Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Confucianism

New Confucianism is a new movement of Confucianism that began in the twentieth century. It is deeply influenced by, but not identical with, the Neo-Confucianism of the and dynasties.

The term itself was first used as early as 1963 . However, it did not come into common use until the late 1970s. There is considerable debate over what exactly "New Confucianism" is, and who counts as a "New Confucian." New Confucianism is often associated with the essay, "A Manifesto on Chinese Culture to the World," which was published in 1958 by Tang Junyi, Mou Zongsan, Xu Fuguan and Zhang Junmai. This work is often referred to as the "New Confucian Manifesto," although that phrase never occurs in it. The Manifesto presents a vision of Chinese culture as having a fundamental unity throughout history, of which Confucianism is the highest expression. The particular interpretation of Confucianism given by the Manifesto is deeply influenced by Neo-Confucianism, and in particular the version of Neo-Confucianism most associated with and Wang Yangming . In addition, the Manifesto argues that while China must learn from the West modern science and democracy, the West must learn from China "a more all-encompassing wisdom." Consequently, we might say that a "New Confucian" is anyone who believes that Confucianism can and should accommodate modern science and democracy, argues that Confucianism has a distinctive contribution to make to Western thought, and interprets Confucianism along the general lines of Neo-Confucianism.

On this characterization, leading contemporary New Confucians would include Liu Shuxian of Academia Sinica in Taiwan, Tu Wei-ming of Harvard, Robert Neville and John Berthrong of Boston University, and Chen Lai of the University of Beijing.

Many philosophers would agree with the New Confucians that Confucianism is a living and valuable contemporary philosophical position, but would dissent from reading Confucianism in terms of the thought of Neo-Confucians such as Wang Yangming. It would be an overly loose use of the term to describe such philosophers as "New Confucians."

Northern School

'Northern School' denotes a school of . This nomenclature was perpetuated in western scholarship which for the most part has been largely through the lens of southern Chan. The term "East Mountain Teaching" is more culturally and historically appropriate. East Mountain gets its name from the East Mountain Temple on 'Shuangfeng' of Huangmei. The East Mountain Temple was on the easternmost peak of the two. "Northern School" is considered pejorative, implying the aphorism: "suddenness of the South, gradualness of the North" . This characterization of East Mountain Teaching is unfounded in light of documented evidence found amongst manuscripts recovered from the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang. , ''et. al'' commenting on this aphorism state:

Contrary to first impressions, the formula has little to do with geography. Like the general designations of Mahāyāna and Hīnayāna , the formula carries with it a value judgement. According to the mainstream of later Zen, not only is sudden enlightenment incomparably superior to gradual experience but it represents true Zen - indeed, it is the very touchstone of authentic Zen.

Kuiken in discussing a Dunhuang document of the Tang monk and meditator, 'Jingjue' states:

The aristocratic Tang monk and meditation teacher Jingjue wrote a collection of vitae of ten senior meditation teachers, all obviously outside the established meditation tradition of Mt Tiantai. Jingjue's surname was Wei 韋; he was a brother-in-law of emperor Zhongzong. Prior to 705 Shenxiu 神秀 ... was his tutor. After 708, Jingjue studied with the Pure Land teacher Xuanze 玄賾 . Jingjue's memorial stele: ''Inscription for the stupa of Master Jingjue, the late Bhadanta of the National Monastery of Da'an'' 大唐大安國寺故大德靜覺師塔銘, was written by Wang Wei 王維 . Jingjue's Record introduces Hongren of Huangmei 黃梅宏忍
as the main teacher in the sixth generation of the 'southern' or 'East Mountain' meditation tradition. Shenxiu is mentioned as Hongren's authorized successor. In Shenxiu's shadow, Jingjue mentions 'old An' 老安 as a 'seasoned' meditation teacher and some minor 'local disciples' of Hongren. Unlike Jingjue suggests, Shenxiu and Dao'an were connected with Yuquan 玉泉 Abbey in Jingzhou 荊州 , a meditation center related to the school at Mt Tiantai.

Dumoulin to redress the wronging of Fa-ju states:

The consciousness of a unique line of transmission of Bodhidharma Zen, which is not yet demonstrable in the Bodhidharma treatise, grew during the seventh century and must have taken shape on the East Mountain prior to the death of the Fourth Patriarch Tao-hsin
. The earliest indication appears in the epitaph for Fa-ju , one of the outstanding disciples of the Fifth Patriarch Hung-jen . The author of the epitaph is not known, but the list comprises six names: after Bodhidharma and Hui-k'o follow Seng-ts'an, Tao-hsin, Hung-jen, and Fa-ju. The Ch'uan fa-pao chi takes this list over and adds as a seventh name that of Shen-hsiu . In an epitaph for Shen-hsiu, his name is made to take the place of Fa-ju's. The Leng-ch'ieh shih-tzu chi omits Fa-ju and ends after Shen-hsiu with the name of his disciple P'u-chi . These indications from the Northern school argue for the succession of the Third Patriarch Seng-ts'an , which has been thrown into doubt because of lacunae in the historical work of Tao-hsuan. Still, the matter cannot be settled with certainty.


The East Mountain Teachings were founded by Fa-ju whose principal teachers were Hui-ming and Daman Hongren. Because of Fa-ju the 'Shaolin Monastery' , constructed in 496CE, yet again became prominent. Fa-ju had only a brief stay at Shaolin Temple, but during his stay the cloister became the epicentre of the flourishing Chan movement. An epitaph commemorating the success of Fa-ju's pioneering endeavours is located on Mount Sung.

, ''et. al'' hold that: "Fa-ju and his colleagues mark the beginning of the activity of Bodhidharma Zen masters in North China." Unfortunately, Fa-ju did not have a good publicist and he was not included within the list of Cha'an Patriarchs.


, ''et. al'' hold that: "No doubt the most important personage within the Northern school is Shen-hsiu, a man of high education and widespread notoriety."


Pao-t'ang Wu-chu or 'Bao-tang Wu-zhu' , head and founder of Pao-t'ang Monastery at Chengdu, Szechwan located in south west China was a member of the East Mountain Teachings as was Reverend Kim .

Further reading


*Matsumoto, Shiro . ''Critical Considerations on Zen Thought.'' Komazawa University. Source:
*Poceski, Mario . ''Attitudes Towards Canonicity and Religious Authority in Tang Chan''. University of Florida. Source:
* ; Heisig, James W. & Knitter, Paul . ''Zen Buddhism: A History. Volume 1 India and China''. New York, N.Y.: Macmillan Publishing Company. ISBN 0-02-908230-7
*McRae, John R.. ''The Northern School of Chinese Chan Buddhism''. Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University.


*Zeuschner, Robert B.. "The understanding of mind in the Northern line of Ch'an " in ''Philosophy East and West'', Vol.28, No.1. Hawaii, USA: University of Hawaii Press. Source:
*Poceski, Mario . ''Patterns of Engagement with Chan Teachings Among the Mid-Tang Literati''. Association of Asian Studies Annual Meeting, Boston 2007. “Intersections of Buddhist Practice, Art, and Culture in Tang China” Panel. University of Florida. Source:
*Kuiken, Kees . ''The Other Neng 2: Part Two Sources and Resources''. Source:
*Dumoulin, Heinrich . "Early Chinese Zen Reexamined ~ A Supplement to 'Zen Buddhism: A History'" in ''Japanese Journal of Religious Studies'' 1993 20/1. Source:


Neo-Confucianism / is a form of Confucianism that was primarily developed during the Song Dynasty, but which can be traced back to Han Yu and in the Tang Dynasty. It formed the basis of Confucian orthodoxy in the Qing Dynasty of China. It was a philosophy that attempted to merge certain basic elements of Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist thought. Most important of the early Neo-Confucianists was the Chinese thinker Zhu Xi .


Confucians of the Song Dynasty studied the classical works of their faith, but were also familiar with Buddhist and Taoist teachings. Buddhist thought offered to them many things that they considered worthy of admiration, including ideas such as the nature of the soul and the relation of the individual to the cosmos, ideas not yet fully explored by Confucianism. Song Confucians drew greatly from Buddhist thought as well as their own traditions, thus giving rise to the English-language name of "Neo-Confucianism".
One of the most important exponents of Neo-Confucianism was Zhu Xi . He was a rather prolific writer, maintaining and defending his Confucian beliefs of social harmony and proper personal conduct. One of his most remembered was the book Family Rituals, where he provided detailed advice on how to conduct weddings, funerals, family ceremonies, and the veneration of ancestors. Buddhist thought soon attracted him, and he began to argue in Confucian style for the Buddhist observance of high moral standards. He also believed that it was important to practical affairs that one should engage in both academic and philosophical pursuits, although his writings are concentrated more on issues of theoretical significance. It is reputed that he wrote many essays attempting to explain how his ideas were not Buddhist or Taoist, and included some heated denunciations of Buddhism and Taoism.

There were many competing views within the Neo-Confucian community, but overall, a system emerged that resembled both Buddhist and Taoist thought of the time and some of the ideas expressed in the Book of Changes as well as other yin yang theories associated with the Taiji symbol . A well known Neo-Confucian motif is of Confucius, , and Lao Tzu all drinking out of the same vinegar jar, paintings associated with the slogan "The three teachings are one!"

While Neo-Confucianism incorporated Buddhist and Taoist ideas, many Neo-Confucianists strongly oppose Buddhism and Taoism. Indeed, they rejected the Buddhist and Taoist religions. One of Han Yu's most famous essays decries the worship of Buddhist relics. Nonetheless, Neo-Confucian writings adapted Buddhist thoughts and beliefs to the Confucian interest. In China Neo-Confucianism was an officially-recognized creed from its development during the Song dynasty until the early twentieth century, and lands in the sphere of Song China were all deeply influenced by Neo-Confucianism for more than half a millennium.

World view

Zhu Xi's formulation of the Neo-Confucian world view is as follows. He believed that the Tao of Tian is expressed in principle or '''' , but that it is sheathed in matter or ''qi'' . In this, his system is based on Buddhist systems of the time that divided things into principle , and ''shi'' . In the Neo-Confucian formulation, ''li'' in itself is pure and perfect, but with the addition of ''qi'', base emotions and conflicts arise. Human nature is originally good, the Neo-Confucians argued , but not pure unless action is taken to purify it. The imperative is then to purify one's ''li''. However, in contrast to Buddhists and Taoists, neo-Confucians did not believe in an external world unconnected with the world of matter. In addition, Neo-Confucians in general rejected the idea of reincarnation and the associated idea of karma.

Different Neo-Confucians had differing ideas for how to do so. Zhu Xi believed in ''gewu'' , the Investigation of Things, essentially an academic form of observational science, based on the idea that ''li'' lies within the world. Wang Yangming , probably the second most influential Neo-Confucian, came to another conclusion: namely, that if ''li'' is in all things, and ''li'' is in one's heart, there is no better place to seek than within oneself. His preferred method of doing so was ''jingzuo'' , a practice that strongly resembles zazen or meditation. Wang Yangming developed the idea of ''innate knowing'', arguing that every person knows from birth the difference between and evil. Such knowledge is intuitive and not . These revolutionizing ideas of Wang Yangming would later inspire prominent Japanese thinkers like Motoori Norinaga, who argued that because of the Shinto deities, Japanese people alone had the intuitive ability to distinguish good and evil without complex rationalization. Wang Yangming's school of thought also provided, in part, an ideological basis for some samurai who sought to pursue action based on intuition rather than scholasticism. As such, it also provided an intellectual foundation for the radical political actions of low ranking samurai in the decades prior to the Meiji Ishin , in which the Tokugawa authority was overthrown.

The importance of ''li'' in Neo-Confucianism gave the movement its Chinese name, literally "The study of Li."

Bureaucratic examinations

Neo-Confucianism became the interpretation of Confucianism whose mastery was necessary to pass the by the , and continued in this way through the Qing dynasty until the end of the Imperial examination system in 1905. However, many scholars such as Benjamin Elman have questioned the degree to which their role as the orthodox interpretation in reflects the degree to which both the bureaucrats and Chinese gentry actually believed those interpretations, and point out that there were very active schools such as Han learning which offered competing interpretations of Confucianism.

The competing school of Confucianism was called the Evidential School or Han Learning and argued that Neo-Confucianism had caused the teachings of Confucianism to be hopelessly contaminated with Buddhist thinking. This school also criticized Neo-Confucianism for being detached from reality with empty philosophical speculation that was unconnected with reality.

Confucian canon

The Confucian canon as it exists today was essentially compiled by Zhu Xi. Zhu codified the canon of Four Books which in the subsequent Ming and Qing Dynasties were made the core of the official curriculum for the civil service examinations.

Prominent neo-Confucian scholars


* Lu Xiangshan aka Lu Jiuyuan
* Ouyang Xiu
* Shao Yong
* Su Shi, aka Su Dongpo
* Wang Yangming aka Wang Shouren
* Ye Shi
* Zhang Sanfeng
* Zhang Zai
* Zhou Dunyi
* Zhu Xi


* Fujiwara Seika
* Hayashi Razan
* Yamazaki Ansai
* Kumazawa Banzan
* Yamaga Sokō
* Itō Jinsai
* Kaibara Ekken
* Arai Hakuseki
* Ogyū Sorai
* Nakai Chikuzan
* ?shio Heihachirō


* An Hyang
* Yi Saek
* Jeong Mong-ju
* Jeong Dojeon
* Gil Jae
* Jeong Inji
* Kim Jong-jik
* Jo Gwang-jo
* Yi Hwang Pen name Toegye
* Jo Sik
* Yi I Pen name Yulgok
* Seong Hon
* Song Si-yeol


Neigong, also spelled ''nei kung'', ''neigung'', or ''nae gong'', is any of a set of and meditation disciplines associated with Daoism and especially the Chinese martial arts. Neigong practice is normally associated with the so called "soft style", "internal" or nèijiā 內家 Chinese martial arts, as opposed to the category known as waigong 外功 or "external skill" which is historically associated with shaolinquan or the so called "hard style", "external" or 外家 Chinese martial arts. Both have many different schools, disciplines and practices and historically there has been mutual influence between the two and distinguishing precisely between them differs from school to school.

There is both martial and non-martial neigong. Well known examples of martial neigong are the various breathing and focus trainings taught in some traditional Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan schools. An example of non-martial neigong is the discipline known as Daoyin.

Neigong and the internal martial arts

The martial art school of neigong emphasises training the coordination of the individual's body with the breath, known has the harmonisation of the inner and outer, 內外合一, creating a basis for a particular school's method of utilising power and technique.

Neigong exercises that are part of the neijia tradition involve cultivating physical stillness and or conscious movement, designed to produce relaxation or releasing of muscular tension combined with special breathing techniques known as the "tortoise" or "reverse" breathing methods to name but a few. The fundamental purpose of this process is to develop a high level of coordination, concentration and technical skill that is known in the martial arts world as 內勁. The ultimate purpose of this practice is for the individual to become at one with heaven or the Dao 天人合一. As Zhuangzi stated, "Heaven, earth and I are born of one, and I am at one with all that exists 天地與我並生, 萬物與我唯一".

Neigong and meditation

This type of practice is said to require concentration and internal reflection which results in a heightened self-awareness that increases over time with continued practice. Neigong practitioners report awareness of the mechanics of their blood circulation, peristalsis, muscular movement, skeletal alignment, balance, etc.

What is said to be occurring as the result of continual practice is a type of internal alchemy, that is a refinement and transmutation of the "Three Treasures" or ''San Bao'' 三寳, in Chinese. The Three Treasures are known as 精, Qi 氣 and 神 and can be loosely translated as Essence, Vitality and Spirit.

According to Daoist doctrine the Three Treasures can be described as three types of energy available to humans. The Dao De Jing purported to be written by Lao zi states in chapter 42 that "The Dao 道 gives birth to the One, the One gives birth to the Two and the Two gives birth to the Three and lastly the Three gives birth to the 10,000 Things ; which is all that exists in heaven and on earth.


The term "nèijiā" usually refers to Wudangquan or the internal styles of Chinese martial arts, which Sun Lutang identified in the 1920s as T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Xíngyìquán and Bāguàzhǎng. This classifies most other martial arts as "wàijiā" . Some other Chinese arts, such as Liuhebafa, Bak Mei Pai, Bok Foo Pai and Yiquan are frequently classified as internal or having internal qualities . These secondary neijia may be related to, or derived from, the primary arts.

Taoist martial arts

Shaolin is a family of Chinese martial arts that are linked with Buddhism and a particular mountain monastery that are categorized as wàijiā martial arts. The family of martial arts that are linked with Taoism are linked with the Taoist monastery on Wudang mountain and categorized as nèijiā martial arts. However, there is very little evidence that any of these internal styles actually originated in the Wudang area. There are additional ways of parsing the distinctions and defining the criteria that separate these two families of arts. All of these categories have some level of ambiguity and even the line between Buddhist and Taoist practices is not always a clear way to distinguish wàijiā and nèijiā martial arts.

Criteria for distinguishing the neijia arts

Sun Lutang identified the following as the criteria that distinguish an internal martial art:
# An emphasis on the use of the mind to coordinate the leverage of the relaxed body as opposed to the use of brute strength.
# The internal development, circulation, and expression of qì.
# The application of Taoist dǎoyǐn, qìgōng, and principles of external movement.

fuses principles from all three arts he named as neijia. Some Chinese martial arts other than the ones Sun named also teach what are termed internal practices, despite being generally classified as external . Some non-Chinese martial arts also claim to be internal. e.g. Aikido, I Liq Chuan, Ip Sun, and Kito Ryu jujutsu. Many martial artists, especially outside of China, disregard the distinction entirely. Some neijia schools refer to their arts as "" martial arts.

Earlier classifications

The term "nèijiā" and the distinction between internal and external martial arts first appears in Huang Zongxi's 1669 ''Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan''.
Stanley Henning proposes that the ''Epitaph'''s identification of the internal martial arts with the Taoism indigenous to China and of the external martial arts with the foreign Buddhism of —and the Manchu Qing Dynasty to which Huang Zongxi was opposed—was an act of political defiance rather than one of technical classification.

In 1676 Huang Zongxi's son, Huang Baijia, who learned martial arts from Wang Zhengnan, compiled the earliest extant manual of internal martial arts, the ''Nèijiā quánfǎ''.

Characteristics of neijia training

Internal styles focus on awareness of the spirit, mind, chi and the use of relaxed leverage rather than unrefined muscular tension. Pushing hands is a training method commonly used in neijia arts to develop sensitivity and softness.

In recent years, many of "New Age"-oriented schools have appeared, which traditionalists criticize for emphasizing philosophy and speculation at the expense of hard work. For this reason, and because in most internal schools beginning students are expected to work on very basic principles for an extended period of time, many people believe internal styles lack "external" physical training. In the older schools, this is usually not the case. Much time may be spent on basic physical training, such as stance training , stretching and strengthening of muscles, as well as on empty hand and weapon forms which can be quite demanding. Also, many internal styles have basic two-person training, such as pushing hands and duet forms.

Some forms in internal styles are performed slowly, although some include sudden outbursts of explosive movements , such as those the is famous for teaching earlier than some other styles . The reason for the generally slow pace is to improve coordination and balance by increasing the work load, and to require the student to pay minute attention to their whole body and its weight as they perform a technique. At an advanced level, and in actual fighting, internal styles are performed quickly, but the goal is to learn to involve the entire body in every motion, to stay relaxed, with deep, controlled breathing, and to coordinate the motions of the body and the breathing accurately according to the dictates of the forms while maintaining perfect balance.

Differences between internal and external arts

The reason for the label "internal," according to most schools, is that there is a focus on the internal aspects earlier in the training, once these internal relationships are apprehended they are then applied to the external applications of the styles in question.

External style are characterized by fast and explosive movements and a focus on physical strength and agility. External styles include both the traditional styles focusing on application and fighting, as well as the modern styles adapted for competition and exercise. Examples of external styles are Shaolinquan, with its direct explosive attacks and many forms that have spectacular aerial techniques. External styles begin with a training focus on muscular power, speed and application, and generally integrate their qigong aspects in advanced training, after their desired "hard" physical level has been reached.

Some say that there is no differentiation between the so-called internal and external systems of the Chinese martial arts, while other well known teachers have expressed differing opinions. For example, the Taijiquan teacher Wu Jianquan:

Those who practice Shaolinquan leap about with strength and force; people not proficient at this kind of training soon lose their breath and are exhausted. Taijiquan is unlike this. Strive for quiescence of body, mind and intention.

Current practice of neijia arts

Today, only a few traditional schools teaching internal styles train martially. Most schools teach forms that are practised for health benefits only, as this is in higher demand. To condition oneself well enough to become adept at the internal style martial arts is a long-term proposition; many simply lose interest after a few years and never continue the practice. Many people who have not fully learned the martial aspects of their style teach publicly anyway, leading to a further diminution of the martial applications taught in many schools. Some instructors supplement what they are teaching with elements from other martial arts and their training becomes further diluted. Many health-oriented schools and teachers believe that the martial practices of neijia are no longer necessary in the modern world, as well as claiming that students may not need to practice martially to derive a benefit from the training. Traditionalists feel that a school not teaching martial aspects somewhere in their syllabus cannot be said to be actually teaching the art itself, that they have accredited themselves prematurely. Traditional teachers also believe that understanding the core theoretical principles of neijia and the ability to apply them are a necessary gateway to health benefits.

Neijia in fiction

Internal styles have been associated in legend and in much popular fiction with the Taoist monasteries of Wudangshan in central China.

Neijia are a common theme in Chinese Wuxia novels and films, and are usually represented as originating in Wudang or similar mythologies. Often, genuine internal practices are highly exaggerated to the point of making them seem miraculous, as in ''Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'' or ''Tai Chi Master''. Internal concepts have also been a source of comedy, such as in the films ''Shaolin Soccer'' and ''Kung Fu Hustle''.


Neidan , a method of internal alchemy. Part of the Chinese alchemical meditative tradition that is said to have been separated into internal and external at some point during the Tang dynasty.

The neidan tradition of internal alchemy was practised by working with the energies that were already present in the human body, as opposed to using natural substances, medicines or elixirs, from outside of the body. The Shangqing tradition of Daoism played an important role in the emergence of neidan alchemy, after using Wiedan mainly as a meditative practise, and therefore turning it from an external to an internal art.

Closely related to Daoism, it is believed that the goal of neidan was to merge the two energies of yin and yang, and return to the primordial unity of the Dao.


Mozi , was a philosopher who lived in China during the Hundred Schools of Thought period . He founded the school of Mohism and argued strongly against Confucianism and Daoism. During the Warring States Period, Mohism was actively developed and practiced in many states, but fell out of favour when the Qin Dynasty came to power. During that period many Mohist classics were ruined when Qin Shihuang carried out the burning of books and burying of scholars. The importance of Mohism further declined when Confucianism became the dominant school of thought during the Han Dynasty, disappearing by the middle of the Western Han Dynasty.


Most historians believe that Mozi was a member of the lower artisan class who managed to climb his way to an official post. Mozi was a native of the , although for a time he served as a minister in the . Like Confucius, Mozi was known to have maintained a school for those who desired to become officials serving in the different ruling courts of the Warring States.

Mozi was a master engineer and craftsman, designing everything from mechanical birds to wheeled, mobile "cloud ladders" used to besiege city walls . Though he did not hold a high official position, Mozi was sought out by various rulers as an expert on fortification, and managed to attract a large following during his lifetime which rivaled that of Confucius. His followers – mostly technicians and craftspeople – were organized in a disciplined order that studied both Mozi's philosophical and technical writings.

His pacifism led Mozi to travel from one crisis zone to another through the ravaged landscape of the Warring States, trying to dissuade rulers from their plans of conquest. According to the chapter "Gongshu" in ''Mozi'', he once walked for ten days to the state of Chu in order to forestall an attack on the state of Song. At the Chu court, Mozi engaged in simulated war games with Gongshu Ban, the chief military strategist of Chu, and overturned each one of his stratagems. When Gongshu Ban threatened him with death, Mozi informed the king that his disciples had already trained the soldiers of Song on his fortification methods, so it would be useless to kill him. The Chu king was forced to call off the war. On the way back, however, the soldiers of Song, not recognizing him, would not allow Mozi to enter their city, and he had to spend a night freezing in the rain.

Though Mozi's school faded into obscurity after the Warring States period, he was studied again two millennia after his death: Both the revolutionaries of 1911 and the saw in him a surprisingly modern thinker who was stifled early in Chinese history.


In contrast to those of Confucius, Mozi's moral teachings emphasized self-reflection and authenticity rather than obedience to ritual. He observed that we often learn about the world through adversity . By reflecting on one's own successes and failures, one attains true self-knowledge rather than mere conformity with ritual. Mozi exhorted the gentleman to lead a life of asceticism and self-restraint, renouncing both material and spiritual extravagance.

Like Confucius, Mozi idealized the Xia Dynasty and the ancients of Chinese mythology, but he criticized the Confucian belief that modern life should be patterned on the ways of the ancients. After all, he pointed out, what we think of as "ancient" was actually innovative in its time, and thus should not be used to hinder present-day innovation . Though Mozi did not believe that history necessarily progresses, as did Han Fei Zi, he shared the latter's critique of . Mozi believed that people were capable of changing their circumstances and directing their own lives. They could do this by applying their senses to observing the world, judging objects and events by their causes, their function, and their historical basis. This was the "three-prong method" Mozi recommended for testing the truth or falsehood of statements. His students later expanded on this to form the .

Mozi tended to evaluate actions based on whether they provide benefit to the people, which he measured in terms of an enlarged population , a prosperous economy, and social order. Similar to the Western , Mozi thought that actions should be measured by the way they contribute to the "greatest good of the greatest number." With this criterion Mozi denounced things as diverse as offensive warfare, expensive funerals, and even and which he saw as serving no useful purpose. Mozi did not reject to music in principle--"It's not that I don't like the sound of the drum" --but because of the heavy tax burden such activities placed on commoners and also due to the fact that officials tended to indulge in them at the expense of their duties.

Mozi tried to replace what he considered to be the long-entrenched Chinese over-attachment to family and structures with the concept of 兼愛 → ''jian ai'' which can be translated as "impartial caring" or "universal love". In this, he argued directly against Confucians who had argued that it was natural and correct for people to care about different people in different degrees. Mozi, by contrast, argued people in principle should care for all people equally, a notion that philosophers in other schools found absurd, as they interpreted this notion as implying no special amount of care or duty towards one's parents and family. Overlooked by those critics, however, is a passage in the chapter on "Self-Cultivation" which states "When people near-by are not befriended, there is no use endeavoring to attract those at a distance." This point is also precisely articulated by a Mohist in a debate with Mencius where the Mohist argues in relation to carrying out universal love, that "We begin with what is near." Also, in the first chapter of the writings of Mozi on universal love, Mozi argues that the best way of being filial to one’s parents is to be filial to the parents of others. The foundational principle is that benevolence, as well as malevolence, is requited, and that one
will be treated by others as one treats others. Mozi quotes a popular passage from the to bring home this point: "When one throws to me a peach, I return to him a plum."
One’s parents will be treated by others as one treats the parents of others. In pursuing this line of argument, Mozi was directly appealing to the idea of in social relations. Also of note is that Mozi differentiated between "intention" and "actuality" thereby placing a central importance on the will to love even though in practice it may very well be impossible to bring benefit to everyone.

In addition, Mozi argued that benevolence comes to human beings “as naturally as fire turns upward or water turns downward”, provided that persons in position of authority illustrate benevolence in their own lives. Furthermore, Mozi’s basic argument concerning universal love asserts that universal love is supremely practical, this argument directed against those who objected that love could not be put into practice.

Mozi also held a belief in the power of ghosts and spirits, although he is often thought to have only worshipped them pragmatically. In fact, in his discussion on ghosts and spirits, he remarks that even if they did not exist, communal gatherings for the sake of making sacrificial offering would play a role in strengthing social bonds. Furthermore, for the will of heaven was that people should love one another, and that mutual love by all would bring benefit to all. Therefore, it was in everyone's interest that they love others "as they love themselves." Heaven should be respected because failing to do so would subject one to punishment. For Mozi, heaven was not the amoral, mystical Nature of the Taoists. Rather, it was a benevolent, moral force that rewarded the good and punished the evil, similar to the Christian/Islamic idea of God. Thus he writes that "Bo-ai is the way of heaven", since "heaven nourishes and sustains all life without regard to status". Mozi's ideal of government, which advocated a meritocracy based on talent rather than background, also followed his idea of heaven.

Works and Influence

The ''Mozi'' is the name of the philosophical text compiled by Mohists from Mozi's thought. Because Mohism disappeared as a living tradition from China, its texts were not well maintained, and many chapters are missing or in a corrupted state. For example, of the three chapters "Against Confucianism", only one remains.

Mohism was suppressed under the and died out completely under the , who made Confucianism the official doctrine. However, many of its ideas were dissolved into the mainstream of Chinese thought and re-examined in modern times. Sun Yat-Sen used "bo-ai" as one of the foundations for his idea of Chinese democracy. More recently, Chinese scholars under Communism have tried to rehabilitate Mozi as a "philosopher of the people", highlighting his rational-empirical approach to the world as well as his "proletarian" background.

From a modern point of view, Mozi's philosophy was at once more advanced and less so than that of Confucius. His concept of "jian-ai" embraced a broader idea of human community than the Confucians, but he is less tolerant than Confucius in his condemnation of all that is not directly "useful", neglecting the humanizing functions of art and music. Zhuangzi, who criticized both the Confucians and the Mohists, had this in mind in his parables on the "uselessness of the useful". Of course, this insistence on usefulness comes from a time when war and famine were widespread and could well have made all cultural activities look frivolous.

Mohism and Science

According to Joseph Needham, ''Mozi'' contains the following sentence: 'The cessation of motion is due to the opposing force ... If there is no opposing force ... the motion will never stop. This is as true as that an ox is not a horse.' which, he claims, is a precursor to . ''Mozi'' also contains speculations in optics and mechanics that are similarly strikingly original, although their ideas were not taken up by later Chinese philosophers. The Mohist tradition is also highly unusual in Chinese thought in that it devoted time to developing principles of logic, similar to those of Aristotle. For example, it describes the difference between necessary condition and sufficient condition .

Further reading

*Yi-pao Mei , ''Motse, the Neglected Rival of Confucius'' , is a general study of the man and his age, his works, and his teachings, with an extensive bibliography.