"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The Mohists, ancient China's philosopher warriors

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 223 - Chris Fraser on "The Mohists, ancient China's philosopher warriors"

"'What's especially interesting about Mohists is that their brand of consequentialism picks as its basic goods the consequences that we're supposed to try to promote ... it picks as its basic goods a series of social goods...

The canonical list which they repeat again and again in Chinese is Fu Zhong Zhi, which would be material wealth; in their time a large population; and zhi, social order. And that's a very complex concept for them. Social order refers to the absence of crime and war, but it also refers to harmonious social relations. So for instance, to actually achieve social order, all of us have to fill our social roles as political subjects or political leaders, as parents or children, as brothers or sisters or what have you, in a socially appropriate way...

War is regarded as the most harmful sort of action. So at least certain bands of Mohists dedicated themselves to preventing war or stopping war, or at least enhancing the defense of states that were being attacked. So one of their anti-war moves is simply to march around the known world and give talks and urge leaders not to undertake war...

Mozi himself hears that the southern state of Chu is planning to attack and conquer the smaller central state of Song. And supposedly when he hears about this he's in the northeastern state of Qi, and on hearing about this plan he walks ten days and nights to reach the court of Chu to try to persuade the ruler of Chu to cancel his plan to attack Song... Mozi explains to him that, well, he's already posted hundreds of his followers on the city walls of Song to defend the state of Song from the Chu attack. So certain bands of Mohists, besides rhetorically arguing against war, actually organized themselves into paramilitary groups that were devoted to defense warfare'

'There was one blog post that referred to the Mohists as the ancient China's Jedi knights. Like philosopher warriors, basically.'

'Philosopher warriors. So they're anti-aggression and they're anti-war, but they're not pacifists. Some of them at least become legendary experts in purely defensive warfare. So they've got all these techniques for defending cities under siege that they develop, and the idea is that if you don't attack us we won't attack you. We're against aggression, but we're not against fighting. And not only are we not against fighting, they became legendary for the effectiveness of their defense of cities... if your city was under threat you could contract with the Mohists to defend you...

The Mohists themselves actually advocate social inequality... They advocate promoting what they regard as the benefit of all the world. And they think that for society to operate properly, you need to have a hierarchical social organization, and those on higher rungs of the hierarchy have to be perceived to have power and to have wealth, and have a certain sort of social status. Otherwise people won't follow their orders, for example. They also think that to bring order to society, you have to hire talented people, and to attract talented people you have to pay them well.'...

'One of the theories for why their influence died out was that as their movement grew, there were parts of the movement that started focusing more and more on the sort of radical lifestyle changes. A sort of asceticism... it was sort of an in-group bonding, virtue signaling thing?... a lot of subcultures emphasize lifestyle practices that kind of isolate them from the broader world, and signal that they're serious, and sort of ethically rigorous, and things like that.And the sort of core leadership of the Mohists didn't ... their views were more nuanced and less focused on signaling that they were radically spartan.

But it was sort of the fringe areas, the more radical areas of the Mohist group that had the most control over PR and that got the most attention. And therefore the broader society rejected them, because they were like, "Well, your philosophy means we have to give up all these comforts of life and we don't really feel like doing that."'

'In terms of virtue signaling, we actually have textual evidence for some of this. So in the last book of the Zhuangzi, a Taoist classic, we have an overview of different schools of thought of that time. And in the section of that that talks about the Mohists, talks about groups of Mohists who were active many hundreds of years after the lifetime of Mo Di himself.And it reports that they would criticize each other for not being radical enough, or for not being sufficiently dedicated to the model of the ancient sage King Yu, who pretty much completely gave up his personal and family life to promote the benefit of all. Specifically by carrying out flood control projects.'"
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