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The Philosophy of Mohist Consequentialism Essay

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Updated: Mar 3rd, 2021

In ancient China the attitude toward the Confucians was disputable. The first philosophical teaching, which criticized Confucians was Mohism. This social movement described a typical Confucian as a beggar and idler. They charged Kongzi with different sins, beginning from hypocrisy and ending with the war instigating. The founder of Mohism was Mozi. In our days, except the legends and anecdotes, we know few about him.

Mozi was the vocal opponent of aggressive warfare. Instead of it, he proposed many defensive tactics. It was the key difference between the disciples of Mozi and Confucians. Mozi was convinced that if every state could defend themselves, there would be peace in the world because the opposition parties would realize the inanity of the war. The defensive methods of Mozi were rather effective.

However, the main difference between Confucianism and Mohism was in the understanding of such a notion as a standard. According to Kongzi, every person had no predisposition for or against something. A person decided for himself independently what side to choose. On the contrary, Mozi argued that it was impossible to define what was good and what was bad without determining the notion of the standard of assessment.

Mohism taught a person to regard other people in the same way this person wanted to be regarded. The consequentialist ethic of Mohism gave the definite characterization of what was considered to be the benefits as opposed to the harms. Such a notion as wealth was viewed by Mohism as the material goods, aiming to correspond to the human needs. The disciples of Mohism denied the superfluity.

Based on their teaching Mohists criticized Confucian rituals. In the philosophy of Mohism, the key point was human wealth. The Mohists argued that such a ritual as the funeral required a lot of attributes that were left in a grave. They asserted that this fact caused the waste of wealth. They also criticized those rituals in which the musical performances were involved. It was said that these performances were too expensive and they took people from their work.

Except for the rituals, they also criticized Confucianism for its inequitable attitude. It was possible to illustrate by the example of a stranger, who was ill and needed help. From the point of view of the Confucians this person had to be treated, but not in such a good manner as they treated their relatives. From the point of view of the Mohists, there was no difference between this person and their relatives or friends.

The Mohist implemented such a notion as a state-of-nature argument. The character of this argument was a presumption about the nature of life, which had been before the appearance of the institution of the government. According to Mohism, without the institution of the government, there was no such notion as a norm. People were free in the definition of what was good and what was bad. Due to this, chaos ruled the world. From that followed that without the socialization there might be an unlimited amount of the norms.

There was a contradiction between the two Mozis statements. On the one hand, he stated that the will of Heaven was the clearest standard. On the other hand, he asserted that a benevolent person had to promote beneficial things and to avoid harmful ones. The contradiction was whether it was Heaven that made a person to be benevolent, or it was a benevolence right because Heaven dictated that it was right.

At the present day, Mohism does not exist as an independent philosophical movement, but its ideas have given to the world philosophy such notions as the thought experiment and the state of nature arguments, enriching it in a great manner.

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