A mohist China.

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Strategikon, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. Strategikon Well-Known Member

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    What if the philosophy of Mozi was the dominant philosophy in China?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohism#Meritocratic_government

    Meritocracy, consequentialism, and indiscriminately caring for all people are some of the central aspects of its beliefs.

    It does seem however that in this philosophy utility is not seen that much in the arts such as music.

    With this movement it does seem to me there had been a certain kind of philosophical, scientific development that kind of, sort of reminds me of ancient Greece.

    I do see a link between material utilitarianism and wanting and trying to develop the sciences and it does seem that they did have their contributions to the sciences.


    I realize the ramifications of this could be enormous. Would it accelerate Chinese science and development? Another interesting question is whether it could spread elsewhere. Chinese inventions did spread in the rest of the world and help accelerate inventions there, this philosophy if succesful in China could perharps succesfully find root and be adapted elsewhere as well or rather, have people influenced by its ideals.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
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  2. othyrsyde Sana ka'aha yo pendejos!

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    Sounds pretty dope to me for alternate-philosophical development. Not sure of a POD though. My Chinese historical knowledge is more Yuan to Qing.
     
  3. katchen Banned

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  4. Shawn Endresen Member. Of everything.

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    While there's a fairly credible bibliography there, the idea that Mohism would be good for technical progress is certainly a new idea to me. I've usually seen it portrayed as the most aggressively anti-intellectual school of ancient Chinese thought; while Master Mo did seem to single out music for criticism, he attacked everything that wasn't directly useful to feeding and sheltering people - including research, exceptional craftsmanship, capital formation, and even reading anything that wasn't an instruction manual for a practical craft. Mohists organized book burnings during the Spring and Autumn period. His "logic" fails to condemn what we consider fallacies - in fact, it champions them because they can sway minds. It's thus more about rhetoric than rigorous thought. In the end, his ideas about law and the constitution of the state triumphed and were incorporated into other schools of thought; everything else was abandoned as inapplicable to actual humans.

    Had his ideas triumphed over Confucius' generally instead of strictly in the realm of law, I always figured we'd see something a lot like Europe, in that there would be a single hierarchical church actively redistributing wealth and extremely hostile to any sort of intellectual movement or innovation, whose written canon talked about universal love but whose agents honored that idea only in the breach.
     
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  5. WhatIsAUserName Professional Catatonic

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    Mohism's biggest problem is that its concepts of universal love are absolutely worthless to the feudal lords who have been spending centuries trying to conquer and invade each other. As such, it faces an extremely uphill battle compared to Legalism and Confucianism in the all-important quest of gaining state sponsorship. There's also the issue that Legalism and Confucianism were less radical in their approaches to Chinese culture and society.
     
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  6. kuroda Well-Known Member

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    What WhatisAUserName said. Compared to any of its competitor movements/schools/ideologies, it's much more of a full-frontal assault not just on existing political structures (and interests), but social structures in general. And I don't think there's much evidence that the environment was primed for that kind of revolutionary change to spread or dig in.
     
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  7. Richard V Well-Known Member

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    On Wikipedia it says Mohist books were merged with Taoist canon.

    Could Taoism become even more Mohist? Taoists were outside of mainstream Chinese culture anyways. Maybe they can rationalize Taoist moderation with Mohist pragmatism. Wonder what impact this would have on Chinese history if there was always this hybrid Tao/Moh philosophic tradition with their own contrarian world view to the status quo.
     
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  8. TheYoungPretender Chicxulub Apologist.

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    Plenty of religious teachings of universal love and pacifism can be "tweaked," as it were, to justify some righteous defense of the faith. I'm sure we can find at least some examples in European history... ;)
     
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  9. ManintheField Banned

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    I always thought Taoism pretty much was the mainstream of Chinese culture at this time.
     
  10. WhatIsAUserName Professional Catatonic

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    Technically not applicable. Mohism wasn't a religious teaching. But that's not the point. Jesus might have said to turn the other cheek, but non-violence isn't the focus point of Christianity. For Mohism, the idea of universal love is the basis. Conflicts waged in self-defense are okay under Mohism, but not offensive ones. So that's why it's not likely to be adopted by the feudal lords, who basically have all the power at this point. And because it's backed by the state(s), it will never become China's dominant philosophy. Contrast this with Legalism, a more dominant philosophy, which takes a far more favorable point of view to offensive war and has a more cynical view towards life in general.

    It's really hard to answer yes or no for this statement. What we have in China at this time are the teachings of mainly Laozi and Zhuangzi, along with the main texts of the Daoist canon. It is debatable whether Daoism at this time constitutes a separate school of thought, but I won't argue that. However, Daoism as a political philosophy was not the mainstream in and of itself.
     
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  11. caliburdeath Well-Known Member

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    I was under the impression that as a political philosophy Daoism was never even seriously considered. As a social and metaphysical one, sure.
     
  12. WhatIsAUserName Professional Catatonic

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    Not by the people in government (or at least, never in the Warring States Period), but possibly by the writers of the Daodejing, who say a decent amount about government.

    For example, it says:
    And it also says:
    But I think these are spurious: if there was a Laozi, I don't think he said these things.