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Mo Ti, aka Mo(h) Tzu, founded the school of thought known as Mohism or Moism. He lived circa 479-381 BC, and was the most important of those opposed to the amoral standards of the period in which he lived, known as the Warring States. His views were not popular with the rulers of the various states, however, and Mohism proved to be very short-lived in comparison with other schools, Confucianism being the best example.

Unlike most philosophers, Mo Tzu (born Mo Ti) was of low birth, and evidence exists to suggest that he was the son of a slave. Mo Tzu was also almost as well known for his eccentricity as his beliefs in his lifetime, and despised Confucianism. There was a rivalry between the two groups, and Mo Tzu regarded his rivals as upper-class, egotistical and uptight. He did not resist talking about heaven and religion, however, unlike Confucius, and his fundamental belief was that all men are equal under heaven, and it is ethically right to pursue "universal love". This includes helping those in need and avoiding activities that harmed others, explaining his condemnation of aggressive war.

His uncompromising terms are well shown in this quote from Mo Ti's writings:

If a man kills an innocent man, steals his clothing and his spear and sword, his offence is graver than breaking into a stable and stealing an ox or horse. The injury is greater, the offence is graver, and the crime of a higher degree. Any man of sense knows that it is wrong, knows that it is unrighteous. But when murder is committed in attacking a country it is not considered wrong; it is applauded and called righteous. Can this be considered as knowing what is righteous and what is unrighteous? When one man kills another man it is considered unrighteous and he is punished by death. Then by the same sign when a man kills ten others, his crime will be ten times greater, and should be punished by death ten times. Similarly one who kills a hundred men should be punished one hundred times more heavily....If a man calls black black if it is seen on a small scale, but calls black white when it is seen on a large scale, then he is one who cannot tell black from white....Similarly if a small crime is considered crime, but a big crime such as attacking another country is applauded as a righteous act, can this be said to be knowing the difference between righteous and unrighteous?

What is also interesting is that when cities were attacked by aggressors from other states, Mo Ti and a band of followers would travel to that city and give their assistance in defending it. Mo Ti therefore grew into an excellent military strategist in this area, and his disciples became proficient in weapons and tactics. So, he was not opposed to all war as he accepted that using force to defend oneself was necessary and acceptable.

Thanks to Griffith again (see Warring States period) for the quote and info on Mo Ti, and also to Richard Hooker at www.wsu.edu

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