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Mo Tzu Sayings



Mo Tzu Sayings

THE ANCIENT Chinese philosopher Mo Tzu (470? – 391? BCE) is also known as Mo-tzu, Mozu (Pinyin), Motze, Motse, Master Mo and more. He taught universal love and concern. His teachings, called Mohism, challenged Confucianism for some centuries. Mo Tzu was drawn to common people and liked simplicity and straightforwardness in human relations. He lived a very simple life, and commanded respect accordingly.

He left the Mo-tzu, a work where his doings and sayings are found. Mohism split into three schools after Mo-tzu's death. His gospel of universal love and ascetic living soon became embodied in an organized church with a succession of Elder Masters.

He taught that worthy persons should be found and promoted into high positions. But lower men tend to interpret "worthy men" as being members of "our party" or "one of us" quite readily.

One mark of being a worthy man in power is sorrow for being in a high, influential position like that, and thus some low-grade worthy persons may be detected - perhaps. Worthier worthy ones probably live so that the do not fall short and thereby sorrow, and may not be known to all and sundry either, if the Tao Te Ching (Chap. 17, etc.) has got it right. Those guys cannot easily be ferreted out or fathomed, it is stated.

LoOrderly and lucid writings

LOWER men often interpret "worthy men" as "our party" [cf. Uon 7].

"Honouring the worthy is is the foundation of good government ... this is a principle which the sages were most careful to practice." - Mo Tzu, [Uon 33].

Mo Tzu enunciates a principle that is called "honouring the worthy". [Uom 6].

"The Mo Tzu (book)... is ... always presented in an orderly and lucid, if not logically convincing, fashion." - Burton Watson. [Uon 14-5].

"The virtue of the sage / is high as heaven". - From a hymn of Chou. [Uon 32].

LoIt is necessary to find worthy persons to promote into high positions, for the good of the country

"NO OFFICIAL was necessarily assured of an exalted position - nor was any member of the common people necessarily condemned to remain forever humble." - Mo Tzu, [Uom 20-21].

"If the ruler honours unworthy men ... and uses them ... then rewards will not necessarily find their way into the hands of the worthy." - Mo Tzu, [Uon 26]. (4)

"When a worthy man heads a government bureau, he goes to bed ... collecting taxes ... so that the treasury will be full." - Mo Tzu, [Uon 23].

"Peace and joy was the portion of the ruler, care and sorrow that of his ministers." - Mo Tzu, [Uon 25].

"Heaven ... promotes and honours the worthy ... rejects the unworthy." - Mo Tzu, [Uon 30].

LoLet the wise benefit the people. Merely persuaded people are ridiculed for being persuaded and possibly used

BURTON WATSON: In the form of an imaginary dialogue, Mo Tzu presents the objections which he believes his opponents will raise. He goes about according to this scheme:

Q. Can it be put into practice?

A. Yes. This is proved by the fact that . . .

Q. How is it to be put into practice?

A. Rulers can be persuaded of its usefulness ... They in turn will enforce it among the people . . . [cf. Uon 10].

This can be a very sound way of presenting topics.

Dr. Watson. "Whatever one may think ... it is quite possible that the Mo-ists did deliberately adopt a straightforward, bare style (to assist the readers not to lose sight of what was being said)." [See Uon 11].

Mo Tzu found that the duty of rulers is to seek out men of wisdom and virtue and employ them. [Uon 6] MM

It also stands out that novel doctrine will meet with bafflement and ridicule [cf. Uon 10].



  1. Orderly and lucid writings first.
  2. It is necessary to find worthy persons to promote into high positions, for the good of the country.
  3. Teach that the wise need to be sought out to benefit the people. Merely persuaded people are possibly ridiculed for being persuaded and hence made use of.

IN NUCE of these selected Mo Tzu sayings Lucid, orderly writing seems needed for passing exams and getting good jobs. Being persuaded into getting a good job in such a way is perhaps being tricked, although few persons around see it.



  • To honour the worthy is fit only for most careful guys. The rest can be too little developed to do it by themselves.
  • Help the worthy to rise a bit by presenting titbits in an orderly and lucid fashion.
  • The virtue of lucid show-off is high as heaven.


  • Where they honour unworthy men, the worthy are likely to suffer deprivations and more.
  • Anyway, care and sorrow is said to be the lot of serving ministers. Thus heaven promotes and honours the worthy, or?
  • A rather contrary doctrine against being useful is found in Taoism sources, and both Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu advocates it in part, as one of several strategies or options for the sage philosopher.


  • Mo Tzu found that the duty of rulers is to seek out men of wisdom and virtue and employ them.
  • A good and solvency-bringing principle needs to be put into practice, perhaps also enforced among the people.
  • A much contrary doctrine against being useful is likely to meet with bafflement and ridicule.

Mo Tzu quotations, END MATTER

Mo Tzu quotations, LITERATURE  

Ca: Chan, Wing-Tsit. A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1963.

Uon: Watson, Burton, trans. Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu. New York: Columbia University, 1964.


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