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C O U R S E 
Chinese Thought: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science
Edward Slingerland, University of British Columbia
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Mozi's Anti-Confucian Chapters
Notes taken on February 28, 2018 by Edward Tanguay
Mozi is a materialist, state consequentialist
measuring material profit and benefit ("li")
wants to maximize the
order of the state
characteristics which can be measured
in the Warring States, population is power
you can measure ideas and processes with these three criteria
Mozi believes there are many things going on in the Warring States societies which don't pass these three tests
the anti-Confucian chapters
against Confucian funeral practices
wants them more moderate
condemnation of musical performances
condemnation of fatalism
against Confucians themselves
problems with Confucianism
partiality is built into Confucianism
don't treat your own parents better than other's parents
for Mozi, this doesn't pass the order principle
leads to nepotism and chaos
Confucian ethics are built upon emotional family ties
Confucianism produces a lot of waste
music and ritual consume vast amounts of material and labor resources
he's not against music per se, but it is very expensive and provides no benefits
he means public music, massive orchestras
Confucian bells put in arrays
expensive to built
expensive to play
Mozi is a
materialist and so only materialist goods matter to him
goods that you can actually measure
only external characteristics matter
he is not trying to cultivate you
for Confucius, music is about reshaping people from the inside out
Mozi doesn't care about these internal states
Mozi was later criticized as being inhuman
people want to sing and Mozi won't let them sing
there's no obvious answer to how you balance cultural goods, art, and moral improvement
Confucian counter argument
we want people to have enough food to eat, but human beings aren't livestock
human beings need other things, too, e.g. beauty and culture
to reduce human live to utilitarian survival is not the best goal
at what point is spending on art and culture too much, at what point is spending on social services not enough
every society has to grapple with and it will define their society
Mozi has a passionate moral vision
Confucians are spending money on things that we don't need and that are not essential, or at least we shouldn't think about until basic needs are met
is upset that the Confucians think the past is good in and of itself
their mindless aping of the past
The Confucians say, "The superior man must use ancient speech and wear ancient dress before he can be considered benevolent."
"...but we answer: The so-called ancient speech and dress were all modern once, and if at that time the men of antiquity used such speech and wore such dress, then they must not have been superior."
why would you want to only transmit and not innovate in the modern world
it comes down to practical benefits
against fatalism
Confucians say that there are things outside your control
how long you live
whether you are wealthy or not
heaven will give it to you or not depending on fate
you want to focus on the internal goods of the Confucian way
money and fame are either going to come or not
says things cannot be changed.
if officials believe in fate, they will become lax in their duties
Mozi vs. Laozi on social reform
Mozi has a social reformer mission behind him
they both are opposed to Confucianism
think that there is something wrong with the elites
for Laozi, the elites cause suffering because they're greedy
greediness is caused by desire so let's eliminate desire
disband these large-scale societies and get everyone to go back to subsistence farming in agricultural communes
for Mozi, the elites are causing suffering in that they are doing wasteful activities
keep hierarchical society but do it in a fair way
not because you are related to someone, or you look nice, or you can sing the odes
but because you're a worthy person and good at your job
we keep large-scale society
material goods are not the problem, but we should distribute it more fairly
some people portray Mozi as socialist or communist, that he wants everyone to share things
his society is a very social stratified one
but people get their position in society based on objective measures
Mozi vs. Confucius on human nature
people without culture were not human beings
we wouldn't want to live in a world where we didn't have these things
everyone has there basic needs met but there's no music, no ritual, when our parents die, we bury them in an unmarked grave and go back to work again
the argument that we need to cultivate culture is the way spoiled elites think
in the Warring States period, many people didn't have their basic needs met
the beauty of this debate is that it was happening in the 4th century B.C. China and it's happening now
reading about ancient people grappling with these problems can give us new insights into our world