Mohism

Doctrines The doctrines of Mohism are to be found in the work Mo-tzu, named after the founder of the Moist tradition Mo Ti (c. 470-390 BCE). Although attributed to Mo Ti, the Mo-tzu was probably composed over a number of generations by Mo Ti's disciples. The Mo-tzu originally consisted of 71 chapters, but 16 of these have been lost.
It is in the Essays section of the Mo-tzu we that we find the key principles of Moism.
  1. Universal love. In contrast to the Confucianists, who taught that devotion was particularly due to one's family, Moism prescribed equal love for all people.
  2. Opposition to offensive war. Mo Ti opposed all forms of aggressive action, particularly in the form of large states attacking smaller ones. He did, however, accept that it was legitimate to use force to defend those who are being attacked.
  3. Opposition to music. Mo Ti regarded music as a source of extravagance, associating it with dance, flamboyance and a waste of public resources which could be used to feed, shelter and protect people.
  4. Opposition to elaborate funerals. Funerals were excessively expensive and the time of mourning excessively lengthy.
  5. Divine retribution. Mo Ti believed that heaven is a personal force which knows of the misdeeds that people perform and punishes people for them. Such a belief serves to encourage people to conduct themselves morally.
  6. Government. Unlike Confucius, Mo-tzu did not accept the tradition that emperors derive their mandate from heaven; instead the position of the emperor should be based solely on merit. While the emperor should be obeyed, people have the right to criticise the emperor if his actions are not in accord with the will of heaven.

History The school of Moism was founded by Mo Ti, who was born shortly after the death of Confucius. Mo Ti lived during the period of the warring states, which was characterised by chaos, confusion and conflict between the various feudal states. Mo Ti sought to address the problems of his period through creating a philosophy based on universal love and promoting attitudes and conduct that is most useful to people. Mo Ti lived out the principles of his philosophy. It is recorded that on one occasion he walked ten days and ten nights to prevent a larger state from attacking a smaller one.
The Moist movement was highly authoritarian. Mo Ti was treated by his followers as virtually infallible, and his successors were also accorded great obedience by their followers. During the fourth century BCE the movement was strong enough to rival Confucianism. That this was so is borne out by the fact that prominent Confucianist philosophers felt the need to attack Moist teaching. Mencius (371-289) denounced the doctrine of universal love as one that undermined children's relations with their parents and fit only for "beasts". Hsun-tzu attacked Mo Ti's opposition to music as indicative of a lack of refinement on the part of Mo Ti.
During the third century BCE the movement went into decline, all but disappearing by the time of the unification of China in 221 BCE. Little interest was paid to the Mo-tzu until the arrival of Christianity in China, when scholars explored the similarities between Moist and Christian teaching on universal love. Later, during the communist period Moism received some official sympathy because of its opposition to aristocratic privilege.

Symbols There are no symbols associated with Moism.

Adherents Moism has no contemporary adherents.

Headquarters/
Main Centre
 Mo Ti is thought to have lived in either the state of Sung or Lu.