Mozi Against Fatalism

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Moist criticism of Fatalism Heaven as moral authority For the Moist, Heaven is conceived of as a universal moral authority, omniscient, impartial and inclusive in doling out rewards or punishments to those who deserve them. Heaven desires righteous behavior, and acts accord to Heaven’s Will brings about rewards and justice, whereas to go against Heaven’s will runs the consequence of punishment, as in the case of the sage-kings contrasted with the vicious kings. The role of Heaven’s Will is to serve as a moral standard, to provide moral guidance that people can take bearings from, as in the analogy of a carpenter taking standard from a carpenter’s square. For Mozi, a reactive Heaven’s Will serves to increase human responsibility: the states of affairs in the world are directly dependent on human action being in accord with Heaven’s Will. Whether there is order or chaos, humans have an active role and responsibility to shape it towards the moral standards of Heaven. There are also elements of other Moist philosophy evident in the concept of Heaven, such as Universal Love. Practical concerns of Fatalism Mozi’s criticism of fatalism is directed towards practical concerns. He attributes issues of poverty, meager populations and chaos to the result of belief in fatalism. By shirking responsibility to fatalism, Mozi contends that fatalism devalues human action by emphasizing the futility of human efficacy and its limitations. In following the structure of the belief in Confucian fatalism, Moists arrive at the undesired consequences of humans neglecting to put in their full efforts and laziness, this being a dangerous doctrine to teach the masses. Beyond the mere practical concerns, Moists claim that fatalism also avoids moral responsibility; if rewards and punishments were a matter of destiny, there would be no incentives to act morally. Tensions between
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