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Mozi: Jian Ai

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Mozi: Jian Ai

                Before we dive into the topic of whether Mozi’s argument about impartial care is persuasive or not, I would like to briefly discuss about the background of both Chinese philosophers: Mozi, “Master Mo”, and Confucius, “Master Kung”. First of all, it is important to know that Mozi was born about 9 years after Confucius’s death. According to Yi Pao Mei (n.d.), Mozi was born in a lower artisan class while Confucius was born in an aristocratic (ruling) class. Even though both Mozi and Confucius do share similar ideas that people should care and love other people, Mozi is known to be one of Confucius’s rivals. Mozi disagreed with the Confucianists of his time for putting family and class above the common people (Smitha, 2009). This led to the conflict between impartial and partial care. Mozi advocated jiān ài 兼愛and believed that there should be an equal distribution of love for everyone; however, Confucius suggested that one’s care and love is graded and one should care for one’s family the most than anyone else. Mozi’s account is logically persuasive because of the three main points: The Caretaker Argument, the Ruler Argument, and The “Great Harms.” Both Confucius and Mozi are universalists, but the level of caring and loving for others is the main focus of this paper. It is our moral obligation to love our parents. If we love our parents, we would want other people to take care and love our parents as well. As a result, it is necessary for us to care for others’ parents too so that they will return the love. Love without distinction is the main argument that Mozi is trying to make.

                First of all, when it comes to the caretaker argument, would you prefer an impartial person or a partial person to take care of your family? Let me give a practical example of the caretaker argument. Imagine that tomorrow is the end of the world, and there is only a limited amount of resources or food in the world. The reason that Mozi’s argument is valid is because the impartial caretaker would make sure that everyone is fed and no one is left out or starved. The Mohist’s idea of advocating impartial caretaker is definitely a win-win situation for everyone. It not only benefits humans in general, but no one is being isolated. It is important to note that an impartial caretaker would take good care of your family like their own family. In contrast, a partial caretaker might care for their family more than others’ family. It would be unfair for Confucius to care for their family more than strangers. Just because they are strangers does not mean that they should be getting less food or care. If there is a choice, everyone would want to choose the impartial caretaker over the completely partial caretaker, even though it is relatively difficult to implement in the world. Chris Fraser (2008), a professor at the University of Hong Kong, points out that even an “exclusive” person would choose to have an “inclusive” caretaker.

                Second of all, the Ruler argument is the key point that makes Mozi’s argument stand out. The example used by Mozi is to imagine two rulers: An impartial ruler and a partial ruler. Which one would you choose to govern the state? Imagine that a state is facing a serious natural disaster. The people have no food to feed themselves, no shelter to hide from the rain or snow, and no clothing or shoes to keep them warm. At this point, most of the people would probably prefer the impartial ruler. Why? The reason is that the impartial ruler would actually care for his people and take care of them like the ruler’s family or friends. What makes a ruler a ruler? Well, he or she must be able to take care of his people. I have no means by saying that the Confucian ruler does not take care of his people. However, a partial ruler would do what interests him the most, and an impartial ruler is willing to sacrifice himself to benefit its own people.

                Third of all, if Mozi’s impartial care argument is not implemented, then it will lead to social disorder, and cause “great harms.” Have you ever thought of the reasons behind a robbery or murder? Well, Mozi has an explanation to those reasons. As mentioned in the book Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy edited by Bryan W. Van Norden, teacher Mozi says: “It is things such as great states attacking small states…the strong robbing the weak, the many doing violence to the few, the clever deceiving the ignorant…(page 68, Chapter 16)” Mozi thinks that the root of all these harms comes from hatred among people and lack of concern and care for others. Mozi stands strongly on getting rid of partiality in society. I strongly agree with Mozi in this case. I believe that one of the main reasons why the world is chaotic is that there are so much jealousy and competition going on between countries, states, and people. If we applied Mozi’s impartial care to the world, I believe that the world will be a place where there is less animosity and opposition against one another. Who does not want to live in a peaceful world? If you do care for the person, you would not even think of stealing their properties and make them yours; thus, attaining peace.

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