This essay examines some key statements in the Later Mohist treatises to gain a sense of their views on language and disputation (bian è). I first show that the Later Mohists viewed disputation as an exercise in familiarizing oneself with patterns of language use and the verification of truth-claims in the phenomenal world. I then demonstrate that such an activity helps one attain one of the Mohists' highest goals: The clarification of ethical imperatives about how to behave, as expressed through Heaven for all people. This claim ultimately links Early and Later Mohist ethical concerns and offers a religious explanation for Later Mohist involvement and interest in disputation. Lastly, I frame these writings from within a culture of debate about language in Early China- A culture which, for example, yielded not only Mohist views concerning the necessary correlation between language and reality, but also Confucian formulations on the rectification of names, and a Zhuangzian insistence on the emptiness of sayings.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Religious studies
- Literature and Literary Theory