The system of Mohist logic and its methodology (新原辩)

Start - End 
2018 - 2024 (ongoing)
Department of Languages and Cultures
Research Period 
Research Region 
Research Language 
Research Methodology 



The research project The System of Mohist Logic and Its Methodology engages with the work «Mozi» (《墨子》, mò zǐ), ascribed to the philosopher Mozi (墨子, trad. ca.470–391 BCE). The scholarship does not agree with the number of chapters of this work that represents the so-called “Mohist logic”, or, traditionally also called “Mohist dialectics” (墨辩, mò biàn). According to some scholars, the chapters “Cannon I” (经上, jīng shàng), “Canon II” (经下, jīng xià), “Inferences from Canon I” (经说上, jīngshuō shàng, or maybe jīngshuì shàng), “Inferences from Canon II” (经说下, jīngshuō xià, or maybe jīngshuì xià), “Mohist Prior Analytics” (大取, dà qǔ), and finally “Mohist Posterior Analytics” (小取, xiǎo qǔ) are the six chapters in which the actual Mohist logic is developed. They refer to these six chapters as the actual «Mojing» (《墨经》, mò jīng). According to other scholars, the actual «Mojing» only covers four chapters: “Cannon I”, “Canon II”, “Inferences from Canon I”, and “Inferences from Canon II”.

        Although the «Mozi» also contains chapters on fields such as natural sciences, ethics, psychology, economics, epistemology, politics, architecture, etc., its chapters on logic show to be more refined and more systematic than those in other pre-Qin texts solely dealing with logic, such as the works of the “School of Names” (名家, míngjiā ). The «Mojing» thus is the most systematic work on logic of pre-Qin China.

        The reason why the term “Mohist logic”, not “logic in Mohism”, is used for 墨家逻辑 (mòjiā luójí) is related to the discussion whether or not there is something as Chinese logic, rather than logic in China. This issue touches on the question whether there is a traditional Chinese logical system which differs from ancient Greek logic or not.

        In this research, the Mohist logic will be analyzed by means of the Questions-and-Answers (Answer-focused) format that prevails in Confucian, Daoist, Mohist, and other Chinese philosophical texts of the pre-Qin period. More precisely, and peculiar to the «Mojing», is that the logical argumentation within this Question-and-Answers format is built around the integrated use of the following four components: 名 (míng), 辞 (), 说 (shuō, or maybe shuì), and 辩 (biàn). 名 is the first logical component, which is the most fundamental level in Mohist logic, and is related to the concepts 谓 (wèi) and 实 (shí). 谓 is the abstract logical concept through which the equally abstract logical concept 名 can refer to a concrete object 实, and vice versa; 辞 is the second logical component, which is the second level superior to 名, and is related to the concepts 指 (zhǐ) and 意 (). 指 is the abstract logical concept through which the equally abstract logical concept 辞 can express 意 as the goal, and vice versa; 说 is the third logical component, which is the highest level superior to 辞, and is related to the concepts 推 (tuī) and 故 (). 推 is the abstract logical concept through which the equally abstract logical concept 说 can infer 故 as the conclusion, and vice versa. These three –– 名, 辞, and 说 –– are collectively referred to as 辩, i.e. the 辩 which, as a proper noun, refers to “Mohist dialectics”: the biàn/biàn-ology of Mohism.

        In addition, a comprehensive, rigorous textual criticism and analysis of the texts of Mohist logic as an important appendix is also needed in this research.




Phd Student(s)