MZ 39: An Anomaly in the Mohist Ethical 'Core Chapters'?

Karen Desmet, Leuven
WSWG 17, Leiden University, 18 September 2003

Karen Desmet


Chapter 39 of the Mohist corpus, the anti-Confucian chapter (Fei Ru), has often been considered as an anomaly in the so-called ethical 'core chapters' (MZ 8-39) of the Mozi. [Note 1] These chapters expound the ten basic Mohist doctrines, all of which consist of three different versions (or 'triads'), with the exception of MZ 38-39, expounding an eleventh doctrine in only two versions (MZ 38 is now lost). [Note 2]

The purpose of this paper is to examine MZ 39 more closely, in order to try to find out whether this chapter actually belongs to the Mohist core chapters or not. To this end, I will first give a description of MZ 39, and explain where exactly it differs from the triads. Secondly, it will be necessary to present a brief overview on the research so far conducted for the core chapters, in order to explain in a third part how MZ 39 is - or is not - made to fit into the general frame by two different approaches. Based on my own research of the chapter in Part Four, the problems of both approaches will be discussed in a fifth part. Finally, in the Conclusion, some remaining questions will be raised, together with a tentative answer.

Calligraphic Separator

[Note 1]: See for example Graham, A C in Loewe, M, Early Chinese Texts, A Bibliographical Guide, p337. The whole Mozi book is generally divided into five parts:L (a) ch 1-7, miscellaneous essays, summaries of important doctrines, (b) ch 8-39, the core chapters, expounding the Mohist doctrines, (c) ch 40-43, the "Dialectical Chapters,' (d) ch 46-50, the 'Dialogues,; and (e) ch 52-71, the 'Military Chapters." [Return]

[Note 2]: We know a third member of this doctrine was never compiled, because if it had been and lost, there would have been a place for it in the table of contents, matched by a whole in the repertoire, as is the case for the other now incomplete triplets. [Return]


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