Wai-wai Chiu
Lingnan University
The attitude toward li 利 is often identified as a key difference between the Mencius 孟子 and the Mozi 墨子. A common view is that for the Mencius, rightness (yi 義) and li are incompatible; but for the Mozi they are not necessarily so. In this paper I argue that the Mencius and the Mozi are in broad agreement on the issue of li, and their attitudes toward li are not as different as may seem at first glance. If we take a finer-grained understanding of li in two ways, namely the self-regarding li and the other-regarding li, then both the Mencius and the Mozi would criticize the former but encourage the latter. The term li in the Mencius has a range of meanings, and it is not clear whether the Mencius actually opposes all li-pursuing activities. Mencius would agree with Mozi that, at least in some cases, one is obligated to seek li for others. Furthermore, despite their criticism of self-regarding li, both Mencius and Mozi allow that in some cases it is morally permissible to act from the motive of self-regarding li, as long as this motive coexists with the motive of rightness. That is, self-regarding li and rightness are not always mutually exclusive, even for Mencius, who seems to be more critical of li
Keywords Mozi  Mencius  Ethics  Benefit
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11712-014-9372-3
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,018
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The World of Thought in Ancient China.Benjamin Isadore Schwartz - 1985 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Confucius: The Analects.D. C. Lau (ed.) - 2000 - Columbia University Press.
The Mozi: A Complete Translation.Ian Johnston (ed.) - 2010 - Columbia University Press.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Mohism.Chris Fraser - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Is Mohism Really Li-Promotionalism?Yun Wu & Amin Ebrahimi Afrouzi - 2021 - Asian Philosophy 31 (4):430-440.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Manufacturing Mohism in the Mencius.Thomas Radice - 2011 - Asian Philosophy 21 (2):139 - 152.
What’s Ignored in Itō Jinsai’s Interpretation of Mencius?Chun-Chieh Huang - 2013 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (1):1-10.
Mencius.Ke Meng, Mencius & D. C. Lau - 2009 - Columbia University Press.
Moral Philosophy and Moral Psychology in Mencius.James A. Ryan - 1998 - Asian Philosophy 8 (1):47 – 64.
A Defence of Mencius' Ethical Naturalism.James A. Ryan - 1997 - Asian Philosophy 7 (1):23 – 36.
Is Mozi 17 a Fragment of Mozi 26?Chris Fraser - 2010 - Warring States Papers:122–125.
Mencius and Early Chinese Thought.Kwong-loi Shun - 1997 - Stanford University Press.
The Book of Mencius (Abridged). Mencius - 1942 - Greenwood Press.
Mencius on Becoming Human.James Behuniak - 2002 - Dissertation, University of Hawaii at Manoa


Added to PP index

Total views
37 ( #304,725 of 2,498,534 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #171,114 of 2,498,534 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes