Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Interview 1

I came across a Meme on Michael Manning’s blog on the 12 people you would like to interview. I thought about limiting it to 12 people, but for a historian that’s really kind of difficult. So I limited it to one category and chose 12 people within that category. My category was: People or societies that faced a pathway choice and how that has affected the rest of history.
I don’t think they will all fit on one posting. One at a time would be easier on the reading public.

1. Mo Tzu (470-391 B.C.) [no picture available] is a curious figure among the early giants of Chinese thought. Unlike most of the other names he is associated with (Confucius, Lao Tzu, Mencius, Chuang Tzu, etc.), Mo Tzu, born Mo Ti, seems to have been of low birth, possibly the son of a slave. He was a thoroughgoing eccentric, as famous for his dress and manners as his thought. His direct legacy, Moism, died out fairly quickly; in spite of this, his thought is enormously influential for all Chinese thought to follow. He despised Confucians with a passion, regarding them as uptight, egotistical, pretentious, upper class, and characterized by a mindless devotion to empty rituals. Despite this animosity, Mo Tzu shared with Confucius an overwhelming concern with government; his life was literally spent moving from feudal court to feudal court trying to talk some ruler into living by his philosophical teachings.
Unlike Confucius, Mo Tzu did not shy away from talking about religion and heaven. At the heart of his thinking was the belief that all human beings were fundamentally equal in the eyes of heaven; differences between human beings, such as status, wealth, or position, were artificial and man-made distinctions. The equality of humans before heaven mandated an overriding ethical principle for people to that human beings suffer.
“Humane men are concerned about providing benefits to the world and eliminating its calamities. . . . When we come to ask about the causes of the calamities (war, poverty, etc.) that people suffer, from what do these calamities arise? Do they arise from people loving others and benefiting others? Certainly not. We should say that they arise from people hating and injuring others. If we should classify one by one all those who hate and injure others, will we find that they are partial or universal in their love? Certainly, we'll find them partial in their love. Therefore, partial love is the cause of all the human calamities in the world. Partial love is wrong.”

My questions to Mo Tzu would be: A) Are you surprised that your teachings would still have such an impact on China even though Confucianism, became the official philosophy?
B) Do you think the teachings of Christ mirror much of what you taught, and could that be why Christianity has always found such fertile soil in China? C) Do you approve of the premise of American government that all men are created equal and that everyone should have equal opportunity? D) What correlations do you see in current American society with the Chinese society of your day?

E) Or do you see a better correlation to China under Communism? F) Did Mao's teaching mirror yours more closely than Christ's?

1 comment:

david mcmahon said...

Can't wait to see your next interview.