Later Mohist Dialecticians

We use "Later Mohists" to refer to the wing of the school of Mozi (See MOZI) whose central work is known as the Mohist Canon. This and two later writings comprise Chapters 40-45 of The Mozi. Accounts may also refer to them as Neo-Mohists or Dialectical Mohists. They focused on theory of language, though their writings include fragments on ethics, and included embryonic scientific reflections on economics, geometry, and optics. Traditional accounts sometimes include them in the pseudo-school they call the "School of Names." Traditional scholars gave the latter name to a cluster of thinkers who analyzed names in conflicting ways. Their reconstructed motivations reflect three differing trends in social political thought (Confucianism, Mohism and Daoism). The usual additional members of this school included Gong-sun Lung (treated below) and Hui Shi (treated in ZHUANGZI).

The Later Mohist Canon was continuously extant in library collections. However, a freak textual accident (together with its location in the most heretical and reviled philosophical text of the period) rendered it virtually unintelligible. Its importance came to light only in comparatively modern times. The Confucian traditional orthodoxy had effectively lost all access to its content. Rescuing that text rekindled a long-lost interest in Chinese theories of language and revealed unappreciated links to the thought of Xunzi, Laozi and Zhuangzi. Confucian orthodoxy, however, still tends to treat their sophisticated linguistic theories as "un-Chinese."

Textual Rediscovery
Theory of Language
Realism Base analysis
Semantic Paradoxes
Compound Terms
Kung-sun Lung and the White-Horse Paradox
Phrase Matching
References and Further Reading