Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mozi (Mo Tzu), Chinese Philosopher, Notes and Outline

Mozi(Mo Tzu) - Mohism
  • 480-390 B.C.E.
  • Represents a separation from Kongzi
  • mo – means black ink – may have been a convict, branded on the face with tattoo
  • had his own little military, exercised great control
    • hence may have been a convict, revolutionary
  • some say he may have been member of aristocratic elite
  • critical of a family based political system
    • problem of partiality
      • if you are the ruler, you may promote or pick other leaders in the family, in being loyal to them
      • Confucianism has preference as a part of it – filial piety
  • rather than engaging in filial piety (preference for you own family), instead we should engage in universal love, or impartial care
    • if people were promoted within the state, who the leader is closest to, the most competent may not always be working
  • Mozi is similar to Utilitarianism
    • also called state consequentialism
    • utilitarianism is a consequential moral theory – actions judged based on their consequences
    • good consequences → right action
    • bad consequences → wrong action
    • a ritual/cultural norm is a good one only if it has good consequences; bad if it has bad consequences
    • Mozi's Good Consequences
      • 1. Big Population
      • 2. Order
      • 3. Prosperity
      • this is the standard Mozi uses to find right and wrong
      • ex. funerals, prolonged mourning – too much money spent, time
        • Mozi puts material prosperity before Kongzi's important relationships – p. 80
  • Mozi downplays the following of rights and culture and rituals
    • only are valuable when they conform to objective morality
    • for any given ritual, we can ask, “Is it justified?” Is it a good thing that we practice it?
    • Kongzi focuses on order, supported by ritual
      • believes the rites are inherently valuable
    • Mozi thinks there can be good rituals and bad ones
    • how is a ritual justified? → must be some external standard
    • cultural rites are not inherently valuable, but must be justified by appeal to an objective moral standard
      • *objectively good regardless of what anybody thinks of it
        • it is an objective fact that there is a table in front of the room
        • a rite could be bad even if nobody realized it, if it were a cultural norm

    there must be an objective basis for morality
  • Does Mozi succeed in finding such a basis for morality
  • would Kongzi define his system as objective?
  • Suppose: ex. somebody says Betty has Ren and Fred does not
    • is there an objective basis for this statement?
  • Morality is not based on personal opinion

  • P is objectively true
    • just in case
    • P is true regardless of what anyone believes about it

  • ex. Is there harmony in Baghdad?
    • Lack of social order, Mozi would not approve of it (no finger pointing), it is not harmonious
    • anybody who says otherwise is wrong
  • so...Mozi would say there is an objective criteria for order
    • objective criteria for prosperity
  • anybody who acts in a way that consequently supports harmony is acting rightly
  • objection to utilitarianism: what about individual human rights?

  • Morality not grounded in convention
    • a rite is justified merely by the fact that we perform it (it's tradition!)
  • Right/Wrong not a matter of cultural standards (practices) – not a matter of convention
    • it has an objective standard
  • find people who are effective at other jobs than politics, then put them in political power
    • promote people based on their ability to run the state effectively
  • Mozi: these things are objectively valuable
      (and inherently – order is valuable because it is order; self-evident)
      1. prosperity
      2. population
      3. order
    • these are objective (measurable)
  • John Stuart Mill – Hedonic Utilitarianism
    • the most inherently, primitive, ultimate good thing is happiness (pleasure)
    • “happiness is good” -- self-evident

  • Mozi is arguing to the Confucian
    • defended against the Confucian who argues for the primacy of rites/virtues
    • Mozi argues that mourning for 3 years would not improve prosperity
      • you can't have an expensive funeral without prosperity – money
      • in this way Mozi is a materialist
    • does social order require prosperity?
    • the nice thing about an objective basis for morality is that disagreements can can be settled easily
    • Mozi: parents are many, but virtue is rare
  • impartial caring
    • people who hate and steal are partial
    • lack of order, crime, come from partiality
    • one is impartial when everybody is treated as equally important
      • we are all importance
      • we are equal so I treat you as I would like to be treated
    • partiality: some people are more important than others
      • ex. my family is more important than your family
      • ex. I would rob you only if I saw myself as more important than you
    • impartiality can be understood as a take on Kongzi's reciprocity, and the golden rule
    • 'regard other people's states as you would your own'
  • looks more like a modern western moral theory
  • An Attack on Fatalism
    • fatalism – fate or destiny
    • shouldn't believe in fate/destiny
    • this belief has bad consequences: it doesn't matter what I do, it won't make any difference
    • the die is already cast, what is in the cards is in the cards and isn't gonna change, so why try to change anything?
    • **A presupposition of working hard to change your future is that it be possible to change it – there is no such thing as fate
      • you can't change anything if you don't think it is first possible to change
  • :: promoting some views, like belief in ghosts, has good consequences, therefore, let us tell people there are ghosts
    • believing in what has good consequences

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