Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mozi and Universal Love

The Chinese thinker, Mozi, a contemporary of the Greek Socrates, was born after the death of Confucius about 480 BCE. While largely known for his ideas on two terms, profit and usefulness, Mozi rests as a profound influence in traditional Chinese thought for his writing on universal love.

Writing in her recently published book, Confucius and Confucianism the Essentials, author Lee D. Rainey writes that Mozi believed in the importance of rational argument, the establishing of definitions, how to argue properly and the value of not wasting anything-- for if we follow these and other dictates which he outlines, both Heaven and the gods will favor us.

In the area of profit Mozi says simply: what is profitable is useful; what is useful is profitable. So then useful or profitable items are food, clothing and shelter, for example. Conversely unprofitable things are activities which waste money, time, does not benefit or leads to war. Mozi did however make exception for battles which were largely defensive in nature.

Mozi also argued that we must naturally love ourselves and that basic self-interest will motivate one to profit. The profit of this activity in his view is that we should then practice what he calls universal love. In Mozi's view this is simply that I love you, you love me back. He advocated for this behavior in a time in which there was much conflict and war. In Mozi's mind, friendship was an entirely different matter while love was dictated by usefulness and efficacy to profit.

As part of his advocacy for universal love, Mozi declares that all rules must be followed, and the ruler or monarch obeyed, so as to bring the blessings of Heaven upon oneself. Author Rainey writes, "[his] religious arguments are very cool... Mozi simply says that Heaven, the gods, and the spirits bless and reward those who practice universal love and punish those who do not."
With this, Mozi set a course to become  known as "the condemnation of the Confucians."

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