Mozi’s Path Towards An Ideal Society Mozi was a philosopher that was lived during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Mozi held the belief that the Warring States period had fallen into a decline in righteousness. Although Mozi lived around the same period as Confucius, he was known to criticize the Confucius school of thought and detailed his personal philosophy on how to restore society back to absolute goodness.
Mozi detailed the mechanisms of an excellent society through the use of statehood, personal, and supernatural intervention. Change later) Mozi, while disdainful towards his current leaders, argued that society would progress through the actions of noble class gaining respect from the lower classes. The great officials of the period would “all want their states to be wealthy, their populations great… “, but could not achieve this goal without the actions of the worthy (Mozi 61). This system would have also been used to form checks and balance. A person was to only be promoted if they truly were worthy of the task.
This allowed for the leaders to have workers that would “exert themselves in honoring virtue” (Mozi 64). Occupation or hierarchical ranking was argued to not be a factor and that worthy people came from all walks of life. Mozi also argued that society could not progress through wasteful military campaigns. Mozi argued that while killing and stealing is easily identifiable as reprehensible, aggressive state affairs bend the line between humane and inhumane. A single person’s actions can have dire consequences, but if a state commits the same actions, its punishment is nonexistent.
Mozi condemned this notion of aggression and asked for the leaders and gentlemen “to condemn such actions and declare that they are wrong” (Mozi 77). Mozi believed that that the leaders should cease to praising and to stop “declare (ing) that it is the right thing to do” (Mozi 78). Mozi believed that unjust wars were a direct result of a lack of sage rulers. While a normal ruler focused on war and excessive expenditures, a sage ruler would cut excessive expenditures. Mozi believed that his leaders were egoistical and neglected the population’s needs.
In Mozi’s ideal society, the state’s excessive expenditures would be spent to “increase the availability of clothes, houses, armor… ” (Mozi 79). Mozi expected the leaders to play a crucial role in moving towards the optimal society and that a righteous leader would make a difference. While Mozi believed that it was important for leaders to act like the sage kings, he also believed that virtue in society was also dependent on the population itself. Mozi argued that if the ordinary citizen obeyed his superior, then respect would be formed between the people.
This conduct of obedience would “be rewarded by superiors and praised by subordinates” (Mozi 66). Mozi believed that the “superiors” should be chosen by the people based on the virtue of benevolence. “The leader of each village would be the most benevolent person. “, and the village to respect their leader (Mozi 66). The population had the responsibility to report instances of good or bad character to the village leader. This method is effective in weeding out bad character traits and rewarding traits deemed favorable.
Mozi’s strategy of a positive society allows for the general populace to play a unique role, while seeking out benevolent individuals to promote. Mozi also held the strong opinion that society thrived on a person’s impartiality, rather than a person’s partiality. Mozi condemned these decisions solely based on bias, and wanted people to regard others as they would themselves. The individual must look through eyes unclouded with hate, and “regard other people’s states in the same way they regard their own” (Mozi 68).
As Mozi regarded partiality as the root of all of society’s issues, he “approve(d) of impartiality” as the solution (Mozi 69). It takes a great deal of virtue to care for one’s responsibilities, but a great deal more to care for one’s enemies. As society is mostly made up of the common folk, Mozi believed it was crucial for them to take a new approach towards government and the way they regarded other people. While the ideal society relies on the mutual respect between the leaders and the people, Mozi also detailed the importance of respect towards ghosts and spirits.
In fact, Mozi spoke critically against the role of lavish funerals and its impact on these entities. A policy with lavish funeral would require a great sum of money to carry it out. “The people would be poor, the people few… ” and society in chaos. Mozi argued that the poorer the people became the less they would be able to sacrifice to the High Lord, Spirits, and Ghosts. Without these essential sacrifices, the wrath of the High Lord, Spirits and Ghosts would “send down calamites and punishments and abandon such a people”, effectively destroying the society (Mozi 85).
Mozi believed that the capital wasted on lavish funerals could be used effectively towards the betterment of society and to continue to carry out productive sacrifices. As “heaven desires what is right and dislikes what is not right”, Mozi indicated that heaven is always watching over society and one should restrain from offending Heaven. (Mozi 91) The ideal society revolved around a combination fear and respect, with society having “heaven as a wheelwright” in making decisions.
As the optimal society was to be advanced through the efforts of benevolent people, these people were believed to be rewarded for their endeavors through the medium of ghosts. Mozi was steadfast in the idea that the more people that came to believe in the existence of ghosts, the better society would function. Although the existence of ghosts was ambiguous, ghosts were considered to have the power to reward and punish the mortal world as they found fit. The proof that these entities existed would radically change the mindset of the population and have society worried about the consequences of wicked deeds.
Mozi believed that if people respected Heaven, Spirits, and Ghosts, then they would strive towards the notion of positively advancing society, rather than destroying it. While Mozi lived in a time of trials and tribulations, he used his philosophies in order to demonstrate the problems with the period. Mozi believed that society needed to take an introspective look towards its faults. While society will always be a fusion of goodness and wickedness, Mozi took on the challenge of trying to progress society towards a better tomorrow.