Table of Contents
I. Introduction 2
a. Historical Background of Mohism and Confucianism 2
b. General Similarities 3
c. General Differences 4
II. Body 4
a. Obedience and Hierarchy 5
b. Political Theory 5
Role of government (Compare between the two) 6
Anti-war stance 7
c. Familial Ethics and Social Order 8
Universal Love vs. Filial Piety 8
Frugality of Mohism 8
III. Conclusion 9
Mohism and Confucianism are two teachings and philosophies that existed in the time period of 200 BC to 400 BC in China. Their details are obtained as under:
a. Historical Background of Mohism and Confucianism
Confucianism is believed to be developed from a person named Confucius and his actual name was Kong Qiu. However, the principles and teachings of Confucianism refer to the cultural practices of the Zhou clan. The birth of Confucius was on 28th September 551 BC. He developed codes of behaviour for the people to be observed in the society. He had developed a system which was based on “virtues”. It was very much accepted by the Han Dynasty in their schools (Lai).
Mohism was founded by Mozi, whose actual name was Mo Tzu and was born in Tengzhou, which lies in the Shandong province of China. He developed an ideology and philosophy which challenged the core principles and teachings of Confucianism. The teachings of Mohism were based on observing self-reflection and self-learning and not to follow the practices which were followed by their ancestors since ages. It had innovation and logical approach. Its importance declined after the introduction of the Qin dynasty and it further declined by the acceptance of Confucianism through Han Dynasty in their schools (Ning).
b. General Similarities
The basic principle in both the philosophies tends to focus on obtaining the ultimate goal of spreading love among all the people. This is the biggest similarity among the two philosophies and teachings.
Both of the philosophies emphasized on putting forth the interests of the society ahead of the personal interests by the people. It involves sacrificing of their interests for the overall benefit of the society. Both of them heavily stressed on the conduct of the individuals.
There was similar style and structure of administration and bureaucracy observed in both of the philosophies (XUE and MA).
c. General Differences
In Mohism, people were prescribed to learn from their self-reflections and question existence of each and every thing until they got satisfied by the answers obtained. On the other hand, Confucianism prescribed the followers to learn from the methods, techniques and working patterns which were followed since ages by the ancestors.
Mohism developed the concept of Universal love which was based on a specific purpose or goal. While, Confucianism developed the concept of benevolence in love, which was based on following of ethical behaviors and duties derived from ancient times. The concept of both were same, but the method of attaining the love was different in both the philosophies as seen in the above discussion.
Confucianism was based on the virtue of uniting oneself with the heaven (Tian) and it provided the relationships between men and heaven. While, Mohism is observed to be depended on the behavior inculcating the virtues of impartiality in the practices of men (Qi-zhou).
There were many differences in the approach and living styles of the people which were derived from the differences between the two teachings and ideologies of Mohism and Confucianism.
a. Obedience and Hierarchy
There were different levels of hierarchy observed in both the philosophies and the important characters in both of them were also different depending on their approach.
In Mohism, the level of hierarchy was passed on directly without any second opinion from the subjects. While, in Confucianism, the hierarchy was passed too, but there were interests and opinions of the public which were considered. Hence, it can be seen that there was difference in the pattern of inheritance displayed in both of them. This ideology of hierarchy was developed from the traditions and logic developed in the two philosophies.
Regarding the obeying of authority, Mohism emphasized to strictly follow and obey the orders of the rulers and people who were at higher positions. People should not argue or express their opposing opinion regarding the laws and strategies developed. It stressed that the main cause of any conflict was difference of opinions. While, in Confucianism, there was obedience of the rulers and higher authorities, but it also involved obtaining the views and opinions from the subjects participating in the government and this opinions may also be contradicting to the ones of the rulers (Thompson).
b. Political Theory
In Mohism, the political theory was very much based on ruling the people with appropriate importance given to the merits of the people. It emphasized that people have to get rid of the ancient baseless traditions and methodologies and develop new ones for themselves. This describes that the Mohism philosophy was based on innovation and developing a logical approach rather than a rational one. This was the political basis which was prominent in the followers of Mohism.
While, in Confucianism, there was emphasize on developing an intrigue relationship of one’s body so as to reach heaven. It focuses on developing virtues and practices on for the well-being of the human beings which can be obtained from the traditions and customs followed by the ancient people since ages in their lives. It involves learning from their experience and using the solutions developed by them in the same way. Thus, the political theory was much like the structure adopted before few ages (Thompson).
Role of government (Compare between the two)
There were different perceptions regarding the role of the government in these two ideologies. They focused on both the logic required for administration, innovation and implementation. The level of intensity of these two factors was different.
In the Confucianism, a good leader would be achieving the steps of reaching the Heaven for his subjects. Whereas, in Mohism, a good leader would propagate the principle of universal love for his subjects and promote the same to be followed.
Regarding the equality and meritocracy, the policies were much lenient in Confucianism. It stressed on taking up of important positions in the administration by the people who were suggested by the rulers or high authorities and they were not only selected on the basis of merit, but also on the basis of their relation with any other higher authorities or on the basis of their nobleness. In Mohism, the system was fair and provided chance to the meritorious people as against the relatives of the higher authorities in selection for the administrative roles in their kingdom.
The legitimacy of the two philosophies was different owing to the difference in their ideologies and justice structure. In the Confucianism, ancestors were taken as ideals in developing the laws and imparting justice to the people. In Mohism, however, the experience along with the talent of the rulers was important for imparting justice to the subjects and establishing laws in the kingdom (Qi-zhou).
There were different approaches in the two philosophies regarding their strategy for war. However, both of them inculcated peace in their strategies. In Confucianism, there was provision for the subjects and higher authorities to provide their opinions and challenge the decisions of the rulers. This was to be done peacefully without affecting the peace of the kingdom. In Mohism, it was ensured that the conditions of war does not arise as it was against the practicing of war and fights for winning any territory. It emphasized that the rulers had highest powers and that everyone had to obey and follow his orders and there would be no other opinion developed against him (Huang).
c. Familial Ethics and Social Order
Universal Love vs. Filial Piety
In Mohism, there was no partiality in the authority or age of the person while providing them with the respect. Hence, it adopted the principle of universal love in its administration and philosophy.
In Confucianism, there was Filial piety, which refers to a system where the people respect their elders, parents and the ancestors. This was hugely practiced in Confucianism. The concept of love was based on benevolence in Confucianism, which was depended on specific reasons and purposes (Brooks).
Frugality of Mohism
Mohism was based on frugality of each and every rites and rituals that were carried out. It challenged the existence of the rituals and proposed development of logical approach towards it. It was very economical in considering the various tasks like listening to music, holding of funerals, weddings and other such gatherings for a social cause. They stated that people wasted their time by listening to music and getting involved in the above mentioned occasions. They stressed on utilizing the same efforts on production and development of resources.
Confucianism, on the other side was very traditional and firmly believed in rituals. They stressed on development of the people through social gathering and enjoyment offered by them. It believed in sustaining the ancient culture and rituals and also emphasized on the importance of listening to music (Huang).
It can be stated that the concepts and ideologies in both the philosophies were different. Both of them had many followers and they emphasized the school of thoughts in adopting their culture and improvising it for the next generations. The Confucianism focused on benevolence perspective of love, whereas, Mohism, stressed on the Universal perspective of love.
Brooks, A. Taeko. “”Mwodz 14-16″ Universal Love.” Warring States Papers 1 (2010): 129-131. print.
Huang, Siu-chi. “ “Musical art in early confucian philosophy.” .” Philosophy East and West (1963): 49-60. print.
Lai, Karyn. An introduction to Chinese philosophy. . New York:: Cambridge University Press,, 2008. print.
Ning, Chen. “ “Mohist, Daoist, and confucian explanations of Confucius’s suffering in Chen-Cai.”.” Monumenta serica (2003): 37-54. print.
Qi-zhou, W. A. N. G. “On Mohist View of Literature——A Co-discussion on Differences and Similarities Between Confucian and Mohist View of Literature.” Journal of Shaanxi Normal University (Philosophy and Social Sciences Edition)2 (2008): 3 – 11. print.
Thompson, Scott. Compare Mozi vs. Confucius. 2015. Web. 9 November 2015.
XUE, B. C. and H. F. MA. “A Review of Researches on the Comparison of Confucianism and Mohism in Recent Decade [J].” Journal of Jilin Normal University (Humanities & Social Science Edition), 2, (2011): 11 – 25. Print.