The Philosophy of the Mòzi

The First Consequentialists

Chris Fraser

Columbia University Press

The Philosophy of the <i>Mòzi</i>

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Pub Date: September 2016

ISBN: 9780231149273

320 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $40.00£34.00

Pub Date: September 2016

ISBN: 9780231149266

320 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $120.00£100.00

Pub Date: September 2016

ISBN: 9780231520591

320 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $39.99£34.00

The Philosophy of the Mòzi

The First Consequentialists

Chris Fraser

Columbia University Press

Mohism was an ancient Chinese philosophical movement founded in the fifth century BCE by the charismatic artisan Mòzi, or "Master Mo." Its practitioners advanced a consequentialist ethics, along with fascinating political, logical, and epistemological theories, that set the terms of philosophical argumentation and reflection in China for generations to come. Mohism faded away in the imperial era, leaving the impression that it was not as vital as other Chinese philosophical traditions, yet a complete understanding of Confucianism or Daoism is impossible without appreciating the seminal contribution of Mohist thought.

The Philosophy of the Mòzi is an extensive study of Mohism, situating the movement's rise and decline within Chinese history. The book also emphasizes Mohism's relevance to modern systems of thought. Mohism anticipated Western utilitarianism by more than two thousand years. Its political theory is the earliest to outline a just war doctrine and locate the origins of government in a state of nature. Its epistemology, logic, and psychology provide compelling alternatives to contemporary Western mentalism. More than a straightforward account of Mohist principles and practice, this volume immerses readers in the Mohist mindset and clarifies its underpinning of Chinese philosophical discourse.

Not only the best study of the philosophy of the Mòzi, but one of the best studies of any classical Chinese philosopher.

Franklin Perkins, author of Heaven and Earth Are Not Humane: The Problem of Evil in Classical Chinese Philosophy

Fraser is at his best and his most original in arguing for an interpretation of Mohist ethical theory as an early consequentialism that builds upon his own careful and persuasive explication of a Mohist philosophy of mind and action—a sui generis social psychology that has contemporary force in challenging the persistent subjective, individualist, and representational assumptions of our old common-sense psychology.

Roger T. Ames, author of Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation

Fraser's book is charitable—persuasively rebutting many standard criticisms of the Mohists—and yet critically engaged with the details of the Mohists' provocative positions. The philosophical study of the Mòzicomes of age in this outstanding book.

Stephen C. Angle, author of Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy

Fraser is a gifted writer and expositor. Mo Di was not only the first consequentialist but also the first just war theorist, the first critic of extravagant ritual, the first critic of family-first ethics, and the first philosopher to offer what analytic philosophers would count as rigorous arguments. A must read for analytic philosophers who work in ethics and political philosophy.

Owen Flanagan, author of The Geography of Morals: Varieties of Moral Possibility
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Order, Objectivity, and Efficacy
2. Epistemology and Logic: Drawing Distinctions
3. Political Theory: Order Through Shared Norms
4. Heaven: The Highest Ethical Model
5. Ethics: The Benefit of All
6. Inclusive Care: For Others as for Oneself
7. Motivation: Changing People in a Generation
8. War and Economics
Epilogue
Glossary
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Chris Fraser is associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong. His articles on the classical Chinese philosophy of language, ontology, epistemology, ethics, and psychology have appeared in the Journal of Chinese Philosophy, Asian Philosophy, Philosophy East and West, Journal of Chinese Philosophy and Culture, and New Asia Academic Bulletin.