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Philosopher Mo Tzu and Chivalrous Mohism in Chinese Culture

Mohism is a mysterious, chivalrous philosophical school in Chinese culture, which once was as flourishing as Confucianism in the history of China, but declined out of sudden.


Chinese philosophy Mohism was a systematic organization, most of whom came from the lower classes; Mo Tzu, the founder, was the only great philosopher in history of China who came from a peasantry family instead of a noble one.


Mohism was established by Mo Tzu (or Mo Zi) about 2500 years ago, which was consisted of knowledgeable scientists and chivalrous swordsmen that were opposed Confucianism and wars.


Besides their philosophical ideas, they made great contributions to science, such as logic, geometry, geometrical optics, statics, mechanics, math, etc. 


Within their organization, people were all loyal, hard working, skillful, and chivalrous.


It was an independent kingdom with strict discipline, strong belief, advanced scientific technologies, and countless brave and loyal warriors who were willing to sacrifice for their faith.


They had participated in many wars, all of which were helping small countries to defeat the strong enemies. 


Later, the powerful Kingdom Qin defeated other empires and established the centralized and unified Qin Dynasty (221 B. C. -- 207 B. C.), which respected Legalism as official dominant philosophy.


During these annexation wars, large numbers of those extremely talented warriors of Mohism sacrificed in defensive battles helping small countries.


In the year 134 B.C., Emperor Liu Che promoted Confucianism, the long term enemy of Mohism, as the official dominant philosophy.


Afterwards, Mohism started to decline and left few vestiges in history. They lived in seclusion and never had the opportunity to regain their prosperity.


About 100 years ago, the last generation of Mohists all sacrificed for protecting their country from foreign invaders; the chivalrous Mohism finally disappeared in the history of China. 


Mohists came from civilians and always represented common people’s interests.


They strongly believed in their faith and dedicated their lives to protecting the weak ones.


But their ideas were too advanced and were big threaten to emperors’ centralized power, such as everyone is equal and the emperor should be elected, etc.


Therefore, no matter how many of those Mohists had sacrificed and contributed, they had never been accepted by nobles and the ruling class, even the nobles of those small countries that they had saved.

Chinese Philosophy -- Mohism


Great Philosopher Mo Tzu

Mo Di (about 476 B. C. — ?), also respected as Mo Tzu or Mo Zi, was the founder of Mohism, one of the four big philosophical schools in Chinese culture. 

Born into a peasant family, Mo Tzu did carpentry work and learned Confucianism when he was young.


He disagreed many of Confucius’ ideas, so he created his own ideology and started to disseminate them. 


He represented people from lower classes, like peasants and handicraftsmen, from whom he gained large numbers of disciples and followers.


Soon, he established the Mohism, a part-political and part-philosophical organization, with strict rules and disciplines. 


Mo Tzu had traveled to many places in China, to persuade kings not to initiate wars.


Once, when he heard that the powerful Kingdom Chu was planning to attack a small country, he decided to stop this war, alone.


He went to the Kingdom Chu by himself, and told the king that he had amazing weapons that could defeat anyone.


Afterwards, Mo Tzu showed the King of Chu his advanced defensive instruments, and had beaten Chu’s technicians for nine times on simulated battlefield.


His outstanding engineering achievements and courage successfully stopped this big war, and saved countless lives. 


But he could not succeed all the time. 


So he and his Mohists had participated in many wars to help weak countries to defend against the powerful invaders.


His mechanics and equipments for wars were highly valued among those kingdoms; his political ideas, on the contrary, were never welcomed or accepted by any monarch. 


Among great figures in the history of China, Mo Tzu was the first who entirely represented civilians’ interests.


This was an important reason that his philosophy had never been accepted by the ruling class, no matter how popular and respectful they were in the common people’s world. 


Mo Tzu was a great philosopher, militarist, scientist, logician, ideologist, and educationist, with high moral values.


There’s no exact document in regard to when and how he left the world, but his advanced ideas and scientific achievements were well preserved and passed on for generations.  


Main Ideas of Mo Tzu

1 Value peace and equality; strongly oppose hierarchy and complicated etiquettes that Confucianism recommends. 


2  Emperors and ministers all should be elected, based on their talent and moral, instead of their family names. No one is born noble or humble. 


3  People should equally love each other; this kindness should surpass family and blood bonds, or class origins. 


4  Everyone should be practical and frugal, despite of their fortune or social status.


Those elaborate, long and complicated funeral ceremonies that Confucianism valued are waste of time, money, and resources. 


5  Denial of destiny.


People can get what they want through their efforts and hard working.


Destiny theory may wear down people’s wills and creativities, which is only good for ruling classes to maintain their dominance. 


6  Heaven and nature have their own thoughts; supernatural, immortal forces, and ghosts do exist. People would be rewarded or punished based on their behaviors.


7  Military activities are for defending; attack and invasion are illegal and should be avoided. Defending crusades of tyrants are right and just, and should be supported.


Mo Tzu had written and left many practical defensive methods in regard to protect a city from attacking, which constituted a complete military defending system, including manufacture skills of weapon and equipment, construction and design of defensive structures on city wall and canals, formation and organization of warriors, etc.  


8  In department of science, the Decimal System, circle, square, line and symmetric center were detailed documented.


Mo Tzu and his followers researched and applied lever principle, pinhole imaging, direct ray, light and shadow imaging, pulley, transmission of sound; they also pointed out that force caused things to move, while resistance force made objects stay still.


9  Human being's perception is originated from the existence of material objects.


10  Space and time are both limited and unlimited, based on different perspectives. Movement of things should be considered with time and space together, by observing their differences in time, and change of positions in space. 


11  Logistic of the Mohism. 


Various Weapons Invented by Mohists

Scaling Ladder to climb city wall
Rotating Transmitter 
Archery Shooter
Archery Tool
Handheld Archery Shooter