“Benefit to the World” and “Heaven’s Intent”: The Prospective and Retrospective Aspects of the Mohist Criterion for Rightness

Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 23 (2) (2024)
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Abstract

“Benefit to the world” and “Heaven’s intent” are not, as is often assumed, separate criteria for action in Mozi’s 墨子 ethics; they are the same in extension but not intension. When Mozi speaks in terms of “Heaven’s intent,” it is to highlight the criterion’s retrospective orientation and its scope; taking a cue from Heaven’s reactions to past deeds, agents specify the scope of “the world” by reference to the past performance of persons regarding benefit to the world. This diverges from a principle that is often attributed to Mozi, of considering the benefit of all equally without regard for past performance.

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Bradford Jean-Hyuk Kim
University of Southampton

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Mohist Care.Dan Robins - 2012 - Philosophy East and West 62 (1):60-91.
Reconstructing Mozi's Jian'ai 兼愛.Back Youngsun - 2017 - Philosophy East and West 67 (4):1092-1117.
Universalism versus love with distinctions: An ancient debate revived.David B. Wong - 1989 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 16 (3-4):251-272.
Is mo Tzu a utilitarian?Dennis M. Ahern - 1976 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 3 (2):185-193.

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