1. "Mohist Thought"
2. Burton Watson, trans., Mozi: Introduction, 1-16
3. "Universal Love"
Lecture PowerPoint Deck
The first response to Confucianism was given by the Mohist school, which countered the Confucian ritual focus with a focus on the notion of human welfare, or "the beneficial" (those who disliked Mohism stressed the sense of this key term as "profit" -- the term [lì] is described in the "Glossary"). Mohist philosophy closely resembles Western "utilitarianism," which resolves issues of doubt by asking which alternatives of action, belief, or moral disposition will produce the greatest net benefit to the human race. Mohist utilitarianism poses such questions about behavioral norms: which standards of values will maximize human welfare? Mohist doctrine consists of the answers to that question. (Mohists do not advocate that individuals weigh action alternatives according to their effect on human welfare, but rather that individuals act according to constant standards determined on a utilitarian basis.)
Your reading includes two introductory essays; the online introduction will forecast the direction I plan to go in class discussion, but Burton Watson's general introduction raises additional issues.
In class, we will begin by closely examining the famous chapter of the Mozi, "Universal Love" (a version also appears in Watson's translation; I have put a translation online principally so I could use annotation and section headers to make clear how the chapter is constructed). Please read "Universal Love" with care. We will be approaching it in much the manner that we did the "Euthyphro," as a basis for characterizing the Mohist philosophical enterprise.