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Mo-Tzu: Chinese Jesus Christ, Military Genius


The Chinese philosopher, religions and military leader Mo-Tzu is a really interesting person that I don't think anyone knows about. I didn't know about him until recently and I thought I knew Chinese philosophy pretty well having read Lao-Tzu, Chuang Tzu and Confuciuos (as well as some the Art of War;). Mo-Tzu lived around 500 BC after Confucious. He was born into poverty and rose to become a Christ like figure who combined theoretical philosophical logic with real military power and strategy.



Mo-Tzu taught a version of Universal Love that is very close to what Jesus Christ preached. Mo-Tzu believed that Heaven ordered the Earth and that it made sense that Heaven would make Universal love stronger than what he called partial love. Partial love is what you show your elders (in Confucianism), or your immediate family, or your class or ethnic group. It is love that makes sense only in contrast to others. Partial love says, I love my parents more than all others therefore I should obey their rules (Confucianism).

Mo-Tzu argues that uprightness (righteousness) applies in a universal way - just like love does. He says a righteous man will denounce his own father if his father is guilty of stealing a sheep. Confucious in contrast, argues for the partiality of love and righteousness. For Confucious "righteousness" is a question of protecting your father. The righeous man shields his father from guilt when his father steels a sheep. For Confucious - "a father will shield his son, a son will shield his father. This is righteousness." Mo-Tzu argues, correctly I would maintain, that this sort of relativism of "righteousness" leads to corruption and misery for all.

In contrast, Mo-Tzu preached that everyone shoudl aspire to be righteousness and love everyone else without partiality. Like Jesus 500 years later and John Lennon and the Hippies in modern times, Mo-Tzu said the answer to the world's problems is universal love. Poverty, War, hatred can all be solved by learning to love everyone as ourselves. In "Impartial Concern" (jian'ai), Mo-Tzu argues that the cause of the world's troubles lies in people's tendency to act out of a greater regard for their own welfare than that of others, and that of associates over that of strangers, with the consequence that they often have no qualms about benefiting themselves or their own associates at the expense of others. The conclusion is that people ought to be concerned for the welfare of others without making distinctions between self, associates and strangers. Give and you shall recieve.

A big problem in Mo-Tzu's China at the time was rival kingdoms in China attacking each other. Mo-Tzu preached that violent aggression and war was wrong. Not only did he preach this but he created a para-military organization that divised strategies for withstanding seiges from aggressive kingdoms and implemented them on the battle field. His group - the Mohists - became like the A-Team of ancient China. They went around ancient China and helped rescue weaker kingdoms with their crack squad of para-military trained philosophers who were also master military strategists.

Mo-Tzu shared a belief in the potential of all people that Americans can well relate to. He first articulated the very idea of meritocracy. Mo-Tzu wrote about "Elevating the Worthy" (shangxian). He argued that the policy of elevating worthy and capable people to office in government whatever their social origin is a fundamental principle of good governance. The proper implementation of such a policy requires that the rulers attract the talented to service by the conferring of honor, the reward of wealth and the delegation of responsibility (and thus power). On the other hand, the rulers' practice of appointing kinsmen and favorites to office is condemned.

Confucians don't believe in Heaven directly intervening in earthly issues. They are very, very, very wrong. Confucianism is the devil's religion. It is very misguided and dangerous. Mo-Tzu was correct that Heaven directly intervenes in our affairs - though sometimes in ways that we do not understand. In "Heaven's Will" (Tianzhi), Mo-Tzu argues that the will of Heaven (Tian) -- portrayed as if it is a personal deity and providential agent who rewards the good and punishes the wicked -- is the criterion of what is morally right. Here, the Mohists contrast themselves with the Confucians, who regard Heaven as a moral but mysterious force that does not intervene directly in human affairs.

Mo-Tzu is essentially a Rortyian pragmatist who believes in God and Heaven. He is very close to the ideals of the Founding Fathers of American Democracy. The reason he argues that Universal Love must be true is based on its benefit to humanity. He argues for truth based upon usefullness. His entire state philosophy is based around trying to provide the best for the people while avoiding war. While his views were suppressed in China, they still became vastly influential and absorbed into other philosphical systems like Confucianism.