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Chivalrous Mohism and Philosopher Mozi

Unearthed Bronze Carriage of the Warring States Period

Unearthed Bronze Carriage of the Warring States Period — Nanjing Museum 


Ancient Philosophy Mohism and The Founder Mozi

Mohism was a mysterious, chivalrous philosophical school regarding society, politics, epistemology, logic system, geometry, geometrical optics, statics, mechanics, math, etc.  

In the flourishing Hundred Schools of Thought Warring States Period (403 BC — 221 BC), Mohism was a systematic, philosophical organization as flourishing as Confucianism.

Mozi (or Mo Tzu), the founder and a great scientist, was the only great philosopher in ancient Chinese history who came from a peasantry family instead of a noble one.

Most believers, the Mohists, also came from the lower classes. They strongly opposed wars and Confucianism ideas, such as hierarchy, ancestry, and complicated etiquette.

Their ideas and technologies were recorded in the book Mozi.

Mohist Organization

Mohism As A Mysterious and Chivalrous Organization

People within the Mohist organization were divided into two groups: scientists, theorists, thinkers, and debaters were named Mo Bian, while righteous swordsmen and warriors were called Mo Xia.


They were subordinate to their leader, Ju Zi, and were extremely loyal, sincere, hard-working, skillful, and chivalrous.

Hence, it was an independent kingdom with strict discipline, strong beliefs, advanced scientific technologies and weapons, and countless brave and loyal warriors willing to sacrifice for their faith.

In the chaotic Warring States Period, Mohists participated in many wars, helping small countries defeat strong enemies. 

 Unearthed Weapons of the Warring States Period (Photo by Dongmaiying)


Declining of the Mohism

Centuries later, the powerful Kingdom Qin defeated other empires and established the centralized and unified Qin Dynasty (221 BC — 207 BC), which respected Legalism as the official dominant philosophy. 

During these annexation wars, large numbers of those extremely talented Mohist warriors sacrificed in the defensive battles helping small states.

In 134 BC, Emperor Liu Che promoted Confucianism, the long-term enemy of Mohism, as the official dominant philosophy. 

Afterward, Mohism declined and left a few vestiges in Chinese history. They lived in seclusion and never had the opportunity to regain their prosperity.

About 100 years ago, the last generation of Mohists sacrificed to protect their country from foreign invaders, and their chivalrous organization finally disappeared.

Intense and Cruel War that Mohists had Participated

Main Reasons for the Vanishing of Mohism

Mohists came from civilians and always represented ordinary people’s interests. They strongly believed in their faith and dedicated their lives to protecting the weak ones. 

But their ideas were a significant threat to emperors’ centralized power and benefits to the ruling class, such as everyone being equal, the emperor and officials should be elected, etc. 

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

Another important reason was the difficulty of becoming a real Mohist: extremely brave, diligent, frugal, willing to sacrifice and contribute everything to the belief, etc. 

Philosopher Mozi

Great Philosopher Mozi

Mo Di (about 476 BC — 390 BC), also respected as Mozi or Mo Tzu, was the founder of Mohism, one of the four big philosophical schools in the history of ancient China. 

He was a great philosopher, scientist, logician, strategist, ideologist, and educationist with high moral values.

He was the only great philosopher in ancient Chinese history that came from a civilian family and represented the interests of ordinary people. Besides, he was also an exceptional, righteous pacifist and a true hero. 

humble born great philosopher Mo Tzu

Early Life and Study Experiences of Mozi

Born into a peasant family, Mozi learned to read and write when he was little and used to do carpentry work for a living. 

Later, he decided to learn more knowledge about society, ethics, and politics that can help people build a better world. Therefore, Mozi left his family and learned Confucianism in another place.

However, most Confucianist ideas, such as hierarchy and ancestry, were hard to accept. The ideal society that Confucius described was exactly what Mozi strongly opposed. 

Well Trained and Brave Swordsman of Mohism

Well Trained and Brave Mohist Swordsman

Mozi's Establishment of the Mohism

Because of the complete disagreement with Confucianism, Mozi started to create and disseminate his ideology. 

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

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

Bronze Pliers of the State Qin — National Museum of China
Bronze Gear of the Warring States Period — Luoyang Museum

Bronze Pliers and Gear of the Warring States Period  (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Mozi's Actions and Efforts to Stop Wars

Mozi had traveled to many places in China to try and 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 terrific weapons to defeat anyone.

Afterward, Mozi showed the King of Chu his advanced defensive instruments and beat Chu's technicians nine times on the simulated battlefield.

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

But he did not succeed all the time, only by words. 

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

Mo Tzu Presenting His Advanced Defense Technologies to the King of Chu

Mozi Presenting His Advanced Defense Technologies to the King of Chu

Unaccepted Hero Mozi and Declining of His Ideology

Mozi’s mechanics and types of equipment for the wars were highly valued among those kingdoms; his political ideas, on the contrary, were never welcomed or accepted by any monarch. 

Among the significant figures in the history of China, Mozi 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 his Mohists were in the ordinary people’s world. 

There’s no accurate record regarding when and how he left the world, but his advanced ideas and scientific achievements were well preserved and passed on for generations.  

Inlaying Gold and Silver Bronze Crossbow (Nu Ji) of the Han Dynasty

Inlaying Gold and Silver Bronze Crossbow (Nu Ji) of the Han Dynasty (202 BC — 220 AD) — Nanjing Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Main Ideas