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Chinese philosopher Mozi’s value of ‘bigong’

Posted July. 17, 2019 07:59,   

Updated July. 17, 2019 07:59


The dictionary definition of peace is “a state of tranquility without war or conflict.” The philosopher who put peace at the center of reasoning was Mozi of china. He called for the concept of “bigong,” which means a big country should not strike a small one. The issue was how to instill the value in the world where the strong prey upon the weak. One of the solutions proposed by him was siding with a weak and small nation.

Mozi urgently went to the Chu, a Zhou dynasty era state, after hearing the news that the Chu was going to invade the Song Dynasty. The Song Dynasty was a small nation with a size of less than one-tenth of the Chu and both weaker economic and military power. If there was any fault with them, it was that the dynasty was weaker and smaller.

The Chu was planning to take the Song Dynasty’s castle using newly developed high ladders called “Unje,” which means they can reach clouds. As his efforts to convince the king of Chu on the grounds that a war of aggression violates moral laws and humanitarian principles weren’t successful, Mozi came up with a different strategy. He said he had a secret plan to nullify the ladders to be deployed. The Chinse philosopher firmly asserted that his 300 students were already sent to the Song Dynasty so the invasion attempt wouldn’t work, adding, “You can kill me but you can’t get rid of all of my students.” This was enough to deter the king of Chu from pursuing invasion. Mozi continued to prevent other wars in the future with this tactic.

There were two virtues that enabled Mozi to do this. First, ethical authority bestowed on him from the idea of humanitarian love that promotes love for not only oneself and those near him but also strangers. Second, courageousness to put his own life at risk for the cause. “Love other countries as much as your own” – it was the value of absolute peace and hospitality that neither Confucius nor Mencius was able to embrace. This was the value that Mozi had adopted when speaking against the great powers 2,400 years ago. It makes us wonder if there are any Mozis in the world raising their voice against big and powerful countries with weapons far beyond the comparison to the ladders of Chu.