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This chapter introduces the basic philosophical tenets of the Mozi. It is a vast collection of texts attributed to the eponymous figure, who probably lived in the late fifth century BCE, and his followers in the next few centuries. This chapter is divided into three sections. The first discusses the biographical details of this shadowy figure Mozi, the problematic textual history of this tome, and the historical significance of this tradition of ethical and political thought that bears his name. The second section focuses on the method of the philosophy of the Mozi, with a special focus on its reliance on etiological rhetoric. The third and last section discusses the core teachings of the Mozi, including the idea of the Heaven’s will, the efficacy of meritocracy, the virtue of impartiality, the necessity of moderate expenditures, the veritable existence of ghosts and spirits, as well as its impassioned arguments against warfare, fatalism, and what Mozi and his followers understood to be the teaching of the Confucians popular in their own time.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Early China
EditorsElizabeth CHILDS-JOHNSON
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780199328369
ISBN (Print)9780199328369
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2020.


  • Antiquity
  • Confucius
  • Heaven
  • Mohism
  • Mozi
  • Son of heaven


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