Bibliotherapy

MO Zi-Precursor of modern Chinese Philosophy and Science-04: Sampler-03

MO Zi, the Chinese social and philosophical precursor.

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Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is the fifth of posts dedicated to MO Zi and the school of thought that was formed around him, Mohism, we presented in the first post.

Here we start our third sampler from the Mohist corpus with texts excerpted from the core doctrines chapters: ‘Against Fate I’, ‘Against Fate II’, ‘Against Fate III’. Source: Ian Johnston’s 2013 Penguin Books English translation: ‘MO Zi, the Book of Master MO’, Penguin Classics. Pages 171, 172, 173, 179, 180, 182,183, 186 and 187.

Let’s keep in mind that this movement flourished around 770–221 B.C.A., during the ‘Spring & Autumn’ and Warring States period in China!

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Against Fate I

1. Chapter 35. Number 1.

Master MO spoke, saying: ‘In ancient times, kings, dukes and great officers, in governing a state, all wished that state to be rich, its people to be many and its administration to be well ordered. However, when they did not get prosperity but poverty instead, when they did not get many people but few instead, when they did not get order but disorder instead, this was fundamentally to lose what it was they desired and to get what it was they abhorred. What was the reason for this?’

Chinese Original:

非命上:

子墨子言曰:「古者王公大人,為政國家者,皆欲國家之富,人民之眾,刑政之治。然而不得富而得貧,不得眾而得寡,不得治而得亂,則是本失其所欲,得其所惡,是故何也?」

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2. Chapter 35. Number 2.

Master MO spoke saying: ‘Those who believe in Fate are mixed in with the population in large numbers. And they say, ‘If Fate decrees wealth, then there is wealth. If Fate decrees poverty, then there is poverty. If Fate decrees many people, then there are many people. If fate decrees few people, then there are few people. If Fate decrees order, then there is order. If Fate decrees disorder, then there is disorder. If Fate decrees longevity, then there is longevity. If Fates decrees an early death, then there is an early death. Fate is everywhere, and although one might be strong and unyielding, of what benefit is that?’ Above, these theories affect kings, dukes, and great officers, causing them to neglect their administration. Below, these theories affect the common people and hinder the conduct of their affairs. Thus, those who believe in Fate are not ren (仁, loving, kind and benevolent). Therefore, it is appropriate that the words of those who believe in Fate cannot be otherwise than clearly analyzed.’

Chinese Original:

子墨子言曰:「執有命者以集於民閒者眾。執有命者之言曰:『命富則富,命貧則貧;命眾則眾,命寡則寡;命治則治,命亂則亂;命壽則壽,命夭則夭;命雖強勁,何益哉?』以上說王公大人,下以駔百姓之從事,故執有命者不仁。故當執有命者之言,不可不明辨。」

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3. Chapter 35. Number 5.

‘Nevertheless, at the present time, among the officers and noble men of the world, there are some who take there to be Fate. How can they not look to the past and consider the writings of the sage kings? The writings of former kings which came from the kingdom and were promulgated to the common people were the ‘Laws’. Among the ‘Laws’ of the former kings were there ever those that said: ’Good fortune cannot be requested; bad fortune cannot be prevented. Being respectful is not beneficial, being cruel and tyrannical is not harmful’? The means whereby lawsuits were heard and crimes restrained were the ‘Punishments’. Among the ‘Punishments’ of the former kings were there ever those that said: ‘Good fortune cannot be requested; bad fortune cannot be prevented. Being respectful is not beneficial, being evil is not harmful.’? The means whereby armies were kept in order and deployed, and troops ordered to advance or retreat, were the ‘Declarations’. Among the ‘Declarations’ of the former kings were there ever those that said: ‘Good fortune cannot be requested; bad fortune cannot be prevented. Being respectful is not beneficial, being cruel and tyrannical is not harmful’? This is why Master MO said: ‘This still does not bring be to the end of the matter. The excellent writings of the world are too numerous to be entirely considered, but in general they are the same as these three. Now although we might look for arguments to support the idea of Fate, we certainly don’t find them, so can’t we abandon the idea too? Now the argument of those who hold that there is Fate are used to overthrow yi (義, right action, righteousness and justice) in the world. To overthrow yi in the world is to establish Fate, and this is to create distress for the ordinary people. Those who take delight in creating distress for the ordinary people are those who would destroy the people of the world.’

Chinese Original:

非命上:

然而今天下之士君子,或以命為有。蓋嘗尚觀於先王之書,先王之書,所以1出國家,布施百姓者2,憲也。先王之憲,亦嘗有曰『福不可請,而禍不可諱,敬無益,暴無傷』者乎?所以聽獄制罪者,刑也。先王之刑亦嘗有曰『福不可請,禍不可諱,敬無益,暴無傷』者乎?所以整設師旅,進退師徒者,誓也。先王之誓亦嘗有曰:『福不可請,禍不可諱,敬無益,暴無傷』者乎?」是故子墨子言曰:「吾當未鹽數,天下之良書不可盡計數,大方論數,而五者是也。今雖毋求執有命者之言,不必得,不亦可錯乎?今用執有命者之言,是覆天下之義,覆天下之義者,是立命者也,百姓之誶也。說百姓之誶者,是滅天下之人也」。

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Against Fate II

4.Chapter 36. Number 3.

‘Now the arguments of those who hold that there is Fate, say: ‘We did not create this at later times. From the Three dynasties of former times on, there has been this view which has been handed down. Why, sir, do you now oppose it?’ I say, with respect to there being Fate, do you not know whether it came from the sages and good men of the former Three Dynasties or from the evil and unworthy men of the Three Dynasties of former times? How do we know this? In the beginning, the various officers and brave grandees were careful in their speech and wise in their actions. This meant they could advise and admonish their rulers and leaders above, and could teach and instruct the ordinary people below. Therefore, above they received rewards from their rulers and leaders, and below, they received praise from the ordinary people. The reputation of these various officers and brave grandees is still heard about and has not died away, having been handed down to the present time. And the whole world says it was their own ability. They are certainly not able to say: ‘I see fate here.’’

Chinese Original:

非命中:

今夫有命者言曰:『我非作之後世也,自昔三代有若言以傳流矣。今故先生對之?』曰:夫有命者,不志昔也三代之聖善人與?意亡昔三代之暴不肖人也?何以知之?初之列士桀大夫,慎言知行,此上有以規諫其君長,下有以教順其百姓,1故上得其君長之賞,下得其百姓之譽。列士桀大夫聲聞不廢,流傳至今,而天下皆曰其力也,必不能曰我見命焉。

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5. Chapter 36. Number 7.

‘Also, in the ‘Three Dynasties, One Hundred Kingdoms’, there is a statement: ‘You should not venerate Heaven as having Fate’. So, the ‘Three Dynasties, One Hundred Kingdoms’ also speak of the non-existence of Fate. In Duke Shao’s ‘Implementing Orders’ it is the same. This says: ‘There should be respect for ghosts and spirits. But there is no heavenly Fate. There are the two of us and we do not speak falsely. Fate is not sent down from Heaven. It comes from ourselves.’ In the ‘Odes’ and the ‘Documents’ of Shang and Xia dynasties, it is said that Fate is the creation of cruel and tyrannical kings. Moreover, at the present time, for the world’s officers and noble men who wish to distinguish the causes of right and wrong and of benefit and harm, it is right that a belief in Fate must be absolutely rejected.’ To hold that there is Fate is of profound harm to the world, which is why, Master MO rejected it.

Chinese original:

非命中:

有於三代不國有之曰:『女毋崇天之有命也。』命三不國亦言命之無也。於召公之執令於然,且:「『敬哉!無天命,惟予二人,而無造言,不自降天之哉得之。』在於商、夏之詩書曰:『命者暴王作之。』且今天下之士君子,將欲辯是非利害之故,當天有命者,不可不疾非也。」執有命者,此天下之厚害也,是故子墨子非也。

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Against Fate III

6. Chapter 37. Number 1.

Master MO spoke, saying: ‘In general, when making a statement, it is not permissible to fail to establish a standard first and then speak. If you do not establish a standard first and then speak, it is like using the upper part of a pottery’s revolving wheel and try to establish the direction of the sunrise and sunset with it. I Think that, although there is a distinction between the sunrise and the sunset, you will, in the end, certainly never be able to find it and establish it. This is why there is three criteria for a statement. What are these three criteria? I say there is examining it, there is determining its origin, and there is putting it into use. How do you examine it? You examine the affairs of the first sages and great kings. How do you determine its origin? You look for the evidence from the ears and eyes of the masses. How do you put it to use? You set it out and use it in the governing of the state, considering its effects on the ten thousand people. These are called the ‘three criteria’’.

Chinese Original:

非命下:

子墨子言曰:「凡出言談,則必可而不先立儀而言。若不先立儀而言,譬之猶運鈞之上而立朝夕焉也。我以為雖有朝夕之辯,必將終未可得而從定也。是故言有三法。何謂三法?曰:有考之者,有1原之者,有用之者。惡乎考之?考先聖大王之事。惡乎原之?察眾之耳目之請?惡乎用之?發而為政乎國,察萬民而觀之。此謂三法也。

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7. Chapter 37. Number 2.

‘Thus, in the past, at the times when the sage kings of the Three Dynasties-Yu, Tang, Wen and Wu-were governing the world, they said: ‘We must devote our attention to promoting filial sons and encouraging them to serve their parents. We must honour men who are worthy and virtuous and teach them to be good.’ For this reason, they brought forth government and gave instructions. They rewarded the good and punished the bad. Moreover, when you view it like this, if there is disorder in the world, it can be overcome and order brought about; and if there is danger to the altars of soil and grain, it can be overcome and peace brought about. If you don’t think this is so, consider the disorder formerly wrought by Jie and how Tang brought order; consider the disorder wrought by Zhou and how King Wu brought order. At these times, the age did not change and the people did not change. The ruler changed the government and the people changed their customs. As it existed under Jie and Zhou, the world was in disorder. As it existed under Tang and Wu, the world was well ordered. The good order of the world was due to the efforts of Tang and Wu. The disorder of the world was due to the faults of Jie and Zhou. If you look at it like this, peace and danger, order and disorder lie in the ruler’s conduct of government. How, then, it is permissible to say there is Fate!’

Chinese Original:

非命下:

故昔者三代聖王禹湯文武方為政乎天下之時,曰:必務舉孝子而勸之事親,尊賢良之人而教之為善。是故出政施教,賞善罰暴。且以為若此,則天下之亂也,將屬可得而治也,社稷之危也,將屬可得而定也。若以為不然,昔桀之所亂,湯治之;紂之所亂,武王治之。當此之時,世不渝而民不易,上變政而民改俗。存乎桀紂而天下亂,存乎湯武而天下治。天下之治也,湯武之力也;天下之亂也,桀紂之罪也。若以此觀之,夫安危治亂存乎上之為政也,則夫豈可謂有命哉!

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8. Chapter 37. Number 8.

‘Nowadays, why is it that farmers go out early and come back late, and are diligent in their sowing of grain and planting of trees, gathering large amounts of pulses and grains, not daring to be remiss? I say it is because they think that diligence ensures wealth while lack of diligence must result in hunger. So, they dare not be remiss. Nowadays, why is it that women get up early and go to bed late and are diligent in their spinning and weaving, producing large amounts of hemp, silk and other cloth and weaving cotton and silk, not daring to be remiss? I say it is because they think that diligence ensures wealth while lack of diligence must result in poverty, and that diligence ensures warmth while lack of diligence must result in cold. So, they dare not be remiss. In the present circumstances, if kings, dukes and great officers trust in the existence of Fate and act accordingly, they will certainly be remiss on resolving lawsuits and bringing order to government, ministers and great officers will certainly be remiss in managing government offices, farmers will certainly be remiss in the sowing of grain and planting of trees, and women will certainly be remiss in their spinning and weaving.’

Chinese Original:

非命下:

今也農夫之所以蚤出暮入,強乎耕稼樹藝,多聚叔粟,而不敢怠倦者,何也?曰:彼以為強必富,不強必貧;強必飽,不強必飢,故不敢怠倦。今也婦人之所 夙興夜寐,強乎紡績織紝,多治麻絲葛緒捆布縿,而不敢怠倦者,何也?曰:彼以為強必富,不強必貧,強必煖,不強必寒,故不敢怠倦。今雖毋在乎王公大人,蕢若信有命而致行之,則必怠乎聽獄治政矣,卿大夫必怠乎治官府矣,農夫必怠乎耕稼樹藝矣,婦人必怠乎紡績織紝矣。

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9. Chapter 37. Number 10.

This is why Master MO spoke, saying: ‘Nowadays, the world’s officers and noble men who in their hearts genuinely wish to seek to promote the world’s benefits and eliminate its harms are right to reject resolutely words like those which claim the existence of Fate. They should say, that the concept of Fate was a creation of the cruel and tyrannical kings and was perpetuated by the poor people. It was not something that people who were ren (仁, loving, kind, humane and benevolent) spoke of. Nowadays, for those who are ren and yi (義, right acting, righteous and just), this is something that will need to be examined and strongly rejected.’

Chinese Original:

非命下:

是故子墨子言曰:「今天下之士君子,中實將欲求興天下之利,除天下之害,當若有命者之3言,不可不強非4也。曰:命者,暴王所作,窮人所術,非仁者之言也。今之為仁義者,將不可不察而強非者,此也。」

 

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Chinese text source: https://ctext.org/mozi 🌿 About MO Zi : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozi 🌿 About Mohism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohism
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