Title

Assessment of Li 利 in the Mencius and the Mozi

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Dao : A Journal of Comparative Philosophy

Publication Date

6-1-2014

Volume

13

Issue

2

First Page

199

Last Page

214

Keywords

Mozi, Mencius, Ethics, Benefit

Abstract

The attitude toward li 利 is often identified as a key difference between the Mencius 孟子 and the Mozi 墨子. A common view is that for the Mencius, rightness (yi 義) and li are incompatible; but for the Mozi they are not necessarily so. In this paper I argue that the Mencius and the Mozi are in broad agreement on the issue of li, and their attitudes toward li are not as different as may seem at first glance. If we take a finer-grained understanding of li in two ways, namely the self-regarding li and the other-regarding li, then both the Mencius and the Mozi would criticize the former but encourage the latter. The term li in the Mencius has a range of meanings, and it is not clear whether the Mencius actually opposes all li-pursuing activities. Mencius would agree with Mozi that, at least in some cases, one is obligated to seek li for others. Furthermore, despite their criticism of self-regarding li, both Mencius and Mozi allow that in some cases it is morally permissible to act from the motive of self-regarding li, as long as this motive coexists with the motive of rightness. That is, self-regarding li and rightness are not always mutually exclusive, even for Mencius, who seems to be more critical of li.

DOI

10.1007/s11712-014-9372-3

Print ISSN

15403009

E-ISSN

15697274

Publisher Statement

Copyright © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

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Recommended Citation

Chiu, W. W. (2014). Assessment of Li 利 in the Mencius and the Mozi. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, 13(2), 199-214. doi: 10.1007/s11712-014-9372-3