Class #13

Mohist Attacks on Confucianism

    1.  "Against Fatalism," pp. 121-127 
    2.  "Against Confucians," pp. 129-140

Lecture PowerPoint Deck

Today's final class on the Mohists considers two specifically anti-Confucian chapters in the Mozi. One attacks Confucians on a single issue - the supposed "fatalism" of Confucian doctrine, which the Mohists claim supports a stance of "let Tian/Fate take care of business." Clearly, this was a polemical distortion of the Confucian position, but one that was not without a basis in Confucian doctrine, particularly the doctrine of "timeliness." The second chapter, "Against Confucians," is more comprehensive - arguments in that chapter more directly portray the Confucian movement as intellectually and professionally fraudulent (few texts are more fun to read).Apart from reviewing these Mohist positions, we will spend time in class comparing the contrasting ethical structures of the two movements. Mohism, as a utilitarian philosophy, conforms to what is sometimes called an "ethics of action," where the intellectual goal is to determine what action choices are the right ones for people to make. Confucianism resembles an "ethics of virtue," which sees the philosophical enterprise in terms of creating good people. You should consult the online table: Contrasts in Ethical Structures, Analects & Mozi, which we will refer to in class to illustrate these different approaches.