C O U R S E L E C T U R E
Mozi's Idea of Ideological Unity
Notes taken on June 20, 2017 by Edward Tanguay
Mozi's ideological unity
getting people together on the same page in terms of what the right thing to do is
chapter: Honoring the Worthy
get worthy officials running the state
"When a worthy man is given the task of ordering the state, he appears at court early and retires late, listens to lawsuits and attends to affairs of government."
"As a result the state is well ordered and laws and punishments are justly administered."
someone who works hard and does his job well
you can measure what he does objectively
but he means not mystical power, but job efficiency and honesty
but uses much of the same terminology that Confucius used
How do you increase the number of worthy men in your state?
"It is analogous to the case of wanting to increase the number of good archers or charioteers in one's state, one must reward and esteem them, revere and praise them."
there is not any mystical about this, you simply pay them well
rewards based solely on performance, not social class or reputation
make sure they are worthy by measuring their job performance
"Now the rulers and high officials know that if they cannot cut a suit of clothes for themselves, they must employ the services of a skilled tailor, if they can't slaughter an ox or a sheep for themselves, they must employ the services of a skilled butcher."
you have to hire a competent specialist to do it
"and when they see the state in confusions and their altars of the soil and grain in danger, they do not know enough to employ capable men to correct the situation, instead they employ their relatives, or men who happen to be rich and eminent or pleasant-featured or attractive."
Confucians have an idea that competent people have to have connections and know people
for the Zhou Dynasty, Ren was the physical appearance of a gentleman: handsome, well-shaped, an aristocrat, you look nice
Confucius moralizes this term, so Ren becomes an internal moral quality of a gentleman
but it's still intangible, you just have to know who has Ren and who doesn't
Mozi believes this is just as bad as the Zhou dynasty
it's too prone to mistakes, to nepotism, and favoritism, and so filling government position comes down to people you like or people who look like you
Mozi is worried about corruption in terms of self-selection, people who appoint those who look like them or sound like them
Mozi believed the government should have to hire people based on objective criteria
measure them on objective outputs
virtue in the Confucian sense is superficial
if you want to run a state, you have to have professionals who know what they're doing
a very different conception than the Confucian gentleman
the dark side of virtue ethics
you go by gut reactions, random, and unreliable
the good thing is what the good person thinks the good think is, which turned out to be these leaders such as Confucius
what if the so-called good people are bad?
what if they don't have society's best interests in mind or your best interests in mind?
Mozi had a similar reaction to virtue ethics as the consequentialists and deontologists did in the West
we need to replace all this good-person stuff and virtue-stuff with objective standards
we want an objective, rationalist ethic that we can guide ourselves by
we want to level the playing field: it shouldn't matter what family you are from, who you know, how much money you have
we need to protect people from social exploitation
we have to make sure that the people in power are actually looking out for the interests of society as a whole and not just their own class interests
we need to hold everyone to the same standard
you see his craft background coming out
what is he measuring job performance by
"I hold to the will of Heaven as a wheelwright holds to his compass and carpenter his square."
coming from a trade background
you don't consult the good person, your intuitions, or your neighbors
you take a plumb line and you measure it
Mozi believes that the problem with the world is the failure of people to have objective standards
"The books of all the gentlemen in the world today are so numerous that they cannot be exhaustively catalogued and their teachings and maxims are more than can be counted...I measure them with the clearest standard in all the world: Heaven's Will."
Mozi is convinced that he can perceive heaven's will
he believes it is an objective standard like a scale or a plumb bob
he believes we don't have to eyeball it, we have tools to tell you if something is correct
he believes it is something public that other people can verify is correct
chapter: Identifying with One's Superiors
an account of the state of nature
everyone is fighting against each other
as in Hobbes thought: there are limited resources which everyone is persuing and so they fight
for Mozi, the chaos in nature arises because people have different ideas about what is right
yi, n. rational explicit ideas about what is right
their external standard of conduct conflicts with one another
for Confucius, yi refers the unformalizable sense of rightness that the gentleman has
it's ok to change the material that you make the ritual cap out of
but it's not ok to bow when you are going up and down the stairs
it's a virtue that enables you to judge when things are right and wrong
for Mozi, yi is an external and public set of standards about what the right thing to do is formalized in words
if you have different sets of yi, you are going to have chaos
so the goal in society is to unify people's sense of yi
the people above impose this sense of yi on those below them
those below them follow this sense of yi if they want to keep their jobs and the lives
"whenever your superior approves of something as right, you too must approve of it, whenever your superior condemns something as wrong, you too must condemn it"
order arises from a strict social hierarchy and a unity of belief which is all enforced by harsh punishment, "
for Confucius, punishment and reward are ultimately ineffective because it doesn't change people's inner commitment, which for Confucius is the goal of societal change, i.e. to change people, you need to make them feel internal shame
for Mozi, you want to get people to fear punishment
he believes that the only force people respond to reliably is external pressure, i.e. external rewards and punishments
he doesn't believe that instilling virtues, shame, or principles in people is an effective way to get social order