27/2928/4 222 n. 28
16: 27/3128/1 55
16: 28/14 222 n. 28
16: 28/34 55
16: 28/45 183
16: 28/810 55
16: 28/12 41
16: 28/1319 222 n. 28
16: 28/1516 55
16: 28/18 55
16: 28/2123 55
16: 28/2929/1 1
16: 29/13 60
16: 29/2 37
16: 29/23 250
16: 29/67 250
16: 29/1011 42, 251
16: 29/1415 251
16: 29/15 41
16: 29/17 56
16: 29/1921 57
16: 29/2324 57, 191, 194
16: 29/2530/4 191
16: 30/4 197 n. 29
16: 30/7 44
17.Fei gong, shang (Against Military Aggression, Upper)
17: 30/1724 75
17: 30/18 45 n. 30
17: 30/2628 75
17: 30/2731/3 196
17: 30/2829 76
17: 31/14 190
17: 31/3 196
18.Fei gong, zhong (Against Military Aggression, Middle)
18: 31/910 79
18: 31/1217 80
18: 31/2122 81
18: 31/2425 81
18: 32/47 82
18: 32/1723 8
19.Fei gong, xia (Against Military Aggression, Lower)
19: 33/1215 85, 153 n. 31, 248
19: 33/1517 196
19: 33/1721 86
19: 33/2327 86
19: 33/2627 56 n. 54
19: 33/2829 89, 262 n. 26
19: 33/2830 112
19: 34/1617 165
19: 34/1635/8 166
19: 34/17 152
19: 34/18 86
19: 34/21 165
19: 34/2335/1 88
19: 34/25 124 n. 66
19: 34/27 124 n. 66
19: 35/23 166
19: 35/5 124 n. 66
284 references to the mozi
20.Jie yong, shang (Moderation in Expenses, Upper)
20: 36/1921 247 n. 6
25.Jie zang, xia (Moderation in Burials, Lower)
25: 38/26 144
25: 38/2639/6 183
25: 39/9 101 n. 19
25: 40/18 112
25: 40/1011 144
25: 40/1822 136
25: 40/2426 170, 247
25: 40/28 101 n. 19, 183
25: 40/2941/3 172
25: 41/18 101 n. 19
25: 41/2930 113
26.Tian zhi, shang (Will of Heaven, Upper)
26: 42/1415 256
26: 42/18 258
26: 42/2729 253 n. 13
26: 43/1 253 n. 13
26: 43/24 110
26: 43/78 198 n. 31
26: 43/712 63 n. 72
26: 43/8 62 n. 68
26: 43/910 144
26: 43/914 110
26: 43/11 25, 27
26: 43/1112 257, 258
26: 43/1416 257 n. 20
26: 43/15 62 n. 68
26: 43/1823 110
26: 43/1920 263 n. 28
26: 43/2021 262 n. 26
26: 43/21 263 n. 29
26: 43/2527 198 n. 31, 258
26: 43/26 42 n. 22
26: 43/28 42 n. 22
26: 44/14 265
27.Tian zhi, zhong (Will of Heaven, Middle)
27: 44/14 259
27: 44/1720 110
27: 44/2223 259
27: 44/2645/2 198 n. 31
27: 44/28 199 n. 33
27: 44/2830 136
27: 44/2930 110
27: 45/1619 261
27: 45/1646/25 63 n. 72
27: 45/1719 63
27: 45/21 256
27: 45/2529 63
27: 46/1 256, 263 n. 29
27: 46/3 256
27: 46/34 256
27: 46/10 258
27: 46/1415 267 n. 34
27: 46/2324 110
27: 46/2729 267
27: 47/56 268
27: 47/89 268
27: 47/9 268
28.Tian zhi, xia (Will of Heaven, Lower)
28: 47/2426 253 n. 13
28: 48/1 259
28: 48/14 61
28: 48/4 27
28: 48/46 263 n. 28
28: 48/48 110
28: 48/67 89 n. 22
28: 48/68 62
28: 48/8 27
28: 48/1021 62
28: 48/11 263 n. 29
28: 48/1415 62
28: 48/1417 263 n. 28, 264 n. 31,
266
28: 48/15, 27
28: 48/2324 61 n. 65
references to the mozi 285
28: 48/2328 198 n. 31
28: 48/26 258
28: 49/13 266
28: 49/78 196
28: 50/48 267
31.Ming gui, xia (Explaining Ghosts, Lower)
31: 50/2526 99
31: 50/2627 100
31: 51/89 101
31: 51/1113 101
31: 51/2324 101
31: 51/2627 101
31: 52/56 101
31: 52/1314 101
31: 52/1922 250
31: 52/20 167
31: 52/23 87
31: 52/27 148 n. 18
31: 53/23 135
31: 53/17 168, 252 n. 12
31: 53/23 252 n. 12
31: 54/11 103
31: 54/1112 103
31: 54/1718 104
31: 54/27 104
31: 55/12 106
31: 55/111 135
31: 55/56 106
31: 55/57 105
31: 55/7 183
31: 55/78 155
32.Fei yue, shang (Against Music, Upper)
32: 55/24 169
32: 57/1517 154
32: 57/1718 170
35.Fei ming, shang (Against Fatalism, Upper)
35: 58/1318 184
35: 58/15 101 n. 19
35: 58/1516 183
35: 58/17 101 n. 19
35: 58/19 184 n. 17
35: 58/1920 184
35: 58/1922 184
35: 59/2 101 n. 19
35: 59/4 101 n. 19
35: 59/56 113
35: 59/78 25 n. 71
35: 59/9 27
35: 59/17 101 n. 19
35: 59/21 101 n. 19
35: 60/7 101 n. 19
35: 60/710 183
35: 60/8 113
35: 60/13 101 n. 19
36.Fei ming, zhong (Against Fatalism, Middle)
36: 60/1721 252 36: 60/1920 184 n. 17
37.Fei ming, xia (Against Fatalism, Lower)
37: 63/3 148 n. 18
39.Fei Ru, xia (Against the Ru, Lower)
39: 64/1926 106 n. 24
286 references to the mozi
46.Geng Zhu (Geng Zhu)
46: 100/714 116
46: 100/1618 190
46: 100/2021 28
46: 100/2023 187 n. 21, 188
46: 100/3031 116
46: 100/30101/3 189
46: 101/110 175 n. 2
46: 101/5 181 n. 11
46: 101/911 178
46: 101/1418 179
46: 101/2021 176 n. 5
46: 101/2628 92
46: 101/30 185
46: 102/11 193
46: 102/1920 181 n. 9
46: 102/24103/1 185
46: 103/59 91
47.Gui yi (Valuing Morality)
47: 103/2326 192
47: 103/28104/1 199
47: 104/67 116
47: 104/1517 178, 195
47: 104/1920 185, 195
47: 104/2223 195
47: 104/2226 200
47: 104/28 197
47: 105/47 197
47: 105/1314 193
47: 105/1617 178
47: 105/2628 180
47: 106/4 193
47: 106/45 192
47: 106/57 193
48.Gongmeng (Gongmeng)
48: 106/2526 189
48: 106/2531 181 n. 9
48: 106/31 189
48: 107/59 181 n. 9
48: 107/2023 171 n. 62, 181 n. 9
48: 107/27 25 n. 71, 26, 179
48: 108/13 117
48: 108/1718 117
48: 108/2021 171 n. 62
48: 108/2628 176 n. 5
48: 109/4 181 n. 11
48: 109/45 117
48: 109/48 181
48: 109/1920 118 n. 45
48: 109/2930 118 n. 45
48: 109/30 118
48: 110/510 234
48: 111/7 25 n. 71, 26
48: 111/1011 188
49.Lu wen (Lus Questions)
49: 111/23 25 n. 71, 26
49: 112/614 93
49: 112/1418 180
49: 112/18 93
49: 112/2022 91, 196
49: 112/30113/3 190
49: 113/68 187
49: 113/1329 176 n. 3, 185
49: 113/14 186
49: 113/1415 199
49: 113/27 87
49: 114/710 25, 182
49: 114/810 37 n. 10
49: 114/9 25 n. 71
49: 114/1219 119
49: 114/2123 137
49: 115/1519 194
49: 115/1819 28
SUBJECT INDEX
bao (repay, compensate)57, 6263,
66, 261
Bei ti (Preparing against Ladders;
chapter 56)70
benefit. See li
Bi Gan 123 n. 61, 227229
Bi Yuan 2, 26 n. 74, 27 n. 76, 99
n. 17, 244 n. 2, 263 n. 30
bie (exclusive, partial; opposite of
jian )41, 53, 65
Bilsky, Lester96
Bingfa (Art of War)81
Book of Documents. See Shangshu
Book of Odes. See Shijing
Brindley, Erica20 n. 59, 121 nn. 52, 54,
126, 131
Brooks, Bruce108, 149150, 152, 154155,
159, 163, 176 n. 5
Brooks, Taeko4 n. 15, 7, 910, 1214, 16,
25, 38 n. 13, 40, 45 nn. 28, 30, 60 n. 63,
70 n. 3, 71 n. 4, 108, 149150, 152, 154155,
159, 163, 176 n. 5
Brown, Miranda7, 32, 143
bu ke sheng shu (countless)
73, 80, 82
burial. See funerals
calculate. See ji
Cao Jinyan 120121, 122
nn. 5557, 123 n. 59, 124 nn. 6670,
125 n. 72
capable. See neng
care, caring. See ai
Changtaiguan 121
chaos. See luan
Chen Wei 124 n. 66, 125 n. 71
Ci guo (Eschewing Faults; chapter
6)7, 238
Classic of History. See Shangshu
compounds9, 16, 71 n. 6, 87 n. 18, 108
Compromising1011, 39, 41, 4445,
108
conduct. See xing
Confucius. See Kongzi
cong shi (perform tasks)25, 57, 113,
181182, 184, 189190, 200, 241, 246247,
251
ability. See neng
ai (care, caring, concern)45, 4950,
53, 65, 179, 194, 212, 233, 244 n. 2, 245,
251, 260, 265, See also jian
ai ren (care for others)2627,
4648, 244, 257, 259, 263
scope of care30, 45, 4751, 53, 5658,
6061, 65
xiang ai (care for each other)
37, 46, 6567, 243244, 260, 269
zi ai (care for oneself)29, 36,
4647, 65
Analects. See Lunyu
analogy43, 4748, 66, 7577, 117, 211, 214,
228230, 257
artisan32, 197, 245246, 250, 265267,
269
ancestors48, 56, 89, 106, 110, 155, 157, 262
n. 26, 266 n. 32
ancient sages. See sheng wang
Annals by L Buwei. See Lshi chunqiu
antiquity52 n. 39, 6263, 99, 117, 135, 145,
147148, 166, 169, 172173, 207, 217
appendices. See Opening Chapters
(chapters 17)
argumentation and argumentative
strategies9, 30, 4142, 5253, 69, 71,
73, 94, 102, 148, 167168, 172174, 237,
253, 255, 263264
economic argument30, 73, 7879,
8081, 84, 9192, 94, 112, 136, 165, 181,
183, 186, 198
moral argument7375, 7778, 94
religious argument30, 6364, 73,
8485, 8992, 94, 136
Asano Yichi 108 n. 26,
120121, 124 nn. 66, 68, 125 n. 70
attack. See gong
audience4, 8, 25, 30, 4647, 49, 59,
71, 73, 94, 144, 182, 195, 202, 204, 209,
216, 218219, 223, 230231, See also
interlocutor(s)
authority1, 79, 12, 17, 39, 99, 102, 102
n. 20, 110, 116117, 144145, 148, 152, 157,
163, 167168, 174, 210, 249
authorship4, 8, 1619, 23, 28, 37, 64, 150,
217, 233
288 subject index
Core Chapters (chapters 837)1 n. 1, 2
nn. 67, 10, 37, 89, 10 nn. 32, 35, 1117,
1922, 2430, 3237, 3940, 43 n. 24,
5758, 60, 70 n. 3, 71 n. 6, 85 n. 16, 91, 94,
9899, 101102, 105109, 113114, 116117,
131, 133, 135, 137 n. 91, 139, 145, 150, 154,
163, 167, 176178, 181183, 187, 190,
193195, 197198, 205206, 208, 216217,
222, 237238, 245, 253 n. 15, 254, 263
count. See shu
countless. See bu ke sheng shu
Creel, Herrlee140
crime. See zui
critics. See opponents
Csikszentmihalyi, Mark134
dao (way), 66, 85, 119, 154, 164, 178, 180,
183, 193, 197, 216, 248, 252, 268
Daodejing . See Laozi
Daozang (Daoist canon)2, 26
n. 74, 98 n. 13
dating of chapters3 n. 14, 4, 6, 8 n. 26,
11 n. 37, 12, 14, 15 n. 46, 16, 28, 40 n. 16,
64 n. 75, 71 n. 6, 87 n. 18, 102, 107109,
114, 121, 127, 145, 147, 149150, 152154,
162, 164, 176 n. 5, 208, 217, 233, 237, 253,
261263, 266
Defense Chapters. See Military Chapters
Defoort, Carine1, 7, 2930, 35, 98 n. 13,
108, 262
Desmet, Karen9, 10 n. 33, 16, 29 n. 80,
35, 71 n. 6, 98 n. 13, 108, 109
diad. See duplet
Dialectical Chapters. See Mohist Canon
Dialogues (chapters 4649/50)2 n. 7,
3, 57, 9, 10 nn. 32, 34, 17, 2528, 32, 33,
39 n. 14, 91, 98, 100, 105114, 119, 127
n. 75, 134, 136, 137 n. 91, 139, 145, 150, 158,
175182, 184, 187, 189, 191195, 197200,
202204, 206 n. 7, 234
Die Bi 118
digests. See Opening Chapters (chapters
17)
Ding Sixin 6 nn. 19, 21, 29 n. 78,
34, 121 n. 53, 123 n. 59, 125 n. 70, 126127
Ding Weixiang 38, 40, 58
disciples4, 6, 8, 17, 50 n. 37, 114115, 137
n. 91, 149150, 175, 182, 188, 204, 217
disorder. See luan
Du Bo 99
Duke Jian of Yan 99
Duke Mu of Qin 99, 124 n. 65,
129130
Duke Wen of Song 100
Duke Zhuang of Qi 100
duo (measure)111, 241, 243, 246, 249,
253, 260, 265, 267268
duplet5, 7, 13
Durrant, Stephen2 n. 2, 6 n. 21, 7 n. 22,
9, 10, 44 n. 25, 98 n. 13, 206 n. 7
editor(s)8, 16, 18, 19 n. 55, 20 n. 59, 22,
30, 37, 40, 64, 71, 98, 120, 121 n. 52, 123
n. 64, 139, 237, 263, 267
epitomes. See Opening Chapters (chapters
17)
ethics32, 35, 64, 9596, 175, 177, 182183,
187, 203
evolution34, 6, 9, 1112, 1417, 2930,
32, 33, 36, 38, 4042, 43 n. 24, 4445,
5455, 58, 60, 65, 150, 204, 208, 215, 233,
237, 253, 255, 262264, 268269
evolution theory10, 1417, 39, 42, 108
exemplary past32, 147, 168169
expenditure2526, 80, 105, 117, 131, 133,
135136, 138, 179, 182
fa (standard, method, model)33, 49,
237238, 241243, 245
characteristics of245255
distribution in the Mozi238, 254
fa yi (standard and norm)238,
245
sage-kings as standards. See sheng wang

standards of sage-kings. See sheng wang

yi fa (norm and standard)238,


266
Fa yi (Standards and Norms;
chapter 4)7, 27 n. 76, 3334, 114,
237238, 241, 245246, 249, 250252,
254256, 259260, 262267, 269
Faber, Ernst2
family44, 4849, 54 n. 43, 56, 59, 80, 106,
119, 198, 209 n. 11, 227, 247 n. 6
Fang Shouchu 9, 109 n. 32, 263
n. 30
fatalism21 n. 62, 2425, 139, 179, 182
fei (be against)24
Fei gong (Against Military
Aggression; chapters 1719)5, 7, 11, 13,
15, 22, 30, 7071, 85, 87, 91, 94, 112 n. 37,
238, 253, 254
Fei gong, shang (chapter 17)
11, 16, 30, 45 n. 30, 49 n. 34, 7174,
7679, 87, 9091, 112 n. 38
Fei gong, xia (chapter 19)
7173, 79, 84, 89, 90 n. 23, 92, 111112,
152, 165, 248
subject index 289
Fei gong, zhong (chapter 18)
7173, 78, 90, 92, 112 n. 38
Fei ming (Against Fatalism;
chapters 3537)5, 11, 13, 14 n. 44, 15,
22, 24 n. 67, 107, 238, 180
Fei ming, shang (chapter 35)
27, 113, 251 n. 11
Fei ming, zhong (chapter 36)
152, 251
Fei Ru (Against the Ru; chapter
39) 5, 13, 9 n. 30, 24 n. 67, 100, 176 n. 4,
181, 238
Fei yue (Against Music; chapter
32)5, 11, 13, 15, 22, 24 n. 67, 109, 113,
169, 180, 238
Feng Youlan 132
filial. See xiao
Forke, Alfred2, 9, 15 n. 47, 35 n. 2, 98
n. 13, 107
former kings. See xian wang
Fraser, Chris7, 9, 25, 3233, 40, 71 n. 5,
96 n. 2, 98 n. 13, 99, 175, 249 n. 9
funerals25, 95, 106, 112113, 116117, 131,
133, 135, 170173, 179180, 182183, 234,
247
Geng Zhu (Geng Zhu; chapter 46)
6, 115, 175 n. 1, 238
gentleman. See junzi
ghosts. See gui ; see also shen
golden age32, 102, 173
gong (to attack)72, 7778, 80, 82,
8687, 8993, 152, 165, 253
Gongmeng (Gongmeng; chapter
48)6, 9 n. 30, 175 n. 1, 238
Gongmengzi 26, 115116, 175
nn. 12, 181 n. 11, 189
Gongshu (Gongshu Pan ;
chapter 50)6, 175 n. 1, 238
Gou Mang 99
Graham, Angus C.2, 3 n. 12, 4 n. 15, 7
n. 22, 912, 14, 1617, 37 n. 9, 3945, 69
n. *, 70 n. 3, 71 n. 5, 95 n. 1, 9697, 98
n. 13, 107108, 143144, 150
Gu Jiegang 143 n. 1, 147
Guan Zhong 219 n. 22, 221 n. 25
Guanzi 146, 158, 221 n. 25
gui (ghosts)17, 2728, 30, 32, 73, 86,
87 n. 18, 88, 91, 95, 96, 97, 112 n. 37, 123,
128129, 137 n. 91, 139141, 150 n. 25, 154,
167168, 177183, 184 n. 17, 188
demands versus frugal rituals131132,
135137
in Ming gui (chapter 31)100,
102106
in Guishen zhi ming
(Shanghai Museum fragment)
122123, 125128
in the Core Chapters (chapters 837)
109113
in the Opening Chapters (chapters 17)
and Dialogues (chapters 4649/50)
113, 115120
shi gui (serve the ghosts)2527,
37 n. 10, 110, 139, 182, 245, 251
Gui yi (Valuing Morality;
chapter 47)6, 116, 175 n. 1, 195, 238
Guiguzi 146, 158
Guishen zhi ming (Ghostly
Percipience)98, 108, 120121, 150, See
also Shanghai Museum fragment
Guodian manuscripts21, 149, 153 n. 32,
146, 154, 158
Guoyu 146, 158
H group. See Compromising
hai (harm)51, 56, 6566, 111, 178, 184,
194, 202, 236, 259
Han Feizi 64 n. 77, 146, 158, 218
n. 21, 221 n. 25
Xian xue (Eminent Learning;
chapter 50)10
harm. See hai
harm others. See kui ren
hate. See wu
Heaven. See tian
Heguanzi (Pheasant Cap Master)
146, 158
hurt. See zei
inclusive(ness). See jian
interlocutor(s). See also audience
100101, 109, 114, 116, 118, 121, 126127, 139,
141, 166167
Ivanhoe, Philip2, 97 n. 8, 192 n. 24
J group. See Reactionary
ji (to calculate)30, 73, 7980
jian (inclusive, universal, for all;
opposite of bie )36, 41, 44, 47,
5056, 5859, 65, 138, 233, 236, 250251,
260
its applicability42
jian ai (universal love, inclusive
care, concern for everyone)9, 14,
23, 2527, 30, 3538, 44, 4647, 49, 55,
5760, 6265, 182, 191, 194, 195 n. 28,
197 n. 29, 199 n. 34
jian er ai (caring
inclusively)27, 61, 243, 257, 259
290 subject index
jian er li (benefiting
inclusively)243, 257, 259
jian xiang ai (inclusively caring
for each other)27, 30, 33, 3738, 46,
4849, 52, 55, 248249, 259260
jian yi yi bie (with
inclusiveness replace exclusiveness)
30, 37, 52
of Heaven. See tian
scope of jian45, 48, 50, 53, 58, 6061,
262
Jian ai (Inclusive Care; chapters
1416)5, 7, 11, 13, 1516, 18 n. 54, 22, 27,
2930, 3540, 42, 4446, 54, 5758, 60,
61 n. 64, 62, 6466, 108, 111, 216, 222 n.
28, 233, 238, 254, 260
Jian ai, shang (chapter 14)
11, 30, 3745, 4749, 5354, 5659,
6566
Jian ai, xia (chapter 16)30,
3739, 4145, 5256, 5860, 6566,
222, 250251
Jian ai, zhong (chapter
15)30, 37, 39, 4145, 4853, 5560,
6566, 162, 164, 248, 260
jian xiang ai, jiao xiang li , .
See jian and li
jiao (each other, reciprocity; opposite
of zi )53, 65, See also li , 260
Jie yong (Moderation in Expenses;
chapters 2021)5, 11, 13, 15, 22, 112, 180,
238, 247
Jie yong, shang (chapter 20)
11, 167, 247
Jie zang (Moderation in Burials;
chapter 25)5, 11, 13, 15, 22, 109, 112, 180,
238, 247
Johnston, Ian2, 5 n. 17, 7 n. 22, 8 n. 25,
34, 36 n. 4, 131, 140 n. 93
junzi (gentleman)51, 59, 63, 170,
189, 192193, 204, 205 n. 1, 207, 221, 222
n. 28, 225, 229231, 233236, 241, 261
shi junzi (officer-
gentleman)41, 44, 5152, 61, 183
n. 15, 222223, 248, 265
shisu zhi junzi (gentleman
of the age)91, 193, 196
tianxia zhi junzi
(gentleman of the world), 41, 7476,
78, 90, 195197, 248, 261, 265, 266268
King Dao of Chu 217, 228
King Fuchai of Wu 83, 124
n. 65, 220, 227
King Goujian of Yue 83, 124
n. 65, 219220, 227
King Hel of Wu 83, 124 n. 65
King Jie of the Xia dynasty23
n. 65, 62, 88, 104, 111, 117, 123, 125, 129,
141 n. 95, 152, 178, 226, 245, 264
King Wen of the Zhou dynasty32,
37, 52, 5960, 62, 110, 144, 151, 158164,
167168, 172, 178, 245, 250251, 257,
264265, 267
King Wu of Qin 217, 227
King Wu of the Zhou dynasty32,
52, 62, 8687, 103104, 110, 144, 151152,
158163, 166167, 169, 172, 178, 245,
250251, 257, 264265
King Xuan of Zhou 99
King Zhou of the Shang
dynasty104, 110111, 117, 123, 125, 129,
152, 178, 226227, 229, 245, 264
Kongzi (Confucius)26, 46, 77, 95,
103, 115116, 128, 134 n. 89, 144, 149, 156,
175 n. 2, 176 n. 5, 181 n. 11, 224, 259
kui ren (to harm others)7375
Laozi 2122, 145, 186187, 256257
Lau, D.C. 34
Legge, James2, 36 nn. 45, 50
Lewis, Mark8, 102 n. 20, 145
li (benefit, beneficial, profit)26,
28, 38, 4546, 4849, 5154, 5657,
59, 6163, 6566, 89, 99100, 103104,
111113, 138, 153, 164165, 169, 178181,
184186, 188, 194195, 198, 202, 207,
212213, 215, 218, 225, 227228, 230,
232233, 235236, 244245, 251, 254,
257262, 264265
benefits of military campaigns30,
7374, 8182, 84, 90
jiao xiang li (mutually benefit
each other)27, 30, 33, 3738, 49, 52,
55, 248249, 259260
three levels of benefit: Heaven, spirits,
people (san li )85, 177, 248,
251, 254, 257258, 262 n. 26
xiang li (benefit one
another)243244, 260, 269
Li Rui 124 nn. 66, 68, 126, 131
Liang Qichao 36 n. 5, 64, 263
n. 30
Liao Mingchun 121 n. 53, 122
n. 56, 123 nn. 59, 61, 124 n. 68
Liji (Record of Rites)137 n. 91, 145,
153, 158, 173
Lin Qingyuan 20, 21 n. 60
subject index 291
Liu Xiang 22 n. 64, 37 n. 9
Liu Xin 37 n. 9
Logical Chapters. See Mohist Canon
Lord Huan of Qi 219220
Lord Wen of Jin 219220
Lord Wen of Luyang 9194,
179180, 189, 196
Loy, Hui-chieh7, 33, 87 n. 18, 90, 112
n. 37, 127128, 205
Lu wen (Lus Questions; chapter 49)
6, 2324, 26, 28, 37, 118, 175 n. 1, 238
luan (chaos)25, 43, 4548, 53, 99100,
123, 129, 135, 181184, 199 n. 33
Luan Tiaofu 9, 12 n. 41, 107, 263
n. 30
Lunheng (Discourses Weighed in the
Balance)129130, 132, 141 n. 95
Lunyu (Analects)6, 46, 97, 106, 128,
145, 147, 149150, 155159, 163, 176 n. 5,
207, 224, 256, 257
Lshi chunqiu (Annals by L
Buwei)145, 158, 199 n. 35, 221 n. 25
Maeder, Erik1 n. 1, 2 n. 6, 5 n. 16, 7 n. 22,
8 nn. 2627, 17, 40 n. 17, 43 n. 24, 98
n. 13, 109
Mawangdui manuscripts21
measure. See duo
Mei Yi-pao 2, 7 n. 22, 34, 61
n. 67, 69 n. *, 205206, 224, 247
Mencius. See Mengzi
Mencius. See Mengzi
Meng Ben 217, 227
Mengzi (Mencius)2 n. 4, 64, 77,
186 n. 19, 192 n. 25, 201 n. 38
Mengzi (Mencius)145, 158, 173, 186,
207, 222, 224
meritocracy209
Metzger, Thomas143
military aggression30, 6970, 7374, 76,
78, 80, 82, 8485, 90, 9394, 179, 182. See
also gong and war, warfare
Military or Defense Chapters (chapters
5271)3, 70
min (people)27, 63, 81, 86, 89, 92,
111113, 135, 161, 164, 179, 184, 190, 194, 210,
212, 221222, 226, 250, 256, 261262, 268
Ming gui (Explaining Ghosts;
chapter 31)5, 7, 11, 13, 15, 22, 25, 28,
30, 9899, 107109, 120, 125, 127, 133,
139140, 167, 238, 250, 252 n. 12
Mo Di 1, 3, 6 n. 21, 8 n. 25, 95,
143144, 148, 150, 152, 171, 173, 176, 263
n. 30
moderation2526, 114, 131, 135, 138, 170,
172173, 179, 182
Mohist canon or Dialectical
Chapters (chapters 4045)2 n. 9, 3,
145
moral psychology175 n. 1, 191
moral worth33, 177, 187188, 190191,
203
motivation1618, 22, 51, 66, 190192, 195,
197, 201 n. 38, 207, 209, 211215, 218, 224,
232233
moral motivation33, 212, 232, 177, 187,
191193, 203
motto(s)19, 21, 24, 2628, 37, 46
Mu Tianzi zhuan (The Tradition
of Mu, Son of Heaven)145
music2425, 95, 113, 116117, 133, 154,
169170, 181182, 205 n. 1
neng (ability, capable)126127,
195197, 205, 208, 210211, 216, 220221,
228, 255
Nishiyama Hisashi 122 n. 55,
123 nn. 5859, 124 nn. 66, 68, 125 n. 70
Nivison, David70 n. 2, 95, 192 n. 24, 198
n. 30
Okamoto Mitsuo 126 n. 74
Opening Chapters (chapters 17)2 n. 7,
3, 67, 13, 17, 3233, 98, 113114, 145, 150,
158, 237, 238, 245
opponents46, 8, 12, 17, 36, 4145, 48,
50, 54, 5658, 71 n. 6, 74, 76, 77 n. 11, 78,
8287, 91, 9394, 114, 139, 152, 165, 167,
170171, 175, 181182, 204, 253, 262, 265,
269
parents48, 5658, 82, 104, 176 n. 5,
198, 201 n. 38, 242, 249, 255256, 259,
261262
people. See min
Pines, Yuri205 n. 1
practicability49, 5152, 54, 59, 70, 144,
199
Puett, Michael35, 96
punish. See zhu
Purist1011, 39, 41, 4445, 108109
Qi huan (Seven Misfortunes;
chapter 5)7, 114, 238
Qin shi (Intimacy with Officers;
chapter 1)7, 33, 114, 205208, 215219,
221 n. 25, 223225, 231236, 238
Qin Yanshi 12
292 subject index
radicalization10, 16, 29, 33, 36, 38, 45, 58,
6061, 65, 107108, 262
Reactionary1011, 39, 108109
reciprocity. See xiang and jiao
Record of Rites. See Liji
ren (humane, moral goodness)17,
26, 54, 73, 187, 196197, 200202, 249,
261262, 264, 269
distribution in the Mozi238, 254
reward and punishment. See shang
fa
ritual(s)9596, 105, 117, 128, 131136, 138,
140, 176 n. 5, 205 n. 1, 220
Robins, Dan8, 49 n. 34, 59 n. 59, 76, 182
n. 12
Roetz, Heiner143
Ru (the classicists, erudites,
Confucians)57, 24, 35, 38, 9596,
98, 100, 106, 109, 115117, 120, 126, 127
n. 75, 128131, 133135, 137140, 171, 175,
180182, 189
sacrifices38, 89, 9597, 103106, 107 n.
25, 109, 110119, 128129, 133137, 140, 161,
179, 232, 263
sagehood ideal33, 147, 177, 198, 201203
sage-kings. See sheng wang
San bian (Three Arguments;
chapter 7)7, 238
san biao . See three tests
san fa . See three tests
Schmidt-Glintzer, Helwig40, 105 n. 23
Schwartz, Benjamin96, 133134, 137
sequence theory10, 12, 14, 70
shang fa (reward and
punishment)63, 65, 85, 9697, 99100,
103, 117, 120, 122, 125126, 128129, 139,
144, 187188, 211212, 214, 259, 264, 266
shang tong (conform upward,
identify with superiors)25, 182183,
189190
Shang tong (Conform Upward;
chapters 1113)5, 11, 13, 15, 2223, 28,
167, 191, 199 n. 33, 237 n. 1, 238, 254
Shang tong, shang (chapter
11) 191, 199 n. 33
Shang tong, zhong (chapter
12)16 n. 48, 111, 199 n. 33, 249
Shang xian (Elevate the Worthy;
chapters 810)5, 11, 13, 14 n. 44, 15,
2223, 28, 33, 205209, 213, 215218, 221,
223, 225, 231235, 237 n. 1, 238, 253254
Shang xian, shang (chapter 8)
213, 253
Shang xian, xia (chapter 10)
199 n. 33, 213, 248, 253
Shang xian, zhong (chapter 9)
14, 16 n. 48, 27, 213, 254
Shanghai Museum
fragment32, 98, 108, 114, 116, 120121,
122 n. 55, 124 n. 65, 125127, 129131,
134, 138139, 140, 150, See also
Guishen zhi ming
manuscripts120, 123 n. 62, 149150,
154, 162
Shangjun shu (Book of Lord
Shang)146, 158, 221 n. 25
Shangshu (Book of Documents)55,
103, 104 n. 22, 145147, 149, 155, 157159,
163, 169170, 256, 257, 266 n. 33
shen (spirits)30, 32, 73, 80, 8586,
87 n. 18, 8991, 9598, 107 n. 25, 110
n. 34, 112 n. 37, 125126, 127 n. 75,
128131, 134, 137 n. 91, 138141, 166, 179,
181, 232, 245, 248, 252, 254, 257258,
262 n. 26, 265
demands versus frugal rituals131133,
135138
in Ming gui (chapter
31)99100, 103106
in Guishen zhi ming
(Shanghai Museum fragment)120,
122128
in the Core Chapters (chapters 837)
109113
in the Opening Chapters (chapters 17)
and Dialogues (chapters 4649/50)
113, 115120
sheng wang (sage-kings, ancient
sages)1, 7, 27, 3233, 43, 55, 60, 62,
8586, 8990, 110111, 117, 125, 135136,
144, 146148, 152156, 172173, 178, 184,
186, 196, 207, 211214, 217218, 252,
255
as a standard245, 250251, 255,
264265, 269
as sextet (Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang, Wen,
Wu)150151, 156159, 162163,
165168, 170, 172
distribution in the Mozi144145, 155,
167, 264
in Zhou texts145, 154, 156
Mohist creation of166170, 172
standards of243, 247250, 255, 260
Shenzi 146, 158
shi fei (right versus wrong)24, 28,
41, 55, 57, 184, 188, 190191, 195197, 201,
265
subject index 293
Shijing (Book of Odes)103, 145146,
149, 155, 157160, 163, 170, 256257, 266
n. 33, 267
shu (to count)30, 73
Shujing . See Shangshu
Shun 32, 58 n. 58, 62, 111, 122, 125,
129, 150151, 157159, 162164, 166169,
171173, 176 n. 3, 178, 186, 250, 264265
singlets7, 13
slogan(s)19, 2428, 50 n. 35, 55, 60, 172,
185
spirits. See shen ; see also gui
Standaert, Nicolas1, 7, 29 n. 80, 33, 139,
237
standard. See fa
Sterckx, Roel7, 30, 32, 95
summaries. See Opening Chapters
(chapters 17)
Sun Yirang 2, 22 n. 64, 34, 37
n. 9, 50 n. 36, 64 n. 76, 80 n. 13, 88 n. 20,
99 n. 17, 112 n. 36, 113 n. 40, 164 n. 55, 171
nn. 6364, 206, 217, 221 n. 26, 222 n. 28,
224, 263 n. 30
Sunzi 81
Suo ran (What Has Been Dyed;
chapter 3)7, 238
Tang (Cheng Tang )32, 42, 62,
86, 88, 104, 110111, 122, 125, 144, 151152,
157160, 162170, 172173, 178, 196, 245,
250251, 257, 264265
ten central dogmas5, 25, 2728, 35, 37,
70, 100, 121, 176, 182
three tests (san biao or san fa )
99, 101103, 105, 107108, 184185, 251
three-sects theory10, 12, 14, 17 n. 50,
3940, 44 n. 25, 70, 107108
tian (Heaven)17, 19, 30, 63, 73, 8587,
9091, 9396, 100, 105, 110112, 116,
129130, 165166, 177181, 232, 237, 248,
253254, 258
as a standard3334, 60, 65, 8990,
122, 237238, 243, 253256,
264269
as foundation16, 21, 33, 62, 85, 90, 237,
253254, 260262, 269
characteristics of6163, 65, 255260,
267
distribution in the Mozi73, 238, 254
inclusiveness (jian )30, 6064, 89,
114, 256, 259264
tian de (Heavenly virtue)258
tian di (Heaven and Earth)86,
231, 238
tian min (Heavens subjects)89,
112
tian ming (Mandate of
Heaven)8891, 97, 104, 157158, 160,
238, 257
tian yi (intention of Heaven)21,
93, 144, 203, 258, 259260, 263
tian zhi chen (subjects of
Heaven)243, 262
tian zhi ren (Heavens
men)89, 112
tian zhi yi (intention of Heaven)
61, 258
tian zhi yi (cities of Heaven)
89, 112, 243244, 262
tian zhi zhi (will of Heaven)
21
tian zhi (will of Heaven)2021,
93, 110, 144, 252, 258
tian zi (Son of Heaven)2627,
86, 110111, 122, 151, 169, 238, 245, 249,
251, 264266
tianxia (All under Heaven)60,
72 n. 8, 122123, 144, 161162, 164165,
209, 223, 226, 263
zun tian (revere Heaven)21,
2528, 37 n. 10, 110, 182, 245, 251
Tian zhi (Will of Heaven; chapters
2628)5, 11, 13, 15, 2022, 25, 28, 33, 38,
60 n. 63, 63, 65, 107, 110, 237, 238, 248,
254261, 263265, 267
Tian zhi, shang (chapter 26)
20, 71, 109, 252, 256258, 260261,
263264, 266, 268
Tian zhi, xia (chapter 28)
20, 27, 238, 252, 262266, 268
Tian zhi, zhong (chapter
27)16 n. 48, 110, 256, 261264,
267268
title(s)2 n. 7, 46, 1926, 2830, 3537,
39, 53, 55 n. 49, 65, 70, 104 n. 22, 120121,
139140, 150, 153 n. 32, 154 n. 34, 175 n. 1,
208, 216, 221 n. 25, 238, 258, 266
triads. See triplets
triplets5, 9, 1819, 2829, 33, 176
characteristics5, 18, 70, 107, 178179,
181182, 190191, 194195, 198, 200,
202204, 237, 253
differences between chapters910,
12, 14, 18, 24, 30, 3841, 44, 7073, 261,
264
sequence of the chapters1415, 16, 40,
71, 177 n. 6, 237 n. 1
titles5, 2023, 28, 3637
294 subject index
utilitarian38, 58, 95, 99, 103, 105106, 109,
128, 133134, 138, 140, 143, 170, 247
van Els, Paul7, 29 n. 80, 30, 35, 69, 112
Van Norden, Bryan2, 97 n. 8, 149, 150
n. 23, 159, 222 n. 28
Waley, Arthur149, 159
Wang Chong 129134, 141
Wang Fu 141
Wang Niansun 2, 25 n. 69
Wang Yinzhi 2, 25 n. 69, 61
n. 66
Wang Zhong 263 n. 30
Wang Zhongjiang 124 nn. 66, 68,
125 n. 70, 126
war12, 48, 77, 79, 81, 83, 84, 89, 92, 94,
165, 202
warfare9, 30, 52, 6970, 7274, 7683,
8789, 9193, 111, 143, 152153, 165, 196,
253
Watanabe Takashi 4 n. 15, 910,
1416, 40, 49 n. 34, 60 n. 63, 107, 108 n.
26, 109, 150, 152, 154155, 162164, 170,
237 n. 1
Watson, Burton2, 34, 69 n. *, 96, 247
will of Heaven. See tian
Wong, Benjamin90, 112 n. 37, 127128
wu (hate)51, 57, 62 n. 68, 65, 243245,
258260, 262
Wu L 176, 181, 185, 199
Wu Qi 217, 22728
Wu Yujiang 34, 263 n. 30
Wumazi 2728, 115116, 175, 178,
181, 185, 188, 189
Xi Shi 227
xian (worthy)119, 169, 205, 208, 212,
214216, 220221, 225227, 229233
shang xian (elevate the
worthy)25, 182, 183 n. 15, 209, 211,
215216, 218, 231, 233, 254255, 269
xian wang (former kings)112, 145,
154155, 175 n. 2, 178, 184 n. 17, 193
distribution in the Mozi167
in Zhou texts155156
xiang (each other, reciprocity; opposite
of zi )30, 38, 45, 4748, 5051, 53,
5658, 6063, 65, 194, 260, 262264, See
also ai , jian and li
xiao (filial, filial piety, filiality)42, 48,
5658, 82, 100, 104, 106, 113, 198, 200
xing (conduct, practice)50, 52,
183187, 190191, 194196, 199202, 211,
222
Xiu shen (Cultivating the Self;
chapter 2)7, 238
Xunzi 64 n. 77, 127, 186, 224
Xunzi
Tian lun (About Heaven)19,
21, 22 n. 64, 127 n. 75, 146, 158, 207,
224
Y group. See Purist
yan (statements, teachings)177178,
183187, 190, 192, 195, 197, 203
Yang Zhu 2 n. 4, 38
Yanzi chunqiu (Spring and
Autumn Annals by Master Yan)146,
153 n. 32, 158
Yao 32, 62, 111, 122, 125, 129, 150151,
157159, 162164, 166169, 171173, 178,
250, 264265
yi (morality, right, distributive
righteousness)17, 21, 28, 54, 73, 75, 177,
179, 185186, 192, 197, 198 n. 32, 199203,
211, 213214, 234235, 252, 258259, 261,
268
Ying Shao 141
Yinwenzi 146, 158
Yoshinaga Shinjir 15 n. 46,
38 n. 13, 40, 45 n. 28, 46, 58
Yu 32, 52, 62, 86, 110111, 122, 125, 144,
151152, 157169, 171173, 178, 196, 203,
245, 250251, 257, 264265
Yu Yue 2, 9, 10 n. 34
zei (hurt)28, 57, 62, 6566, 112, 123,
188, 243245, 260, 262
Zheng Jiewen 2 n. 3, 6 n. 21,
9 n. 31, 104 n. 22, 107 n. 25, 133, 137 n. 91,
149 n. 22,
zhu (to punish)87, 90, 9293, 112,
253
Zhuang Ziyi 99
Zhuangzi 64 n. 77, 69, 122 n. 55,
146, 158, 186187, 199, 203, 221 n. 25, 251
Tianxia (The World; chapter
33) 10
zi (oneself; opposite of xiang , jiao
). See ai
zui (crime)7379, 91, 101, 256
zun tian . See tian
Zuozhuan 145, 153154, 158